The European Chair of Malay Studies has been established at Leiden University / IIAS since 1992. Its main function is to enhance Malay Studies in Leiden as well as the Netherlands and Europe in general.
The current holder teaches Malaysian-Indonesian literature at the Department of Languages and Cultures of Southeast Asia and Oceania. He also supervises students within the Islamic Studies Programme. From time to time, he gives public lectures and seminars at various academic institutions and gatherings across Europe.
His current research focuses on the reception of the Malay Hikayat Hang Tuah in the Netherlands. It is widely known that the hikayat first appeared in its print version in Singapore at the turn of the twentieth century. This was published by Methodist Publishing House in 1908 under its Malay Literature Series. It was later followed by other print versions, including those of Balai Poestaka, Djakarta, in 1939 and Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, Kuala Lumpur, in 1964. In some studies, mentions have been made of earlier manifestations of the hikayat in print form in the Netherlands. However, nothing has been written about these versions. This research aims to probe and study these early print versions made available in the Malay language to readers in the Netherlands long before readers in the Malay region themselves were able to read the hikayat printed in Singapore. These are the fragments in the jawi script included in Bloemlezing uit Maleische Geschriften (Volumes I and II) by G. K. Niemann and first published in 1870 by Martinus Nijhoff and the fragment romanized by R. Brons Middel and printed in 1893 by E. J. Brill as Hikajat Hang Toewah. The study will also examine to what extent the focus of the story changed when the texts of Hang Tuah were presented to a distant, foreign audience and for a different reason. Additionally, this research will also deal with more recent developments by looking into the play Toeah en Djebat (Episode uit het oud-Maleise epos Hikayat Hang Toeah) written by Carel Voohoeve and published in 1951 by H.P. Leopolds Uitgeversmij N.V. as well as the translation (from Indonesian to Dutch) of the story of Hang Tuah in comic form by Fred Dijs and published by Bulaaq in 2003.