Since 2018 I am lecturer at the Reinwardt Academy in Amsterdam, where I teach at the Master of Applied Museum and Heritage Studies. Before that I worked for eighteen years as a curator in various museums. I first started as the Curator Middle East and North Africa at the Tropenmuseum. When the museum merged with the Museum of Ethnology in Leiden and the Africa Museum in Nijmegen, and later the Wereldmuseum in Rotterdam, the collections and exhibitions under my care considerably expanded. I curated a number of exhibitions for the Tropenmuseum, on wide-ranging topics, including contemporary art from Iran, the global Sixties and the artistic encounter of the Dutch artist M.C. Escher with Islamic art. Urban Islam, the first exhibition I curated (with Deniz Ünsal) told the story of four young Muslims on different continents, who shaped their identities in a globalising world.
I am interested in the history of museums and collections, and in particular how Islam was ‘framed’ over the course of time. My book Islam at the Tropenmuseum (2014) is a critical analysis of the history of the Tropenmuseum’s Islamic collections. Currently I am working on a research project with the title Framing Indonesian Art: Colonial Discourse and the Question of Islam. I study a group of objects from Indonesia that were collected during the colonial period, in order to understand the historical conditions leading to the Western disregard of Indonesian Islamic art and to investigate alternative approaches to the concept of ‘Islamic art’ in an Indonesian context.
While at CARMAH I worked with Sharon Macdonald and Katarzyna Puzon on the edited volume Islam and heritage in Europe, which will be published with Routledge early 2021. In this volume, we examine how particular ideas of Islam, heritage and Europe are variously mobilised at different times and in different places; and looking at how they play out in specific instances. As the subtitle of our book – Pasts, Presents and Future Possibilities – indicates, our concern is also to look at what has been and is underway in order to consider what might be potentials for both research and practice in the future.