What is the think tank about?
Ambaradan is a multidisciplinary think tank that centers around critical dialogue on topics of museology, art, architecture, urbanism and culture.
Story of Us
The history of Ambaradan is intertwined with the story of us. Interval starting from a meeting point of two classmates, our common interests brought us together. With the experiences we had and discussions, we started to develop our methodology of discussion, venturing into different topics and initiatives. The real start was in a curatorship course that revealed our enthusiasm for all things related to museums, art, and culture. It was the professor of the course, Peter Assmann, that pointed to us how it was such an interesting coincidence that brought two women from different backgrounds and with similar passions to this small renaissance town in Italy, Mantua. His words left us with a hint that we should do something about it, yet it took many years and countless discussions to finally bring forth the birth of Ambaradan. The choice of Ambaradan as a designation maybe needs some explanation. We intend to use that word for chaos. However, beyond its meaning, we decide ‘Ambaradan’ because it represents otherness in a way that how complexities and contradictions are sometimes referred to (transferred) as words in other languages.
The etymological roots are based on interrelation between Italy and Ethiopia. Ambaradan is a word that is used in an everyday context and is cut off from its roots, displaced roots that come from the hills of Ethiopia, that is mainly forgotten today. It is a word that has many layers that represent what we want to unfold.
What is Ambaradan
ambaradàn s. m. [etymology uncertain, but probably to be connected with Amba Aradam, a mountain range in Ethiopia where, in 1936, a bloody battle of the Italo-Ethiopian war took place]. –
1. Confused and chaotic situation, chaos.
2. Very complex activity, the leadership of which requires commitment and considerable organizational skills.
The word Ambaradan came as a description of a genocide that happened in Ethiopia in 1936, in the Amba-Aradam mountain, a site of resistance. It came to describe a messy situation. We understand that the roots come from a gruesome past that is not remembered when the word is used today, but we felt that it was necessary to highlight how language evolves and history is forgotten. It is vital to use the word today in a context that remembers and honors the resistance.
Think Tank Manifesto
The think tank centers around critical dialogue focusing on museology intersecting with but not limited to art, architecture, urbanism, and culture, moving away from institutionalized knowledge by creating a framework to look at the past, knowledge, and academy in a perspective that builds upon less authority in a more open-ended, cumulative mode. Questioning the academy suffers from representational crises (selfother) through representing a narrow perspective, thus reflecting biases, has led us to seek different approaches in today’s social agenda that lacks intersectional communications.
In the age of the internet, knowledge had become more accessible than anytime before, from a time that it was only limited to elites, the wealthy, and scholars. Whereas taking advantage of this accessibility, the think tank tries to increase/contribute cross-disciplinary dialogues without hierarchic tension. We intend to question even the most accepted taxonomies (classifications) in academic subjects and to talk about what could be different if we have a chance to change now?
Why in ‘other’ contexts?
Otherness is a wide range of arguments covering many political and cultural tensions since the emergence of nation-states. However, contemporary discussions about otherness, alienation, orientalism, exoticizing, and assimilation are still produced by a group of researchers to expose a very limited audience. We believe cultural otherness is a universal problem, and the more discussions stand out, the less oppression for others will happen in the future.
Things we do – Methodology
When we find an intriguing idea, preferably an underrepresented non-western cultural narrative as a research topic, we start to follow the roots of the traditions and customs, leading to a discussion as a start of creative dialogue.
For us, creative/critical dialogue signifies combining scientific studies with many opinions, particularly in oppressed communities. Our methodology consists of browsing (in the age of the internet) academic authorities’ studies on the particular subject and discussing the critical points (for us) with ‘others.’ We like to borrow diverse techniques from different disciplines such as data analysis, mapping, comparative reading, etc.
Keywords: cross disciplinary / rhetoric criticism/ critical dialogue / cultural otherness/ narrative history/ representational crisis / alternate history writing /space-politics / concept of approval / selfless otherness/ politics of taste/ politics of display/ collective history
Amal Muntaser, 1992 Denmark, architect/researcher. Sudanese native, raised in Sudan. Currently resident in Italy. After she achieved her graduation in Khartoum, she participated in a leadership program in the USA and another in Kenya. Over four years of living, studying, and working in Italy, she developed several academic interests, particularly in cultural heritage and anthropology. She is in the process of Ph.D. applications and still working as a researcher in the Fondazione ENI Enrico Mattei in the local projects department.
2016-2019 Politecnico di Milano, Architectural Design and History, Master’s Degree
2008-2014 University of Khartoum, Architecture, Bachelor’s degree
Esra Nesipoğulları, 1991 Turkey, architect/ multidisciplinary artist, born and raised in Turkey. Currently resident in Italy. She accomplished two residencies in Toulouse and Marseille during the period of her B.Arch. In 2013, she had been granted to travel to Cuba for research about the use of semi-public spaces in the socialist context. Later on, working for over two years in several architectural design studios in London, Istanbul, and Mantua, she moved to the art and curatorial field. Her works often respond to personal stories in cultural and political contexts.
2017-2020 Politecnico di Milano, Architectural Design and History, Master’s Degree
2009-2015 Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University, Architecture, Bachelor’s degree