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Dr Michiel van Kempen has been appointed professor by special appointment (bijzonder hoogleraar) of Dutch West-Indian literature and culture at the Faculty of Humanities.

Dr Michiel van Kempen (b. 1957) has been appointed professor by special appointment (bijzonder hoogleraar) of literature and culture of the Dutch West-Indies at the Faculty of Humanities of the Universiteit van Amsterdam (UvA). The chair has been endowed by the Stichting Instituut ter Bevordering van de Surinamistiek (Foundation Institute for the Advancement of Surinamese studies) and is partly funded by the Stichting Bert Schierbeekfonds (Foundation Bert Schierbeek Fund). It concerns a new chair.

As professor by special appointment Van Kempen will be focusing on teaching and research of historical and contemporary literature and culture of the Dutch West-Indies. In doing so he will be the first professor in the Netherlands to occupy himself in particular with the literature and culture of both past and present times of Surinam, the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba.

Van Kempen graduated in Dutch language and literature at the Catholic University Nijmegen (now Radboud University Nijmegen) and obtained his PhD degree in 2002 with his extensive dissertation Een Geschiedenis van de Surinaamse literatuur (A History of Surinamese literature). He has taught at secondary schools, hbo (Dutch universities of professional education), and universities, both in the Netherlands and in Surinam. Besides, he held several posts in the field of Caribbean literature, among others at libraries. Van Kempen’s research experience is very wide and extensive, and he has a wide network of contacts in the world of Caribbean literature and culture, both in the Netherlands and in the Caribbean area itself. Van Kempen was awarded the ANV-Visser Neerlandia Prize in 2004 for his research in the field of Surinamese studies.

The special chair of Dutch West-Indian language and literature is the third chair at the department of Neerlandistiek (Dutch studies) at the UvA in the field of literature and culture of former Dutch areas. Other chairs set up at the department of Neerlandistiek are the chair in South African literature and the chair in Colonial and post-colonial history of literature and culture, in particular of the Dutch East-Indies. The combination of the three chairs enables a unique study programme to be offered, in which colonial and post-colonial aspects of Dutch literature and their relationships can be studied.

The special chair of Dutch West-Indian literature and culture has been endowed by the Stichting Instituut ter Bevordering van de Surinamistiek (Foundation Institute for the Advancement of Surinamese studies). This foundation focuses among other things on initiating, advancing and maintaining study in the field of language and literature, culture and history of Surinam. The special chair is partly financed by the Stichting Bert Schierbeekfonds (Foundation Bert Schierbeek Fund), which occupies itself with advancing the literary climate of the Netherlands. The Bert Schierbeekfonds is a private fund allied to the Fonds voor de Letteren (the Dutch Foundation for Literature).

Van Kempen will take office as professor by special appointment in September 2006.

More information: Prof. M.T.C. Mathijsen-Verkooijen (president department of Neerlandistiek, UvA), e-mail: m.t.c.mathijsen-verkooijen@uva.nl, Mr P. Sanches (president board IBS), e-mail: bestuur@surinamistiek.nl, or Mr H.A. Mulder (faculty office Faculty of Humanities, UvA), e-mail: h.a.mulder@uva.nl.