Universiteit Leiden

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Research project


Cosmopolis seeks to explore the transnational and cultural dimensions of intra-Eurasian encounters through Dutch sources.

2012  -   2017
Jos Gommans

National Archive The Hague

The Cosmopolis programme was finished in September 2017 but will be continued as Cosmopolis Advanced from June 2018 onwards.


Cosmopolis represents a common endeavour of Leiden University and the National Archives at The Hague to extend the accessibility and study of all Dutch sources pertaining to Asia by deepening the cooperation with Asian universities, archives and local cultural institutions.

First of all, COSMOPOLIS is meant as an overall framework to guarantee the cohesion of the various educational and research tracks of Colonial and Global History at Leiden University. In the near future this will include the interdisciplinary two-year MA-programme on Heritage Studies that is now being developed together with the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS), the Leiden Institute of Area Studies (LIAS) and various partner universities in Asia. This programme will broaden the scope of the archival track of ENCOMPASS.

At the same time, COSMOPOLIS represents a common endeavor of Leiden University and the National Archives to extend the accessibility and study of the Dutch colonial archives to Asian countries by deepening the cooperation with Asian universities, archives and local cultural institutions. For example, to enhance the accessibility of Dutch source materials in Asia, COSMOPOLIS stimulates the spread of small Dutch expertise centres in Asia (together with strategic partners like De Nederlandse Taalunie) and the digitization of Dutch archival materials accessed through the internet. By building tripartite partnerships between universities, archives and local cultural institutions COSMOPOLIS hopes to achieve a substantially widened, international accessibility to Dutch archival resources, and to build a sustainable international and interdisciplinary network for cultural cooperation and heritage studies that is rooted in and supported by local civil society.

Finally, COSMOPOLIS pursues an interdisciplinary and innovative research agenda that explores the much neglected transnational and cultural dimension of intra-Eurasian encounters through Dutch sources. It starts from the recognition that political, social-economic, ethnic and religious processes, both in the colonies and the metropolis, were moulded by the global connections through the highly cosmopolitan middleground of Eurasian networks and port-cities.

Foundation Year

The foundation year invites students to use Dutch primary sources for the study of Asian and African history. During this year the students are trained in reading and analyzing Dutch sources through an intensive language program. History classes introduce them to dilemmas and possibilities when working with colonial sources and discuss the kind of histories that can be written by using these sources. Through tutorials and seminars they are given the opportunity to enhance their general research skills. Students develop a global outlook in their studies thanks to an intensive exposure to a variety of historical traditions from all over the globe and of course through the experience of working in an international class room.

Students can participate in the foundation year at two levels. The BA-plus track will provide students with the necessary training to successfully participate in the MA or Research MA programs in History of European Expansion and Globalisation, Archival Studies or (from 2013) Cultural Heritage. The MA-plus track allows students to prepare for their PhD research.

Encompass scholarships

Please note that the application for the Foundation Year is closed. No new application rounds will be opened.

Students holding a BA honours or the equivalent in history or a related discipline (humanities or social sciences) are eligible to take part in the foundation year.

While the program is open to students from across the world, students from Asian countries can apply for the ENCOMPASS II scholarship which covers the Foundation Year. The Dutch Ministry of Education has provided the Institute for History with a total of 44 scholarships for the period 2012-2016 (eleven per year). The Encompass II program is based on the principle of shared funding: the scholarships cover tuition fees and basic living expenses in Leiden for students participating in the Foundation Year (20.000 euro per student).

Applicants must indicate at what level they intend to participate in the foundation year (pre-MA or pre-PhD) and how they propose to fund their post-foundation year track.

Please do not forget to include the following documents with your application:
- authorized transcript of diplomas and grades list.
- two letters of recommendation from your academic supervisors
- a copy of your passport
- a statement on funding possibilities after the foundation year
- Your IELTS (min. 6.0) or TOEFL (min. 550 / 79ibt) certificate


Students from Indonesia should submit their applications to Prof. Dr. Bambang Purwanto. Students from elsewhere should send their applications to Esther Zwinkels MA.

Application form  

Students from Indonesia and China
Students from Indonesia need to address the Indonesian Encompass Committee first and submit their application form to this committee.

Prof. Dr. Bambang Purwanto
Fakultas Ilmu Budaya
Universitas Gadjah Mada

Chinese students who wish to apply need to register at Neso China, please note that Neso only accepts IETLS test scores.

MA programmes

In the second year, students will take part in the regular MA/Research MA programme in History. Students will acquire the basic knowledge and skills necessary to carry out historical research on Asian history between 1600 and 1950 in Dutch-language archives. Those students who wish to focus on VOC sources may take additional courses in paleography. Students have the option of specialising in either Colonial & Global History or Archival Studies.

In the middle of the second year outstanding students will be invited to apply for the Research MA. These students will work on a thesis and write a PhD proposal under the personal guidance of experts in the field.   

