African studies in the Netherlands: a brief survey

TitleAfrican studies in the Netherlands: a brief survey
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2001
AuthorsG.J. Abbink
Secondary TitleAfrican research and documentation : the journal of the African Studies Association of the UK and the Standing Commission [Conference] on Library Materials on AfricaAfrican research and documentation
Pagination3 - 10
Date Published2001///
Publication Languageeng
KeywordsAfrica, African studies, ASC, Ethnography, Netherlands

This article describes the origins, the development as well as the current situation of African Studies in the Netherlands. Despite the interesting though limited corpus of travel writing, colonial ethnography, and missionary testimony in Dutch, the scholarly study of Africa really took off only in the post-1945 period. Several chairs in African studies/anthropology were established at some universities (in Amsterdam, Leiden and Utrecht), and a growing interest in field research in Africa emerged. After World War Two a group of business people founded the Africa Institute in Rotterdam to explore the economic opportunities in Africa, an area of expected new markets. In fact, this institute had two legs. One was the business institute, the other a documentation centre established in Leiden which grew into a full-fleged interuniversity research institute in 1963. The African Studies Centre (ASC) is probably still the hub of Africanist research in the Netherlands. In the last ten to fifteen years, African Studies in the Netherlands has expanded and diversified. The rate of publications has markedly increased. There is also a growing public demand for knowledge and scholarly advice on Africa from various ministries and public agencies. Current problems of African Studies in the Netherlands are shaky funding, changing academic and political fashions, which tend to urge scholarship sometimes into superficiality and short-term concerns, and the lack of job opportunities in academia for fresh PhD holders. The article is based on a paper originally published in 'Africa Forum' on H-Africa, 13 March 2001. Notes, ref

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