Would you like to work at the intersection of material culture and critical heritage studies and colonial and military history? Then Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam would like to get to know you.
This PhD position will be part of a broader subproject (WP2) that explores questions of Ownership in relation to colonial collections in museums, and will look at collections acquired during military campaigns in the 19th century in Indonesia. Exploring collections held by several institutions (the National Museums of World Cultures, Wereldmuseum, Bronbeek Museum and Rijksmuseum) the PhD research will focus on collections linked to the Java Wars (1825-1830), the expeditions to Sumatra (1830s), the Balinese interventions (1840s/50s and then later 1906 and 1908), the Banjarmasim War (1859-1863), the Aceh War(s) (1873-1904), the intervention in Lombok and Karangasem (1894) and the South Sulawesi expedition (1904-5) for example.
Surveying collections and researching the micro-histories of specific objects, object types and collections, this research project will explore the strategies of taking that emerge from warfare, and how this has influenced the different museums and their collections. The researcher will draw on provenance research and biographical approaches, to explore and analyze the historical conditions under which objects were taken, and entered museum collections. This PhD will use existing archival sources, including those illuminating military networks and careers.
This PhD project will seek to answer the questions how and why were specific objects taken during situations of conflict, what was the nature of the power relations that characterized these transactions, and what were the processes that secured such collections for museums, to assess the lasting material legacies that such acts of possession/dispossession represent.
The PhD student will be employed by the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands and enrolled in its doctoral programme, which is part of the Graduate School of the Humanities. This PhD project will be co-supervised by Prof. Henrietta Lidchi and Prof. Dr. Wayne Modest
Our recruitment policy takes into account the individual curriculum vitae of applicants as well as the research team composition as a whole. We seek a diverse team, in terms of disciplinary background, with a solid representation of researchers embedded in / related to countries from where colonial collections originate. In line with this policy, eligible applicants can be of any nationality, but for this position, upon equal qualification, priority will be given to candidates with a strong relationship with communities / countries from where specific collections germane to the specific work package originate.
Fixed-term contract: 1 year.
A challenging position in a socially involved organization. The salary will be in accordance with university regulations for academic personnel and amounts €2,395 per month during the first year and increases to €3,061 (PhD) per month during the fourth year, based on a full-time employment. The job profile is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for 1 FTE.
Appointment of selected candidates: August – October 2021 (late appointments due to COVID related delays, especially in relation to travel restrictions, will be considered)
The appointment will initially be for 1 year. After a satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, the contract will be extended to a total duration of 4 years.
Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:
Pressing Matter responds to the growing contestation over what to do with the colonial heritage held in museums. This growing controversy reveals the need to take into account the polarised positions that now exist in these debates, ranging from scholars, activists and community members championing the return of objects to correct historical wrongs, to those who contend that objects should be retained irrespective of circumstances of acquisition by museums in light of their (universal) cultural and scientific value. In the middle are advocates of more relational heritage practices, comprising dialogue and sharing in how objects are distributed. Pressing Matter has defined various approaches to this problem and categories of collections in collaborating museums that will be the starting point for research.
Researchers start from this shared research framework and while doing research for an individual PhD thesis or other research output, which allows them to develop their own views and insights, they commit themselves to the programme as a whole through a collaborative multidisciplinary approach, which allows access to research findings to the team and requires result based research. The programme has developed this research framework in the context of the National Science Agenda of the Netherlands. A large team of PhD candidates, postdocs, museum staff, professors will be organized along the lines of 8 work packages, hosted in five different universities and collaborating with eight specific museums and societal stakeholders.
Your application should be a single pdf consisting of the following documents, in the following order:
Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.
If you have any questions regarding this vacancy, you may contact: