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Cultural Historians Toolbox (PhD Core Course 2): ‘Decolonizing Collections’

Short description

In three interactive and hands-on sessions, PhD candidates (also open to RMA students), will delve into the question of decolonizing collections. Through discussions and hands-on work, participants will gain insight into current debates, concepts, and practices concerning the decolonization of museum and archival collections.

Each session is organised by a different institution: the Amsterdam Museum, Inward Outward and the Amsterdam City Archives. Sessions are prepared by reading several texts and a preparatory assignment and can have a short final assignment (TBA). In the second workshop, participants will explore an object related to their own research.

After successful participation in the workshop series, the Huizinga Institute will issue a 3-ECTS certificate. It is not possible to sign up for separate sessions.

Session 1: Amsterdam Museum

Monday 13 June 2022, 9:00-12:30, Amsterdam

Organized by the Amsterdam Museum. Led by Emma van Bijnen, Imara Limon, Margriet Schavemaker,, and Inez van der Scheer.

This workshop will, as a starting point, focus on the role and responsibility of cultural institutions in the decolonization process. We will look at the stories we purposefully or inadvertently tell through (the selection and presentation of) collections and discuss both best practices and pitfalls when doing research.

Session 2: Inward Outward

Tuesday 21 June 2022, time TBA, Utrecht.

Organized by Inward Outward (Sound & Vision – Institute for Media Culture). Led by Stevie Nolten, Rachel Somers Miles and Carine Zaayman.

This workshop, presented by Inward Outward, invites participants to consider the ways in which positionality enables – and prevents – individual responses to archival holdings and museum collections. Drawing on critiques of ‘neutrality’ and ‘depersonalization’, as well as articulations of subjectivity, we aim to facilitate a collective reflection on objects as constituted by institutions of memory and knowledge production. In a hands-on and brains-on session, guided by this discursive framework, participants will explore an object related to their own research.

Session 3: Amsterdam City Archives

Monday 27 June 2022, time TBA, Amsterdam

Organized by the Amsterdam City Archives. Led by Mirjam Schaap, Stefanie van Odenhoven, and Mark Ponte.

How to decolonize the Amsterdam City Archives? During the workshop we will investigate several strategies of relating to the colonial past of the Amsterdam City Archives by looking into one of the (most) problematic archives in the Archives’ collection: the archive of Hope & Co. Both as forerunner of ABN AMRO bank, as one of the biggest financial Amsterdam (and Dutch) companies of the 18th and early 19th century, and as an archive that was kept in a very complete and orderly state, the Amsterdam City Archives should relate themselves (actively) to this specific legacy. But how? Participants are encouraged to express their thoughts, using the knowledge and experience acquired in the previous sessions.


This course is fully booked – please contact the huizinga office for a spot on the waiting list (


Register (2/15 spaces left)

Bookings are closed for this course.