Back to search results
Header Image

PhD Position in the Vidi project: Voicing the Colony. Travelers in the Dutch East Indies 1800-1945

University of Leiden

The Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society (LUCAS) invites applications for a

PhD Position in the Vidi project: Voicing the Colony. Travelers in the Dutch East Indies 1800-1945

Project description
The PhD candidate will be working on a subproject within Vidi research project Voicing the Colony. Travelers in the Dutch East Indies, 1800-1945 (2020-2025), funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), and directed by dr. R.A.M. (Rick) Honings (assistant professor in modern Dutch literature at Leiden University).

Voicing the Colony is a research project about the Dutch colonial past in the Dutch East Indies. This project focuses on non-fiction travel writing, in both the language of the colonizer (Dutch) and in the two major languages of the colonized people (Javanese and Malay), between the beginning of the nineteenth century and the end of the Second World War. Starting from a postcolonial perspective, the project investigates how Dutch travelers wrote about their journey in the colony and analyses the political effects of their representations. To balance this picture, this project will examine the Indigenous perspective. The project will maximize the opportunity to rewrite the historiography of the Dutch colonization from a dual-focused perspective. This project consists of three subprojects, focusing on 19th-century travel texts (PI), indigenous travel texts, written in Javanese and Malay (postdoc) and 20th-century travel texts  (PhD).

Title subproject: Tourists in the Colony: Dutch Travelers in the Indies 1870-1945 
We are looking for an excellent, highly motivated, enterprising and enthusiastic PhD candidate to join the project team. The PhD candidate is expected to investigate Dutch travel texts between circa 1870 and 1945, to examine how the colony and the colonial system were represented by Dutch travelers, and what political function their writings fulfilled. In the period from 1870 onwards, the Dutch interaction with the Dutch East Indies changed. More Dutch citizens sought their fortune in the East, while the number of European women traveling with them increased as well. For this reason, Dutch accounts of touristic trips are the main focus of this subproject.

The introduction of tourism in the second half of the nineteenth century added a new dimension to travel writing, as travelers were no longer explorers, but set out on journeys in the footsteps of other travelers, led by popular travel guide books. Obviously, the colonial ideology was still in place in this period but there were several political transformations in its reception. From 1900 on, the Dutch government pursued a so-called ‘Ethical Policy’, based on the insight that a colony existed not only as a place to profit from. So, the Dutch authorities began to invest in education, healthcare and infrastructure. This Ethical Policy, however, legitimized rather than mitigated imperialism. This subproject will among other things analyse which political role non-fiction travel writing played within the Dutch imperialist project.

Key responsibilities

  • Completing a PhD thesis within four years;
  • Publishing at least one article in a peer-reviewed journal;
  • Participation in meetings of the project research group;
  • Presenting papers at conferences, both in the Netherlands and internationally;
  • Organizing and participating in the training program of the LUCAS Graduate School and the National Research School in Cultural History (Huizinga Institute) and other relevant masterclasses, discussion groups, seminars, workshops, and events;
  • Participation in staff meetings and the intellectual life of the LUCAS community;
  • Contributing to the organization of the events and activities within the project;
  • Some teaching in the second and third years of the appointment.

Selection criteria

  • A RMA or MA in Literary Studies or Dutch Studies/Nederlandse taal en cultuur, held by time of appointment, with a MA thesis in the field of Dutch Studies of high quality, with a grade of at least 8.0 on a ten-point scale, or comparable assessment;
  • Well-developed research skills, including the ability to formulate creative research questions, descriptive and analytical skills, and a clear and persuasive style of writing;
  • Demonstrable interest in the Dutch colonial past and knowledge of postcolonial approaches;
  • High-fluency speaker level of Dutch, and excellent competence in English;
  • Experience with research in the manuscript collections and archival records;
  • Independent thinker and team player;
  • Demonstrable experience of or the potential to engage with wider/non-academic community and generate research impact beyond the strictly academic context;
  • Ability to finish the proposed PhD research in 4 years;
  • The research should result in a doctor’s degree from the Faculty of Humanities of Leiden University under the supervision of Professor Olf Praamstra and Dr. Rick Honings.

The organization 
The Faculty of Humanities is a unique international centre for the advanced study of languages, cultures, arts, and societies worldwide, in their historical contexts from prehistory to the present.  Our faculty is home to more than 6,000 students and 800 staff members. For more information see

The Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society (LUCAS) is one of the seven Research Institutes of the Faculty of Humanities. LUCAS is dedicated to ground-breaking research that explores the multifaceted relationships between the arts and society. For more information see

Terms and conditions
PhD project, 4 years (1.0 FTE, 38 hrs per week), starting date 1 January 2020. Initially the employee will receive a one-year contract, with extension for the following 36 months on condition of a positive evaluation. The appointment must lead to the completion of a PhD thesis. Salary range from € 2,325 to € 2,972 gross per month for a fulltime appointment depending on prior education and working experience (pay scale for Phd’s, in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities).

Leiden University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses (8.3%), training and career development. Our individual choices model gives you some freedom to assemble your own set of terms and conditions. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break. For more information:

Leiden University is strongly committed to diversity within its community and especially welcomes applications from members of underrepresented groups.

Enquiries can be addressed to the Project Leader, Dr. Rick Honings, e-mail:, and to the Academic Director of LUCAS, Prof. dr. Thony Visser, e-mail: Information about LUCAS and links to staff expertise can be found at

Please submit your application online via the blue button in our application system, no later than 31 August 2019. Please ensure that you upload the following additional documents in a single PDF, quoting the vacancy number:

  • Letter of application with a motivation statement of 1000 words max. (in Dutch), in which you formulate your special interest in the PhD project and some first ideas about how you would frame/approach it;
  • Your CV, listing education and possibly employment history, and any other academic achievements (conference presentations, publications, organization of events, etc.)
  • Names, positions and contact information for three referees (no reference letters). Please only list these in the PDF and not in the dedicated fields in the online application system;
  • A copy of your MA-thesis;
  • Copies of relevant course assessments;
  • Your MA degree certificate.

Enquiries from agencies are not appreciated.

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Leiden - Netherlands
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students, International Students
Funding amount: €2,325 to €2,972
£2,067.86 to £2,643.30 converted salary* gross per month.
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 16th July 2019
Closes: 31st August 2019
Reference: 19-333
We value your feedback on the quality of our adverts. If you have a comment to make about the overall quality of this advert, or its categorisation then please send us your feedback
Show all PhDs for University of Leiden …
Advert information

Type / Role:

Subject Area(s):


* Salary has been converted at the prevailing rate on the date placed
PhD tools

Browser Upgrade Recommended has been optimised for the latest browsers.

For the best user experience, we recommend viewing on one of the following:

Google Chrome Firefox Microsoft Edge