PhD holders invited to apply for Sarawak Museum Campus Fellowship

By Danielle Sendou Ringgit
@sendouringgit
danielleringgit@theborneopost.com

From left: Administrator officer for Sarawak Museum Elizabeth Robinson Rusbail, Ipoi, Gathorne-Hardy and van de Bunte

Ipoi presenting a copy of Sarawak Museum Journal to Gathorne-Hardy and witnessed by Administrator officer for Sarawak Museum Elizabeth Robinson Rusbail (left) and Van de Bunte (right)

In 1956, Earl of Cranbrook Dato Sri Gathorne-Hardy was just a fresh graduate in natural sciences and moral science (philosophy) from Cambridge University when he was offered the informal post of Technical Assistant to the Curator through the invitation of then curator of Sarawak Museum Tom Harrisson.

During his time in Sarawak, among the tasks set him was accompanying the museum team to Niah Caves and sorting and making preliminary identification of all the animal remains from the huge excavation that was in progress.

After two years at the Sarawak Museum, he returned to the UK to complete his PhD and was awarded a post-doc research fellowship in Indonesia (Yayasan Siswa Lokantara) in 1960 before joining the Department of Zoology at the University of Malaya in 1961.

However, during the next nine years, on periodic visits from the university, he would continue to assist the museum in the sorting and identification of animal remains from the excavations.

Today, he is pledging RM100, ooo to promote zooarcheology in the Sarawak Museum.

Promoting zooarcheology

“I want to give opportunities to another young person and I want to make surprises for people and I also wanted to dedicate this money to pursuing the particular theme that I had followed in my research career,” said Gathorne-Hardy during a press conference at the Sarawak Museum Department (SMD).

The grant pledged by Gathorne-Hardy will be granted to one of the 12 newly established postdoctoral fellowships under the Sarawak Museum Campus Project and will be used to train a qualified Malaysian graduate in zooarcheology.

The sum comes from an award received in 2014, where Gathorne-Hardy was among the six recipients of the Merdeka Award for Outstanding Contribution To The People of Malaysia in pioneering research and conservation of ecology and biology of Malaysian mammals and birds, as well as advocating environmental conservation.

His pledge has been matched by offers from the McDonald Institute of Archaeology and St. John’s College, Cambridge for the lucky recipient to attend Cambridge’s one year MSc course starting September 2017.

Aside from that, Gathorne-Hardy also added that under the instruction of the Sarawak Museum in 1961, a collection of bone of primate that was send to the the Royal Natural History Museum of the Netherlands (now Naturalis) Leiden  is still regarded as a loan from the Sarawak Museum could maybe be used to form the basis of the study a master degree in Cambridge.

His support makes it possible for the student to be engaged for a period of two years as a fellow by the Sarawak Museum Campus, to be trained on an academic level and also to study and document the museum’s zooarcheological collections.

Fellowship of Sarawak Museum Campus Project

The SMD through its Sarawak Museum Campus Project is welcoming applications in 2017 for 12 fellowships based at the Sarawak Museum in Kuching.

The newly established fellowships are divided over 12 key topics for which Sarawak Museum is looking for PhD holders in the expertise areas so that they can assume the role of guest curators.

In the permanent exhibition at the new museum which span 6000 square meter, Sarawak Museum Campus Project and Heritage Trail senior project leader Hans van de Bunte added that specialist knowledge is required to give to the exhibition storyline and provide new academic insights.

The exhibition storyline is developed with a strong research background in an accessible format to engage with a broad audience, presenting knowledge about local communities, culture, history and archaeology of Sarawak and Borneo.

According to Van de Bunte, the first group of fellows is the first step to build on a research agenda for the Sarawak museum.

“The fellows will get the chance to search for new knowledge and stories or verify old stories and to share those stories in exhibition together with rich collection of the Sarawak museum.

“Together with the museum staff, we will create this new heritage campus institute where knowledge can be created and preserve for future generation,” said Van de Bunte.

The new museum building is expected to be completed by 2020, and according to Museum Department director Ipoi Datan, it will accomplish the goal of becoming a Global Centre of Borneo Heritage by 2030.

“Our mission also is to make available a repository of significant and comprehensive heritage knowledge for the present and future generation,” said Ipoi, adding that it is their goal to be a world-class museum campus and one of the best museums in the region.

All 12 fellowships are funded through the Sarawak Museum Campus Project and the working language is English. All fellowship topics require an original research proposal (maximum 1000 words) from interested candidates.

Those applying are required to have a PhD in archaeology, anthropology or history, possess good command in spoken and written English (although understanding of Bahasa Malaysia is also useful), besides having excellent research skills and attitude.

Based in Kuching, Sarawak, the fellowship starts no later than March 1, 2017 and will end in a period of 12 months.

Those who wish to apply may send in their research proposal by November 30, 2016, plus cover letter and curriculum vitae to van de Bunte at hansd@sarawak.gov.my

For more information, check out www.museum.sarawak.gov.my

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