26 June 2018

Words Matter: Book Launch, Tropen Museum.

Thursday 28 June 2018 | Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam
The Research Center for Material Culture cordially invites you to an evening on repairing, refusing and re-imagining language to mark the launch of our publication WORDS MATTER.

Recent controversy in the Netherlands surrounding whether museums should change the titles of some of their paintings and refrain from using discriminatory words in wall texts or catalogues is in part the lead up to this publication and symposium series. The emotionally and politically charged nature of discussions in the media surrounding the proposed changes should persuade anyone in doubt that words matter, that language matters. This is not an issue for just a small group of experts, but an ongoing dialogue between colleagues, neighbors, strangers and friends. It is a discussion that is embedded in a larger societal dialogue that debates issues of citizenship, belonging and representation in The Netherlands and beyond.

Indeed, it is not just words that matter: the perspectives or the position from which one writes or displays also matters. In this context, it is important to interrogate our personal and institutional relationships to categories, terminologies and meanings. To whom does language belong? In what ways can language become more inclusive to those who have been marginalized or excluded within our societies and institutions? Who is included in or excluded from ‘modern’, non-‘Western’, ‘traditional’, ‘us’ and ‘them’? And what is the correct pronoun to describe someone who self-identifies as transgender?

The publication WORDS MATTER is the physical manifestation of the museum’s long-term commitment to becoming a more inclusive institution and is the result of multiple, long-term projects that aim to dissect and dismantle some of the complex contested words, stereotypes and concepts that are present not only in cultural institutions, but also in the media and society at large. The symposium is a critical celebration and a stage for artists, academics and the audience to question, refuse, provoke and engage (with) contested languages and their presence within our institutions, societies and relationships.

The program consists of two events: a day program for heritage professionals and cultural producers, and an evening program for general audience.

• Ogutu Muraya (Writer and Storyteller)
• Astrid Roemer (Writer)
• Eliza Steinbock (Leiden University)
• Kira Wuck (Poet)
• Simone Zeefuik (Writer and cultural programmer)

Practical Information
Where: Tropenmuseum, Linnaeusstraat 2, Amsterdam
When: Thursday 28 June 2018, 19:30 – 21:30
Admission: € 8 (incl. publication) - Get your tickets here
Language: Dutch and English
Research Center for Material Culture
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Spectrum 5.0 – Draft list of term sources. Input requested.

Lost for words?

When following a Spectrum procedure, you will often be advised to record something using 'a standard term source'. But what sources? And where to find them?
Using consistent terms is crucial for retrieving information quickly and accurately when you want it. To help you do this, we've drawn up a list of the published term sources we know about, mapped to relevant Spectrum units of information.
This is still a working document, and we need your help. Please take a look at the draft document and use our online form to help fill the gaps. Are there published term sources we have missed? Do you have in-house terms you would be willing to share with us, and possibly with the wider sector? Thank you, in advance, for your input.
Read and comment on the draft list of term sources

Keti Koti Talks : Perspectives on the Slavery Past and its Afterlife

Keti Koti Talks : Perspectives on the Slavery Past and its Afterlife


Boni Tula stage | Free entrance | 4.45 pm - 5.45 pm

Perspectives on the Slavery Past and its Afterlife is a series of short lectures presented during Keti Koti that explores the link between the Dutch slavery past and current structures of power, exclusion, and inequality.

Slavery as a dehumanizing practice created structures of relations that still live with us today. Like other former colonial powers, the Netherlands owes its wealth and elevated position in the world, in large measure, to its past colonial activities. This power and privilege came at a specific cost to the formerly colonized and enslaved: the Africans that were captured, enslaved, and subjected to a brutal process of dehumanization. The same Africans that facilitated a thriving (plantation) economic system in the Dutch Caribbean, that generated wealth for individual owners and their descendants, as well as for the Dutch Metropole. How do we repair a history that is not yet acknowledged for its complexities, nor considered a shared past?

Within the context of the Keti Koti commemoration and celebration, the Research Center for Material Culture invites an interdisciplinary group of thinkers, designers and artists to share their critical perspectives on the legacies of slavery and the colonial past in contemporary Dutch society. These talks give insight into how different sets of practices connect and how the legacies of slavery and the colonial past manifest in the present.

