Dr. Freek Colombijn

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Associate professor

At least three days a week, usually on Monday, Thursday and Friday. Students can make an appointment by e-mail, but are always welcome to drop in.

Promo Master Anthropology

Minicollege "Afval in een Indonesische stad"

Vision on education (in Dutch)


Thematic specialization: urban anthropology; environmental studies; violence; modernization of the late-colonial society
Regional specialization: Southeast Asia; Indonesia in particular



Theoretical Orientation on Mobility, Diversity and Development Part 1 (MSc SCA)

Theoretical Orientation on Mobility, Diversity and Development Part 2, track City, Space and Politics (MSc SCA)

Coördination Bachelor thesis (Bachelor CAOS)

Urban Struggle (minor Frontiers of Multicultural Societies)
Tutor first year Bachelor (Bachelor CAOS)     

Freek Colombijn is co-supervisor of the PhD theses of Aysegül Cil (on coastal zone management in Bodrum, Turkey) and Ibnu Fikri (on green Islam in Indonesia).
Completed PhD theses: Han Knapen (Katholieke Universiteit Nijmegen, 2001); Ota Atsushi (Universiteit Leiden, 2005), Inge Melchior (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, 2015), Annette Jansen (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, 2015), Maaike Matelski (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, 2016).

Recently supervised Master theses: African football migrants in Thailand. Aspirations of sex workers in Bali, Indonesia. Moral conflicts of Dutch veterans from peace keeping operations. The adaptation of Moluccan IDPs to a new life in Manado, Indonesia. Violent conflict and the collective identity of a Catholic-nationalist neighbourhood in West Belfast, Northern Ireland. The role of alcohol consumption in the lifestyle of Hong Kong businessmen. Garbage collectors in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Land conflicts in Indonesia.  Intergenerational farm transfers in the Netherlands.  

Management tasks 2016/2017

Board Graduate School in Social Sciences (Scretary)
Ethical Review Board Faculty of Social Sciences
Education committee BSc CAO and MSc SCA


The main topic of his current research is the nexus between urban social inequality, environmental awareness and consumptive behaviour in Indonesia. Many questions emerge. Why are some neighbourhoods very successful in collectively cleaning their area (and others are not)? To what extent are urban residents aware of their environment? Why do they sometimes act upon this knowledge but not always? Are urban poor forced to accept the worst neighbourhoods (environmentally speaking) and why, when and where is their environment further degraded - consciously or through carelessness - by more powerful stakeholders? Is the constitution of urban poor as ‘poor’ by the local government influenced by a degraded environment; in other words, are they defined as poor, because they are perceived as dirty? How do waste pickers handle solid waste? Does the middle-class 'consume' new forms of environmental awareness, together with adopting a global consumptive pattern? His research makes part of the Institute of Societal Resilience.

Since 2009 he has been Editor-in-chief of the Bijdragen tot de taal-, land- en volkenkunde and he is member of the editorial board of Worldwide Waste: Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies.
Freek is member of the board of the International Institute for Asian Studies.
He is also member of the board of The Pith of Learning, a foundation aiming at inspiring and improving people’s self-development.
From 2010 until 2012, Freek Colombijn was member of the Philips think-thank on livable cities.

Freek Colombijn was awarded the Professor Teeuw Award 2007, for Indonesian-Dutch cooperation in art and research, in appreciation of his cooperation with young Indonesian scholars in urban studies.
In 2011 he received the Teacher-of-the-year award of the Faculty of Social Sciences. Freek Colombijn was also shortlisted for the best PhD supervisor award of the Faculty of Social Sciences 2011.



Publications (Source: METIS VU) 

Selected monographs and edited works:


 2015, (edited together with Joost Coté) Cars, conduits, and kampongs: The modernization of the Indonesian city, 1920-1960, Leiden, Boston: Brill Publishers. Full open-access at website Brill  



2010, (with the assistance of Martine Barwegen) Under construction; The politics of urban space and housing during the decolonization of Indonesia, 1930-1960, Leiden: KITLV Press (Reprint Brill Publisher, 2014)
2005, (edited together with Martine Barwegen, Purnawan Basundoro, Johny Alfian Khusyairi) Kota lama, kota baru: Sejarah kota-kota di Indonesia sebelum dan setelah kemerdekaan/The history of the Indonesian city before and after Independence, Yogyakarta; Ombak.
2002, (edited together with Aygen Erdentug), Urban ethnic encounters; The spatial consequences, London & New York: Routledge.
2002, (edited toghether with J. Thomas Lindblad), Roots of violence in Indonesia; Contemporary violence in historical perspective, Leiden: KITLV Press (Verhandelingen van het Koninklijk Instituut voor Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde 194).
1997, (edited together with Peter Boomgaard en David Henley), Paper landscapes, explorations in the environmental history of Indonesia, Leiden: KITLV Press (Verhandelingen KITLV 178).
1994, Patches of Padang; the history of an Indonesian town in the twentieth century and the use of urban space, Leiden: CNWS (CNWS Publications 19).