Practicing History in Super-Diverse Societies: Possibilities, Challenges, Dilemmas

TAPAS Workshop Series 2019-2020

Where socio-cultural diversity increases, so do different ways of ‘doing history’. Within the public sphere, collective tools to deal with this ‘super-diversity’ of ‘historical cultures’ are often felt to be lacking. This is reflected not only in the inability to share ways of dealing with many painful pasts and the formation of multiple counter-histories and -identities, but also in confused education policies and calls for the ‘decolonization’ of the history curriculum. In this specialist course, we examine the consequences of this societal super-diversity for practices of doing history. We specifically focus on what happens when multiple, sometimes clashing, epistemological and ontological frameworks with regard to history come together in four ‘contact zones’: primary and secondary schools, academia, heritage sites, and museums. We do this by thinking meta-historically through the problems researchers and field professionals confront with regard to dissonant heritages, haunting colonial pasts, and legacies of racism and inequality.

This course aims to familiarize resarchers, PhD students and other interested participants with the ongoing international debates about the uses of the past in super-diverse societies. We do this through a metahistorical lens and with an interdisciplinary approach. We aim to answer two central questions. First: what are the implications of super-diversity on various practices of doing history? How does one show diverse and sometimes conflicting histories in museums and on heritage sites, or teach these histories in schools and the academy? Second, what are the implications of such a diverse set of relations to the past for history’s nineteenth-century ‘function’ of creating societal cohesion? Can historians or other ‘memory agents’ still aim for cohesion without striving to create shared historical narratives, and if yes: how?

In line with our TAPAS Specialist Course on Decolonization of 2018-2019, we also ask how the aim to recognize colonial past(s) and the call to ‘decolonize’ relates to other politics concerning the past in super-diverse societies – debates surrounding historical (in)justice, the politics of place, and the contestation of eurocentrism in historiography? By combining reflections on concrete uses of the past with theoretical reflection on issues of ‘ownership’, epistemic injustice, decoloniality, and eurocentrism, the participants learn to utilize concepts in a flexible way and are encouraged to critically examine the opportunities their role as scholars brings.

We strive to go beyond our own demarcated field of study by bringing together various disciplines and fields of expertise from both inside and outside the university. Besides academics, we also invite speakers who can be labelled ‘practitioners’ and who have experienced the ‘challenges of super- diversity’ first-hand through their professional activities in museums, education, and heritage settings. The specialist course is composed of various meetings over the course of the academic year 2019- 2020.

Researchers and students interested in joining our Doctoral School programme can now inscribe by sending an e-mail to​. As usual, TAPAS workshops and reading groups are informal and we welcome all interested colleagues and students to join the discussion.


WORKSHOP SERIES: location AMSAB-ISG, Bagattenstraat 174, 9000 Ghent

Friday 22th of November 2019 | 12:30 – 14:30

Karel Arnaut (KU Leuven)

Karel Arnaut is Associate Professor and Research Coordinator of the Interculturalism, Migration and Minorities Research Centre (IMMRC) at KU Leuven. Previously, he worked at the Department of African Languages and Cultures, Ghent University, and was Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Göttingen. Arnaut’s research focusses on articulations and representations of cultural and linguistic ‘superdiversity’ in migration-driven contexts in European and African urban transnational spaces.

Wednesday 4th of December 2019 | 12:30 – 15:30

Ciraj Rassool (University of the Western Cape)

Ciraj Rassool directs the University of the Western Cape’s African Programme in Museum and Heritage Studies, managed in partnership with Robben Island Museum. He is a trustee of the District Six Museum and the South African History Archive. He is also a councilor of Iziko Museums of Cape Town and previously served on the councils of the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) and the National Heritage Council. He has been member of the Archaeology, Paleontology, Meteorites, Heritage Objects and Burial Sites Permit Committee of SAHRA, and also serves on its Artworks Advisory Panel. Most recently he was appointed to the Human Remains Repatriation Advisory Committee of the South African Department of Arts and Culture. Rassool specializes in the study of museums and public culture, with a specific focus on visual history and resistance historiography.

