Considering Monoculture

Two-day conference with Chantal Mouffe, Phillippe van Parijs, Mia Doornaert, Mi You ...

Dit tweedaagse, interdisciplinaire, Engelstalige programma van het M HKA, Van Abbemuseum en deBuren besteedt aandacht aan actuele en historische manifestaties van monocultuur en de gevolgen ervan voor de domeinen van kunst en cultuur en de instellingen die er deel van uitmaken. Met o.a. Chantal Mouffe, Phillippe van Parijs, Mia Doornaert, Jonathan Lambaerts, Mi You, Jyoti Mystri, Olivier Marboeuf, Luísa Santos, Ana Fabíola Maurício, Haseeb Ahmed, Vera Mey, Philippe Pirotte, Sophie Williamson, Nicoline van Harskamp

Considering Monoculture


M HKA, Van Abbemuseum and deBuren 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.

Considering Monoculture takes 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 convenors understand monoculture to be the homogeneous expression of the culture of a single social or ethnic group. The conference does not tie monoculture to a specific set of politics or single ideology, and does not set it against the discourse and rhetoric of multiculturalism, which emerged in the 1990s in Western Europe.


It does recognise, however that 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 some, this raises the question of where the limits of tolerance for cultural diversity in society should lie.

For the cultural field, often considered as having a secular, elitist, cosmopolitan and socially-liberal basis, it is no longer enough simply to denounce the tendency towards monoculture as an abhorrent form of intolerance.


At the same time, how could the recent turn towards indigenous practices within artistic discourse, as well as the common framings of art via race, ethnicity or other distinctions of identity or marginality, also itself be seen as contributing towards new forms of essentialism? And what space does this leave for genuine debate and exchange across different cultures?


How real, it will ask, is the supposed essentialism of monoculture, and what might we identify as the positive qualities of its self-image? What possible alternatives might serve us for the future, given the 'failure' of different forms of multicultural projects that has been proclaimed across the political spectrum?


Is now the time to consider afresh concepts such as multiculture and diversity? 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 consequences for the arts within these debates.



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. Contributors will touch on a diverse set of contexts, from the Bandung conference of 1955, contemporary Flanders, the concept of Eurasia or the monolingualism of the visual arts.


Across two days, it will incorporate an interdisciplinary constellation of presentations and ideas, seeking to engage participants and audience in healthy debate on the concept and practice of monoculture. Organisers: Nick Aikens (Research Curator, Van Abbemuseum), Nav Haq (Associate Director, M HKA) & Nora Mahammed (Programmer, deBuren).

Tickets via deBuren. Meals and drinks included in the ticket prices.


Standard Price Thursday 10 Euros | Special Rates Thursday (-26/65+/ unemployed) 6 euro.Standard Price Friday 20 Euros | Special Rates Friday (-26/65+/ unemployed) 8 euro.Standard Two-day Ticket 25 euros | Special Rates Two-day Ticket (-26/65+/ unemployed) 10 euro.

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.




Thursday 27 February

18:00 Introduction

18:20 Jonathan Lambaerts: The blind spot in our liberal thoughts on cultural diversity

18:50 Mia Doornaert

19:20 Q&A Moderated by Willem Bongers-Dek

19:35 EVENING MEAL and refreshments

20:15 Mi You: Eurasia networks: an ecology of practices in common

20:45 Jyoti Mistry: Negotiating the proposition of monoculture by exploring identity politics and subjectivity

21:15 Q&A Moderated by Nick Aikens

21:30 Drinks


Friday 28 February

10:00 Welcome and coffee

10:30 Introduction

10:45 Olivier Marboeuf: Decolonial Suites

11:30 Luísa Santos and Ana Fabíola Maurício: Offsetting Sameness: Notes Towards Artistic and Institutional Polysemy and Practices of/on Monocultures and Multicultures

12:00 Q&A moderated by Nav Haq

12:20 LUNCH, plus participatory reading group: Eurasia Underground Library: Belly Button Conference (second floor space)

13:30 Haseeb Ahmed: Constituting the Ummah- أم

14:00 Vera Mey: The darker shades of unity in diversity: testing the limits of regionalist tendencies in modern and contemporary Southeast Asian art

14:30 Philippe Pirotte: Pour me mettre à leur disposition. Assessing inclusiveness with Richard Wright and Jean Genet

15:00 Q&A moderated by Nick Aikens and Nav Haq

15:20 BREAK plus participatory reading group: Eurasia Underground Library, Belly Button Conference (second floor space)

15:50 Philippe Van Parijs: Do thriving democracies need to be monolingual and monocultural?

16:20 Sophie J. Williamson: From the fraying edges

16:50 Nicoline van Harskamp: Englishes

17:20 Q&A moderated by Nora Mahammed

17:40 EVENING MEAL, plus participatory reading group: Eurasia Underground Library: Belly Button Conference (second floor space)

19:00 Chantal Mouffe: How to envisage cultural diversity from an agonistic perspective

19:45 Q&A moderated by Mick Wilson


20:30 Drinks and music


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, Slovenia); Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía (MNCARS, Madrid, Spain); Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA, Barcelona, Spain); Muzeum Sztuki Nowoczesnej w Warszawie, (MSN, Warsaw, Poland); Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen (M HKA, Antwerp, Belgium); SALT (Istanbul and Ankara, Turkey) and Van Abbemuseum (VAM, Eindhoven, the Netherlands), and its partners are HDK-Valand Academy (Gothenburg, Sweden) and the National College of Art and Design (NCAD, Dublin, Ireland).


About Our Many Europes


Our Many Europes is a four-year programme (2018–2022) 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.




This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. It reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.