Aminata Cairo is stepping down as lector in Social Justice and Diversity in the Arts at the AHK from 1 January next. She is leaving the Netherlands to settle with her children in the United States. In recent times, she has experienced that leading a research group from the other side of the ocean is impossible. Also, the themes the lectorate deals with require personal proximity with fellow researchers, students and cooperation partners.
The professorship Social Justice and Diversity in the Arts started in August 2022 with Aminata Cairo as lector and Rosa te Velde as associate lector. It has quickly gained an important place in the AHK, as evidenced, among other things, by the great interest in the Inclusivity Pathway Trainings provided by the lectorate.
Aminata Cairo on her departure: “In the past year and a half, associate lector Rosa te Velde, our team and I have been busy building, doing, connecting, being with people and shaking things up. We started creating knowledge that was applicable and accessible. We did good things, but ultimately it was always about the people. Social justice and diversity are not easy concepts. They are not always “gezellig” and thus it requires handholding, sitting, listening, joining, walking, being present, and more. We did that, and after a year and a half I am happy and proud of what we have accomplished.
So when I came to the decision to move back to the US in order to be closer to my three children who all live there, it was not an easy decision. Steering a team from halfway across the world with a 7 hour time difference is not doable. But more so, the subjects social justice and diversity are about people and require a hands-on approach. These topics are volatile, sensitive, ongezellig at times, but also can change at the drop of a hat. You can’t phone in social justice work, you have to be present and available. I am grateful to my partner, my team and all the wonderful people with whom I have had the opportunity to work this past year and a half. I wish my AHK family nothing but the best with the faith that Rosa, my team and I have made some first steps in making the AHK an institution where social justice and diversity are embraced as something valid.”
The Executove Board is grateful to Aminata for all the energy with which she, together with Rosa te Velde and their team, laid a solid foundation for the further development of the lectorate. In the coming weeks, the board will consider together with the lectorate how to fill the research group after 1 January. Aminata will remain with the lectorate as a senior researcher from 1 January until the summer of 2024 to complete her work.