I will use the opportunity afforded me here to elucidate my roles as Applied Research Professor in Cultural Diversity at the Hogeschool Rotterdam (Creating 010 / WdKA) and Curatorial Fellow 2015 at the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art. The intersection of these two positions is not a coincidence; it rather allows me to fulfill what the Creating 010 Research Center stands for. It is a center which is devoted to taking the city as a place of research, which aims to create connections between the discourses of the city and the teaching and research at the Hogeschool Rotterdam, or more specifically the Willem de Kooning Akademie and Institute for Communication, Media and Information Technology.
One of the key issues that one has to understand whilst practicing Critical Cultural Diversity is that the subject has to be addressed from a global and historical perspective, by which I mean, that the composition and hybridity of Western Societies—or the Global North—are grown out of the aftermath of Imperialism. This not only includes the violent and exploitative history of that enterprise, which has created amongst other phenomena the Black Diaspora, but also has to be addressed on an ideological level because the way in which power is shared or distributed is still embedded within these dynamics and ideas. This includes knowledge production and, in the case of the arts, the inclusion or exclusion of non-white artists or the “particular” framing of these artists, a subject that has been addressed by various scholars and artists for more than four decades.
Cultural Diversity, however, is not only about the inclusion of voices that have been excluded. It is about creating a critical awareness of, and literacy in, the specificities through which our positions in a society are historically pro- duced and what these positions entail. The re-occurrence of themes like the critique of white Supremacy and political strategies such as Feminism since the 1960’s, which keep reappearing in the contemporary, is not a coincidence, but a sign that we still have to work on the power structures in which we live that are constantly reproduced.
The Cultural Diversity research team at the Hogeschool, Rotterdam is currently charged with examining the ways in which in—and ex-clusion is produced at the Willem de Kooning Akademie. The project is called WdKA makes a Difference, and is part of a larger research cluster called Art / School / Differences—a project that is currently conducted at the University of Arts, Zurich and HEAD, Geneva. Like the research in Switzerland, my approach is to embrace the subject not from an empiric, but from a participatory action based perspective, which means whilst we are looking at the issue we are also part of the process. This means, in the case of WdKA makes a Difference, that the teaching and discussions with students and teachers, as well as the decolonizing work on the Curriculum, are of equal importance for our analysis as the conducting of qualitative interviews. It is also an approach that includes the perspectives of teachers as researchers on Cultural Diversity, and thus comes out of the perspective of practitioners rather than numbers and statistics.