Experts of the International Inventories Programme
International Inventories Programme (IIP) is an artistic, research and curatorial project that investigates a corpus of Kenyan cultural objects held in institutions in the North. It aspires to open up the discourse on restitution, which has gained new momentum since 2017, by distributing African perspectives that are barely represented in international discussions.
Initiated by artists and developed over three years (2018–2021), IIP brings together a constellation of cultural entities: the National Museums of Kenya, the Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum, the Weltkulturen Museum, and The Nest and SHIFT collectives.
SHORT PROFILES OF THE EXPERTS (IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER)
- Sheila Akwany
Sheila Akwany is a project assistant at Goethe-Institut Nairobi. She has been active in the Kenyan culture scene for the past eight years and continues to cooperate closely with cultural professionals in developing dynamic new programmes. Sheila has a master’s degree in strategic management.
- Jim Chuchu
Jim Chuchu is co-founder and general manager of The Nest Collective and is himself a filmmaker, musician, and artist. His photographs and visual artworks have been shown around the globe. His series “Invocations” belongs to the collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art. From 2012 to 2019, Jim directed and played in film projects for The Nest and recorded and produced film projects. Moreover, he is responsible for strategic planning and programming at The Nest.
- Julia Friedel
Julia Friedel studied African languages, literatures and art at the University of Bayreuth and the interdisciplinary master’s programme in the theory, history and criticism of curatorial studies at the Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main. At the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein she was the curatorial assistant for the touring exhibition “Making Africa: A Continent of Contemporary Design”. Julia has been curator for the Africa collection at the Weltkulturen Museum in Frankfurt since 2016, and her special interests are contemporary African art and research into objects in the collection from colonial contexts.
- Njeri Gachihi
Njeri Gachihi is an anthropologist with particular interests in Indigenous knowledge, medical anthropology, forensic anthropology, traditional African religion, visual African art, material culture, museology and collections management. For the last fifteen years she has been working for National Museums of Kenya as a curator, coordinator for public programmes and research scientist.
- Frauke Gathof
Frauke Gathof studied ethnology, social and cultural anthropology, and peace and conflict research at universities in Frankfurt and Marburg. Her specialist areas are material culture, conflict anthropology and migration research with an emphasis on North and East Africa. Since 2019 she has been active as a research assistant in the Africa collection of the Weltkulturen Museum in Frankfurt am Main.
- Clara Himmelheber
Clara Himmelheber is head of the African collections at the Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum in Cologne and a lecturer at the University of Cologne. She has been curator and co-curator of numerous exhibitions, including “Namibia – Germany: A Shared/Divided History, Resistance, Violence, Memory” (Rautenstrauch-Joest Museum, Cologne, 2004 and Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin, 2004/2005). Clara has a doctorate in African studies from the University of Cologne.
- Sam Hopkins
Sam Hopkins is an artist who is interested in how various media can produce different truths. He has participated in diverse exhibitions such as biennials in Lagos, Dakar and Moscow, and has exhibited in museums such as Dortmunder U, Kunstmuseum Bonn and Kunsthaus Bregenz. In addition, his works are represented in the collections of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Abteiberg Museum and Iwalewahaus. Currently he is an assistant professor at the Academy of Media Arts Cologne (KHM). In 2014, “Foreign Policy” magazine named Sam one of the hundred most important global thinkers.
- Lydia Nafula
Lydia Nafula has an academic background in anthropology and development studies. She now works for National Museums of Kenya (NMK) as a research scientist in the Cultural Heritage department. Lydia has been involved in the development of several exhibitions, including “Kanga Stories: The Cloth That Reveals” in 2011. Through her role in science and ethics at the NMK, every two years she heads scientific exhibition projects and conferences for the institution.
