PhD Candidate to study traditional rice cultivation among Maroons in Suriname

PhD Candidate to study traditional rice cultivation among Maroons in Suriname

Published Deadline Location
6 Nov 14 Dec Leiden

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Naturalis is looking for a PhD Candidate to study traditional rice cultivation among Maroons in Suriname.

Job description

The PhD position is available within the project “Hidden crop diversity in Suriname: tracing the origins of Maroon rice by integrating ethnobotany and genomics” which is funded by the Open Programme of the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) and led by Prof. Dr. Tinde van Andel (Naturalis Biodiversity Center and Wageningen University). The project is scheduled to start around March 2021.

Maroons, descendants of enslaved Africans who escaped from plantations into the Amazon forests of Suriname, cultivate an astonishing number of rice varieties. Where does the Maroon rice come from? Apart from a single landrace of African rice (Oryza glaberrima) that was recently traced back to Ivory Coast, the provenance of the other 200+ Asian rice varieties (O. sativa) remains a mystery. Maroon rice fields probably reflect 370 years of migration and adaptation: ancient African landraces, historic US cultivars, rice exchanged with Asian contract laborers and self-developed varieties. This project links Maroon oral history to written sources and the DNA of their rice, and contributes to the revaluation of a food crop with substantial importance for current and future food security and Afro-American cultural heritage.

The candidate will carry out fieldwork in Maroon villages (2 x 4 months), collect rice samples and document morphological and agronomical properties and associated traditional knowledge on culinary and cultural aspects. He/she will analyse how and why traditional farmers maintain their rice diversity and compare fieldwork data with published and archival sources on former Surinamese plantations, Maroons and rice cultivation in the New World.

The daily supervisor (at Naturalis) and promotor at Wageningen University (WUR) will be Tinde van Andel. Co-promotor is Harro Maat, Associate Professor in Agricultural History (WUR). The candidate will work closely together with a postdoc researcher (to be recruited at the WUR),to link the ethnobotanical data from the Maroons to molecular information retrieved from the collected specimens and genomic data on rice accessions worldwide. Within Naturalis, the PhD candidate will work with Collection Management, and an (international) team of ethnobotanists. A close collaboration is also foreseen with Maroon organizations in Suriname and the Netherlands. The candidate will also be required to contribute to outreach activities.




The candidate must have a MSc degree in a relevant field, for example Biology, (Organic) Agriculture or Ethnobotany with a strong interest in fieldwork in the tropics and traditional agriculture, as well as prior experience in one or more of the techniques outlined in the job description.

Preferably the candidate has:

  • Prior experience with (ethnobotanical) fieldwork in the tropics and conducting interviews;
  • Hands-on experience in specimen collection;
  • Interest in colonial and agricultural history;
  • Willingness to travel abroad: fieldwork in Suriname and presentations at international conferences. Excellent knowledge of the English language (written and verbal) is essential, as well as a scientific and critical attitude, excellent time management and organizational skills, and the ability to work independently as well as collaboratively within the research group. The candidate should have good communication skills and teaching experience is an advantage. Some command of the Dutch language is highly desirable.

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: one year, to be extended with three more years after a successful first year evaluation (4y in total).

A contract (36 hours per week) for a period of one year, to be extended with three more years after a successful first year evaluation (4y in total), and a monthly salary of € 2,840.- (circa € 37,500 gross per year). The successful candidate will be employed by Naturalis in Leiden. Naturalis Biodiversity Center offers an inspiring working atmosphere with effective and efficient supervision of our PhD candidates. Our Research Coordination Office also provides ample support to our scientific staff. Our institute promotes gender equality and wants to enhance the diversity of staff members. Feel free to contact Dr. Tinde van Andel with questions about the position:


Naturalis Biodiversity Center

Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden, is the national research institute for biodiversity and systematics. We host over 120 researchers including 11 professors and 40 PhD’s. With our collection of 42 million specimens, one of the world's largest natural history collections, and our state-of-the-art research facilities we offer the (inter)national research infrastructure for species, identification and monitoring. We closely collaborate with many Dutch universities, NWO and KNAW research institutes, industry and government. We present the history of our planet, and the diversity of life on Earth, through permanent and temporary exhibitions, educational programmes and online presence, with more than 400,000 visitors per year. All in all, a unique combination of science and culture in the Netherlands!


  • Research, development, innovation; Education; Policy and staff
  • Natural sciences; Language and culture; Food
  • max. 36 hours per week
  • max. €2840 per month
  • University graduate
  • SP 20201106


Darwinweg 2, 2333 CR, Leiden

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