NIAS Symposium – Contested objects: the racial and colonial dimensions of material culture

20 apr 2022
Van 12:00 - 17:00uur

What are contested objects, why are they contested and when did they become so? This year’s NIAS Symposium explores the racial and colonial dimensions of our shared material culture.

About the symposium

Why, when and how becomes an object contested? From neighborhoods to monuments, from statues to household appliances. For a number of years there’s been is a particular attendance for racial and colonial dimension of our material culture. Some traces have been around for years, others have a more recent history. Increasingly, people have become outspoken about the need to become aware of the different ways to consider not just our past but also those objects that reminds us of it. What happens if we look beyond museums and archives and also take into account other ‘things’ like architecture, monuments, photography, food and interior design?

During the NIAS Symposium we will collectively explore what insights we can gain by shedding light on the racial and colonial dimensions of our material culture. When do objects start to live their own life? Even though the context of an object defines most of its meaning, the context itself can change too. And so we wonder: When and why do objects become contested? Which objects can connect but also lead to contestation? And how come? Can the materiality of an object pose constraints to what we can read in an object?

You are invited to join along this year’s NIAS Symposium, a one-day symposium with workshops and discussions. Together we’ll explore the power of ‘things’ and what happens when you bring the process of investigation and intellectual exchange into practice.

When and why do objects become contested? Which objects can connect but also lead to contestation?


11.30 – 12.00 Walk in @ Tinbergenzaal, Trippenhuis

12.00 – 13.00 Keynote session

Welcome by Jan Willem Duyvendak, Director NIAS

Joint keynote session by NIAS Fellows 2021/2022 Rahul Rao, Lecturer in International Political Thought, University of St. Andrews (UK) and Britta Schilling, Associate Professor of Cultural History at Utrecht University.

13.00 – 14.00 Lunch @ Tinbergenzaal, Trippenhuis

14.00 – 16.00 Series of parallel workshops 

  • Workshop 1) How to engage with contested objects through embodied learning – A multi-sensory experience of Dutch Colonial Architecture in Amsterdam’s city center. In collaboration with KNAW Humanities Cluster NL-Lab and Far Too Close @ VOC-zaal Bushuis (University of Amsterdam)
  • Workshop 2) The Racial Dimensions of Antiquity, then and now – On objects in a pre-colonial era. Given by Miko Flohr, Lecturer in Ancient History at Leiden University and former NIAS fellow in collaboration with the Allard Pierson @ Allard Pierson
  • Workshop 3) Weirding Europe: Contesting the Realist Paradigm in Contemporary Video and Film on Migration. Provided by Florian Lippert, Associate Professor of European Culture and Literature at University of Groningen and Maria Boletsi, Endowed Professor at University of Amsterdam & Assistant Professor in Film and Literary Studies, Leiden University (NIAS 2021/2022 Fellows) @ NIAS-KNAW
  • Workshop 4) Gastro-politics of multi-cultural eating: Spices by Bernike Pasveer, Assistant Professor in Society Studies at Maastricht University and Ghazwan Yaghi, PhD in Islamic Archaeology and Arts from Cairo University and UAF Fellow 2021/22 @ VOX-POP

16.00 – 16.30 Short break with coffee, tea and snacks @ VOX-POP

16.30 – 17.00 Closing with Jan Willem Duyvendak and spoken word by Ricardo Domeneck, NIAS Writer-in-Residence @ VOX-POP


Please register using the red button at the top of this page.

Do not hesitate to contact us for any request related to the event: events@nias.knaw.nl

*A limited number of places are available for students and participants with limited means. If you wish to apply for one of these places please contact us at the email address above.

**This is an English language event – De voertaal voor dit evenement is Engels

NIAS Symposium

This symposium aims to establish an atmosphere that stimulates dialogue and collective learning. By doing so to offer new perspectives in ongoing public debates.

Het KNHG is de grootste organisatie van professionele historici in Nederland. Het biedt een platform aan de ruim 1100 leden en aan de historische gemeenschap als geheel. Wordt lid van het KNHG.
Terug naar de bron: de geschiedenis ontrafeld met nieuwe technologie. Dat is de missie van het Huygens ING, een onderzoeksinstituut op het gebied van geschiedenis en cultuur.