Universiteit Leiden

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PhD candidate

Vacancy number
22-066 10825
Function type
PhD positions
Hours (in fte)
External/ internal
Placed on
18 February 2022
Closing date
15 March 2022 Vacancy closed

The University of Leiden and the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV-KNAW) are looking for:

A PhD Candidate in the field of transnational and transimperial cultural histories and decolonization in Southeast Asia or the Caribbean
 (1.0 fte)

Leiden University and the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) offer one four-year PhD position at the KITLV/Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies. The PhD candidate will be working at the Leiden-based KITLV, an institute of the KNAW, and will defend the PhD thesis at Leiden University. This position is shared with the Faculty of Humanities. The PhD candidate will be jointly supervised by senior researchers at KITLV and Leiden University.

KITLV and Leiden University work together closely in the fields of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies. Several departments and institutes in the Faculty of Humanities partake in this cooperation.

Project description

The PhD candidate will work in the field of transnational and transimperial cultural histories and decolonization in Southeast Asia or the Caribbean. The project will build on a growing academic interest in transnational and trans-oceanic approaches toward grassroot postcolonial reformative politics and cultural activism in the 1950s, in Asia, Africa and the Americas, as shaping what was then called the Third World. Intriguingly, the perspective of Indonesia and the Caribbean, two areas at the heart of the scholarly focus of KITLV, are relatively understudied and their histories in that regard still raise many questions. The theme of transnational socio-cultural reform, moreover, offers new opportunities to study these regions in a joint analytical framework. This is the background of the present vacancy.

Based on the applicant's own research idea, starting in Southeast Asia or the Caribbean, and transcending the common divides between imperial histories and colonial and postcolonial periods, the project will focus on a topic relevant to the history and political dynamics of social movements for political, cultural, intellectual and/or religious renewal that developed transnationally. The aim is to understand continuities and discontinuities in these histories, and to gauge how and why transnational social movements have shaped postcolonial realities. What did transnational collaboration imply? How and to what extent did pre-war transnational, inter-Asian and pan-Asian ideals and connections affect the decolonizing, and post-independence societies under study? Why did 'pan-Caribbean' ideals never really gain ground? What was the impact of recolonization wars and regime change on transnational solidarity and activities? Who were the key actors in post-independence reform? How and to what extent does a focus on transnational and transimperial histories help us understand what decolonization was all about? These are examples of questions this project might focus on. 

There is no stringent disciplinary limitation except that applicants must be trained in the humanities and/or social sciences, that the project has a historical focus, and that the research should be centred in the region of Southeast Asia or the Caribbean. Applicants with an MA or Mphil in history (including art history), anthropology, cultural studies (including literature), religious studies, or a combination of these disciplines may apply. An interest and ability to work across disciplinary boundaries will be considered an advantage. 

Candidates should conduct their projects in either Southeast Asian or Caribbean Studies within the research profiles of these partners, see:
 Research - Leiden University (universiteitleiden.nl)
* Our Mission - KITLV 

Key responsibilities

* Conduct research, including field research in Southeast Asia and/or the Caribbean;

* Publish on the basis of this research, culminating in at least two international peer-reviewed journal articles and a PhD dissertation completed in the allotted time (four years at 1.0 fte; five years at 0.8 fte).

*Participate in institute meetings both at KITLV and the Faculty of Humanities;

*Take part in the PhD program of the affiliated institutes;

*Participate in academic conferences, workshops, and other scholarly and outreach activities;

Selection criteria
The candidate should:

* Hold a recent MA or Mphil in the social sciences or humanities from an internationally recognized university;

* Excel academically, as shown in the transcripts and CV, and show a strong interest in fundamental research;

* Have an excellent written and spoken command of English;

* Have an advanced level in one of the local languages in Southeast Asia and/or the Caribbean;

* Be highly motivated and able to work independently;

* Have excellent social and organizational skills.

Our organisations
The Faculty of Humanities is rich in expertise in fields such as philosophy, religious studies, history, art history, literature, linguistics and area studies covering nearly every region of the world. With its staff of 995, the faculty provides 27 master’s and 25 bachelor’s programmes for over 7,000 students based at locations in Leiden and in The Hague. For more information: Faculty of Humanities - Leiden University (universiteitleiden.nl).

The Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV) is a KNAW research institute. The KITLV conducts interdisciplinary and comparative historical research. Its research focus is Southeast Asia and the Caribbean, with an emphasis on Indonesia and the ‘Dutch’ Caribbean. It is particularly interested in such issues as state formation, violence and citizenship, processes of mobility, belonging, and the formation of ethnic and national identity, colonial and postcolonial themes, and the governance of climate change adaptation. KITLV is active in the humanities, social sciences and comparative area studies and is based on the Humanities campus of Leiden University. For more information: KITLV.

Terms and conditions

(Full-time appointment with the possibility of an extension)
The appointment will be according to the terms of the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities (CAO Nederlandse Universiteiten). The employment will be for four years: first a contract of 12 months with an extension of 36 months after positive evaluation of capabilities and compatibility (on the basis of a 9-months paper). You are expected to start on September 1, 2022, or as soon as possible after that. The appointment must lead to the completion of a PhD thesis. Salary ranges from 2443.- to 3122.- gross per month (pay scale P) for a full-time appointment.

Leiden University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses (8.3 %), training and career development and sabbatical leave. Our individual choices model gives you some freedom to assemble your own set of terms and conditions.
 For international spouses we have set up a dual career programme. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break. For more information: Application process and working conditions - Working at Leiden University - Leiden University (universiteitleiden.nl).

We firmly believe that diversity together with inclusion is the key driving force for creativity and innovative ideas. We strive to create a working environment where everyone feels empowered to bring their full, authentic selves to work. Therefore, applicants of all backgrounds are welcome.


For further information on this project, please get in touch with dr. David Kloos via kloos@kitlv.nl.


Your application package should be submitted no later than 15 March 2022 via the blue button in our application system. The selection process will continue until the positions are filled. Those shortlisted will be asked for a sample academic writing and invited to come to Leiden (or online) for an interview.

Applicants should submit online:

  • A motivation letter (no more than 2 pages)
  • A detailed curriculum vitae
  • A research proposal (no more than 2 pages)
  • Names, affiliations, and contact information of two referees (no reference letters).

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