BROWN BAG SESSION | 20 April 2022

BROWN BAG SESSION | 20 April | 13:00 - 16:00 | Zoom

(JuniorFellowsResearch Associates, and University Interns: Mini-‘Brown Bag’ Research Session.  If you would like to join, please email for the Zoom link. The Zoom link will be sent the morning of Tuesday, April 20. 

In an effort to nurture research on the collection of the Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen (NMVW), which consists of nearly 450,000 objects and 750,000 photographic images, the Research Center for Material Culture (RCMC), the research institute of the Tropenmuseum, the Museum Volkenkunde, the Afrika Museum, and the Wereldmuseum in Rotterdam, welcomes fellows, junior fellows, research associates and university student interns. 

In response to the request from one of our year-long PhD interns, Johanna Strunge, that we learn more about each other’s inquiries and offer a means of doing research in a time in which social distancing and travel restrictions ask that we think our work differently, this mini-conference offers just one way for us to connect across spaces. We especially thank those joining us from around the world in the hours “entre chien et loup” [between dusk and dawn].

Ella Broek | The Affective Potential of the Koto: On the dynamic interaction between clothing and the body

How do Dutch-Surinamese wearers of the koto experience wearing their costumes? And how are embodied sartorial practices involved in the construction of their subjectivity/identity, both during specific Koto ceremonies as well as in the course of everyday life?

Rather than seeing dress as a neutral instrument to convey identity, this research examines its ability to actively shape the subject from a phenomenological perspective. Following the idea that the body is the primary site for experiencing and becoming to know the world, Broek focuses on bodily sensations and experiences, and the possibility for action that clothing can provide. Central to this research is the kotomisi, a woman dressed in Afro-Surinamese costume, of which the koto (the name of the skirt as well as the entire costume) and angisa (folded headgear) are important parts. It considers, for example, the weight of an angisa folded with three cloths or the skid resistance of a starched skirt.

In wanting to learn from this tradition, rather than simply recording it, a major element of Broek’s research is aimed at supplementing current museum collections with supplemental information geared towards making tangible connections between the objects (the kotos) and the people who make, carry, collect and cherish them. Through this, she hopes to arrive at a well-contextualised heritage collection surrounding the satorial and cultural relevance of traditional dress to the Dutch-Surinamese community. This research is embedded in a collaborative project on the technique and experience of Afro-Surinamese costume from Tailors and Wearers, a foundation initiated by koto and angisa expert Jane Stjeward-Schubert, photographer Michelle Piergoelam and anthropologist Ella Broek.

Want to know more? Please feel free to join the BROWN BAG SESSION on April 20!

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