Considering Monoculture - Two-day conference in Brussels


Considering Monoculture Two-day conference in Brussels

27/02/2020 - 28/02/2020

Van Abbemuseum (Eindhoven), M HKA (Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp) and deBuren (the Dutch-Flemish house for culture and debate in Brussels) are co-convenors of the two-day conference Considering Monoculture.

This two-day interdisciplinary programme will consider current and historical manifestations of monoculture as well as its implications for art, culture and its institutions. The societal understanding of monoculture can be defined as the homogeneous expression of the culture of a single social or ethnic group. In recent years, the combination of anti-globalisation sentiment, conflict, terror, mass-migration and the perceived counter-hegemony of identity politics, has created the conditions for new forms of identitarianism to emerge.

Across Europe and much of the globe, a drive for national monoculture, in which societies are understood through adhering to homogenous racial, cultural, ideological or religious parameters, has entered the mainstream. For the cultural field, often considered as having a secular, elitist and socially-liberal basis, it is no longer enough simply to denounce the creep towards monoculture as an abhorrent form of neo-fascism. At the same time, how could the recent turn towards indigenous practices within contemporary art discourse, as well as the framings of art via race, ethnicity or other distinctions of identity or marginality, whether implicit or explicit, be seen as contributing towards new forms of essentialism?

It feels timely to consider carefully different manifestations and implications of monoculture, keeping an open mind on its motivations and potential as well as its dangers. Following an open call for participants, this programme has been developed to explore the concept from multiple perspectives, looking to the fields of art, philosophy, linguistics and politics. Across two days, it will incorporate an interdisciplinary constellation of presentations and ideas, seeking to engage participants and audience alike in discussions on the concept of monoculture.

How real, it will ask, is the supposed essentialism of monoculture, and what might we identify as the positive qualities of its self-image? Might even historic emancipation movements such as Négritude be considered as monocultural? Given, the supposed “failure” of different forms of multicultural projects that has been proclaimed across the political spectrum, what possible alternatives might serve us for the future? Is now the time to think more speculatively about concepts such as multiculture or pluriculture as options for being and living together? What are the ramifications of the turn towards monoculture for existing forms of democratic politics? Finally, the programme will ask how specific artistic and institutional practices can help us understand and address the ramifications for the arts within these debates.


Considering Monoculture will take place in Brussels at deBuren on 27 & 28 February. It will include a lecture by Chantal Mouffe, and a series of papers, activities and artistic presentations. The conference will be held in English. The full program can be viewed on the website of deBuren.


Thursday only: 10 euro / 6 euro concessions
Friday only: 20 euro / 8 euro concessions
Both Thursday and Friday: 25 euro / 10 euro concessions

Tickets available via the button above (website of deBuren)

If it is difficult for you to afford to purchase a ticket, please contact us via before Friday February 14, and we will seek to reserve a ticket for you.


Leopoldstraat 6 
1000 Brussel 


Nick Aikens (Research Curator, Van Abbemuseum)
Nav Haq (Associate Director, M HKA)
Nora Mahammed (Programmer, deBuren)

Organised in the framework of Our Many Europes, a four-year EU funded programme organised by the museum confederation L’Internationale.

About the L’Internationale Confederation

L'Internationale is a confederation of seven modern and contemporary art institutions. L'Internationale proposes a space for art within a non-hierarchical and decentralised internationalism, based on the values of difference and horizontal exchange among a constellation of cultural agents, locally rooted and globally connected. It brings together seven major European art institutions: Moderna galerija (MG+MSUM, Ljubljana, Slovenië); Museo Reina Sofía (Madrid, Spain); MACBA, Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (Spain); Muzeum Sztuki Nowoczesnej w Warszawie, (MSN, Warschau, Polen); Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen (M HKA, Antwerpen, België); SALT (Istanbul en Ankara, Turkije) en Van Abbemuseum (VAM, Eindhoven, Nederland). L'Internationale works with complementary partners such as HDK-Valand Academy of Art and Design (HDK-Valand, Gothenburg, Sweden) and the National College of Art and Design (NCAD, Dublin, Ireland) and together with them is presenting the programme Our Many Europes.

About Our Many Europes

Our Many Europes is a four-year programme (2018–22) comprising exhibitions, public programming, heritage exchange and institutional experimentation across the Internationale confederation. The programme takes the 1990s as a starting point when our current Europe was born. It aims to think speculatively about the role of culture as a driving force in showing who and how we are in the world.