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Wayne Modest

Wayne Modest is professor of Material Culture and Critical Heritage Studies, in the Faculty of the Humanities at the Vrije Universitiet (VU) Amsterdam. He has held visiting academic positions at the University of Pennsylvania (Anthropology), New York University (Museum Studies), and Yale University (Center for British Art). In addition, he is founding director of the Research Center for Material Culture, the research institute of the Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam; Museum Volkenkunde, Leiden, Africa Museum Berg en Dal, and the Wereldmuseum, Rotterdam. The RCMC fosters research on ethnographic collections and museums, their complex histories and futures. 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). More recently Modest has been researching and publishing on heritage and citizenship in Europe. In addition to his research, Modest has (co)curated several exhibitions including the most recent, What We Forget – Alana Jelinek, Rajkamal Kahlon, Servet Kocyigit, and Randa Maroufi, which explores the art making and the memory of colonialism in current discussions about European citizenship, its pasts, present, and futures.

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