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prof. dr. Susan Legene

Full Professor, Faculty of Humanities, Art and Culture, History, Antiquity

Personal information

Susan Legêne,

Professor of Political History

Research interests

  • Contemporary history, colonialism, imperialism and decolonisation in comparative perspective, nation building
  • Migration histories, diaspora,
  • Cultural heritage, cultural institutions and political practices, UNESCO policies
  • Historiography: the meaning and value of material culture, visual sources and intangible heritage for historical research; ICT and history
  • Developments in e-humanities



Current research projects

  • Pressing Matter - Ownership, Value and the Question of Colonial Heritage in Museums (Nationale Wetenschapsagenda NWA/NWO 2021 - 2025). Pressing Matter investigates the potentialities of ‘colonial objects’ to support societal reconciliation with the colonial past and its afterlives, and to deal with conflicting claims by different stakeholders for these objects within museums. The project will develop and test new modes and models of ownership, value and return that may enable more equitable futures. In it collaborate PIs and researchers at 5 universities, together with 8 museums and various societal 'stakeholder organizations'.
  • Colonial Normativity - Corruption and difference in colonial and postcolonial histories of empire and nations Research project Open Competition NWO (2019-2024); Collaboration with UGM Yogyakarta.
  • Towards a policy for how to deal with human/ancestral remains collected in the colonial context in museums in the Netherlands
    Subproject of Pressing Matter on human/ ancestral remains in the custodianship of heritage institutions in the Netherlands, including cultural, historical and academic heritage institutions. As part of the work program of the National Consortium on Return of Objects collected in a Colonial Context, its Against Opacity project, and in collaboration with the NWA funded Pressing Matter Project (in particular WP1A and WP3A), this project is primarily concerned with ancestral/human remains collected within colonial contexts. These objects may be subject to claims for return under the Dutch National Policy on Return (2023-2024).  

Previous projects

  • Uitsluitingsmechanismes van mensen van Afrikaanse afkomst in Nederland: wat is erover bekend? / On mechanisms of exclusion of people of African descent in the Netherlands
    Literature review in the context of the UN-Decade for people of African Descent, for Ministry of Social Affairs and Employment (2017). Researchers: Artwell Cain, Deniece Wijdenbosch.

  • Framing Prostitution/Prostitutie geëxposeerd
    Research project Amsterdam Museum/VU. NWO National Knowledge Agenda for Museums (2015-2017) See: Framing Prostitution blogs by researcher Annemarie de Wildt

  • BiographyNET - From the Biography Portal of the Netherlands to a Virtual Society of People Past and Present.
    Research project The Netherlands E-science Centre/VU/Huygens ING Instituut. (October 2012-2016)

  • Sites, Bodies and Stories - The dynamics of heritage formation in colonial and postcolonial Indonesia and the Netherlands. International NWO Research project Cultural Dynamics programme (2008-2013)

  • Agora: Creating the Historic Fabric for and Providing Web-enabled Access to Objects in Dynamic Historical Sequences.
    NWO-CATCH research project, with Computer Science (Faculteit der Exacte Wetenschappen) (2009-2013).

  • Unesco working group on culture, education and media in postconflict and postdisaster situaties & CRISP: Creative Industries and Sustainable Heritage Protection (2010-2013). 

  • PhotoCLEC - Photographs, Colonial Legacy and Museums in Contemporary European Culture
    (2010-jan. 2012). HERA JRP (UK, Norway, the Netherlands)

  • The future of the World Heritage Convention
    Policy research for Ministry of Education, Culture, Science (2010- juni 2012).



Due to my current position as project leader of research projects, after my Deanship of the Faculty of Humanities (2020-2024), my role in teaching is very limited. But just try: in some cases, thesis supervision is possible.


Ancillary activities
  • Academic Advisory Board Research Centre for Material Culture | Leiden | Adviseur | 2016-02-01 - present
  • Stichting Utopa | Leiden | Bestuurder | 2020-11-01 - 2026-12-31
  • adviescommissie diversiteit en inclusie in onderwijs en onderzoek | Ministerie Onderwijs, Cultuur en W | lid | 2021-10-01 - 2024-10-01
  • Amsterdam Museum | Amsterdam | Lid Comite van aanbeveling nieuwe Amsterdam Museum | 2023-01-01 - present

Ancillary activities are updated daily

prof. dr. Susan Legene


  • Colonialism, Decolonisation, Heritage politics, e-Humanities, Historiography, Mu...