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15 March 2024

The Critical Visitor: Changing Heritage Practices


The Critical Visitor research consortium is proud to launch in both Dutch and English, De kritische bezoeker: Erfgoedpraktijken in verandering // The Critical Visitor: Changing Heritage Practices, published as the third volume in the series of Work in Progress (Wereldmuseum, 2018-). In the lineage of earlier volumes, it also an "incomplete guide" for the heritage sector, but nonetheless a place to begin critical reflection.

Join us for the festive book launch on the afternoon of Friday 15 March for a program aiming to foster the volume’s uptake as an incomplete guide. The launch program includes speakers Wayne Modest, Charl Landvreugd, Mirjam Sneeuwloper, Eliza Steinbock, Hester Dibbits, and several invited guests who will provide responses to the volume. There will be time to meet a new critical friend or two!

About the book

This publication discusses current museological and archival practices that integrate intersectional approaches to redress the critical matter of uneven cultural participation and to address the demands made by critical visitors who have been historically marginalized within a cultural context. The book aims to develop more self-critical approaches to practices conducted by those in and adjacent to museums and archives, especially for how they might fall short, perpetuate, or be frustrated by systems of inequality. By sharing these reflections from cultural heritage professionals working in the Netherlands, we hope to foster a more open atmosphere, further an agenda of social justice, and provide critical vocabulary and examples to other readers who may face similar struggles. We focus on the approaches offered by intersectionality, and the practices of accessibility and inclusivity, which might also go by other names (diversity, equity, belonging, anti-racism, queering, cripping).

The small edition is meant for students and professionals in the heritage field, scholars keen to understand the state of the art of the Dutch cultural sector, and other interested and involved readers. It brings together shared experiences and reflections from professionals collaborating with and working within cultural institutions in the Netherlands. It draws heavily from the fifteen scientific, public and private partners who joined in the Critical Visitor project’s Field Labs, a research format that was described as “Testing Intersectional Approaches to Inclusive Actions at Museum and Archive Sites.” In shaping the volume, the editors have been inspired by the generative provocations and learnings from the five Field Labs. The essays herein will contain reflections from practitioners on how their inclusivity and accessibility practices work, what and who they produce, what emotions are active and inactive, what ethical horizon they are oriented towards, what logics organize their practice, what concepts give it form. The contributors also investigate the nitty-gritty of process to examine the emotions that color and shape intersectional experiences of practicing diversity and inclusion: the impatience, the effort of channeling cooperation, the sharpness of guilt and shame, and the exhaustion of dirty feminist work. 


14.45-15.00 Arrival
15.00-16.45 Program in Studio, Wereldmuseum Amsterdam
17.00-18.30 Reception at Louie Louie (Linnaeusstraat 11a, Amsterdam)


Browse and download the publication

Eliza Steinbock

Dr Eliza Steinbock is Associate Professor of Gender and Diversity Studies based in the Literature and Art Department at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences of Maastricht University. They are director of the Centre for Gender and Diversity (CGD) and specialize in the study of visuality and material culture, focusing on questions of transgender cultural production and the intersectional analysis of inclusion/exclusion mechanisms.

In the Netherlands Eliza is project-leader of the national consortium “The Critical Visitor: Intersectional Approaches for Rethinking and Retooling Accessibility and Inclusivity in Heritage Spaces” (2020-2025) funded by the Dutch Research Council. Together with 15 partners, the research team of Eliza, Hester Dibbits, Dirk van den Heuvel, Noah Littel and Liang-kai Yu investigates how the organization, collection, and exhibition spaces of heritage can meet the breadth of demands placed by today’s “critical visitors” for queering, decolonizing, and cripping.


Eliza Steinbock

Hester Dibbits

Hester Dibbits is head of the research group Cultural heritage at the Reinwardt Academy of the Amsterdam University of the Arts. In her work Dibbits always seeks the connection between the scientific world and the working field. She uses a historical-ethnological perspective, with a special focus on the culture of everyday life. Based on the research programme, she investigates through various sub-projects what types of knowledge and skills can support heritage professionals making choices around heritage issues. Dibbits lectures and gives workshops nationally and internationally, often about emotion networking - a method providing insight into the complex interplay of interests, knowledge and emotions in heritage interactions.  

Hester Dibbits
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