Reckoning with History - Research Center for Material Culture

Closing Discussion

What comes next?

Reckoning with History | RCMC Annual Conference | 2017


Chair: Prof. Wayne Modest, RCMC (video)

Simone Zeefuik
Simone Zeefuik is a writer and initiator of various projects. Her home base is Amsterdam. Her work focuses on image-use, representation, anti-Blackness, digital archives and members of black communities in the Netherlands forced into illegality. In October 2016, she launched #RewriteTheInstitute. This polyphonic, digital, organically growing archive has since criticized the language used by Dutch institutions to represent black people and their lives, communities, cultures, traditions, histories, contemporary realities and / or futures. The first digital archive that she initiated appeared on Twitter in 2013 under the hashtag #BlackNL. This tag was used for archiving files, articles and interviews that illustrate the lives and histories of black communities in the Netherlands. Zeefuik was also co-initiator of #DecolonizeTheMuseum and #UndocumentedNL.

Dr. Jos van Beurden
Jos van Beurden is an affiliated researcher at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. He graduated in 1971 (MA Law - main subjects: Philosophy of law at Utrecht University, and Peace-research at Groningen University). As a journalist he focused for over twenty years on the protection, theft and smuggling of cultural and historical treasures of vulnerable states and peoples. Often based on field-trips to countries such as Mali, Ethiopia, Sudan, Bangladesh, and Cambodia, Jos van Beurden has written numerous articles, made radio documentaries and published some books. His most recent publication is ‘The Return of Cultural and Historical Treasures: The Case of the Netherlands’ (KIT Publishers, 2012). For his contribution to the protection of the cultural heritage (and other merits), Jos van Beurden was appointed in 2012 Officer in the Order of Orange-Nassau.

Marens Engelhard
Marens Engelhard is the National Archivist of the Netherlands and General Director of the Dutch Nationaal Archief. From 2010-2014, he was the director and city archivist of the Amsterdam City Archives. Previously, he worked as town clerk in the city of Osdorp, at the Paedological Institute Amsterdam, and in the Ministry of Economic Affairs. He spent the first 10 years of his career working for various advice bureaus all over the world. 

Sumaya Kassim
Sumaya Kassim is a writer and researcher. She earned her English Literature BA and MA at Queen Mary University, London. She has worked at the British Library and at the George Padmore Institute on black British archives. She is interested in the ways that colonialism and Empire has impacted our interior lives, and the politics of emotion. An essay exploring cities and multiculturalism is forthcoming in the anthology Cut From The Same Cloth (Unbound, 2018).

Rajkamal Kahlon
Rajkamal Kahlon is an American artist based in Berlin. Kahlon’s interdisciplinary artistic practice questions the formal and conceptual limits of painting, photography and sculpture. Drawing on history, archives and literature, her research undergoes a process of creative transformation resulting in sensual, formally rigorous work that is about reclamation and the transcendence of history. By using her own hand in redrawing and repainting the bodies of photographed native subjects, Kahlon allows for the rehabilitation of those bodies, histories and cultures that have been erased, distorted and maligned. Kahlon’s diverse sources include classical western painting, 19th C Illustrated newspapers and history books, contemporary U.S. military autopsy reports, the history of science and medicine, colonial era photography, anthropological portraiture and pop culture.