Interview on the political uses of history, the relationship between scholarship and the background of the researchers, and inviting Ian Buruma. Since 2018, the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences presents the Annual NIAS Lecture. NIAS provides a safe-haven for curiosity-driven research, and interdisciplinary slow science. Thereby, it engages with societal issues and contributes to current debates by organizing public events for a broad audience.
NIAS provides a free space for innovative and independent research. As scholars, it is our task to carefully collect and analyze empirical data. Instead of politicizing science and marginalizing it as ‘yet another opinion’ in the public arena, scientific findings should be used as basis for politics – also, or especially, when these findings do not endorse the status quo. NIAS, as an intellectual haven for slow science, wants to highlight the importance of independent historical, comparative research, while at the same time being reflexive on the ways in which research outcomes might be politically (ab)used. By approaching the Dutch presence in Indonesia through a global framework, we do not only go against the tendency of national exceptionalism, it allows us moreover to establish new understandings, contextual specificities and connections between different countries.Jan Willem Duyvendak