In the so-called ‘VOC-zaal’ in the Bushuis, a historical reconstruction of the Dutch East India Company past can be seen, which was devised and created in the 1990s. In recent years, there has been growing unease among staff and students about the way in which the colonial past of the Netherlands and Amsterdam is presented/represented at this location. The Faculty Board therefore decided in August 2022 to temporarily close the room, which was used for meetings, symposia and the presentation of degree certificates.
Since January 2023, the doors of the room have been opened once again for the public project 'Decolonial Dialogues@Humanities'. Events and activities will be programmed in and around the room until February 2024. The project will offer a platform to decolonial research and programmes. Furthermore, in collaboration with staff and students, partner institutions and interested parties, we reflect and work on concrete proposals regarding the future of the room and the best way to deal with the colonial past of the Bushuis/Oost-Indisch Huis.
The public programme is curated by curators Phaedra Haringsma and Chris de Ploeg. The programme was initiated by Ghanima Kowsoleea (former project manager of VOX-POP) in consultation with an interdisciplinary team of UvA experts chaired by Margriet Schavemaker (professor of Media and Art in Museum Practice and artistic director of the Amsterdam Museum). This team will give feedback and input on the programming during the project and publish an open call to submit ideas and to participate.
The UvA will also establish an interdisciplinary advisory committee in the coming year, on the initiative of Central Diversity Officer Machiel Keestra. The recommendations of this committee will include the research into the colonial past of our own institution, whereby the programming and the resulting insights from the Decolonial Dialogues@Humanities project can serve as input for this research.
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