More information on the MA Programme | Courses and Courses
More information on the Research MA Programme | Courses


The LUF-scholarship-programme is an Indonesia-based extension of Cosmopolis funded by the Leiden University Fund (LUF) and coordinated by the Institute for History at Leiden University, and the History Department and the Indonesian Consortium for Religious Studies (ICRS) at Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM) in Yogyakarta.


The LUF-scholarship-programme is an Indonesia-based extension of Cosmopolis funded by the Leiden University Fund (LUF) and coordinated by the Institute for History at Leiden University, and the History Department and the Indonesian Consortium for Religious Studies (ICRS) at Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM) in Yogyakarta. It involves three-year scholarships for PhD-research in Indonesia, running from September 2012 to September 2015. The scholarship will cover travel-costs, living-costs in Indonesia and living-cost during term visit in the Netherlands. All PhD-students will investigate various aspects in connection with the overall theme: The Making of Religious Traditions in Indonesia: History and Heritage in Global Perspective (1600-1940). PhD students will be based at the Indonesian Consortium for Religious Studies (ICRS) of the Graduate School and History Department Faculty of Cultural Sciences at Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM) in Yogyakarta. Their research will result in a joint PhD-degree of Leiden University and University Gadjah Mada.

Although the PhD-fellows will make at least one long-term visit to Leiden University (at least one term for additional training, research and supervision at the Institute of History), the day-to-day supervision of the PhD-students will be provided by staff from the UGM under the leadership of professor Bambang Purwanto. Prof. dr. Purwanto currently occupies the Leiden Chair for the History of Dutch-Indonesian Relations. He will be assisted by staff from other Indonesian or Southeast Asian universities as well as by visiting staff from Leiden University.


The first two PhD Candidates have started in Yogyakarta in the academic year of 2013-2014. For the year 2014-2015 applications are invited for two additional candidates.

We invite talented MA graduates in all relevant disciplines of the humanities as well as law, sociology and anthropology to apply. Language capabilities form an important criterion for selection. All researchers will be expected and enabled to make research visits to relevant archives and libraries in Indonesia and the Netherlands.

For your application we require:
(a)        a full CV (including transcripts and certified copies of your degrees and diploma’s)
(b)        a letter of motivation
(c)        a brief proposal (600-800 words, not counting lists of relevant source materials) which provides a first outline of key research questions and relevant source materials. It should include a general reflection outlining how the proposal connects to the overall theme of the project (see pdf)
(d)        a certified statement of proficiency in both written and spoken English from TOEFL, IELTS or another recognized authority in addition to a statement of level of proficiency from your local academic supervisor (the minimal requirement is IELTS 6.5 or TOEFL 550/7.9)
(e)        two letters of recommendation to be sent directly by email to the addresses mentioned below.

Erasmus Mundus IBIES

Part of the European Union-funded Erasmus Mundus programme, the aim of IBIES (Inter-Disciplinary Bridges in Indo-European Studies) is the promotion of Indo-European cooperation in higher education. IBIES seeks to support the improvement and enhancement of scholars' career proposects as well as the promotion of intercultural communication and understanding. The program includes several scholarship and exchange possibilities.

For further details, please see here. Leiden University accepts applications under IBIES that are compatible with the research agendas of the Leiden Institute for History and the Leiden Institute for Area Studies. Students may work under the supervision of any faculty member of the Institute for History or the Institute for Area Studies.

Erasmus Mundus IBIES

The call for applications for the academic year of 2015-2016 is now open. See the IBIES website for more details. IBIES supports mobility at all levels of higher education. Cosmopolis offers placements at the master, doctoral and post-doctoral level, as well as exchanges of academic staff. Please see here for a list of participating Indian universities.

Please note that for the academic year of 2015-2016, Cosmopolis will be inviting application for MA exchange students (two semesters) as well as visiting researchers (PhD, Postdoc and Staff level). Full three-year PhD scholarships are no longer available.

The application for 2015-2016 is now closed.

 The academic coordinator for IBIES at Leiden University is Esther Zwinkels MA. Please email her for any questions regarding eligible research projects or IBIES placements at Leiden. 

IBIES 2015-2016

In the academic year 2015-2016 Leiden University welcomes four Indian scholars:

Ganesh Naika - PhD exchange - Mangalore University
Dr. Roshni Sengupta - postdoc exchange - Amity University Haryana
Prof.dr. Preeti Sharma - staff exchange - University of Rajasthan/Banasthali
Prof.dr. Suranjan Das   - staff exchange - University of Calcutta

IBIES Steering Committee Meeting 2014

On 27 March 2014, the third meeting of the IBIES steering committee took place at Symbiosis International University in Pune. The selection for the academic year of 2014-2015 was made at this meeting. It is a pleasure to announce that during the next academic year, Leiden will receive six students and scholars hailing from four different universities: Manipal University, Mangalore University, Jawaharlal Nehru University and Northeastern Hill University.

