Technologies of Certain Bodies Lab
Technologies of Certain Bodies is a research project that is developed in the context of the exhibition WORK, BODY, LEISURE, the Dutch Pavilion at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, 2018. This project is a collaboration between the Research Center for Material Culture and the Research Department of Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam.
Technologies of Certain Bodies is an experimental research project that attempts to bring forth modes of (un)thinking, literature, archives, and cultural production that trace the complex genealogies—sets of relations, histories, and politics—that inform the engineering of the body in the afterlives of slavery and colonialism. The workshop series, Technologies of Certain Bodies, commences from the historical and architectural function (meaning the politics and poetics) of the Doors of no Return at Fort Elmina, Cape Coast, and the Island of Gorée in West Africa, taking these as sites of the engineered, racialized body that represents the genealogy of violence that precipitated the forced movements of the enslaved, and those still unfolding of the migrant and refugee.
To question the processes and technologies that reduce 'non-Western', enslaved, migratory, and gendered people to bodies is also to be “in the wake” (sensu Chistina Sharpe); it is to vigilantly question the engineering of enslaved African bodies as historical sites for the technological innovation of work, body, and leisure. In what ways do these specific bodies redefine and resist the dominant hegemonic understandings of technology, space, memory, and the body itself?
As a technology of representation, the museum and its collection requires a different approach, one that highlights the need for a new politics of the possible – and a politics of lives that matter. What are the mechanics that constructed the technologies of ethnographic classification? And in what ways do these processes continue to reproduce a colonial understanding of the ethnographic body?
The RCMC Lab, Technologies of Certain Bodies, will invite various speakers to explore this set of questions at various workshops throughout the year.
Text: Amal Alhaag
Research Theme: Un/engendering the Collections