Job vacancy: KITLV director

Job description

For the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV), the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) is seeking an internationally recognised and authoritative humanities and social sciences scholar specialising in Southeast Asian and/ or Caribbean Studies who takes a wide-ranging approach to science and scholarship and who has an extensive network within and outside the scientific community, a keen eye for diversity and inclusiveness in the broadest sense, and excellent management capabilities.

-You will bear final responsibility for the general and day-to-day management of KITLV and for charting the institute’s course, in line with the Academy’s strategy.

-You will ensure that KITLV remains a leading international institute where scientific talent flourishes. You will identify important developments in research and society, both in the Netherlands and elsewhere, and respond effectively to them. You will develop a distinct approach to the profile and future development of KITLV as a dynamic research institute of international standing with added value for the Netherlands.

-You will play an important role in national and international networks and partnerships in the field and promote interdisciplinary cooperation with universities and other Academy and NWO institutes. You will maintain a close relationship with the KITLV Association and continue to develop the institute’s structural alliance with Leiden University, in part with a view to improving the collections and their accessibility. You will position the institute with bodies that fund research (including the EU, NWO), knowledge institutions, NGOs, government institutions and the business community, and by doing so create new partnerships.

-You will devote yourself to fostering science communication and maximising the impact of the institute’s research activities on society. You will function as a point of contact in the public debate about the colonial past and its impact on contemporary science and society, highlighting the relevance of research for that debate.

-You will represent KITLV both within the Academy (as a member of the Council of Directors) and in national and international bodies, thus promoting the interests of both the institute and the Academy

Candidate profile

-You are an internationally authoritative and innovative scholar. You reflect critically on research approaches and contribute to a constructive debate about the decolonisation of research practices. You are open to public debate and committed to research integrity and scientific rigour. You are familiar with innovative digital research methods.

-You have a strategic mindset and managerial insight and possess the ability to inspire and encourage and to clearly communicate vision and policy.

-You have a large national and international network, both within and outside the scientific community, and are demonstrably able to use your network to forge strategic alliances and obtain research grants.

-You have demonstrable leadership skills, you are creative and engaged, and you are capable of leading and inspiring a team of professionals as a ‘first among equals’. You advocate and promote a safe, inclusive and diverse research environment. You have an eye for what is taking place within the organisation; you are people-oriented, empathetic, accessible and capable of making changes; and you invest in your employees’ careers. You are able to connect people and ideals.

-You display integrity, you focus on getting results, and you are decisive and dynamic. You are an effective communicator, both internally and externally.

-You have an affinity for and experience in finance, human resources and social policy.

-You have an excellent command of written and spoken English. Foreign candidates will be expected to have a passive and active command of Dutch within a foreseeable period of time and to familiarise themselves with Dutch culture. You preferably also speak one of the local languages used in the areas studied by the institute.


The KNAW is a learned society of outstanding scientists and scholars, advises the Dutch government on research matters, and is responsible for ten national research institutes and three institutes that deliver infrastructure for research. The Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV) is one of the Academy’s research institutes.

The Academy is committed to being a diverse and inclusive organisation and strives to set a good example in its leadership and management and ensure a safe, honest and inclusive workplace culture.

KITLV conducts world-class humanities and social science research from an interdisciplinary and comparative historical perspective. Its research focus is Southeast Asia and the Caribbean, in particular Indonesia and the ‘Dutch’ Caribbean. Drawing on its own outstanding collections, housed at Leiden University Libraries since 2014, KITLV works closely with Leiden University. Its research addresses two themes, i.e. ‘State, Violence and Citizenship’ and ‘Mobility and Belonging’, and focuses on continuities and discontinuities between the pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial periods. The institute is also developing a new line of research, ‘Governance of Climate Change’. The institute’s research results help to improve historical understanding while contributing to debates about and shaping opinions on social and political change and complex processes of globalisation.

The institute is committed to decolonising scholarship by formulating new conceptual frameworks and methodologies and by investing in new alliances while reflecting critically on its own past.

Employment terms

The appointment is for a period of five years with effect from 1 January 2022, with an intended reappointment for a second and final term of five years. Depending on educational background and work experience, the person appointed will be remunerated at scale 16 (of the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities), including 8% holiday allowance and a year-end bonus of 8.3% of the annual salary. The Academy has a comprehensive package of fringe benefits.

Additional information

For more information on this position, please contact Ms Mieke Zaanen, Director General of the Academy, at (please provide your telephone number in the e-mail).

KITLV website:; Academy website:

Work location: Reuvensplaats 2, NL-2311 BE Leiden

Candidate interviews will take place on 14 April 2021 (first round) and 28 April 2021 (second round). The selection procedure may involve an assessment.


The KNAW attaches great importance to a working environment where everyone feels welcome and valued, where individual talent is nurtured, and where development opportunities are paramount. Together, we aspire to an inclusive culture that embraces differences. We would therefore like to invite candidates whose background and experience will help us to achieve our goals. Where two or more applicants are equally qualified, preference will be given to the candidate who contributes most to diversity at the Academy in this respect.

Please e-mail your letter of application with curriculum vitae to the Academy at by the deadline, 14 February 2021, stating in the subject line: KITLV Director.

No soliciting based on this job advertisement.

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