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Changing of the guard: Quentin Bourgeois to succeed Joanita Vroom as Head of the Department of World Archaeology

Joanita Vroom's term as Head of the Department for World Archaeology runs out on March 1, 2023. Quentin Bourgeois will succeed her. In this interview, we look both back on the turbulent last three years and ahead at what the future has in store for the department. ‘I am very proud of the World Archaeology staff.’


Starting as Head of the Department on March 1, 2020, Joanita almost immediately had to deal with the first Covid-19 lockdown, with all the related complexities. ‘It was incredible that we had to change our regular teaching to online teaching overnight,’ Joanita recalls. ‘These first weeks we needed to take care of the staff members to get them the equipment they needed. It was such a weird situation. It was only thanks to all the other colleagues, the other Heads of Department, and the Faculty Board, that we managed to do this in a successful way.’

It was not before autumn 2022 that things settled down again. ‘Only since recently, we have been meeting in person again, which is far more effective. But it was a good thing that we could communicate with each other in the meantime.’

Quentin, as a member of World Archaeology, experienced Joanita's work firsthand. ‘I was deeply impressed by how Joanita dealt with this challenging situation. Really commendable. Looking ahead, I hope that we have left the lockdowns behind us, though of course, we will leave the hybrid option open since our staff is all over the world.’

A growing community

During Joanita's term, she was part of 6 selection committees for new assistant professors. ‘I am very happy with these new contributions to the department, and they are already very active within our community.’

Quentin will continue to build upon this. ‘Amazing to see our dynamic community and the diversity in research and teaching. It has always given me the energy to hear what other people are doing and I’m looking forward to helping them achieve their goals.’

Very proud

For a meeting with the University Board at the National Museum of Antiquities, Joanita presented the achievements of the World Archaeology department. ‘Browsing through our website, preparing this presentation, I felt so very proud of the World Archaeology staff. We can have a nice building like the Van Steenis, but it is the people that make a Faculty, and all the things they do in research, education, public outreach, and fieldwork.’

Quentin fully agrees with this. ‘The great work people do always amazes me, both in teaching as well as in research. The cross-connections of people are incredible as well, many of our colleagues are also involved in heritage projects, as well as working on the cutting edge of archaeological science. That combination is something to be very proud of.’

Departing advice

Asked if Joanita has some departing advice for Quentin, she replies right away: ‘Organise something social for the World Archaeology staff, since this was impossible during Covid-19. We lost the sense of community during the lockdowns, and now the time is ripe to bring that back.’

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