Call for Applications
Our understanding of textile and dye crafts, both at the local and global levels, is invariably colored by colonial, national, and post-war UN approaches to ‘development and rehabilitation’. More recently, the neoliberal wave of institutionalizing art and culture through the frames of ‘heritage’ and/or ‘creative economy’ has begun to shape our ideas and sentiments about handmade textiles, clothing, and dyes.
This ISGS invites applications from Arts, Design, Social Sciences and Humanities graduate students (doctoral, including doctorate practice-based research, and research master's) and early-career professionals (up to 3 years after the completion of the PhD). All applicants must be committed to or actively working on projects that engage with the ISGS theme.
In this LeidenGlobal-HAB-IIAS In Situ Graduate School (ISGS) we will aim to interrogate prevailing, dominant discourses through other, less visible, and marginalized vantage points, whilst focusing on three sub-themes:
1) Circulations of textiles and dyes along less visible cartographies
Scientific knowledge has been characteristically understood as ‘abstract’ knowledge, that is ‘universal’, and implicitly reliant upon the (hidden) extraction of surplus labor, often from racialized and gendered ‘others’. We know that indigenous Asian and African knowledge lay scattered among early modern botanists’, missionaries’ and colonial administrators’ reports, travel writings, and correspondences, as well as in the objects they produced and traded. But this occurred in an early modern, nascent capitalist context where knowledge was conceived as a privately owned commodity that should properly be harnessed to profit-driven commercial schemes. Can the script be flipped through a retelling and re-imagining of the trajectories of these itineraries? Which populations emerge as the important interlocutors of those long distance conversations? What are the distinct cultural contexts that come into view? What are the spatial relationships, environmental conditions, and technological limitations that become important to understand? The Indian Ocean worlds have long been connected, and there is much to be learned from the circulation of textiles and dyes, as it opens windows to an understanding of the flows of people, diasporic communities, and their personal histories. It also illuminates the urban social contexts of port cities in East Africa, Indian Ocean archipelagos, and South and Southeast Asia.
In this ISGS we will explore how textile trade, skills, techniques, recipes, and designs—in the global past and present—can be used as tools to gain insight into hidden or erased knowledge, cultural philosophies, alternate histories of religious conversion, and cultural exchange.
2) Textile and dyes as sites of precarity and meaning
In this sub-theme we will explore how handmade textiles and dyes are sites of refuge, recovery, and sustenance in the face of crises wrought by contemporary global economic policies: poverty, climate migration, pandemics, wars, and other forms of displacement and disruption. Focusing on ‘making’, ‘relating’, ‘belonging’ for those witnessing irreversible changes in their social, political, and ecological surroundings, this ISGS will open discussions about meaning-making and self-respect practices through the very material aspects of cloth, clothing, and color. What are the limits to the view that handmade textiles and natural dyes are creative, cultural resources for building livelihoods? We will look at formal and informal cultural infrastructures like museums, textile craft collectives, online market platforms, and digital repositories to understand their role in mitigating precarious aspects of socio-cultural production and reproduction. With millions of people on the move, chased by shifting access to natural resources, institutionalized violence and exclusionary urbanization, in this sub-theme we have the option to stop and comprehend the spaces occupied by fabric and color in the lives of minoritized individuals, groups, and communities.
3) Testimonies of past and present subjectivities of cloth, clothing and colour
In this ISGS, participants will gain first-hand knowledge of inter-personal and inter-cultural mobilities using people, places, institutions, textile and dye samples, related documents/texts, memories, and biographies, especially in and around Leiden. What other repositories, apart from national museums, can we draw upon to provide us with stories of migration, displacement, settlement, and resettlement? Bringing together local stakeholders through community and resident associations of African and Asian diasporas in the Netherlands at a Roundtable meeting can unveil new insights into vexed questions of identity and belonging. We will have brief ethnographic/multimedia encounters and conversations with migrant communities, institutions, and designers. We will use digital storytelling tools to attempt new modes of sensing cloth and color and the worlds they inhabit and for collecting oral histories within a collaborative research mindset. The ISGS will be a hands-on opportunity for ‘situated learning’ featuring different media, artifacts, people, and places as pedagogical tools for critical thinking, storytelling, and writing beyond conventional classroom, museum, and studio contexts.
The In Situ Graduate School on Textile and Dyes will be held from 18-23 September 2022 in Leiden, the Netherlands.
In addition to specialist lectures, conversations, and a roundtable with diverse stakeholders, participants will also undertake local field trips in Leiden and other parts of the Netherlands. At the end of the ISGS, participants will make final presentations responding to each of the three sub-themes, and they will discuss the questions that were raised and the people and places they visited during the course of the project.
Jody Benjamin (Assistant Professor of History, University of California, Riverside, USA), Neelam Raina (Associate Professor of Design and Development , Middlesex University, United Kingdom) and Pedro Pombo (Associated Researcher at the Centre for Research on Slavery and Indentured Labour, University of Mauritius, Mauritius) will convene the ISGS with a series of studies in practice, using the environment of the city of Leiden and its surroundings where many textiles resources and specialists are located. Participants will be exposed to a range of textiles and dyes specialists, local spaces and sites of cultural engagement to test their methods and practices, enabling them to critically consider their personal research projects in this field.
Coming from different academic traditions with diverse theoretical and methodological expertise, the conveners shall foster an active atmosphere of open discussion, critique, and empirical inquiry. The goal is to facilitate participants’ existing projects in a related field of study through a combination of lectures, conversations, fieldtrips, and group work.
We welcome applications from Arts, Design, Social Sciences and Humanities graduate students (doctoral, including doctorate practice-based research, and research master's) and early career professionals (up to 3 years after the completion of the PhD).
For additional details on eligibility criteria and how to apply, see the Application section on our website: https://www.iias.asia/textiledyes
Registration fee and financial support
The registration fee for participation in the In Situ Graduate School is 400 Euro, which includes participation in the ISGS programme, accommodation for seven nights, six lunches and two dinners.
Selected participants are expected to fund their own travel expenses. Limited (partial) scholarships are available.
For more information how to apply for financial support, please see our website: https://www.iias.asia/textiledyes
The co-organisers reserve the right to modify the dates and general conditions of the ISGS should its logistics and safety of the participants be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.