Fellowship

Fellow 2019/2020

Mitchell Esajas

Anthropologist, curator, and social entrepreneur Mitchell Esajas is involved in various community projects in education, employment, diversity, and sustainability and is Co-Founder and Chairman of New Urban Collective, a network for students and young professionals from diverse backgrounds with a focus on the Surinamese, Caribbean, and African diaspora. Having studied Business Studies and Anthropology at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam, in 2016 he co-founded The Black Archives, Amsterdam, a unique collection of books, documents, and artifacts documenting the history of black people and black resistance in the Dutch context. Based on the collection, The Black Archives develops work with artists, activists, and scholars, as well as exhibitions and other public activities, winning the 2018 Amsterdam Art Prize. Esajas is a BAK 2019/2020 Fellow. Esajas lives and works in Amsterdam.

Mitchell Esajas

Anthropologist, curator, and social entrepreneur Mitchell Esajas is involved in various community projects in education, employment, diversity, and sustainability and is Co-Founder and Chairman of New Urban Collective, a network for students and young professionals from diverse backgrounds with a focus on the Surinamese, Caribbean, and African diaspora. Having studied Business Studies and Anthropology at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam, in 2016 he co-founded The Black Archives, Amsterdam, a unique collection of books, documents, and artifacts documenting the history of black people and black resistance in the Dutch context. Based on the collection, The Black Archives develops work with artists, activists, and scholars, as well as exhibitions and other public activities, winning the 2018 Amsterdam Art Prize. Esajas is a BAK 2019/2020 Fellow. Esajas lives and works in Amsterdam.

Fellowship Research Trajectory

In the fields of Postcolonial studies, Black studies, and Africana studies, scholars have remained relatively silent on post-slavery struggles and movements in the Dutch Caribbean context. Mitchell Esajas’s research breaks this silence by articulating the changes and continuities between different generations of Dutch-Caribbean thinkers and activists, and explores a genealogy of anti-racist and anti-colonial activism among Dutch-Caribbean people. Historical narratives, in particular around colonial history and resistance, are contextually specific, and are formed by particular narrators in contexts of power relations. In networks of marginalized communities it is alternative sources, archives, and historical narratives that contribute to important counter-narratives that challenge dominant academic ones. By combining research in archives, in particular The Black Archives, Amsterdam, with oral history and research on artistic practices related to this history, Esajas’s research helps to gain insight into the contributions of Dutch Caribbean thinkers and activists to the development of Black radical intellectual traditions. Some questions that inform his research are: How were ideas and information exchanged within intra-Caribbean, inter-American, and trans-Atlantic networks of Dutch Caribbean and other anti-colonial activists? What was the role of art in Dutch Caribbean anti-colonial and anti-racist organizations and networks? How are the works of these anti-colonial and anti-racist Dutch Caribbean thinkers and organizers mobilized in contemporary struggles over race, ethnicity, gender/sexuality, and political belonging in the Netherlands?

Andre Reeder and Wendelien van Oldenborgh, Fellows Intensive

Fellows Mitchell Esajas, Grant Watson, and Reem Shilleh, along with BAK, were preparing to co-convene a Fellows Intensive beginning 23 March, 2020. With lockdowns starting in Europe just a week before, the plans became impossible in their imagined forms and the Fellows were unable to gather at BAK, visit The Black Archives in Amsterdam, do […]

Vereniging Ons Suriname: 100 Years of Emancipation and Struggle at the Black Archives

The exhibition Vereniging Ons Suriname: 100 years of Emancipation and Struggle (2019–2020), celebrating Vereniging Ons Suriname‘s 100th anniversary, at The Black Archives, Amsterdam is co-curated by BAK 2018-2019 Fellow Jessica de Abreu, 2019/2020 Fellow Mitchell Esajas along with colleagues at The Black Archives. It showcases the often hidden histories of Surinamese activism and anti-racist work in the Netherlands. The exhibition features research conducted during the Fellowship as well as art works by 2018/2019 co-Fellow Patricia Kaersenhout, depicting revolutionary women of color, including de Abreu.

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Shela Sheikh: Colonialism, Cultivation, and Nonhuman Witnessing

As part of the Fellowship weekly intensive in November 2017, Fellow Luigi Coppola convenes a number of discussions including a seminar with lecturer and researcher Shela Sheikh on 24 November 2017 to talk about colonialism, cultivation and nonhuman witnessing and resistance to the colonial mode of organizing, appropriating and extracting value. In the afternoon session […]

Rehearsing in Public with the BAK Fellows

On Wednesday 12 February 2020, BAK 2019/2020 Fellows Mijke van der drift and Joy Mariama Smith, along with BAK, co-convene a participatory panel. Along with artist Ahmed El Gendy and poet and activist Nat Raha, they rehearse in public experimental and collective practices that they are trying out in their research. The participatory panel aims to […]

How to Assemble Now (BAK Public Studies)

BAK 2017/2018 Fellow Isshaq Al-Barbary and 2019/2020 Fellow Joy Mariama Smith are among the contributors to BAK’s Public Studies Program How to Assemble Now, taking place In August and September 2020.   Read more about the program here.

Collective Dictionary: Xenia with Elena Isayev

Elena Isayev is a historian and professor at University of Exeter uses the ancient Mediterranean to explore migration, belonging, displacement and spatial perception. Her research is based on the intersection of Hospitality and Asylum, Potency of Displaced Agency, Common and Public Space. Her interdisciplinary and inter-practice approach has led to collective learning and research beyond the […]

Publications