This event takes place at the Keti Koti Festival at the Oosterpark and is a prelude to the exhibition on slavery and colonialism (medio 2021) at the Tropenmuseum. This exhibition explores the Dutch history of slavery and colonialism, and its afterlives in the present, through the lens – the experiences - of the enslaved and their descendants. More than a series of facts, or the expected telling of the triangle trade, the exhibition zooms in on the condition of enslavement, the (cultural) responses of the enslaved, and the experiences of those living slavery’s afterlife in present-day Dutch society.

Researcher Mark Ponte (Stadsarchief)
Lecturer Grace Ndjako (Universiteit Amsterdam)
Barby Asante (curator and artist)
Moderator: Aspha Bijnaar (independent researcher)
Keti Koti stories by Bibi Fadlalla (filmmaker)
Research Center for Material Culture
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Flow of Forms / Forms of Flow. Design Histories between Africa and Europe

Exhibition at the Museum für Völkerkunde / Museum of Ethnology, Hamburg
April 6 – August 19, 2018

The exhibition Flow of Forms / Forms of Flow focuses on Design Histories between Africa and Europe through the prism of past, present and future: It takes a look at global design practices and forms which have developed through cooperative projects, adaptation and transformation of ideas and concepts. Thus Flow of Forms / Forms of Flow reveals multifarious Design Histories in five thematic sections:

Forms of Modernity invoke the beginning of the 20th century and examine the relevance of African objects on modern design in Europe. At the same time, they demonstrate how closely modern reform movements, such as Arts and Crafts, were entangled with economic and colonial premises. Selected positions in contemporary design do not only serve to make these migrations of forms and concepts visible, but also subject them to critical reflection. Transform(N)ation looks at design during the early years of African states’ independence from the mid-1950s to the 1970s. The political and emancipatory potentials of design are especially prominent here and the creative possibilities of expressing social liberation are considered. Forms of awakening, nation-building and identity take shape in the tension between globally circulating concepts and recourses to local traditions. They are manifested in architecture, (artist) magazines and fashion and are framed by contemporary positions. Forms of Cooperation / Participation are concerned with the social and political dimensions of design and focus on forms, which have developed through cooperation, exchange and dialogue and the flow of concepts, ideas and practices. Material Morphosis foregrounds materials as bearers of meaning and considers the concept of their morphosis (from one material into another). While, in the European context, the phenomenon of material morphosis was long pejoratively interpreted as mere imitation, deception or as a substitute, materials and material morphosis play an important role in African art and constitute a well-established process in contemporary design. Here, transformations and translations are imbued with critical or even playful intentions, as expressions of modernization, democratization, re-evaluation. Speculative Forms / African Futurism are concerned with the development of forms at the intersection of technology, economy, and society. Anchored in the present, these future scenarios are based on new technologies, materials, and production methods, transnational networks and alternative infrastructures: they convey social visions and may initiate paradigm changes, but also register their draw backs and dystopias. 

Countering the usual representations of historical cultures and life ways in rural Africa, the museum focuses in this exhibition on the contemporary culture of the continent, characterised by urban centres with an unrivalled cultural dynamism and a vibrant creative and artistic scene.

Designers and Artists: David Adjaye for KnollTextiles, Àga Concept, Kossi Aguessy, Karo Akpokiere, Black Coffee, Laurence Bonvin, Paolo Cascone / COdesignLab, Sonya Clark, Matali Crasset & Bulawayo Home Industries, Cucula, Cheick Diallo, Dokter and Misses, Nana Kwaku Duah II, Michael Gathogo Githinji, Front & Siyazama Project, Fundi Bots, Eric van Hove, I.AM.ISIGO, Yinka Ilori, Jean Katambayi Mukendi, Wanuri Kahiu, Markus Kayser, Ladi Kwali, Lumkani, Abu Bakarr Mansaray, Michael MacGarry, Ernst May, Emo de Medeiros, Vincent Michéa, The Nest Collective, Laduma Ngxokolo, Karl Ernst Osthaus, Victor Papanek, Shem Paronelli Artisanal, Simone Post, Rethaka, Walther Schmidt, Kofi Setordji, Palash Singh for STEP/The New Basket Workshop, Studio Formafantasma, Studio Sikoki, Kër Thiossane, Fatimah Tuggar, Obiora Udechukwu, Marjorie Wallace for Mutapo Handmade Pottery, Jules Wokam, unkown artist of Edo, Kete, Kuba, Lele, Tschokwe, Yoruba und unknown artists of amaXhosa