Friday 17th of January 2020 | 12:30 – 14:30

Karel Van Nieuwenhuyse (KU Leuven)

Karel Van Nieuwenhuyse is Professor of History Didactics and Head of the Educational Master of History at KU Leuven, where he focuses on historical thinking in history education, touching on issues of eurocentrism and canon-formation. His current work focuses on the integration of colonial history in the Belgian history curriculum. Van Nieuwenhuyse regurlarly intervenes in the Belgian public debate.

Friday 7th of February 2020 | 12:30 – 14:30

Maarten Van Alstein (Vlaams Vredesinstituut)

Maarten Van Alstein studied History, Law, and International Politics. In 2009 he defended a thesis at the University of Antwerp Department of Political Science about Belgian diplomacy and the emergence of the Cold War. During 2017-2018, Van Alstein was Guest Lecturer at the University of Antwerp. Since May 2010 he is Senior Researcher at the Vlaams Vredesinstituut, where he works within the program of ‘Conflict & Violence in Society’. For TAPAS Van Alstein will speak about peace education and history.

Friday 28th of February 2020 | 12:30 – 14:30

Jessica de Abreu (Black Archives Amsterdam)

Jessica de Abreu studied Social and Cultural Anthropology and Culture, Organization and Management at the VU Amsterdam. Her research focuses on the history of African diaspora, anti-black racism and postcoloniality. She is member of the board of the New Urban Collective and co-founder of The Black Archives. She is also coordinator of the European Network of People of African Descent.

CANCELED DUE TO COVID-19 MEASURES: Wednesday 18th of March 2020 | 13:30 – 15:30

Michael Rothberg (UCLA)

Michael Rothberg is Professor of English and Comparative Literature and the 1939 Society Samuel Goetz Chair in Holocaust Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. Previously, he taught at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. From 2003 to 2009 he was Director of Illinois’s Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory; from 2009 to 2016 he was Founding Director of the Initiative in Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies; and from 2013 to 2016 he was Head of the Department of English. His recent work The Implicated Subject: Beyond Victims and Perpetrators (2019) explores how the confrontation with one’s own implication in difficult histories could lead to new forms of internationalism and solidarity.

CANCELED DUE TO COVID-19 MEASURES: Friday 27th of March 2020 | 12:30 – 15:30

Kodzo Gavua (University of Ghana)

Kodzo Gavua is Associate Professor of Archaeology and Heritage Studies and Dean of the School of Arts at the University of Ghana. Kodzo Gavua is a member of the World Archaeological Congress, the Africa Studies Association, the Society of Africanist Archaeologists, and the West African Archaeological Association. He has been the Vice-President of the Pan-African Archaeological Association, member of the National Planning Committee of the Ghana Science Congress, and Coordinator of the Kpandia Education Fund U.S.A. in Ghana. Kodzo Gavua is an internationally recognized expert on the politics of heritage and its relations to economies and identities.

CANCELED DUE TO COVID-19 MEASURES: Friday 24th of April 2020 | FIELD TRIP KAZERNE DOSSIN | 10:00 – 15:00

Introduction by Christophe Busch (previous museum director Kazerne Dossin): Heritage in ‘fluid times’

Guided tour of the permanent exhibition by Dorien Styven (Kazerne Dossin, researcher and archivist)

The seminar consists of reading groups and workshops. A week before each workshop we come together to discuss the shared readings and prepare questions for the invited speakers. In our experience this ensures a lively and in-depth discussion..

READING GROUP SERIES: location AMSAB-ISG, Bagattenstraat 174, 9000 Ghent

Friday 8th of November 2019 | 12:30 – 14:00

  • Arnaut, Karel. “Super-Diversity: Elements of an Emerging Perspective.” Diversities 14, no. 2 (2012): 1–16.
  • Vertovec, Steven. “Talking around Super-Diversity.” Ethnic and Racial Studies 42, no. 1 (2019): 125–39.

Friday 29th of November 2019 | 12:30 – 14:00 

  • Boast, Robin. “Neocolonial Collaboration: Museum as Contact Zone Revisited.” Museum Anthropology 34, no. 1 (2011): 56–70.
  • Clifford, James. “Museums as Contacts Zones.” In Routes: Travel and Translation in the Late Twentieth Century, 188–219. Cambridge (Mass.): Harvard University Press, 1997.

