Universiteit Leiden

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Conference | D&I Symposium

Untold Stories: representation, heritage and museums

Thursday 11 January 2024
Only the plenary sessions can be followed via livestream
Turfmarkt 99
2511 DP The Hague

The world of museums and heritage institutions as public places have a crucial role when it comes to representation and the formation of narratives. It connects the present with the past to shape the future. But who can relate to these stories and how, when some are incomplete or untold? Which stories are represented (and which are not)? How do we acknowledge history without erasing it and how can we give a new meaning with the stories from the past in shaping the present and future?  How do you make such institutions relevant to a broader audience and what sustainable and institutional change processes are needed to create inclusive environments?

This annual symposium attracts a broad audience of students, professional staff and scientists and offers the opportunity to meet each other, connect and acquire knowledge and tools to take the next steps together towards a more inclusive community.

The event is organised by the D&I Expertise Office and the Faculty of Archaeology. 


Pravini Baboeram


The main language of the symposium will be English unless otherwise noted. English-Sign Language of the Netherlands (SLN) translation will be provided during the plenary part of the symposium. During workshops SLN translation will be available upon request.


The plenary part of the programme can be followed on 11 January via a livestream on this page, without registration.


For more information about the workshops and plenary sessions, see below.

Doors open
Welcome by Pravini Baboeram
Opening by Annetje Ottow, President of the Executive Board
Welcome by Alexander Geurds, Vice Dean Faculty of Archaeology
Keynote Valika Smeulders: Changing the Narrative
Panel talk: 10 years Diversity Officer – Challenges and milestones
End & Reception

Registration (Closed)

The D&I symposium consists of a plenary programme and workshops. Online participants can follow the plenary programme via livestream, without registration. Offline participants can join both the plenary programme and the workshops.

Plenary sessions

Changing the Narrative

Keynote by Dr. Valika Smeulders

Museums have long focused primarily on the history of power and wealth. This is changing at increasing speed, building on both the urgency conveyed by social movements and new interdisciplinary research. The significance of the colonial past, the role that people of different parts of the world played in building the Dutch empire, is now being added to museum exhibitions on a temporary basis, and on the long term. What does that change look like, how and by whom is it accomplished? This talk will zoom into the Rijksmuseum, its exhibition on Slavery and its ongoing work on writing a more inclusive narrative of how the Netherlands came to be.

About Valika Smeulders

Dr. Valika Smeulders (Curaçao, 1969) is head of the Department of History at the Rijksmuseum and was one of the curators for its exhibition Slavery (in Amsterdam in 2021 and New York in 2023). She earned her degree at the Erasmus University with a dissertation on slavery in museum presentations in the Caribbean and Africa and was a post doc researcher at the KITLV/Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies. Her latest publications include Het koloniale en slavernijverleden van Hofstad Den Haag (editor and co-author, 2022) and Ons koloniale verleden in 50 voorwerpen (editor, 2023).

10 years Diversity Officer – Challenges and milestones

Panel discussion

As 2024 marks 10 years since the launching of Leiden University’s diversity policy, the Diversity Officer of Leiden University, Dr. Aya Ezawa and other panelists will reflect on what it means to facilitate change and realise the university’s goals in the area of diversity and inclusion.

Panel speakers

  • Dr. Aya Ezawa, Diversity Officer Leiden University
  • Aurelie van ’t Slot, Policy Officer Internationalisation and Diversity & Inclusion Leiden University
  • Dr. Looi van Kessel, University Lecturer at the Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society
  • Dr. Constance Sommerey, Diversity Officer Maastricht University
  • Dr. Esther van Opstal, Director Human Resource Management Leiden University



NL = in Dutch
EN = in English

Aminato Cairo

Language: English

In this workshop, Aminata takes the audience on an exploratory journey into holding space for each other’s stories. What does it require? Why is it so hard? We have heard it said that change starts within oneself. Well, how do you do that? Through engaging in various activities drawing from various art forms, Aminata facilitates people to truly start from themselves and work towards collective change. She does not avoid the possible discomfort (‘ongezelligheid’) that might accompany this journey, but just like in the blues guides people through the hard stuff so they can come out better for it.

Aminata is a speaker, scholar, storyteller and “love-worker”. She is the former lector of Inclusive Education at The Hague University of Applied Sciences and the former lector of Social Justice and Diversity in the Arts at the Amsterdam University of the Arts. She now works full time as an independent consultant. She is particularly interested in using her academic, artistic and community skills to support, honor and celebrate the voices and stories unheard, overlooked, silenced and marginalised. Her work is exemplified in her book: Holding Space: A Storytelling Approach to Trampling Diversity and Inclusion (2021).

