donderdag 21 augustus 2014

KITLV: mutilated or saved?

KITLV stands for Koninklijk Instituut for Taal-, Land-, en Volkenkunde, or Royal Institute for languistic, geographic and anthropological research.  In fact it has been the leading institute on Indonesian studies since it was established about 170 ago (founded in 1851). It was first settled in The Hague and government, colonial officials were very important during its first 100 years. At some time it moved to Leiden, separate from the University, but in fact very close to it, in space and personnel. It has the largest library in Indonesia, many photographs, manuscripts: a wonderful collection. It has published a journal, BKI or Bijdragen van het Koninklijk Instituut... and many books. It has also a large group of researchers. It was the more linguistic and humanities' partner of KIT, the institute that was founded by the planters and concentrated since the 1950s on international aid, agricultural and medical support for developing countries. KIT had to close in 2013. KITLV was also threatened, but rescued, although with some mutilations. Its publications are now with Brill Publishers, the library and collection of manuscripts, photographs and similar things are now part of Leiden University Library. The research department is now formally under KNAW, the Dutch Royal Academy of Sciences, although it will still be situated in Leiden.
All this was signed and became effective as of 1 July 2014.
Since then I have to go the the building of Leiden University Library, just the other side of the city canal in Leiden.
This week we used this opportunity to see the grand mansion of Philip Franz von Siebold on Rapenburg 19 in Leiden. Besides 17th century Rumphius and fellow 19th century Junghuhn, Von Siebold is another scholar from Germany who made a career in the Dutch colonial system. As a medical doctor he served the small Dutch group on the island Desima in Cape Nagasaki. His former mansion in Leiden is now a great tribute to the work he did on builogy, cultural expression and geography of Japan.
I will go to Japan in October this year to give talks about religion in Independent Indonesia, with special interest for Catholics. Therefore we saw the house with good attention and had a picture made, dressed as 'Japanese'.

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