RCMC

About

Research Center for Material Culture

The Research Center for Material Culture (RCMC) is a flagship research institute within the Wereldmuseum. 

Group photo from left to right: Hodan Warsame, Esmee Schoutens, Ilaria Obata, Wayne Modest, Carine Zaymaan, Olombi Bois. Photo by James Gallagher

Who We Are

The Research Centre for Material Culture is the research institute of the Wereldmuseum, Netherlands. We foster interdisciplinary, intersectional and speculative research, whether done by the museum’s own research staff or by national and international researchers. Bringing together scholars, makers, curators and activists from across the world, our research is centred around the museum and its practices, around our collections and their histories, and is always positioned in relation to pressing questions in the world. We are guided by the museum’s mission to foster world citizenship, and thus our ongoing work is geared towards exploring the multiple ways in which we live and move in the world as humans, the individual and community tactics that give shape to the world around us, and the structures that would serve to facilitate or constrain such modes of living. 

As the research institute of the Wereldmuseum, the RCMC positions itself at the intersection between the museum and the outside world. To sustain a criticality to the organisation, the centre consciously chooses a position that is more outside of the organisation, aligning its objectives with our collaborators. While the work of the RCMC is specialised around theory-making, it is designed to be complementary to that of the curatorial, exhibition-making, programming and education sectors of the museum(s). Most significantly, the RCMC actively seeks to explore vantage points from outside the museum, which we then bring into conversation with its internal operations. In this way, our work is envisioned to help develop practices within the museum that can productively contribute to building a just institution of world citizenship. Moreover, due to its speculative nature, our work is deliberately exploratory, rather than fixed or prescriptive. We identify discourses, interventions and methodologies that we believe can be productive for the museum to work through the problems inherent within it. 

 

Wayne Modest - Research Center for Material Culture (RCMC)

Wayne Modest

Director of Content, Wereldmuseum
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Portrait of Carine Zaayman

Carine Zaayman

Researcher and Research Coordinator
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OB

Olombi Bois Yarur

Programming and Research Assistant
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IJO

Ilaria Obata

Programming & Online Communications
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Portrait Esmee Schoutens

Esmee Schoutens

Researcher and Policy Officer
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What We Do

The centre is conceived as space for speculative and collaborative theory and practice making, where we, together with numerous others committed to a similar mission, can imagine what a future (Wereld)museum – an ethnographic museum of and for the future – could look like. We take the museum, its collections, and its (histories) of practice, as starting point for our inquiry. Our work is, however, not constrained by the museum. Rather, we see the museum as a place where several problems existing in the world come together. These problems include those that form part of more overt inheritances of colonialism, manifesting as (among other things) racial injustice and extractive capitalism. They also refer to the subtle ways in which colonialism has impacted how we know and describe the world around us through, for example, language or concepts . To focus on the museum then, is to focus on imagining what a new, more equitable and just world could look like.  

Our research practices are developed in the shape of creative collaborations with a wide range of groups, individuals and communities. These collaborations are experimental projects that take many forms, such as exhibitions, educational podcasts or artistic workshops. In these projects, we prioritise racialised groups whom have historically been marginalized. Each project builds on the previous, helping us formulate an ethical and practical framework for collaborations that offer our collaborators, audiences and ourselves creative opportunities to recontextualise and reimagine our relationships to history, power and identity. Our sustained critical reflection on, and development of ethics for our research and community engagement, positions our relationships to communities at the heart of our work. 

The RCMC is organized around three main threads of activities/outputs: fellowships, public events and publications. These are guided by revolving themes that we believe are urgent for the museum as well as for society. 

Past RCMC Staff

Amal Alhaag
Amal Alhaag
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ABK
Alessandra Benedicty-Kokken
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RO
Rita Ouedraogo
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JH
Juliette Huijgen
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NRK
Ninja Rijnks-Kleikamp
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https://www.materialculture.nl/en/about/josep-almudever-chanza
Josep Almudéver Chanzà
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Wereldmuseum Curatorial Staff

WF
Wendeline Flores
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DD
Daan van Dartel
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DK
Daan Kok
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AS
Annette Schmidt
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CB
Cunera Buijs
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EA
Erdogan Aykaç
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EL
Erna Lilje
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PW
Pim Westerkamp
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PS
Priya Swamy
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SJ
Sarah Johnson
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WW
Wonu Weys
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WW
Wouter Welling
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WVN
Willemijn van Noord
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TQ
Tom Quist
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VP
Valeria Posada-Villada
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