Dr. Malika Kraamer

I am a visual storyteller with a passion for transcultural and transdisciplinary work. As a curator and cultural historian focusing on Africa and South Asia, I specialise in critical museum, heritage, disability and material culture studies. My primary focus is textiles and fashions, through which I examine West African historical entanglements with the world and how they are materialised and narrated today.

My academic and curatorial work covers local knowledge production, the heritage of mission, trade and colonialism, provenance research, and the practice of decoloniality in museums. I aim to apply insights from postcolonial and decolonial theories through collaborative research and exhibition projects, working with actors in academia, heritage, activism and the arts. I have written extensively on kente cloth, historical West African textiles, the Japanese sari, and dilemmas in museums concerning global heritage collections.

I began my academic journey at the Design Academy in Eindhoven. After studying at Erasmus University Rotterdam, which included studies at Leiden University, University of Firenze, and Sorbonne IV, I completed my PhD in African Art on Ewe kente at SOAS, University of London in 2005, under the supervision of Prof. John Picton. Subsequently, I worked as the Curator of World Cultures at Leicester Museums (UK) for over 10 years and for three years as the Curator of the Africa Collections at MARKK in Hamburg (Germany).

My current research explores the regional and global connections of historical textiles from Ghana, Togo, and Côte d’Ivoire with many partners in West Africa. The three research journeys in 2022, 2023 and 2024 have been generously funded by the Ethnos Kalos Foundation, Germany. In collaboration with the National Museum of Ghana, we are developing an exhibition that examines the museum’s history through textiles.

Email: m.a.kraamer@gmail.com

Publications and Exhibitions

Exhibitions, all co-curatored with local, national and/or international partners (selection):

  • Hey Hamburg, do you know Duala Manga Bell (curatorial team, MARKK, Hamburg, 2020/24)
  • Leicester’s Global Artist Object Journey (curatorial lead, Leicester Museums 2017/19)
  • The Art of Protest (in collaboration with CND Leicester, 2017/18)
  • Splendour of the Subcontinent: the Prince of Wales Tour 1875-76 (curatorial lead, Leicester Museums, additional interpretation for the Royal Collections Touring Exhibition; 2017)
  • Family Ties (in collaboration with the Black Cultural Archive, London, 2017)
  • Joe Orton (in collaboration with SoftTouch Arts, Leicester, 2017)
  • Leicester Perspectives on Gujarat/India’s Gateway (curatorial lead, Leicester Museums, 2015/16)
  • Oceanic collections (project-lead Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter, 2014/16)
  • Suits and Saris (curatorial lead, Leicester Museums, 2012)


Peer-reviewed publications

2023 Kraamer, M, Unravelling Regional and Global Connections: Historical Kente and related textiles in Ghana, Togo and Côte d’Ivoire. African Arts, Autumn 2023

2023 Kraamer, M., ‘Abolitionism and Kente Cloth: Early Modern West African Textiles in Thomas Clarkson’s Chest’. In: S. Hanss and B. Marin Aguilera, In-Between Textiles, 1400-1800. Weaving Subjectivities and Encounters, Amsterdam University Press. [publicatie 15 februari 2023]

2022 Kraamer, M. ‘Beloved, Ignored and Contested: The Politics of Kente in Ghana Since the 1960s’. In: Akou, H. and McGregor, J. Creating African Fashion Histories: Politics, Museums and Sartorial Practice. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

2021 Kraamer, M. and Essel, O.Q. ‘Creative Collaborations between Consumers and Fashion Designers: The Role of Fashion Posters in Urban and Rural Ghana’. In: S. Cheang, E. de Greef, Y. Tagaki, Rethinking Fashion Globalisations, Bloomsbury Publishing, 191-209.

2020 Kraamer, M. ‘A Cloth to Wear: Value embodied in Ghanaian Textiles’. In: Granger, R. (ed.) Constructing Value in the Creative and Cultural Industries. Palgrave: Macmillian.

2018 Kraamer, M. & Barnes, A.J. ‘Unplaced Heritage: Making Identity through Fashion’. In: Watson, S., Barnes, J.A and Bunning, K. (eds.) A Museum Studies Approach to Heritage(Leicester Readers in Museum Studies). Abingdon: Routledge: 598-618.

2015 Barnes, A.J. & Kraamer, M. ‘Japanese Saris: Dress, Globalisation and Multiple Migrants. Textile History, 46 (2), 169-188. London: Maney Publishing.

2011 Kraamer, M. ‘Challenged past and the museum: the case of Ghanaian Kente’. In: Dudley, S. et. al. (eds) The Thing about Museums: Objects and Experience, Representation and Contestation, Abingdon: Routledge: 282-296.

