Susan Legêne is since 2008 appointed as Professor of Political History at VU University Amsterdam. At VU she is an active member of the Research institute for the heritage and history of the Cultural Landscape and Urban Environment (CLUE) as well as the Migration and Diversity Centre. From 2004 until 2008 she was professor of Cultural history of the Netherlands, for the Royal Antiquities Society at the University of Amsterdam. She combined this chair with her position as Head of the Curatorial Department at the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam (Royal Tropical Institute; 1997-2008).
Legêne’s research interests focus on citizenship and the cultural meaning of the colonial past in processes of nation building since the ninteenth century, and on the impact and meaning of digitally mediated public history. In this context she discusses museum collection histories and documentation and presentation strategies in which the interpretation of material culture more and more is informed by a search for the intangible and the maze of the virtual. In the international research programme Sites Bodies and Stories, the dynamics of heritage formation in colonial and postcolonial Indonesia and the Netherlands this is approached through existing collections and academic practices concerning archaeological finds and excavations, human remains and performing traditions (2008-2013 main partners VU University Amsterdam, Gadjah Mada University Yogyakarta). In the research programme Agora, computer scientists, museum experts in cultural heritage institutions and historians aim at ‘creating the historic fabric for and providing web-enabled access to objects in dynamic historical sequences’ (2009-2013 main partners VU University, Rijksmuseum, Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision).
Susan Legêne is a member of the Netherlands National Commission for Unesco.