Project Partner: Cheick Diallo/Diallo Design, Bamako/Mali.

This exhibition is based on the research and exhibition project Flow of Forms/Forms of Flow. Design Histories Between Africa and Europe at the art historical institute of the Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich. Its adaptation and extension for Hamburg was curated by Prof. Dr. Kerstin Pinther, Dipl. Des. Alexandra Weigand M.A. and Prof. Dr. Barbara Plankensteiner.


Flow of Forms / Forms of Flow. Design Histories between Africa and Europe, Bielefeld Transcript. 2007 p.

As a teenager, I spent my time wondering why in sci-fi movies, every landscape, every object I could see was Western or Asian based. I've finally understood that somewhere our legacy had been locked in the past, that we couldn't be "futuristic" in the eyes of our fellow Europeans. We have to look behind our shoulders, get back to our traditions, seize the best of them and shape a future with it. This without forgetting we are part of the world, totally, unquestionably. The future is for me not only a matter of dialogue with the past, but and beyond everything a dialogue with the rest of the planet. (Kossi Aguessy)

How is it possible to adequately capture histories of design in Africa, a continent with fifty-four countries? How can one avoid producing just another essentialising master narrative of "African Design"? How can one make sense of the many entangled yet often asymmetric and sometimes ambivalent histories of form-finding processes between Africa and Europe? In keeping with the premises of a global art and design history approach, the book offers a change of perspective: focusing on the mobility of people, objects and ideas – on flows between Africa and Europe as well as on a South-South axis – allows for multiple yet necessarily fragmented design histories to be identified and recognised. The contributors trace multi-faceted design case studies from a historical perspective, with attention to the present as well as towards possible futures.

With contributions by Susan Mullin Vogel, Alison J. Clarke,  Gui Bonsiepe, Daniel Magaziner, Christian Hanussek, Erica de Greef, Kerstin Pinther, Alexandra Weigand

20 June 2018

Engaging 21st Century Researchers, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge, 2nd July 2018

A workshop exploring museum engagements with academic and community researchers.
Over the past two years, the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and the Whipple Museum of the History of Science, University of Cambridge, have been working together to generate new online portals for researchers, as part of Engaging Collections Online, a project funded by the Designated Development Fund, Arts Council England.

As institutions involved in training new generations of researchers, we have tried wherever possible to anticipate the needs of 21st century researchers. We have undertaken user testing and evaluation throughout the project, with both academic and community researchers, in order to understand how to better enable their research.
This workshop will provide an opportunity to demonstrate the online resources we have developed, to share knowledge and experience from the project within the wider museum sector, and to begin a wider conversation about how museums can better engage emerging generations of researchers.
The workshop is scheduled immediately before the University Museums Group 2018 conference Foreign exchange? University museums and international engagement so that delegates can easily attend both events.
The workshop will begin with lunch at 12:30pm, and end with a reception.
We have a number of funded places available for that will cover travel costs and one night of accommodation in Cambridge for attendees from regional museums.
If you are interested in attending the workshop, or in one of the funded places, please send an email outlining your interest to: engagingresearchers@maa.cam.ac.uk

Exhibition, Fabric Africa: Stories told through textiles. Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, 30 June—19 May 2019

An insight into the forthcoming exhibition by curator Lisa Graves.

The exhibition FabricAfrica: Stories told through textiles has been  over a year in the planning and on June 30th it will open to the public at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery.   For me the textiles have always been a window into the huge variety and diversity of countries, people and ways of looking at the world that Africa can offer.   Each item of clothing or individual cloth could tell many stories.  So it was obvious that this exhibition would focus on highlighting rather than being comprehensive and selecting rather than trying to explore everything that this vast subject could offer.

