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

Unfortunately, due to Covid-19, we cannot run a Junior Fellowship round for the 2021-22 year. We have still to host the Junior Fellows from 2019-20 and 2020-21. We very much apologize for this inconvenience. To be sure to attend to the needs of the Junior Fellows from the past two years, we must put the application process on hold. Thank you for your understanding. 

We are still considering if we can run the application for the 2022-2023 academic year. Please check back here for updates.


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;  
  • 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; 
  • Wayne Modest, Content Director, Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen & Professor of Material Culture and Critical Heritage Studies (by special appointment) in the faculty of humanities at the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam;
  • Henrietta Lidchi, Head of Research and Collections, the Nationaal Museum van Wereldculturen

2020-21 Grantees

Callum Fisher, Centre for Anthropological Research on Museums and Heritage (CARMAH), Institute for European Ethnology, Humboldt University of Berlin, Working title of dissertation and project: “From Provenance to Potentiality: Museum Practices and Dispersed Collections,” with a focus on the dispersal of the objects in Hamburg’s former Godeffroy Museum.

Robert Flahive, Ph.D. Candidate, Alliance for Social, Political, Ethical, and Cultural Thought (ASPECT), Virginia Tech, Working dissertation title: “Rethinking the Histories of Colonialism and Modernism through Architectural Preservation,"' with a focus on the relationship between architectural preservation, modernist architecture, and colonialism. For the RCMC Junior Fellowship, Flahive studies the Van Nelle Factory in Rotterdam.

Valentina Gamberi, Independent Researcher; Project: “Abandoned Chinese Gods: Sacred Waste in Museums, Temples, and Carvers’ Studios.”

Amélie Roussillon, University of East Anglia (Norwich), Project: “Research on the Abelam (Papua New Guinea) collection acquired by Carel M.A. Groenevelt on behalf of the Museum voor Land- en Volkenkunde (Wereldmuseum, Rotterdam) between 1959 and 1962.”

Emily Teo, Research Fellow at the National Museum of Singapore; Visiting Postdoctoral Researcher at the Gotha Research Centre of the University of Erfurt, Project: “Pictorial  representations of the flora and fauna of the Dutch East Indies in the holdings of the Tropenmuseum.”

Robert Flahive

Robert Flahive is a PhD Candidate in the Alliance for Social, Political, Ethical, and Cultural Thought (ASPECT) program at Virginia Tech.  He explores the intersections of urbanism, architectural theory, history, historic preservation, and international politics by focusing on the preservation of twentieth century modernist architecture and planning produced through European colonialism in the Middle East, North Africa, and East Africa. In his dissertation, Preserving Whiteness: Reorienting the Histories of Colonialism and Modernism through Architectural Preservation, he examines the legacies of colonialism on forms of knowledge, institutions, and practices that narrate the built environment. By analyzing UNESCO World Heritage List materials and in drawing on ethnographic methods with local preservationists, he shows how architectural preservationists remake histories of colonialism and racial difference that organized the built environment they preserve. He holds an MA from American University of Beirut and a BA from Washington University in St. Louis.

Robert Flahive

Project Summary
Redefining the Van Nelle Factory: Modernist Site Entangled with the Histories of Colonialism
This project explores the entangled afterlives of twentieth-century modernist architecture, Dutch colonialism, and architectural preservation by forging connections between the RCMC collections and the Van Nelle Factory, a World Heritage List site designed to improve labor conditions for processing tea, coffee, and tobacco from the Dutch colonies in 1929. The project draws on RCMC collections to narrate the people, locations, processes, and objects that are silenced in the World Heritage List materials’ narrow focus on the architectural genius of the Van Nelle Factory. The project not only hopes to connect the geographies elided by the representation of the histories of the Van Nelle Factory, but also to linger on what it means to muddle the constitutive role of European colonialism in the making of twentieth-century modernist architecture. The project culminates in a discussion on the relationship of colonialism, modernist architecture, and architectural preservation with preservationists, scholars, and curators. 

