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BEROSE ENCYCLOPAEDIA

Rassers, Willem Huibert (1877-1973)

Willem Huibert Rassers (1877-1973) was a Dutch orientalist and anthropologist. Influenced by the Sanskritist Hendrik Kern, he studied Indonesian language and literature. After his doctoral examination, in 1918 he was appointed to the Rijks Ethnographisch Museum in Leiden — which later became the Rijksmuseum voor Volkenkunde (National Museum of Ethnography) — of which he was director between 1937 and 1943. An eminent specialist in Javanese theatre and Indonesian material cultures, he never went to Indonesia. Rassers is one of the first to have perceived and described the close link between myths, rituals and social structures in a specific cultural environment. He was a close friend of J.P.B. de Josselin de Jong, under whom he was also a precursor of Leiden’s structuralist school.

Keywords: Museology/museography | Structuralism | Leiden School | Sumatra | The Netherlands | Southeast Asia | Indonesia/Dutch India | Java | Borneo | Asian studies | Material culture