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Contested Objects: The Racial and Colonial Dimensions of Material Culture

April 20 @ 12:00 pm - 5:00 pm

What are contested objects, why are they contested and when did they become so? In collaboration with NIAS, this year’s NIAS Symposium explores the racial and colonial dimensions of our shared material culture.

Why, when and how becomes an object contested? From neighbourhoods to monuments, from statues to household appliances. For a number of years there’s been is a particular attendance for racial and colonial dimension of our material culture. Some traces have been around for years, others have a more recent history. Increasingly, people have become outspoken about the need to become aware of the different ways to consider not just our past but also those objects that reminds us of it. What happens if we look beyond museums and archives and also take into account other ‘things’ like architecture, monuments, photography, food and interior design?

During the NIAS Symposium we will collectively explore what insights we can gain by shedding light on the racial and colonial dimensions of our material culture. When do objects start to live their own live? Even though the context of an object defines it meaning, the context itself can change too. And so we wonder: When and why do objects become contested? Which objects can connect but also lead to contestation? And how come? Can the materiality of an object pose constraints to what we can read in an object? I

Interested? You could sign up for the event through this eventbrite link.


11.30 – 12.00 Walk in @ Tinbergenzaal, Trippenhuis

12.00 – 13.00

Welcome by Jan Willem Duyvendak, Director NIAS

Joint keynote session by NIAS Fellows 2021/2022 Rahul Rao and Britta Schilling

13.00 – 14.00 Lunch @ Tinbergenzaal, Trippenhuis

14.00 – 16.00 Series of parallel workshops @ multi-venue

Workshop 1) How to engage with contested objects through embodied learning. A multi-sensory experience of Dutch Colonial Architecture in Amsterdam’s city center. In collaboration with NL-Lab and Far Too Close @ VOC-zaal Bushuis – Oost-Indisch Huis

Workshop 2) Contested Classics: Between the Netherlands and Indonesia – Colonialism; Imperialism? Given by former NIAS Fellow Miko Flohr in collaboration with the Allard Pierson @ Allard Pierson

Workshop 3) Weirding Europe: Contesting the Realist Paradigm in Contemporary Video and Film on Migration. Provided by NIAS 2021/2022 Fellows Florian Lippert and Maria Boletsi, with Janna Houwen of Leiden University @ NIAS-KNAW

Workshop 4) Gastro-politics of multi-cultural eating: spices by NIAS 2021/2022 Fellows Bernike Pasveer & Ghazwan Yaghi @ VOX-POP

16.00 – 16.30 Short break with coffee, tea and snacks @ VOX-POP

16.30 – 17.00 Closing with Jan Willem Duyvendak and spoken word by NIAS Writer-in-Residence Ricardo Domeneck @ VOX-POP


April 20
12:00 pm - 5:00 pm