Jan Slikkerveer

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Leendert Jan Slikkerveer, born on the 9th of December 1941. He is a Dutch anthropologist best known for his contributions to the study and reorientation of Indigenous Knowledge Systems in the context of Development in various sectors of the society.

Personal life

Jan Slikkerveer was born in Padang, in the former Netherlands East Indies. As a baby, he was interned in the Japanese concentration camp nearby Bangkinang together with his father, mother and elder sister. After spending his early youth in Jakarta, he returned to The Netherlands. He studied at Leiden University where he received his MA and his PhD in Anthropology. He was appointed Professor at Leiden University until 2020 and received in 2000 a Honorary Degree from Padjadjaran University in Bandung, where he still holds a Chair in Integrated Microfinance Management.[1]

He is married to Mady K.L. Oey. In 2017, a special postage stamp in their honour was issued by the Botanical Garden of Bogor (Kebun Raya Bogor) under the auspices of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) to pay tribute to the work of Jan Slikkerveer and his wife on the bio-cultural conservation of Medicinal, Aromatic and Cosmetic (MAC) Plants of Indonesia.

Indigenous Knowledge Systems

His primary work is on the paradigm shift in development studies in terms of the reassessment and re-integration of Traditional knowledge in sustainable socio-economic development. He has shown that Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) encompass local peoples’ knowledge, belief, practices and institutions, as they have evolved over many generations in a particular region or country, largely outside universities and formal educational institutions, as part of the cultural heritage, and as such provide a bottom-up strategy for sustainable development. IKS constitute the subject matter of knowledge and information of a community or a society to facilitate communication and local decision-making processes as a base of embarkation to achieve sustainable community development around the globe. Since 2007 Slikkerveer is involved in the development of applied ethnoscience, where he developed fields as applied Ethnoeconomics, applied Ethnomedicine and Applied Ethno-tourism.

LEAD Program

In 1987, Mike Warren and Slikkerveer established the Global Network of IKS&D, where the Leiden Ethnosystems and Development Programme (LEAD) for international ethnoscience research and education took up the support for many centres, such as the Kenyan Resource Centre of Indigenous Knowledge (KENRIK) together with Richard Leakey of the National Museums of Kenya in Nairobi and the Indonesian Resource Centre of Indigenous Knowledge (INRIK) at Padjadjaran University together with Kusnaka Adimihardja.

LEAD initiated several international Projects and Programmes and in 1990 it received recognition of the UNESCO as an important research programme within the United Nations ‘Decade for Culture and Development’. LEAD also organised several International Exhibitions in many parts the world, like the International Centennial Conference and Exhibition ‘Human Evolution in its Ecological Context’, opened by H.R.H. Prince Bernhard of Lippe-Biesterfeld of The Netherlands and with a keynote speech by Jane Goodall.[2]

Initially, the LEAD Programme was established in 1987 at Leiden University in The Netherlands, but in 2021, LEAD evolved into an independent International Foundation for Ethnoscience Research and Education, based in The Netherlands.

Rudolf Martin’s Historical Archive

Rudolf Martin (anthropologist) a Professor of Physical Anthropology in Munich (1864-1925), had become inspired by the discovery of the ‘Java Man’ (Pithecanthropus erectus) in 1893 in Java, by the Dutch anthropologist Eugène Dubois (1858-1940). Dubois’ publications on the ‘Missing Link’ became the CenterPoint of the Archive of Rudolf Martin, comprising more than 43,000 historical documents, manuscripts, scientific books and journals. The Archive been safeguarded in 1940 from Germany just before the World War II. It went to the Institute of Physical Anthropology of Utrecht University until the institute was discontinued in 1993. After rescuing it from destruction, Slikkerveer became the owner of the oldest palaeo-anthropological archive in the world. After many years of research within the Leiden Ethnosystems and Development Programme (LEAD), he donated this historical archive on 23 January 2020 to the Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden in the presence of the Indonesian Ambassador, Anthropologist Richard Leakey and several Members of the Dubois family.[3]


  1. "L. Jan Slikkerveer". Leiden University.
  2. "Pithecanthropus Centennial Commemoration with an International Conference and Exhibition in Leiden, The Netherlands". Leiden University.
  3. "Dubois archive presented to Naturalis". Leiden University.

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