Call for Junior Fellows

RCMC/FEL Junior Fellowship

RCMC/FEL Junior Fellowship

The RCMC/FEL Junior Fellowship* program provides financial support to talented junior researchers interested in conducting (ethnographic) research or publishing on the collections of the Tropenmuseum, Museum Volkenkunde, Afrika Museum and Wereldmuseum.

Junior Fellowship

Students (BA, MA, PhD) and early career scholars (i.e. +5 years since obtaining their PhD) scholars with a background in museum studies, anthropology, archaeology, art history or related disciplines can apply. We offer four stipends in total, each of max € 1,500. The types of activities we support are related to conducting (ethnographic) research and/or publishing on the museum collections.  

We appreciate creativity and innovative ideas. Activities we do not support are for instance the organisation of symposia and travel to conferences to present work.

*From 2012 to 2016, the RCMC/FEL Junior Fellowship program operated as the
Dr. Steven Engelsman Grants.

Call for applications

The call for applications is open. 

Apply by filling in the application form and send the application in by the deadline November 1, 2020. The application form is available below. 
Make sure that the estimated budget is comprised solely of eligible costs. Eligible costs are costs what you have to make in order to conduct the research:  travel expenses, accommodation costs, translation costs, etc. Non eligible costs are fees and charges. 

You may only apply once for a fellowship. We will not consider revised or new applications in subsequent years. And incomplete and late submitted applications will not be processed. 

Given the current COVID-19 situation, apply as if you could travel. If you are selected as a fellow and cannot travel, we will work with you to find a solution.


This fellowship is co-sponsored by the Foundation for Ethnology in Leiden (FEL), which also co-sponsors the annual Adriaan Gerbrands Lectures.

The jury

A jury will read the applications and select four Junior Fellows. The jury members for 2020-21 are: 

  • Mariana Françozo (Associate Professor of Museum Studies at the Faculty of Archaeology, Leiden University);  
  • Wayne Modest (Head of the Research Center for Material Culture and Professor of Material Culture and Critical Heritage Studies (by special appointment) in the faculty of humanities at the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam);
  • Peter Pels (Professor of Anthropology and Sociology of Africa, Leiden University);
  • Kitty Zijlmans (Professor of Contemporary Art History and Theory/World Art Studies, Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society) 

Announcement grantees

Successful applications will be announced officially on November 26, 2020, which is the prospective date for the 11th Gerbrandslecture, whose keynote speaker this year is Elizabeth Povinelli. 

The lecture will take place either in hybrid form (in person and Zoom Webinar) or only by Zoom Webinar, due to COVID-19 regulations. Please keep an eye on our eventpage for up to date information.

  All applicants will be informed about the jury outcome via mail by November 18, 2020. 

Conditions and expectations

In non-COVID-19 times, grantees are offered a RCMC/FEL Junior Fellowship for their proposed project. This fellowship includes: 

  • a workspace at the RCMC in Leiden, the Netherlands; 
  • access to the library documentation center, our collection database The Museum System (TMS) and the collections necessary for your research; 
  • a total stipend of €1,500 (you will receive 70% of the fellowship stipend at the beginning of the project and the remaining 30% of the stipend you receive when you have finished the project). 
  • With COVID-19 conditions, we will work with the Junior Fellows to find feasible solutions to carry out their research.

The conditions and expectations of the fellowship include at least one of the below:  

  • contribute to the intellectual life of the RCMC;  
  • give a seminar presentation on your preliminary findings (if possible we encourage the using of examples from the museum collections), before the end of the fellowship period; 
  • produce a video/essay entry for the RCMC website, and/or a research article;  
  • provide the RCMC with any new information generated on the collections; 
  • make accessible to the RCMC any publications resulting your work at the center (if open access, agree to make these publications available on the RCMC website); 
  • acknowledge the support of the RCMC in any publications or work that result from the research conducted during your fellowship. 

2019 Grantees

  • Mary Caton Lingold – will do research on African musical instruments collected in Suriname in the 1770s by John Stedman and housed at the Museum Volkenkunde.
  • Roberto Costa – will cast light on Asmat tradition of wooden crucifixes while providing information on the religious items of the Asmat collection held at the Tropenmuseum.
  • Amélie Couvrat Desvergnes – will study the materiality of the Indian Northwestern drawings and paintings (Pahari and Punjab) from the Museum Volkenkunde.
  • Carlee Forbes – will research late 19th and early 20th century objects collected in the Congo and currently held at the Museum Volkenkunde, Afrika Museum and Wereldmuseum.

2018 Grantees

  • Willem van Wijk – Will conduct comparative research on the representation of African art in South-Korea and the Netherlands.
  • Adiva Lawrence – Will make a comparative study on museums and exhibitions from different contexts contribute to "re-archiving" black history and memory, with a focus on the memory of slavery.
  • Jaimee Comstock-Skipp – Will rethink typologies and labels in her research: Cataloguing Persianate Arts of the Book in the Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen.
  • Rab Messina – Will analyse how designs can be made more sustainable for a wider audience by bringing technology and design closer together.
  • Caroline Fernandes Caromano – Will research Amazonian Flames in European Houses which is an investigation of Fire as a Museum Object in ethnographic and archaeological collections from the Amazon in European museums.

2017 Grantees

  • Sebastiaan van ‘t Holt - Practice of ayahuascashamanism in the Netherlands and Peru
  • Giulia Golla Tunno - The presence and role of “art” within three national colonial museums in Europe
  • Sita Reddy - The Hortus Indicus Malabaricus as a botanical book and as an ethnographic object