Elvera van Leeuwen – Mikxs

Language: Dutch

In the Netherlands, 350,000 people live with a visual impairment. People who are blind or partially sighted are confronted with this every day; information that is not readable, public spaces that are not accessible, people who do not understand the situation; you‘ll just have to take it every day. That takes a lot of energy. During this interactive workshop we will introduce you to this world. For a moment you are in the shoes of someone with a visual impairment. We won’t let you experience it alone. We also tell you our experiences and give you tips on how you too can contribute to better accessibility. Since 2015, Elvera van Leeuwen has been committed to making art and culture accessible to people with a visual and/or hearing impairment, working and bringing about change by providing workshops, training and advice, especially for museums and other organisations.

Please note: Guide dogs will be present at this workshop. These should not be petted or distracted, we kindly ask you to ignore them.

Ruben Treurniet – Civinc

Language: English

‘You have to walk on eggshells these days; it is better not to make any jokes at all’ Agree or disagree? There are as many opinions as there are people. That’s the value of diversity. But how do you bring divergent views together around a delicate topic such as Diversity & Inclusion? And how do you lower the barriers to engage in conversation? Ruben Treurniet, founder of Civinc (Civic Inclusion) developed an innovative tool to connect people with different views in conversation on D&I. Sign up for this interactive workshop and you’re guaranteed a fresh perspective on the topic. Make sure to bring your mobile phone or laptop, we’ll use it!

Discussion leader: Martin van Engel

Language: Dutch

‘I don‘t actually think diversity is important, it’s about quality.’ 

This is one of the statements of the D&I Dialogue interactive workshop. Together with other participants you will discuss diversity and inclusion, where everyone has the opportunity to agree or disagree with each other. The goal is to become stronger in each other’s understanding and commitment to this important topic.

The discussion leader of D&I Dialogue is Martin van Engel (Advisor Diversity and Inclusion). He is an expert in the field of diversity and inclusion. As a diversity and inclusion advisor to (non-)profit organisations, he sets up impact research and inclusion programs, but he also initiates projects himself. For example, Keptin, a new guidance program for utilising and retaining culturally diverse talent. His clients include Eurosonic Noorderslag, Museum Fenix, Municipality of Zaanstad, Stedelijk Museum Alkmaar and Holy Fools. He is also a member of the Advisory Board of Museum MORE, a member of the National UNESCO Commission and a committee member of Fonds 21, the Amsterdam Arts Council and the DNB Fund.

Maurice Seleky

Language: English

In this workshop Maurice Seleky, the head of Communications & Marketing of the Amsterdam Museum, shares some insights and practical examples from several conversational campaigns he and his colleagues developed for the Amsterdam Museum around exhibitions and projects like The Golden Coach, Refresh Amsterdam and Collecting the City where and how complex themes such as identity, colonialism and racism are addressed in the campaigns and communication.

Maurice Seleky is an experienced leader in the creative and cultural industries, senior communications strategist, moderator and author. Currently Seleky serves as head of Communications & Marketing and member of the management team at the Amsterdam Museum. In 2021 he was nominated as ‘Culture marketeer of the Year’ by Cultuurmarketing, the platform for marketing and communication professionals in the Dutch cultural sector. Seleky is also frequently active as a moderator, podcast host and public speaker, participating in a wide ranges of public programmes. In addition Seleky is author of the novels ‘Ego Faber’ and ‘Een tragedie in New York’ at Ambo-Anthos Publishers.

Mitchell Esajas – The Black Archives

Language: English

In this workshop we will dive deeper into the importance of archiving in decolonising historical  narratives. During this workshop from The Black Archives you will be taken on a journey through a hidden history of black emancipation and resistance based on the unique collections in the archive. The collection includes stories about the migration history of the African diaspora and other migrant groups, the colonial and slavery past and hidden stories about racism and discrimination in the Dutch context. From these stories we can learn lessons for contemporary challenges such as diversity, inclusion and decolonization in education. What is the role of knowledge production and universities in the colonial and slavery past? What is the concept of decolonization and hidden history of Black emancipation? As part of the commemoration year, participants will discuss ‘What should come after the comma’ of the apology using practical examples such as the ‘No Healing, Without Recovery’ project by The Black Archives. Participants will ultimately work together on a manifesto for reparations and healing and get practical tools en tips.

Mitchell Esajas (the Netherlands, 1988) is cofounder of New Urban Collective, a network for students and young professionals from diverse backgrounds with a focus on the Surinamese, Caribbean and African diaspora. In 2016 he co-founded the Black Archives in Amsterdam, a cultural center based on a unique collection of books, documents and artefacts documenting the histories of Surinamese and Black people in the Dutch context. The Black Archives develops exhibitions and public programs based on the collections and urgent societal issues.

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