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Gert Oostindie looks back at his term as LeidenGlobal Chairperson

Last June, LeidenGlobal officially said farewell to prof. dr. Gert Oostindie as Chairperson for its Executive Board after a period of three years. We invited him to look back at his time at LeidenGlobal and share his vision for the future.

As director of the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV), Oostindie was actively involved with LeidenGlobal since its start in 2013. He recognises its relevance for multiple reasons: the city of Leiden is full of knowledge, study programmes, institutes and museums that contribute to our cultural knowledge of the world. Oostindie finds it important to share this knowledge in the outside world, and to invite critical reflection on Leiden traditions. LeidenGlobal is a meaningful hub in this process for creating new exchanges. Students are involved through the ResMA and PhD courses that LeidenGlobal offers, another important aspect according to Oostindie. These courses are a sort of umbrella, helping students to reflect on academia, collections, and on their own positionality and work. LeidenGlobal is not just the university, it is also the partner museums and the institutions: every partner is looking for something that connects them. Oostindie notes that all members have the same kind of fascination and questions, and LeidenGlobal can help locating expertise and stimulating critical debates.

'Are we doing what we do the right way? And are we doing the right things?' In general, LeidenGlobal is doing the things that were set out to do. One of the plans Oostindie would like to see come to fruition in the future is offering summer courses to a wider audience, concerning global interconnections, past and present. Highlights during Oostindie's involvement with LeidenGlobal include Heritage on the Move, the moving photo exhibition provided by scholars of the LeidenGlobal partners, which turned out to be a very positive endeavour. Academics are competent speakers and writers, but to visually show their work is clearly something else. The collaboration with SCOLeiden and the inception of the annual High School Conference knew a slow start but has grown out to be successful. Oostindie is also pleased to see that the outward communication has much improved. Oostindie makes a point of emphasizing the amazing work of LeidenGlobal Manager Aphroditi Zoulfoukaridis, whom he commends for her dedication, strong social engagement and ability to inspire.

Next to his directorship at KITLV, Gert Oostindie is professor of Colonial and Postcolonial History at Leiden University and co-director of multiple research programs. For the next years, Oostindie is busy with co-directing multiple large research programmes, among which the NWO-funded ‘Confronting Caribbean Challenges’ and ‘Traveling Caribbean Heritage’. He also leads the project ‘The Colonial and Slavery Past of Rotterdam’, which will be presented next year. Oostindie argues this research is important as it contributes to the Dutch debate about colonial history and explores how this history changed the Netherlands. His largest current project is the government-funded ‘Independence, Decolonization, Violence and War in Indonesia, 1945-1950', carried out by KITLV, the Netherlands Institute for Military History (NIMH) and the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies. The project, conducted by researchers in the Netherlands but also Indonesia, is going to be presented in the fall of 2021 with the publication of a series of books – including a concluding monograph by Oostindie – and external events such as an exhibition in the Rijksmuseum and a television series.

It seems Professor Oostindie has his hands full for the next couple of years, after which he will have to retire, late 2021. LeidenGlobal thanks Gert Oostindie for his valuable and important contributions.

Interview by LeidenGlobal intern Roelie Mol