23 January 2024

On Exhaustion

Closed Symposium | 23 January 2024 | 10.00 - 18.30 | Wereldmuseum, Amsterdam

The Wereldmuseum Amsterdam, the Research Center for Material Culture, and Worlding Public Cultures project will be hosting a closed symposium on the 23rd of January at the Wereldmuseum Amsterdam. This gathering will take on a conversational format, whereby the conversation/presentation prompts will take the term exhaustion as an entry point to question both the physical but also conceptual limits of recent attempts to decolonising institutions. These conversations will center around questions and concerns that we have following the decade-long mobilisations for change. We are interested to assess the state of these efforts, foregrounding the perspectives of some of its main proponents. What were the promises of, as well as the problems faced with, such attempts at decolonisation? What were the risks and the opportunities? We frame our inquiry through the lens of exhaustion, or burn-out, to first and foremost acknowledge and explore the vulnerability of those involved in these demands for change. Indeed, (infra)structural resistance to change, whether through practices of gaslighting or denialism, micro aggression or outright racism, have had psychological and physical effects on those pushing for change. We see many cases where both those doing the (emotional) labour outside the institution, as well as those (brought) inside, are placed in positions of impossibility, leading in some instances to exhaustion, even burnout. What forms of caring and careful work is needed to support those pushing for creating more just and equitable institutions for all?

Confirmed speakers/collectives are: Decolonize This Place, Dekoloniale Memory Culture in the City, Museum Detox, Collective for Historical Dialogue and Memory (CHDM), Lorraine Mendes, Angelica Pesarini, Yazan Khalili, Clara Lobreguat Balaguer and Vishnu Vardhani. 


Morning – Part 1


Collective | Institution | Movement

10.00 - 10.15: Coffee greeting



10.15 - 10.25: Welcome words

Wayne Modest


10.25 - 10.35

Sulakshana de Mel

Collective for Historical Dialogue and Memory (CHDM)

10.35 - 11.50

Anna Yeboah and Nadja Ofuatey-Alazard

Dekoloniale Memory Culture in the City


11.50 - 12.20

In conversation together with Sulakshana de Mel + Anna Yeboah and Desirée Desmarettes + questions from guests (moderated by Wayne Modest)  


12.20 - 12.30

Yazan Khalili

Architect, visual artist and cultural producer

12.30 - 12.40

Miranda Lowe

Natural History Museum, London | Museum Detox

12.40 - 13.10

In conversation together with Yazan Khalili and Miranda Lowe + questions from guests (moderated by Wayne Modest) 



13.10 - 14.00



Lunch break


Afternoon – Part 2



14.00 - 14.15

Poetic intervention by Clara Balaguer and Vishnu Vardhani

Vishnu Vardhani Rajan is a body-philosopher and Clara Balaguer is a cultural worker, curriculum builder, and grey literature circulator

14.15 - 14.25

To be determined


14.25 - 14.55

In conversation together with Clara Balaguer and Vishnu Vardhani + questions from guests (moderated by Ming Tiampo)


14.55- 15.05

Wandile Kasibe

Rhodes Must Fall | Fees Must Fall

15.05 - 15.15

Rachael Minnott

National Archives and trustee of the Museum of Homelessness

15.15 - 15.45

In conversation together with Wandile Kasibe and Rachael Minnott + questions from guests (moderated by Carine Zaayman)



15.45 - 16.15


Coffee break


Late afternoon – Part 3



16.15 - 16.30

Amin Husain and Nitasha Dhillon

Decolonize This Place

16.30 - 16.40

Lorraine Mendes

Pinacoteca de São Paulo

16.40 - 16.50

Angelica Pesarini

University of Toronto

16.50 - 17.40

In conversation together with Amin Husain, Nitasha Dhillon, Angelica Pesarini and Lorraine Mendes + last questions from audience (moderated by Chiara de Cesari)



17.40 - 18.00

Closing statement by Wayne Modest and Chiara de Cesari

Wereldmuseum + University of Amsterdam