In the past few years, interest in the colonial past has returned to contemporary Dutch society – as elsewhere in the world – with a fierceness that was unexpected for some. This phenomenon ranges from pleas to embrace the colonial past on the one hand, to calls to decolonize our ways of thinking, academic institutions and the production of knowledge on the other hand. Public debates seem increasingly polarized when it comes to topics such as the transformation of ‘Zwarte Piet’ (‘Black Pete’) as a Dutch tradition; white privilege or innocence; the aftermath of slavery and its impact on both descendants of formerly enslaved and descendants of abolitionists and former plantations owners; or the accountability of the Netherlands with regard to its role in Indonesia’s war of independence. What is this vivid historical engagement about? Who is involved (ranging from individuals to communities and institutions)? Why and how does polarization take place, and to what extent and how does it relate to historical cultures in formerly regions colonized by the Dutch, in particular in Southeast Asia and the Caribbean, more precisely Indonesia, Suriname and the Antilles, and the diaspora?
For KITLV, as a formerly colonial institute reflecting on its own past, these questions are topical and a starting point for a fresh research agenda that aims to understand the nature and impact of colonial legacies, connections and disconnections, within and between the various regions that have been part of a Dutch colonial space. In that postcolonial framework KITLV has a vacancy for a PhD-research project that focuses on an exploration of the functioning of postcolonial memory, and the dynamics of memory cultures in Netherlands, Indonesia and/or the Caribbean, and the diaspora. Candidates with a research experience or interest in these issues are invited to apply.
There is no disciplinary limitation except that applicants must be trained in the humanities and/or social sciences. We particularly welcome applicants with a background in history, anthropology, political science, cultural studies (including literature), or law, or a combination of these disciplines. An interest and ability to work across disciplinary boundaries will be considered an advantage, as is experience in working with postcolonial communities. Proposed topics of study may be related, but are certainly not limited, to: identity formation of postcolonial groups; the development of multidirectional memory; the role of possibly traumatic memories in identity formation; memory and counter- or post-memory across generations; and the role of generation in the transfer of traumatic memories; the role of ‘lieux de mémoires’/material heritage/sites and oral history in relation to postcolonial meaning, memories and identifications. The PhD candidate may connect his/her research to the postcolonial groups just mentioned, but may also identify other relevant communities that have developed within the specific Dutch colonial past of the Netherlands.
The PhD candidate will have a great deal of flexibility in determining the course of his/her research. To that end, we ask applicants to submit a proposal (maximum of 1000 words) in which they describe their potential project, including a research question, sub-questions, methodology and a rough schedule for completion of the work.
The research position is funded by the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV), an institution of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). The PhD candidate will be appointed at, and embedded in, KITLV (www.kitlv.nl) while also formally attached to Leiden University. Leiden is a pleasant, historical city located between Amsterdam and The Hague. Supervision will be provided by KITLV. The PhD candidate will work at the KITLV’s office on Leiden University’s campus in Leiden.
The PhD candidate is expected to:
•Conduct research, including field research in Southeast Asia and/or the Caribbean;
•Publish on the basis of this research, culminating in at least two journal articles and a PhD dissertation completed within the allotted timed (four years at 1.0 fte; five years at 0.8 fte);
•Collaborate with supervisors and peers on the development of the broader research agenda;
•Participate in conferences, workshops, and other scholarly activities.
The successful candidate should:
•Hold a recent MA or Mphil in the humanities or social sciences from an internationally recognized university;
•Excel academically, as shown in the transcripts and CV;
•Have an excellent written and spoken command of English;
•Be a native or advanced Dutch speaker, or be willing to learn; knowledge of Indonesian and/or a relevant Caribbean language will be considered an advantage;
•Have affinity with, and preferably experience in, the field of Southeast Asian and/or Caribbean studies;
•Have an advanced level in one of the local languages in these regions;
•Be highly motivated and able to work independently;
•Have good social and organizational skills.
Conditions of employment
Appointment will be according to the terms of the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities (CAO NU). We offer a 1,0 or 0.8 fte position for one year with the possibility of a three- or four-year extension. The function is validated in the University Function Ordening system (UFO) under the profile “PhD Candidate”. Gross monthly salaries are in accordance with the CAO NU, increasing from € 2325 per month initially, to € 2970 in the fourth year excluding 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% year-end bonus on a full time basis. We offer an extensive package of fringe benefits.
KITLV is committed to diversity, inclusiveness, and equal opportunities.
The Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV-KNAW) is an Academy research institute. The KITLV conducts interdisciplinary and comparative historical research. Its research focus is Southeast Asia and the Caribbean, with an emphasis on Indonesia and the ‘Dutch’ Caribbean. It is particularly interested in such issues as state formation, violence and citizenship, processes of mobility and the formation of ethnic and national identity. KITLV is active in the humanities, social sciences and comparative area studies and works closely with Leiden University.
Questions may be directed to Dr. Esther Captain (firstname.lastname@example.org)