7 February 2020

Practicing Togetherness? Refusal/Revolt in the Minor Mode

CLOSED FIELD LAB | 6 - 7 Feb | KIT, Amsterdam

Over the coming years, the RCMC, together with Critical Visitors, Heritage Institutions for Everyone network, will explore the analytical, political and practical utility of the concept of togetherness as a strategy to fashion more just and equitable futures.  Acknowledging long histories of collective mobilisation across difference, captured, for example, in terms such as solidarity, allyship and coalition, the togetherness describes those modes of mobilisation that enacts forms of being and labouring together to counter diverse structures of domination, marginalisation, and exclusion.

Thank you to Amal Alhaag for inspiring our notion of "togetherness" in the curation of the exhibit: Diasporic Self: Black Togetherness As Lingua Franca.

With Eliza Steinbock, Hester Dibbits, Wayne Modest, and special guests Eliza Chandler and Miriyam Aouragh.

Our thinking about togetherness today, comes in the wake of the recent re-emergence of the term decolonisation to describe strategies for rendering institutions more just, more inclusive. Such demands for decolonisation (beyond earlier appeals for diversity) have raised questions about who does, from what positionality, and how such justice work in and outside the institution should be done. This has also raised concerns from diverse corners about reductive forms of identity politics, grounded in notions of incommensurable difference, with its presumed negative effects, including the splintering of society. Thank you to Amal Alhaag for inspiring our notion of "togetherness" in the curation of the exhibit: Diasporic Self: Black Togetherness As Lingua Franca.

While taking such concerns seriously, our approach to togetherness draws on what increasingly has been referred to in as ‘intersectionality,’ a concept that emerged from and that has had a century-long history based in US- Black intellectualisms. Rather than splintering, we are interested in how such a concept bridges the plural ways in which rules of normalcy other us in different ways, other each other, and notably our museum’s visitors and potential visitors through categories understood socially as: dis/ability, gender, geographic birthplace, neurological sensibilities, race, and sexuality.

How can being and labouring together recover the notion of identity politics that do not elide difference, but is also not anchored in ideas of incommensurability? What histories of mobilisation across difference can we draw on to imagine and fashion as part of practices for creating more just and equitable future?  How can we enable cultural institutions to implement daily working practices that allow for more inclusivity and accessibility? How might we create heritage institutions for everyone?

Critical Visitors, Heritage Institutions for Everyone is an NWO Creative Industries: Smart Culture – Arts and Culture funded project that includes several other institutions such as Imagine IC, the Stedelijk Museum, and the Van Abbemuseum 

Image: Image courtesy of Dirk van den Heuvel. 

INVITED SPEAKER - Dr. Miriyam Aouragh

Dr. Miriyam Aouragh is Reader (Associate Professor) at the University of Westminster, London and visiting fellow at the Oriental Institute at Oxford University, Oxford. She grew up in Amsterdam as a second generation Moroccan and has been a grassroots organiser in different anti-racist movements. After a degree in political anthropology/non-Western sociology (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam), she embarked on a Doctorate about the socio-political implications of the Internet as it was first (Web 1.0) introduced in Palestine and how it coincided with the Second Intifada (Universiteit van Amsterdam). She was awarded a Rubicon (NWO) and began postdoc research at the Oxford Internet Institute (2009) to focus on the political role of Web 2.0 for grassroots activists in Palestine and Lebanon between. In 2013 she won a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship to develop a critical study of digital media with a specific aim to study the paradoxical context of (counter-)revolutions, in particular the implications of cyber imperialism and capitalist exploitation. Miriyam combines ethnographic offline methodologies (participant observation and interviews) with critical theory and media analyses. Her work is published in several books and journals including her own monograph Palestine Online (IB Tauris 2011) and her forthcoming ethnography Mediating the Makhzan about the manifestations of revolutionary praxis in Morocco. One of Aouragh's recent articles has been described as "landmark" in thinking through questions of racism and notably anti-racism. For other publications you can look here and here




INVITED SPEAKER - Dr. Eliza Chandler

Dr. Eliza Chandler teaches courses on disability arts and culture, cultural representations of disability, leadership and community building, and intersectional activist movements. Earning her Ph.D. from the Social Justice and Education department at the University of Toronto in 2014, Chandler was dually appointed artistic director at Tangled Art + Disability, an organization in Toronto dedicated to the cultivation of disability arts and the postdoctoral research fellow in Ryerson’s School of Disability Studies, from 2014-16. During this time, she was the founding artistic director of Tangled Art Gallery, Canada’s first art gallery dedicated to showcasing disability art and advancing accessible curatorial practice. Chandler is also the co-director of a Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)-funded partnership, Bodies in Translation: Activist Art, Technology, and Access to Life, a seven-year project that interrogates the close relationship between activist art and the achievement of social justice. Chandler sits on the Board of Directors of the Ontario Arts Council and is a practicing disability artist and curator.

Eliza Chandler