During my second year of my masters, I moved to Rotterdam. After many visits there, I was amazed of the cultural and ethic diversity of the city. The multiculturalism captivated me. In the Netherlands, Rotterdam has the highest number of diverse ethnicities forming 170 nationalities in total. Rotterdam also has the largest Dutch Antillean community. Most of the foreign-born residents settled in Rotterdam come from Suriname, with over 50,000 recorded recently as living the city. Other residents contribute as well to the city’s demographic such as the Turkish, Moroccan, and Dutch Caribbean populations.
If there is one single street in Rotterdam that highlights the cultural diversity mentioned above, and that is the Nieuwe Binnenweg street. It was the 2nd parallel street to the street that I was living in. People have mentioned to me several times of how much diverse that street was. Hence my interest in discovering it arose. I had a walk there quite often, and I started noticing the cultural richness that that street had to offer. Therefore, I decided to create a project to map Nieuwe Binnenweg and share not only its’ diverse ethnicities, but also the stories that make what it has become today.
In order to decipher the street, a detailed map was first drawn going from shop to shop by foot and marking the ethnicities of the designated places. In addition, several interviews were conducted with the owners or workers of the shops telling their story. To start of with the conversation, two questions were always. The first was concerning the length of their stay in the Netherlands and the second was about choosing one item in the shop that has a sentimental value to them. Finally, with all the collected stories, Nieuwe Binneweg has spoken.