Friday 10th of January 2020  | 12:30 – 14:00

  • Hall, Stuart. “The West and the Rest: Discourse and Power.” In Formations  of  Modernity, edited by Stuart Hall and B. Gieben, 185–227. Understanding Modern Societies: An Introduction 1. Cambridge: Polity Press-Blackwell-Open-University, 1992.
  • Van Nieuwenhuyse, Karel. “Going beyond Eurocentric Us-Them Thinking in History Education: Multiperspectivity as a Tool against Radicalisation and for a Better Intercultural Understanding.” In Radicalisation: A Marginal Phenomenon or a Mirror to Society?, edited by Noel Clycq, Christiane Timmerman, Dirk Vanheule, Rut Van Caudenberg, and Stiene Ravn, 215–41. Leuven: Leuven University Press, 2019.

Friday 21st of February 2020 | 12:30 – 14:00

  • Fricker, Miranda, “Chapter 7: Hermeneutical Injustice”, in Epistemic Injustice: Power & the Ethics of Knowing, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007, p. 147-175.
  • Nimako, Kwame, “Location and Social Thought in the Black: A Testimony to Africana Intellectual Tradition”, in Postcoloniality – Decoloniality – Black Critique, ed. by Sabine Broeck and Carsten Junker, Frankfurt/New York: Campus Verlag, 2014, p. 53-62.
  • (optional, in Dutch) Esajas, Mitchell, de Abreu, Jessica and Miguel Heilbron, “Geen wegen blokkeren, maar bruggen bouwen”, The Black Archives, retrieved 10.02.2020,—nuc–tba-statement.html#.

CANCELED DUE TO COVID-19 MEASURES: Friday 13th of March 2020 | 12:30 – 14:00

  • Rothberg, Michael, “Introduction”, in The Implicated Subject: Beyond Victims and Perpetrators,  Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 2019, p. 1-28.
  • Rothberg, Michael, “Chapter 2: On (Not) Being a Descendant. Implicated Subjects and the Legacies ofSlavery”, in The Implicated Subject: Beyond Victims and Perpetrators,  Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 2019, p. 59-84.


– Prof. Dr. Berber Bevernage (TAPAS, INTH): Professor at the Department of History, Ghent University

– Dra. Eline Mestdagh (TAPAS, INTH): PhD Student at the Department of History, Ghent University

– Dra. Marie-Gabrielle Verbergt (TAPAS, INTH): PhD Student at the Department of History, Ghent University


– Prof. Dr. Berber Bevernage (TAPAS; INTH): Professor at the Department of History, Ghent University

– Prof. Dr. Karel Van Nieuwenhuyse (Educational Master of History Program): Professor at the Department of History, KU Leuven

– Prof. Dr. Idesbald Goddeeris (Modernity and Society–MOSA): Professor at the Department of History, KU Leuven

– Prof. Dr. Bruno De Wever (Institute for Public History–IPG; Educational Master of History Program): Professor at the Department of History, Ghent University

– Prof. Dr. Koen Verboven (Economies, Comparisons, Connections–ECC; SLO): Professor at the Department of History, Ghent University

– Prof. Dr. Stef Craps (Cultural Memory Studies Initiative–CSMI): Professor at the Literary Studies Department, Ghent University

– Dr. Julie Carlier (Ghent Centre for Global Studies): Postdoctoral researcher at the department of Conflict and Development, Ghent University

– Dr. Gillian Mathys (ECC): Postdoctoral researcher at the Department of History, Ghent University


Except for the field trip to Kazerne Dossin, all but two lectures and reading groups take place in the AMSAB ISG (Bagattenstraat 174, 9000 Gent). The reading group on the 29th of November and on the 4th of December will take place at the Campus Boekentoren Plateau-Rozier, 18.01, Vergaderzaal Simon Stevin. Directions to this room can be found here.

Participants can obtain DS credits from the Doctoral School of Arts, Humanities and Law, if they participate in all workshops and reading groups. Participants can now inscribe by sending an e-mail to

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us!