IBIES 2014-2015

In the academic year 2014-2015 Leiden University hosted several exhangs students and staff members:

Pranjali Kirloskar- MA exchange - Manipal University
Malavika Binny - PhD exchange - Jawaharlal Nehru University
Dhanasree Jayaram - PhD exchange - Manipal University
Chumchano Humtsoe - PhD exchange - North Eastern Hill University
Dr. Nanda Kishor - postdoc exhange - Manipal University
Prof.dr. Jayaraj Amin - staff exchange - Mangalore University

IBIES 2013-2014

In August 2013, the first batch of Erasmus Mundus IBIES students arrived at Leiden from Jawaharlal Nehru University, Calcutta University and Hyderabad University.

All eight are working towards a Leiden PhD in either History or Area Studies and have received a three-year scholarship. They are:

Sarthak Bagchi
Deepshikha Boro
Archisman Chaudhuri
Aditi Mukherjee
Mahmood Kooriadathodi
Abdur Rahoof Ottathingal
Byapti Sur

Research Agenda Cosmopolis

Connecting Histories, Archives and Heritage in Monsoon Asia

COSMOPOLIS is the common research and policy agenda for Colonial and Global History at the
Institute for History of Leiden University. As such it follows in the footsteps of the TANAP- and
ENCOMPASS-programmes that were subsequently executed from 1999 onward. In these two
programmes numerous young Asian scholars were trained at the History Institute of Leiden
University and the National Archives in The Hague. During the last decade the programmes
produced more than twenty PhD dissertations with many more to come during the years ahead.
In the years ahead ENCOMPASS (TANAP stopped in 2006) will continue to offer talented
students the unique opportunity to engage in a one-year training-programme for the acquisition
of specific language and research skills to study Dutch colonial sources on Asia and South
Africa. From September 2012 onwards, this foundation year can be combined with any BA, MA,
Research-MA or PhD-track of the History Department at Leiden University.

More information


Bloemfontein 2015

Second Cosmopolis Conference: ‘Abolition and the Idea of Slavery in Global Perspective, 1750-1950’, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa, 18-19 June 2015 

Ian Phimister (University of the Free State)
Jos Gommans (Leiden University)

Esther Zwinkels (Leiden University). Contact: e.p.m.zwinkels@hum.leidenuniv.nl

Robert Ross (Leiden University, emeritus)
Kerry Ward (Rice University)

The conference is supported by Itinerario.

Call for papers

For the program and abstracts, please see here and here.

Yogyakarta 2014

Cosmopolis Conference: The Making of Religious Traditions in the Indonesian Archipelago: History and Heritage in Global Perspective (1600-1940), 20-22 June 2014, Yogyakarta (Indonesia)

This first COSMOPOLIS-conference will mark the official launch of the Leiden-Yogyakarta PhD-programme “The Making of Religious Traditions in Indonesia: History and Heritage in Global Perspective (1600-1940)” as sponsored by the Leiden University Fund for the years 2014-2018.

Bambang Purwanto (Universitas Gadjah Mada, Yogyakarta)
Jos Gommans (Leiden University)

Carolien Stolte (Leiden University). Contact: c.m.stolte@hum.leidenuniv.nl

Ronit Ricci (Australian National University).
Merle Ricklefs (Australian National University, emeritus)

Call for papers

For the program and abstracts, please see here and here.

Previous Conferences
Between 2006 and 2012, all Encompass research was carried out within the framework of the ‘Transitions of regimes in Asia’ research theme. This overarching research paradigm focuses on three watersheds in Global Interaction, namely

a)      the impact on local regimes in Southeast Asia of European interventions in early-modern times (1650-1720);

b)      the transition from traditional regimes to the formation of colonial regimes in the same region during the age of revolutions (1780-1830);

c)      the transition represented by the foundation of the modern colonial state and the concomitant emergence of national identities which led to the struggle for independent statehood and economic decolonization (1910-60).

Between 2009 and 2011 three conferences were organized on each watershed respectively in Medan, Mumbai and Colombo in cooperation with local universities and institutes. The conferences were sponsored by the Dutch ministry of foreign affairs.

Colombo 2011

“The rise of Asia’s maritime frontiers. Old and New regimes at the interface of coast and interior, c. 1650 – 1720”

Conference program and abstracts Colombo

Mumbai 2010

“Monsoon Asia in the age of revolutions: changes of regime and their aftermath”

A number of conference papers were published in Itinerario, issue 2011/2: http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayJournal?jid=ITI

Conference program and abstracts Mumbai

Medan 2009

“States of transition: modernization, performance and meaning of state and authority in the era of decolonization”

An excellent conference report written by Peter Romijn and Remco Raben was published in Itinerario 2009/2: http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayIssue?jid=ITI&volumeId=33&seriesId=0&issueId=02

Conference program and abstracts Medan

Connection with other research