Feeling the Traces of the Colonial Past


Time frame

April 2021 – September 2022

Project description

Feeling the Traces of the Colonial Past seeks to understand how dance can function as an affective methodology for evoking and communicating affects and emotions evoked by the Dutch colonial and slavery past. Traces of the colonial past pervade contemporary life and affect people physically and mentally, in various and often unacknowledged and unrecognised ways. How can these sensory responses to and emotions about the colonial legacy be made perceptible and conscious? And how can this embodied knowledge be integrated in the public debate, when the former is non-linguistic yet the latter takes place through language?

To answer these questions, Feeling the Traces of the Colonial Past will develop a methodology for integrating embodied knowledge about the colonial and slavery past in public debate. It will do so in relation to Farida Nabibaks’ Radiant Shadow, a dance-theatre production that starts from the performers’ personal experiences and emotions and addresses themes ranging from the modernity/coloniality nexus to Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome. In field labs taking place at Castle Cannenburgh in Vaassen during Open Monumentendag 2021, a multidisciplinary team of researchers will collect data on the performers’ and the audiences’ embodied experiences using a methodology encompassing practical movement exploration, emotion networking, movement analysis, participant observation, interviews, and focus groups. The aim of this subproject is to understand how dance can be used to mobilise feelings and emotions for a more capacious understanding of the colonial and slavery past.

The project is a subproject of (Re-)Tracing History: New Methodologies for Making the Past Tangible, Palpable and Negotiable, an NWA-KPR project in collaboration with researchers from Erasmus University Rotterdam and Utrecht University.




  • ArtEZ-University of Applied Arts
  • Erfgoed Gelderland
  • Kasteel Cannenburgh (Geldersch Landschap & Kasteelen)
  • Museum for Equality and Difference (MOED)
  • NiNsee
  • Reframing HERstory Art Foundation
  • Reinwardt Academy Heritage Lab / Imagine IC


Prof. Liedeke Plate,