Jaap Kunst (1891-1960) is regarded as one of the founders of ethnomusicology. Between 1919 and 1934 Kunst made in-depth study of a wide range of music practices in the then Dutch East Indies. His legacy – sound and visual recordings, photographs, fieldwork notes, manuscripts for publications, teaching material – is currently being kept at the University of Amsterdam, where he worked as a lecturer (privaatdocent) between 1942 and 1960.

By disclosing and critically investigating this material – in close collaboration with colleagues from Indonesia (Universitas Gadjah Mada and Institut Seni Indonesia in Yogyakarta) – I intend to contribute to debates about the Dutch colonial past and the role of (music) scholarship in the sustenance and legitimation of colonial rule.

In order to do so I initiated, together with meLê yamomo, the project Decolonizing Southeast Asian Sound Archives (DeCoSEAS), a three-year research and community engagement project funded by the Joint Programming Initiative (JPI) on Cultural Heritage and Global Change supported by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme. More information about this project can be found on the DeCoSEAS website.