Emily Teo

Dr Emily Teo is a cultural historian working on European-Asian interconnections in the early modern and the colonial period. She is currently a Research Fellow at the National Museum of Singapore (2020-2021) and Visiting Postdoctoral Researcher at the Gotha Research Centre of the University of Erfurt. Her doctoral dissertation adopted a comparative approach towards Chinese and European travel accounts of late-Ming China. Fascinated by the numerous descriptions of Asian material objects in European travel accounts, her research has since focused on European collections of Asian objects.

Emily Teo
Emily Teo

She is currently researching the cultural history of the William Farquhar Collection of Natural History Drawings, which were commissioned during the early-nineteenth century and documents the flora and fauna of the Malay Peninsula. From May 2021, Emily will commence on a three-year project on the history of Gotha’s Chinese Cabinet, a collection of over 2000 East Asian objects in Gotha’s Friedenstein Palace. Funded by the German Research Foundation, the project explores the creation of one of the most significant collections of East Asian objects in nineteenth-century Europe. Emily enjoys researching in collaboration with museums and firmly believes that academia and museums have much to offer each other.

Project Summary
European colonial representations of Southeast Asian flora and fauna
Emily’s project at the RCMC explores drawings and prints of the flora and fauna of the Dutch East Indies in the holdings of the Tropenmuseum. This research is part of a larger enquiry into British and Dutch visual representations of nature in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Southeast Asia. The European colonial project involved the systematic survey and documentation of the natural history of overseas colonies. European colonial officers commissioned native artists to create natural history illustrations aimed at a European audience, but with distinct Asian stylistic influences. Having researched British-commissioned natural history drawings of the Malay Peninsula, Emily is interested in exploring the depiction of nature in the Dutch East Indies. Her research aims to study European colonial representations of Southeast Asian flora and fauna from a transnational perspective. The research will cast new light on the production and dissemination of pictorial representations of Southeast Asian natural history.

Amélie Roussillon

Amélie Roussillon is a PhD researcher at the Sainsbury Research Unit for the Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas (University of East Anglia, UK). Her research focuses on Abelam collections from the East Sepik Province of Papua New Guinea. She is interested in recollecting the histories of these collections held in museums in Europe, Australia and PNG, acquired between the mid-1950s and the late 1980s, mostly at the turn of PNG Independence in 1975. Taking into consideration the interacting agencies of the collectors and the collected, and focusing on the collected objects and archival documentation, she aims to create a fresh perspective on the history of these assemblages and on the collecting practices that led to their acquisition and ongoing lives within museum institutions.

Amélie Roussillon
Amélie Roussillon

She aims to re-define what is commonly understood as ‘ethnographic collections’ as fluid, ever-growing assemblages, while challenging the notion of provenance itself.
Her broader interests and training are in museum studies and in the arts and anthropology of the Pacific and Africa. She holds a BA in Art History and MA in Museology (Ecole du Louvre), and a MA in the Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas (SRU, UEA).

Project Summary
(Re)collecting an Abelam assemblage: the Abelam collection acquired by Carel M.A. Groenevelt on behalf of the Museum voor Land- en Volkenkunde (Wereldmuseum, Rotterdam), 1959-1962. 
My project will focus on the Abelam collection from Papua New Guinea assembled by Carel M.A. Groenevelt between 1959 and 1962 on behalf of the Museum voor Land- en Volkenkunde (today Wereldmuseum), Rotterdam. This collection includes around 375 objects from various locations in the Abelam and Arapesh areas. Through this research project, I hope to re-assemble the object collection with the archival and photographic documentation, in particular the correspondence between Groenevelt and many actors involved in the collecting process, as well as the photographs he took during his collecting trip, respectively stored at the Stadsarchief Rotterdam and the Nederlands Fotomuseum. I aim to reinsert this assemblage not only in the history of the Wereldmuseum collections, but also in a broader network of ethnographic collections and in the larger history of collecting practices in New Guinea and more specifically in the Abelam region.

Callum Fisher

Biography and project summary will follow soon.

Callum Fisher
Callum Fisher

Valentina Gamberi

Biography and project summary will follow soon.

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