2009 Kraamer, M. ‘Weaving a Biblical Text: Ewe Textiles and Christianity’. Journal of Material Religion 5 (1): 34-49.

2006 Kraamer, M. ‘Origin disputed. The making, use and evaluation of Ghanaian textiles’. Afrique: Archéologie & Arts 4: 53-76.

2006 Kraamer, M. ‘Ghanaian interweaving in the 19th century: a new perspective on Ewe and Asante textile history’. African Arts 38(4): 36-53, 93-94.

Publications (Selection non-peer reviewed, including MA&PhD thesis)

2022 Colemann, S., Gleba, M., and Kraamer, M., ‘From West Africa to Wisbech: analysing 18th-century textiles in Thomas Clarkson’s campaign chest’, Current Archaeology, 383

2021 MARKK curatorial team, Hey Hamburg: kennst Du Duala Manga Bell / Hey Hamburg, do you know Duala Manga Bell, exhibition run from 14 April 2021 to 01 February 2024. Catalogue available in German and English.

2019 Kraamer, M. ‘African Looms’. Sardjono, S. and Buckley, C. (eds). A World of Looms. Hangzhou: China National Silk Museum: 135-144.

2018 Kraamer, M. ‘A Short History of Agotime Kente in the 20th Century’. Hallo, G. (ed.) AgbamavorzaAgotimeKente Festival 2018. Brochure for the 2018 Agotime Kente Festival. Accra.

2018 Innovation and Creativity: Looms and Weaving Technology in Africa. Texts and labels of small catalogue of the exhibition ‘A World of Looms. Weaving Technology and Textile Arts of China and Beyond’. China National Silk Museum, Hangzhou. 

2018 A presidential kente from Ghana. Text for exhibition booklet for exhibition on African Design. Museum für Völkerkunde, Hamburg, Germany.

2017 Review of Hemmings, J. (ed.) Cultural Threads. Transnational Textiles Today. Bloomsbury, London and New York, 2015. Kraamer, M. ‘Review’. Textile History 47(1).

Since 2014 Reviews on exhibitions, performances and museums; see www.malikakraamer.com (Archived)

2013 Kraamer, M. ‘African Wax and Fancy Prints’ and ‘West African Kente Cloths’ In: Fogg, M. (ed.) Fashion: The Whole Story. London: Thames and Hudson: 134-137, 160-163.

2013 Kraamer, M. ‘Dress in Ghana: Fugu, Kente and Kaba’. Jill Condra (Ed.). Encyclopedia of National Dress: Traditional Clothing Around the World. Santa Barbara: ABC Clio.

2012 An Exhibition Dilemma: From Suits to Saris. In: Photographs, Colonial Legacy and Museums in Contemporary European Culture. Website resource for curators, heritage managers and students.

2009 Kraamer, M. ‘A Textile to Wear: Kente Cloth in Ghana’, ‘Worgagba and Atakpamevor’, and Super-Q, Aso Kente, and Nigerian Weave’. In: Gardi, B. (ed.) Woven Beauty. The Art of West African Textiles, Museum der Kulturen Basel, Basel: Christoph Merian Verlag: 161-181.

2005 Kraamer, M. ‘Gekleed in Kente: Ghanese kleding en Afrikaanse verbondenheid’. In: Mode en Emotie, (ver)kleden als idolen. [Clothed in Kente: Ghanaian dress and African alliance]. Jaarboek 2004 Nederlandse Textiel Commissie, Nr. 54: 119-125.

2005 Kraamer, M. ‘Visual Arts of the Ewe in Togo and Benin’. In: A Handbook of Eweland. Volume III: The Ewes of Togo and Benin. Accra: Woeli Publishing Services, Ghana: 293-310.

2005 Kraamer, M. Colourful Changes: Two Hundred Years of Social and Design History in the Hand-woven Textiles of the Ewe-speaking Regions of Ghana and Togo (1800-2000). PhD thesis. School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

2004 Review of Byfield, J.A. The Bluest Hands. A Social and Economic History of Women Dyers in Abeokuta (Nigeria), 1890-1940. Portsmouth/Oxford/Cape Town: Heinemann/James Curry/David Philip. 2002. Kraamer, M. Africa, 74 (3).

1996 Kraamer, M. Kleurrijke veranderingen. De dynamiek van de kentekunstwereld in Ghana. [The dynamic of the Kente Art World in Ghana]. MA dissertation. Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam.

1993 Kraamer, M. Gestolen geschiedenis. De illegale handel in Afrikaans cultureel erfgoed. [Stolen History. The illicit trade in African cultural heritage]. Unpublished (research report, available in the library of the Royal Museum of Ethnology, Leiden).