The Rita Bolland Fellowship invites researchers who have projects that explore questions related to the NMVW textile(s) and dress collection.
The NMVW hosts a world-class collection of textile(s) and dress that represents a broad diversity of global dress and textile practices – in material, styles, patterns and meanings. The former Tropenmuseum’s textile curator Rita Boland, for which this fellowship is named, was well known internationally for her expertise in this area, especially focused on textile techniques. However, one could also study these materials in terms of fashion and design, and yet ethnographic museums have remained largely disengaged from such discussions. Following a longstanding Eurocentric convention, this disengagement implicitly maintains the division of the world into the West and non-West, with fashion belonging to something distinctly western, delineating ideas of trend, style, creativity, while dress embodies tradition and stasis of the non-Western other.
Challenges to this outdated dichotomy in recent years have given way to a number of studies that engage with fashion’s other histories/geographies. Taking up this critical repositioning, the RCMC welcomes invites researchers who have projects that explore, for example: how ethnographic museums can develop a global fashion agenda while maintain a thoughtful attention to the local; questions about the emergence of new fashion geographies – catwalks, fashion cities – and the impact that these might have on how and what we collect or display; questions about the growing economic importance of fashion’s other worlds beyond the West; or questions of rethinking identity/subjectivity and fashion within a global context.