Vacancies: 2 Postdoc positions ‘Colonial histories and provenance of the KITLV Special Collections – KNAW’

The Project
The manuscript and book collection of KITLV (founded in 1851) is one of the largest covering the region that is today Indonesia, and has, next to that, an important Caribbean collection. It is well known that a large part of this collection has a colonial origin, as it was shaped by, and embedded, in the context of Dutch colonial history, mainly regarding the – then – so-called East- and West-Indies. Little do we know, however, about the ways manuscripts have been collected locally, or about the context, the power relations, the violence, and the mechanisms of selection that formed the base of collecting. In light of present societal and scholarly debates about collecting practices and knowledge production it is important to gain insight into the ways this collection came to be and has been used, and in the influence and agency of local actors in shaping these collections. To that aim, this Pilot Project will run at KITLV for a period of 1,5 year. The project explores, on the base of selected case studies, the provenance of the collection, the socio-political biography of sub-collections and individual manuscripts, to study practices of collecting and knowledge production, and to gauge the role and nature of violence therein (including epistemic violence). The question about the role of local actors in shaping this collection will be leading. The focus will be on the Indonesian/ Southeast Asian collection.

The positions
For this Research Project we will hire 2 postdocs, with experience in provenance research or research into the social history of manuscripts. The postdocs will be asked to make an elaborate selection of case studies (sub-collections, individual manuscripts), specifically for the Indonesian and Southeast Asian collection, on the base of which they conduct provenance research and/or do research into the socio-political biography of these cases. The aim is to get a general picture of the formation of the KITLV collection, and to provide insight into provenance and/or social biographies of manuscripts, and/or in the Society’s collecting practices. They will do so in the form of a written report. Next to that, they also have allocated time and space to use this research for a scholarly publication or a new research proposal.

Apply until: 27 October 2023

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