inward outward
18 May 2021

Learning and Unlearning: Rethinking Archival Practices Workshop

CLOSED WORKSHOP | 18 May 2021 | 10:00-13:00 CET 

Leading up to the Inward Outward symposium taking place October 12–15, the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision, Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV), and the Research Center for Material Culture (RCMC) are hosting a workshop for archive and museum practitioners and people working with institutional collections. The aim of this workshop is to assist participants in developing, in a collaborative manner, ethical frameworks for taking care of collections comprising both historical and contemporary materials that have been shaped by colonial frameworks in both structural and epistemological ways.

The workshop will be a space in which participants can engage critically with materials under their care, as well as develop strategies for their mobilisation. Instead of approaching archival collections as inert sources, the workshop will consider how various affective encounters with archival materials can inform such ethics of care. It is conceived to provide an opportunity for participants to share the challenges they face and learn from one another’s experiences. We do not seek to preclude methodologies for working with challenging material, but rather, the workshop endeavours to help us imagine creative and practical ways whereby to re-see and reframe them, as well as for recognising and dealing with the emotional valences they carry.

Questions that inform the framework of the workshop include:

  • How do emotional responses from archive workers, researchers and activists to material kept in our institutions offer insights into and lead to otherwise unthought of means of connecting with the past?
  • On the basis of these responses, which strategies can workers in institutions employ to imagine archival practices anew?
  • Can silence, refusal, disruption and even destruction be understood as productive curatorial practices that aid in unlearning imperialism when engaging colonial archives and archives of coloniality?

Facilitator | Carine Zaayman

The workshop will be presented by Carine Zaayman, an artist, curator and scholar committed to critical engagement with colonial archives and collections, specifically those holding strands of Khoekhoe pasts. Bringing intangible and neglected histories into view is a key motivation for her work. Her research aims to contribute to a radical reconsideration of colonial archives and museum collections, especially by assisting in finding ways to release their hold over our imaginations when we narrate the past, as well as how we might shape futures from it. She obtained a PhD in Fine Art from the University of Cape Town in 2019 where she also worked at the Michaelis School of Fine Art and the Centre for Curating the Archive. At present, Zaayman is a postdoctoral fellow at the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, as a team member in the NWO Worlding Public Cultures project, as well as a research associate at the Research Centre for Material Culture.