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Dominique Ankoné receives NWO funding for PhD research

7 July 2023
Funding for 16 new PhD students in the humanities

Historian and philosopher Dominque Ankoné receives the award for his research proposal The tensions of freedom. Tran Duc Thao's anticolonial thought, activism and influence in post-WWII France. Just after the Second World War, the brilliant Vietnamese philosopher Tran Duc Thao debated colonialism and freedom with France's most prominent philosophers, including Sartre. Tran Duc Thao campaigned to gain support for Vietnamese independence in France. He wrote for the legendary magazine Les Temps Modernes. Ankoné will start his PhD research in September 2023.

Activism, colonialism and slavery
Ankoné will focus in particular on the activism of Tran Duc Thao during the period he lived in France, the impact of this on his thinking, and the broader influence of Tran Duc Thao on the development of post-war French philosophy. Tran Duc Thao's life and work and the fact that he receives so little scientific attention are a good case study to ask questions about the course of post-war European history, its historiography and the way in which democracy and freedom are appropriated by political parties after WWII.

In recent years, Ankoné has studied political history and philosophy in the Netherlands and France. At VU Amsterdam he followed the research master Humanities. Ankoné: "During my master's I did research for the Research Center Material Culture in the context of the development of the current permanent exhibition in the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam. I graduated with a thesis in which I mapped out sources about Tran Duc Thao's thinking and activism. After that I started working at the Anne Frank Foundation, where I provided introductory programs about the history of the Second World War, the Frank family, the danger of discrimination and the importance of democracy."

In his work at the Anne Frankstiching, Ankoné also focuses on the role of Indonesians and Surinamese in the Dutch resistance. He sees the lack of recognition and research on this as a legacy of colonialism in which such a contribution does not fit. "I also want to denounce such structures of exclusion with my research on Tran Duc Thao, because I think it is very relevant to talk about this in the context of the current social debates about the legacy of colonialism and slavery in the Netherlands and abroad," says Ankoné.

PhDs in the Humanities
Sixteen talented prospective researchers receive funding from the NWO PhD programme in the humanities. A wide range of topics will be discussed in the research they will do in the coming period. For example, the history of autism advocacy is examined. Another PhD student is looking for the answer to the question whether Homo sapiens and Neanderthals also exchanged ideas and knowledge. And to what extent does aging affect our speech production?