Symposium | 25 Sep 2015 | RCMC

Global Imaginations: How to Visualize an Interconnected World

The symposium aims to contribute to ongoing attempts to better understand our globally interconnected world, focusing on the ways in which artists and scholars have grappled with questions of ‘the global’ over the years.

Connecting scholars from a variety of different disciplines within the humanities and social sciences to artists, the symposium will not only examine existing academic perspectives on globalization, but also explore the possibilities to find other, innovative strategies for understanding the flows and frictions of global connections, those networks of relations between us and others in a shared world.

Ongoing rapid changes in new media technology, in the flows and vulnerabilities of global capital, and in the significant rise in voluntary and involuntary migration, among numerous other factors, demand that we seek out other more novel approaches to understanding global relations.

The symposium foregrounds the potential of art to help us comprehend the complex and often messy entanglements of the world in which we live. We contend that contemporary art can help us find alternative, diverse mappings of the world, revealing unexpected, unusual and contradictory imaginings of these global entanglements.

The symposium will revolve around questions such as:
  • What role do artists play in making the flows and frictions of global interconnections visible?
  • How do artists intervene in existing worldviews and how do these interventions help us to understand the complex fabric of today’s world?
  • What forms of earlier ‘global’ imaginings still haunt our global contemporary?
  • How might a greater attentiveness to objects help us to critically explore earlier forms of global connections?
  • What role do new media technologies play in how we experience and understand our world as a shared one?

Watch more lectures of the symposium Global Imaginations on YouTube.


Find out more about the exposition Global Imaginations.

About the event

Friday, September 25, 2015 - 10:00 to 19:00
Steenstraat 1, Leiden, the Netherlands
Registration for the event is closed


Wayne Modest

Prof. dr. Wayne Modest is the Head of the Research Center for Material Culture, the research institute of the Tropenmuseum, Museum Volkenkunde and Africa Museum. He is also professor (by special appointment) of Material Culture and Critical Heritage Studies in the faculty of humanities at the VU University Amsterdam. Modest was previously, head of the curatorial department at the Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam; Keeper of Anthropology at the Horniman Museum in London, and Director of the Museums of History and Ethnography in Kingston, Jamaica.

He has held visiting scholar positions at the Yale Centre for British Art, Yale University and the School for Museums Studies, New York University. Wayne Modest’s work is driven by a concern for more historically contingent ways of understanding the present, especially in relation to material culture/museum collections. His research interests include issues of belonging and displacement; material mobilities; histories of (ethnographic) collecting and exhibitionary practices; difficult/contested heritage (with a special focus on slavery, colonialism and post-colonialism); Caribbean Thought. More recently Modest has been researching and publishing on heritage and citizenship in Europe with special attention for urban life, and on ethnographic museums and questions of redress/repair.


Some of his publications include “We’ve Always Been Modern: Museums, Collections and Modernity.” Museum Anthropology 35(1). 2012, “Material Bridges: Objects, Museums and New Indigeneity in the Caribbean.” Seeking Bridges: Anthropology and Indigenous/Native Studies (Routledge, 2012), “Museums, African Collections and Social Justice (with Helen Mears)” in Museums, Equality and Social Justice (Routledge, 2012), and “Slavery and the (Symbolic) Politics of Memory in Jamaica: Rethinking the Bicentenary” in Representing Enslavement and Abolition in Museums (Routledge, 2011). Museums and Communities: Curators, Collections, Collaborations (Bloomsbury Academic Publishers, with Viv Golding, 2013); Museums, Heritage and International Development (Routledge, with Paul Basu, 2013); Anxious Politics in the European City (with Anouk de Koning, eds.). Special issue of Patterns of Prejudice 50(2). 2016. His co-edited publication (with Tim Barringer). Victorian Jamaica  will be published by Duke University Press in 2018.

Head Research Center for Material Culture
Anke Bangma
Curator Photography and Contemporary Art