Tunic from Cameroon Grasslands.
 Empire and Commonwealth collection 
 (c) Bristol Museum & Art Gallery
The selection I made was also based on trying to get as wide a geographical range of countries aspossible based on what our collections could offer.  There is a bias towards sub-Saharan countries, and those in West Africa in particular, but in future it would be great to add to our holdings from countries such as Somalia, Egypt or Ethiopia.  We have recently acquired contemporary textiles from Kenya, and for this exhibition have been lucky enough to loan not one, but two wedding dresses from a local, Kenyan- born, designer, Audrey Migot.

Audrey Migot in her wedding dress (c) Bristol Museum and Art Gallery

We made contact with Audrey, along with three other individuals, through a call-out on social media who were happy to share their thoughts on African textiles.  We have recorded their reactions to each of the exhibition themes – Status, Communication, Exchange and Fashion – which you’ll be able to listen to in the gallery.  We hope to encourage more people to share their personal stories around working with, owning, making or wearing textiles from Africa through more social media call-outs on Twitter and Instagram in the coming months.

Throughout the ten months or so the exhibition will be up we have planned a series of events.  These include a practical day school for adults, a children’s Arts Award workshop, as well as one aimed at Brownies, Guides, Cubs and Scouts groups and other family events for Black History Month in October and November.  One of these will be a fashion show showcasing the work of local African and African Diaspora designers and students.  We hope to be running a design competition associated with this event taking inspiration from the pieces in the exhibition as well as from the vibrant contemporary fashion scenes Africa has to offer.

If you wish to profile an exhibition, project or event on the MEG blog then please contact  web@museumethnographersgroup.org.uk

Job Vacancy, Project Curator: Africa, British Museum

The British Museum is looking to recruit a Curator to work on the Africa collections within the Department of Africa, Oceania and the Americas. This is a busy and exciting time for the department internationally as well as within the Museum. During the fixed term allocated the post holder will provide curatorial support to the senior curators in the section in relation to a wide variety of programme activities and collections documentation.

Key areas of responsibility:

• To contribute to up-grading the documentation of the Africa collection, with a focus on record improvement for MI+.
• To support the development of new material for the British Museum website in relation to African collections.
• To assist with managing visits to the collection and enquiries from the public in person, in writing, by telephone and via e-mail.
• To make the collection, and knowledge about it, publicly accessible via publication, digital, display, and broadcast.

Person Specification:

With a BA/BSc degree (or equivalent) in Anthropology or related subject and some knowledge of African material culture and art, you will have experience of research in relation to an area of the African continent and a working knowledge of museum databases and acquisition procedures. In addition, you will have experience working in a curator capacity with an African collection along with some experience of management issues (people, projects, budgets). You will be an open and effective communicator and a team-player. Your work will also have been published in peer reviewed journals.

About the British Museum:

Founded in 1753, the British Museum’s remarkable collection spans over two million years of human history and culture. The Museum is one of the UK’s leading visitor attractions with over six million visitors in 2016 and its world-famous collection includes the Rosetta Stone, the Parthenon sculptures, Egyptian mummies, the Admonitions Scroll, and the Amaravati sculptures.

The Museum adheres to the HMG Baseline Personnel Security Standard (BPSS) requirements for all staff at the British Museum.

The Museum is an equal opportunity employer, supports a diverse workplace and offers a competitive benefits package including:

• Membership of the civil service pension scheme
• Free entry to a wide range of museums and exhibitions
• Participation in private and public Museum activities, including talks by leading curators from around the world and behind-the-scenes opportunities to learn how museums care for and manage their extraordinary collections
• Generous annual leave allowance
• Interest-free season ticket loan
• Professional & personal development opportunities
• Employee Assistance Programme
• Discounts on food and gift shop purchases

If you are a positive individual, passionate about the Museum and would like to know more about this exciting opportunity, please follow the “Apply now” link below where you will be directed to complete your application.

Closing date: 25th June 2018, Midday

Further Details