P. E. de Josselin de Jong

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P. E. de Josselin de Jong
Born (1922-07-08)July 8, 1922
Beijing, China
Died January 1, 1999(1999-01-01) (aged 76)
Oegstgeest, Netherlands
Nationality Dutch
Occupation Indonesian and Malaysian ethnographer
Known for Research specializing in the Minangkabau in West Sumatra.

Patrick Edward de Josselin de Jong (July 8, 1922 – January 1, 1999) was a professor of cultural anthropology at the University of Leiden for over 30 years, and department chair from 1957 through 1987. His research specialization was on the Minangkabau in West Sumatra.[1]

Patrick was considered a foremost general anthropologist in the tradition set by the Leiden University where he headed the Cultural Anthropology chair, and who inherited his anthropological skills from his equally illustrious uncle J.P.B. de Josselin de Jong, with his dominant field of interest centered on Indonesia. He was also a regional specialist, particularly in western Indonesia with structuralism as his main subject of interest. Structural anthropology originated at the University of Leiden during the 1920s and 1930s.[2]

His bibliography lists 208 titles, including reprints and translations. He was decorated with the “Ridder in de Orde van de Nederlandse Leeuw” in April 1986 by the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences. He was also decorated for his wartime activities as Verzetsherdenkingskruis award. He retired in 1987 as professor in cultural anthropology and became a professor emeritus thereafter. He was honoured in a farewell symposium where he gave his concluding lecture titled “The Sacred Ruler in Indonesia” in Dutch.[3]

Early years[edit]

Patrick was born in Beijing in 1922.[4] His father (a Dutch) was a former naval officer and was with the foreign service. His mother was Scottish.

Patrick and his mother moved to the Netherlands when he was aged six in 1928,[4] receiving his secondary education at Stedelijk Gymnasium Leiden. Under his father's influence, he enrolled in 1940 in a course in Indonesian Languages at Leiden University to prepare for a career as a linguist with the Dutch East Indies civil service.[5]

He was the nephew of structural anthropologist J.P.B. de Josselin de Jong who coined the concept of the field of ethnological study in his second inaugural lecture (1935). The Leiden tradition was set by J.P.B. with the concept of Field of Ethnological Study; the focus being on the structural core of Indonesian societies. His successor continued and expanded this line of research (comparative structuralism).

Patrick and J.P.B. regularly attended the evening meetings of the student society W.D.O. Peter Suzuki was his assistant. Patrick occupied the room of his uncle in the University. J.P.B. had also gifted Patrick with his personal toga or professional gown. J.P.B. had used this gown as a symbolic rite on 20 occasions while conferring doctorates on his students.[6]

During the Second World War, Patrick was a member of the Dutch resistance.

Minangkabau chiefs, a tribe which Josselin de Jong specialized in. Photo taken by the Dutch


Patrick began his first job in 1949 at the National Museum of Ethnology in Leiden as assistant-curator. He worked in the Islam Department in the section that studied Muslim peoples, especially those who lived in Indonesia. He left this position in 1953 to accept a post as lecturer in Singapore.[7]

From 1957, Patrick Edward de Josselin de Jong was involved with teaching two major subjects at Leiden University: cultural anthropology in general, and cultural anthropology of South-East Asia and the South Seas, in particular.[8] Patrick differed from his mentor and uncle, J.P.B., in two main aspects namely: “firstly his view is much more cognitive (stressing the idea principles), and secondly, his view is transformational".[9]

In January 1957, Patrick was appointed to professor of cultural anthropology at the Leiden University, his uncle having retired in September 1956. He was chair of the department until 1987.[6][10] After his appointment as professor, Patrick preferred to denote the Leiden school as “Leidse richting” (Dutch, meaning something like "the tenor [way] of Leiden") which he considered an appropriate usage to the comparative and structural study under the well-known Leiden Tradition approach to the field of anthropological study not exclusive to Indonesia.[2]

Patrick's work at the university covered the third phase of the study of cultural anthropology at Leiden University. The first phase involved P.J. Veth, G.A. Wilken, J.J.M. de Groot, and A.W. Nieuwenhuis; J.P.B Josselin de Jong and W.H. Rassers were in the second phase (from 1920 on); the third phase started with the appointment of P.E. de Josselin de Jong. In his inaugural lecture of 1957, Patrick termed his period as a turning point in the history of this study in the university.[11] While the second phase was influenced by the work of Emile Durkheim and Marcel Mauss, as well as of Franz Boas and R.H. Lowie, the third phase was under the influence of Claude Lévi-Strauss (from 1949 on).

His bibliography lists 208 titles (including reprints and translations), nine books, and edited works, seven in English, one in Dutch and one in Bahasa Indonesia. He published 55 reviews, 136 articles, 3 comments, and also wrote articles with others, including 111 less substantial articles, translations and reprints. He classified his diverse publications under regional and non-regional (South East Asia), popular scientific and pure scientific works.[8]


The principles adopted by Patrick have been classified under four headings namely, Kinship, Insular South-East Asia, Political Myths and Cultural anthropology, which are not considered “mutually exclusive” but do overlap.[12] Gingrich and Fox (2002) state that J.P.B. identified four elements that constitute a structural core within the field of ethnological study, including circulating connubium, double unilineality, dual symbolic classification, and resilience from foreign cultural influences.[13]

In his long and distinguished career, Patrick de Josselin de Jong continued the structural anthropology of his predecessor, invigorating it with Levi-Straussian ideas on structural transformations within Fields of Anthropological Study. His career contribution was succinctly hailed with the words “continuation and innovation,” which view was upheld by his senior colleague G.W. Locher who stated that “he is the independent continuator of the Leiden tradition; critical and creative”.[14]

Professional organizations[edit]

On May 22, 1947, he gave his first speech at the Ethnological Society W.D.O.[15]

In January 1961, he was made an honorary member of Royal Asiatic Society. He was an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland (RAI), and a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences since 1974.[16]

Personal life[edit]

In 1986, he received a knighthood in the Order of the Netherlands Lion.

De Josselin de Jong died in Oegstgeest, Netherlands in 1999.

Partial works[edit]

  • (1951), Minangkabau and Negri Sembilan: Socio-political structure in Indonesia
  • (1957), Some directions in contemporary cultural anthropology
  • (1987), Generalization in cultural anthropology


  1. ^ Ridder, pp.4–56
  2. ^ a b Ridder, pp.54–55
  3. ^ Ridder, pp.43–46
  4. ^ a b Ridder, p.6
  5. ^ Visser, L.; D. Moyer (1999). "In memoriam P.E. de Josselin de Jong (8 July 1922-1 January 1999)". Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde. 155 (2). 
  6. ^ a b Ridder, pp.21–22
  7. ^ Ridder, p.11
  8. ^ a b Ridder, pp.45–46
  9. ^ Ridder, p.43
  10. ^ "Ridder & Karremans, p.5"
  11. ^ Ridder, pp.4–6
  12. ^ Ridder, p.50
  13. ^ Gingrich, André; Fox, Richard Gabriel (2002). Anthropology, by comparison. Psychology Press. p. 110. ISBN 0-415-26054-X. 
  14. ^ Ridder, p.56
  15. ^ "Ridder & Karremans, p.9"
  16. ^ "P.E. de Josselin de Jong (1922 - 1999)" (in Dutch). Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 14 July 2015. 

Further reading[edit]