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Conf/CfP - Materialities of Postcolonial Memory, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands

Publish Date: Apr 03, 2017

Deadline: Jun 01, 2017

Materialities of Postcolonial Memory

This conference is the annual workshop of the Amsterdam School for Heritage, Memory and Material Culture (AHM) of the University of Amsterdam. This year, the focus of the workshop is on key debates around actual themes in the public sphere, such as colonial legacy, the slavery past, migration and the materiality of postcolonial heritage. 

The Amsterdam School for Heritage, Memory and Material Culture

AHM fosters a dynamic, interdisciplinary and transnational research of heritage and memory, organizes PhD training, seminars, reading groups, workshops, public debates, and international conferences, and stimulates scholarly cooperation in an international setting.

The school brings together researchers working in diverse areas and fields heritage and memory studies, cultural studies, museum studies, archaeology and material culture, art history, media, conservation and restoration, archival studies, digital humanities, postcolonial and performative studies, religious studies, music and theatre studies, conflict and identity studies, Slavonic languages and cultures, Holocaust and genocide studies, European memory studies, Middle Eastern studies, and cultural, public and oral history.

Call for Papers

As questions of racism are prominent in public debate, the colonial and slavery pasts represent more than ever key sites of both social encounter and contestation. The fields of heritage and memory studies, however, have been slow to respond to these urgent issues. This conference engages with these debates through the lens of materiality, broadly understood. Our understanding of materiality encompasses, on the one hand, the enduring, ruinous effects of colonialism around the globe, its often unarticulated material traces in former metropoles and colonies, as well as the mostly unacknowledged role of migration and displacement. On the other hand, we wish to address the range of interventions, from protest movements to artistic initiatives and museum spaces, which act upon the manifold legacies of past injustices in the present.

Reflecting on the materiality of bodies, objects, sites, ruins, traces and interventions, this international conference

examines the awkward, aphasiac and contested memories of colonial and slavery pasts by bringing together scholars from heritage and memory studies, postcolonial and performative studies, critical race studies, archaeology and material culture, art history, archival studies and digital humanities, conflict and identity studies and other areas. We invite scholars to present papers which critically analyse these issues, and especially consider the role of materiality in their case studies.

Topics include, but are not limited to:

  • decolonizing heritage and memory studies; contemporary nation-states and transnationalism
  • postcolonial ruination: migration and displacement, prisons, poison, borders
  • museums as sites of contestation and issues of repatriation
  • materialities of cultural racism and strategies of resistance
  • memory interventions and narratives in public spaces
  • postcolonial landscapes and cityscapes
  • colonial object biographies and postcolonial agency

Abstracts for papers or panels (250 words max) including a short biographical statement (150 words max) should be sent to before 1 June 2017.


The confirmed keynote speakers are:

Prof. Ann Stoler (Columbia University)

Ann Laura Stoler is Willy Brandt Distinguised University Professor of Anthropology and Historical Studies at the New School for Social Research in New York City. She holds a PHD in anthropology from Columbia University. She is known in the field of colonial studies for her writings about the treatment of race in the works of French philosopher Michel Foucault. Stoler has worked on issues of colonial governance, racial epistemologies, and the sexual politics of empire. Her regional focus has been Southeast Asia. Colonial cultures, critical race theory, gender studies, political economy, and historical methodologies are her current interests. 

Prof. Lynn Meskell (Stanford University)

Lynn Meskell is Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Stanford University, former Director of the Stanford Archaeology Center, and Honorary Professor at the Rock Art Research Institute in the School of Geography, Archaeology and Environmental Studies at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa. She is the founding editor of the Journal of Social Archaeology. Currently she is conducting an institutional ethnography of UNESCO World Heritage, tracing the politics of governance and sovereignty and the subsequent implications for multilateral diplomacy, international conservation, and heritage rights. 

Prof. Nikita Dhawan (Innsbruck University)

Nikita Dhawan is Professor of Political Science (Political Theory and Gender Studies) and Director of the Research Platform Gender Studies: “Identities – Discourses – Transformations” at the University of Innsbruck, Austria. She is also Director of the “Frankfurt Research Center for Postcolonial Studies”, Cluster of Excellence “The Formation of Normative Orders”, Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany. Her research focuses on transnational feminism, global justice, human rights and democracy and decolonization in which she analyses the historical, economical, social-political and cultural connections between Europe and the post-colonial world.

Prof. Wayne Modest (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)

Wayne Modest is the Head of the Research Center for Material ulture, the research institute of the Tropenmuseum, Museum Volkenkunde and Africa Museum and professor of Material Culture and Critical Heritage Studies at the VU University Amsterdam. His research interests include issues of belonging and displacement, material mobilities, histories of (ethnographic) collecting and exhibitionary practices, difficult or contested heritage, with a special focus on slavery, colonialism and post-colonialism, and Caribbean Thought. More recently he has been researching heritage and citizenship in Europe with special attention for urban life, and ethnographic museums and questions of redress and repair.

Registration and Submission

To register or to submit your paper abstract, please send an email to

Conference Fee

The conference fee is €40 for employed academics and €15 for students. Speakers are expected to arrange accommodation and transport on their own; we will offer suggestions for hotels and other practical information soon.

For more information please click "Further Official Information" below.

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