Stairway Kinshasa
28 November 2019

Photo-writing - Adriaan Gerbrands Lecture

Gerbrands Lecture | 28 Nov 2019 | 16:30 - 19:00 | Museum Volkenkunde

The 9th Adriaan Gerbrands Lecture will be delivered by
Sammy Baloji and Filip De Boeck. 

Starting from our own practice, a collaborative ‘photo-writing’ between a visual artist and an anthropologist, this presentation will reflect on the possibilities of combining various artistic and anthropological approaches and inroads into the city (in our own case this means the urban contexts of the Global South, in particular Central Africa). To what extent do ethnography and photography (or film and video) reveal a shared methodological possibility to move beyond the urban surface and to reach into the more intimate folds where urban life is generated?

Image: A dilapidated pedestrian bridge sits along the Boulevard Lumumba in the Tshangu District of Kinshasa in 2013.
© Sammy Baloji

Sammy Baloji and Filip De Boeck

Baloji and De Boeck


Born in Katanga, a resource-rich region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sammy Baloji explores the cultural, architectural, and industrial heritage of the region, as well as a questioning of the impact of the Belgian colonization. Colliding reality and representation, his works exposes past tensions and present entanglements.

Filip De Boeck is a Professor of Anthropology at the Institute for Anthropological Research in Africa (IARA), a research center based at the University of Leuven. He is actively involved in teaching, promoting, coordinating, and supervising research in and on Africa. In recent years his work has focused on the politics of youth as well as on issues concerning urban infrastructures and 'urbanity' in central Africa.



Welcome & Announcement of the RCMC-FEL Junior Fellows
by Wayne Modest (Head of the Research Center for Material Culture)


Welcome & Introduction
by Mark Westmoreland (Associate Professor in the Visual Anthropology, Leiden University)



by Sammy Baloji (Visual Artist) and Filip De Boeck (Professor of Anthropology at the Institute for Anthropological Research in Africa, University of Leuven)

Q & A




End program

Adriaan Gerbrands Lecture

The annual Adriaan Gerbrands Lecture is a joint initiative of the Fund for Ethnology Leiden, the National Museum for Ethnology (Museum Volkenkunde), the Beeld voor Beeld Documentary Film Festival and the Institute for Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology (Leiden University). The lecture intends to promote academic and popular interest in research combining material culture studies, the anthropology of art, and visual anthropology. As early as the 1960s, Gerbrands pointed out the theoretical and practical challenges emerging from the overlap between these fields. Gerbrands (1917-1997) held a chair at the Leiden Institute for Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology, was deputy director of the National Museum of Ethnology, and an early advocate of ethnographic film in the Netherlands.

Fonds voor Etnologie in Leiden

Screening and Masterclass

Prior to the Adriaan Gerbrands lecture at Museum Volkenkunde, the Leiden University host a screening on November 27 and a masterclass on November 28. 

Screening 27 November

The Tower: A Concrete Utopia (70m) by Filip De Boeck and Sammy Baloji Conceived as a visual essay on the legacy of colonial architecture in the Congo, this film focuses on an unfinished and makeshift 12-story structure both inspired by the modernist promises of skyscrapers and reflects the way inhabitants of Kinshasa must “suture" together the “holes” that permeate the urban landscape. The Tower, a vision of one man known locally as the ‘Docteur’, provides a concrete response to earlier colonial propositions, while also highlighting the way aging and dilapidated colonial infrastructures have become “fragments and figments of a modernity that has become part of an irretrievable past.” In this way, Docteur’s Tower serves as “a giant question mark,” as if to ask: "What kinds of social (after)lives does [a colonialist modernity] still enable, and what dreams and visions of possible futures, if any, does that colonial legacy still trigger for the residents of Kinshasa today?"

17.00-19.00 Screening followed by Q&A with filmmakers
Location: Filmzaal (0A28), Pieter de la Court building, Wassenaarseweg 52, 2333 AK Leiden

Masterclass 28 November

13.00-15.00 Masterclass with Sammy Baloji and Filip De Boeck
Location: Room 1A25, Pieter de la Court building, Wassenaarseweg 52, 2333 AK Leiden

Registration required
Subject: Masterclass
Max 20 participants
etails will be shared after registration.

Universiteit Leiden