- Leonie Neumann
Leonie Neumann studied ethnology, sociology and cultural anthropology at the University of Göttingen, where she specialised in East Africa with an emphasis on Zanzibar. She has been working at the Weltkulturen Museum in Frankfurt am Main since 2018. As the deputy head of the department for visual anthropology she has been involved with two exhibitions at the museum, Moreover, in 2020 she curated the special exhibition “SW5Y – Five Years of Civilian Sea Rescue” in conjunction with the sea rescue organisation Sea-Watch e.V. She has been a curator in the Africa section since May 2020.
- Njoki Ngumi
Njoki Ngumi is an artist, writer and feminist thinker who has held positions in private and public health care sectors in Kenya. As a founding member of The Nest Collective, she has been co-writer and screenwriter for many of The Nest’s film projects. Her keen eyes and ears are a critical component of the collective’s post-production process, as well as its strategic and research outputs. Moreover, she coordinates external collaborative projects for The Nest and serves as programmes and strategy lead for its sister company HEVA.
- Marian Nur Goni
Marian Nur Goni is a historian and art historian whose work is primarily concerned with collection histories in and from East Africa, which she often investigates from a diasporic perspective and which raise questions about historiography and processes surrounding the creation of cultural heritage. Marian is currently researching the collection of Joseph Murumbi in Nairobi as part of the pan-African debates on issues surrounding material culture, museums and restitution from the 1950s to 1970s. She did her PhD in history and art history at EHESS in Paris.
- Philemon Nyamanga
Philemon Nymanga has a background in anthropology, heritage conservation and risk management. He is a research scientist working for the National Museums of Kenya in the Cultural Heritage department. He has been involved in developing several exhibitions including “Kanga Stories: The Cloth That Reveals” (2011), “Jomo Kenyatta International Airport Exhibition” (2016), “Abasuba Pictorial Exhibition” (2017), “Omieri Exhibition” (2018), “Central Bank of Kenya Numismatic Exhibition” (2018), “Biennale NMK Science Expos” (2010–2019) and “Nelson Mandela: A Centenary Celebration” (2018). Philemon has been a member of the exhibitions committee at Nairobi National Museum since 2012.
- Niklas Obermann
Niklas Obermann studied art history and visual history at the Humboldt University in Berlin. After a semester at the University of Nairobi he took up his work for IIP. His research primarily investigates political iconography and cultural memory, particularly traces of colonialism in visual cultures.
- Juma Ondeng’
Juma Ondeng' studied cultural heritage and international development at the University of East Anglia in the UK. He was involved in training programmes for museums as institutions in East Africa, focusing on collections care, exhibitions, museum education and public programmes. He is currently the principal curator at Kitale Museum, the regional museum in western Kenya. Juma was involved in curating the exhibitions “Nelson Mandela: A Centenary Celebration” (2018) and “Jijirama: 50 Years of Religion and Culture Change in Marsabit” (2008) at the Nairobi National Museum.
- Simon Rittmeier
Simon Rittmeier is an artist and filmmaker. His works are both experimental and essayistic, addressing the power of images and their political consequences. From Havana to Ouagadougou via Tel Aviv, his films constantly shift between documentation and fiction. They are always the result of a close association between individual stories and places. Simon’s works have been shown at international festivals and exhibitions, including the Oberhausen Short Film Festival, Visions du Réel in Nyon, Switzerland, and The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York.
- Anisha Helen Soff
Anisha Helen Soff studied curatorial studies, art and cultural anthropology at the University of Bayreuth. Her research focused on contemporary art in Nairobi with respect to the post-colonial discourse, gender and queer theory and the performative body. She has worked as a curatorial assistant on various exhibition projects at Iwalewahaus in Bayreuth. Since 2017, Anisha has been coordinating cultural projects at the Goethe-Institut in Kenya, where she is project manager for the International Inventories Programme.
- Jane Pauline Waithera
Jane Pauline Waithera studied anthropology at the University of Nairobi, where she specialised in particular on various aspects of the human experience with respect to diverse cultures and demographies. She is also an intern at The Nest, with responsibility for the collective’s social media engagement, website and newsletter, and joint responsibility for communication between Strictly Silk and IIP.
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