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Archival Studies (MA)

Leiden University's master in Archival Studies equips you with the skills needed to understand and critically question the politics of historical archives, and to guide their users. Please note: after February 2020 the MA Archival Studies will be transformed into the MA track Heritage and Postcolonial Studies, which will be embedded in the specialisation Colonial and Global History.

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Why study Archival Studies at Leiden University?

The MA History trajectory ‘Archival Studies’ is in transformation. Starting in the Academic year 2021-2020 this Master will be part of the MA Colonial and Global History, as the MA specialization ‘Heritage and Postcolonial studies’, with a regional focus on colonial and postcolonial Indonesia, in transnational and comparative perspectives. Building on the MA Archival Studies, it will include the critical study of the politics and practices of archives in the context of colonial and postcolonial history, thereby engaging with debates and queries regarding their decolonization.

The new MA specialization diverts, moreover, as a) the scope of interest broadens to the field of Critical Heritage Studies, and towards the study of archival politics and practices, beyond (and including) those of the official national and regional archives b.) it will be structurally informed by postcolonial critical debates, and seek for strategies to open up archives for understanding alternative voices and uses than those that had been principle of collecting c.) has a broader focus on the political dynamics of heritage formation in colonial and postcolonial Asian contexts (in particular of nineteenth and twentieth century Indonesia). 

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Collaboration with the National Archive in The Hague

You will study the relationship between institutions and the archives left behind – i.e. the underlying reasons why the archives were compiled including the societal context within which the institutions were founded and operated, and the reasons particular records were kept. You will also learn how to manage archives both during class and through your own research, including how to make archives accessible for historical research. You will have the opportunity to apply theory in practice thanks to the programme's structural collaboration with the National Archive in The Hague.

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Focus on the colonial context

A particular focus during the programme is on the archives created in a colonial context. In Jakarta alone there is in excess of 10 kilometres of Dutch-language archive material collected by the Dutch East India company and colonial institutions. In other South-east Asian countries, South Africa, Surinam and the Dutch Antilles there are many more hundreds of kilometres of Dutch-language archive material. During the Archival Studies Master’s programme you will acquire the skills needed to manage these archives and make them accessible for historical research.

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Gain important digitisation skills

The programme will also provide you with the knowledge and skills required of archivists in response to digitisation. Archivists today must be more than specialists in the field of structuring and describing archives, palaeography, diplomacy, institutional history but equipped in the compilation and management of archives within the framework of information science. Leiden University’s Archival Studies programme provides focused training to meet this need.

History Degree

Archival Studies at Leiden University is an accredited degree programme of History. After successful completion of this programme, you will receive a legally accredited master’s degree in History and the title Master of Arts (MA).

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