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PhD position ‘Corruption in the era of the ‘ethical policy’: private businesses and labour regimes (1870s-1920s)’

Would you like to become part of an international team of researchers and NGOs from The Netherlands and Indonesia in the field of history and good governance? Please apply for this position at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

9 maanden geleden


De Boelelaan, Amsterdam, Noord-Holland
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
38 - 40 uur
€ 2325 - € 2972 per maand


Your PhD research, which is to result in a dissertation, concerns corruption in the era of the ‘ethical policy’ with a focus on the role of private businesses and labour regimes in the late colonial state of the Netherlands East Indies and the Netherlands (1870s-1920s). Concessions to private businesses caused conflicts and scandals, in terms of: the conditions on which they were granted by the colonial administration to one entrepreneur, but not the other; arrangements that were made with local self-governing rulers; recruitment policies and work conditions for Chinese and Javanese indentured labourers; granted tax privileges; the ‘exorbitant’ profits that were made and how entrepreneurs used their powers in relation to their workers. These issues were at the heart of a series of colonial scandals (e.g. Pangka-scandal 1860s; Billiton-scandal 1882-1892; Deli-scandal 1902). Scandals and investigations like the Mindere Welvaartrapporten were used to set norms, for example about the meaning of public and private duties.

You will develop a research project starting from the following umbrella questions: a) What was at stake, in terms of legitimate rule, in the many debates about corruption that were related to the granting of concessions for plantations and mining activities
b) How was the (mis)use of the rights and powers of these companies, as reflected in public debates and formal investigations, addressed, both in the Netherlands East Indies and in the Netherlands?
In concrete terms, processes of granting concessions, political-administrative investigations into (mis)uses of concession-rights and related public/media debates will be analysed and discussed in an international comparative perspective by looking at media sources, and corporate, political and colonial archives in the Netherlands and Indonesia.

Your duties

  • collect and analyse information about colonial corruption in the era of the ethical policy
  • present and discuss preliminary research results in the form of papers at seminars and conferences
  • communicate via social and other popular media about the research results
  • organize workshops and conferences with team members and partners in the Netherlands, Indonesia and other countries
  • complete a dissertation
  • dedicate some time to teaching at the Faculty of Humanities


  • a completed research MA or equivalent in History (political, colonial and/or economic history) or a related field,
  • demonstrable affinity with the topic and with scientific research
  • outstanding organizational and analytical skills, communicational skills (including social media), ability to work in a team, and excellence in written and spoken Dutch and English
  • willingness to learn Bahasa-Indonesia at the level of passive basic knowledge
  • ability to work collaboratively in an international research team


A challenging position in a socially involved organization. The salary will be in accordance with university regulations for academic personnel and amounts €2,325 (PhD) per month during the first year and increases to €2,972 (PhD) per month during the fourth year, based on a full-time employment. The job profile: is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for 1 FTE.

The appointment will initially be for 1 year. After a satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, the contract will be extended for a total duration of 4 years.
Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:
  • a maximum of 41 days of annual leave based on full-time employment
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus
  • contribution to commuting expenses
  • optional model for designing a personalized benefits package
  • a wide range of sports facilities which staff may use at a modest charge
You will participate in the VU Humanities Graduate School as well as in national and international PhD networks. You will get an office at the Department of Art and Culture, History, and Antiquity (AHA), Faculty of Humanities, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam where you will spend most of your time. In Indonesia UGM in Yogyakarta will be your ‘home base’.

Additional information

Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button and upload your curriculum vitae and cover letter until 10 October 2019. The job interviews are planned for the end of October and beginning of November.

Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.

Vacancy questions
If you have any questions regarding this vacancy, you may contact:

Name: dr. Ronald Kroeze
Position: programme coordinator
E-mail: d.b.r.kroeze@vu.nl
Telephone: +31 (0)20 598 6382

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