Women and their own objects
Laura van Broekhoven
Dr. Laura van Broekhoven is a former archaeology lecturer at the University of Leiden, and completed her studies here. She is now the Director of the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford. Below she explains her choice of a set of framed coasters.
‘Much better at keeping mementos than I am, my husband, Alex Geurds, kept and framed these coasters: product of a long and animated conversation in one of Leiden’s pubs. On them geographical lines and toponyms are mapped that show precolonial migration movements and connections in parts of Mesoamerica. At the same time, they show some of the places that featured prominently in my life: Tilantongo and Chalcatongo in the Mixteca Alta, the gulf coast of Tabasco, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua in Central America. The coasters encapsulate the many components of my personal interests in specific areas of research (indigenous resistance, migration, trade) and the joy and intensity of my student experience in Leiden.
That particular night I seem to remember Bas van Doesburg, Michel Oudijk, Florine Asselbergs, Michael Swanton, Alex Geurds and Rosanna Woensdregt. From the handwriting, I see Bas was drawing the map and toponyms, and me making the notes alongside.
In our discipline Leiden was more or less the academic centre in Europe. That was hugely inspiring. During the day, we would spend hours with our professors Maarten Jansen and Aurora Perez Jimenez trying to understand the interfaces between historical documents written in indigenous scriptures and the views of the colonial Spanish. At night, we would continue the conversation among PhDs and postdocs, in one of the local pubs (this conversation took place at De Uyl van Hoogland) and make notes on whatever pieces of paper were available.’
Nynke Feenstra is a PhD student at the University of Leiden. She specialises in promoting museum access and is the lecturer for the class which curated this display. She explains her choice of a necklace and a red notebook.
‘This red notebook represents various ideas, analyses, and to do’s from 2015, the year I completed my master thesis “Hear the Deaf” on the accessibility of museums for the deaf. A special year, I graduated, spoke at an international museum conference in the United States for the first time, and decided to start working on a doctorate. You could say that all my current working activities, both at Leiden University and for museums, have sprouted from this book, the seed. The charm is a gift from two friends for my graduation: the key to success and the city symbol of Leiden.’
Dr. Mariana Françozo is responsible for the Museums and Heritage course at Leiden University. She has worked at the Faculty of Archaeology since 2011. She chose a KLM miniature house for the exhibition.
When I first moved to Leiden in 2011, I lived for a few months at the house of a dear colleague at the Galgewater. My bedroom window had a view to the Rijn and to the houses on the other side of the canal. This particular house, located on Korte Galgewater 1 and originally built in 1612, was once the stadstimmerwerf (the city carptenter’s yard). It is part of the collection of historic Dutch houses that Dutch airline company KLM has reproduced in miniature to give away as gifts to some of its clients – and I must say I am pretty keen on travelling with them, especially since I was lucky enough to be given this one little house!
To me, this reminds me of my beginnings at Leiden University, of my dear colleague, but also of all the possibilities that Leiden represents: a small town with a rich past connected to the entire world.’
Marjolein van den Dries
Marjolein van den Dries read for an Undergraduate in Archaeology, with a specialisation in the Prehistory of North-Western Europe at the University of Leiden between 1996 and 2003. She is now the curator at Haarlem Archaeology Museum, and leant a trowel she used during her undergraduate.
‘I bought this trowel in the first year of my Archaeology study at Leiden University. You could not just buy this at the random hardware store but you had to order it in Amsterdam and it was imported from England. This trowel symbolises my study time in Leiden and has participated in various excavation campaigns in France, Portugal and the Netherlands, among others. When I was not on excavation, it was in my student room in the cupboard. From my student days (1996-2003) I don't have much material goods left, but I have a lot of memories of that great time in which you had a lot of space and freedom! Since then I have not done any excavations for years and my trowel is only used by my children in the sandpit or garden, which is also a kind of archaeology. '
Dr. Somayah Elsayed is a researcher in the BioScience Park at the University of Leiden. She has been working in the Netherlands since 2010. She picked a plant for the exhibition.
‘I had this plant from a former colleague, as a souvenir gift, before leaving the University. This was almost two years ago. I was so happy with it, but also felt it is a big responsibility. Before coming to the Netherlands, I have never taken care of plants. However, seeing them always gives me great pleasure. Now I am having extra pleasure taking care of them myself. That’s why I consider having plants in my life as a particular association with my life in the Netherlands in general, and the University in specific.’