Academy Merian Prize awarded to Caribbean archaeologist Corinne Hofman

25 September 2013

Corinne Hofman, Professor of Caribbean Archaeology at Leiden University, will receive the 2013 Academy Merian Prize for female researchers on 21 November. The aim of her research is to tell the story of the colonisation of American continent from the perspective of its indigenous population.

The Academy Merian Prize for 2013 has been awarded to Corinne Hofman (54), Professor of Caribbean Archaeology at Leiden University. Under her leadership, Leiden’s Caribbean Research Group has become the biggest and most successful in the world in this field. Professor Hofman was also appointed Dean of the Faculty of Archaeology at Leiden in September 2013.

Established in 2009 and made possible by SNS REAAL Fonds , the Academy Merian Prize is awarded every other year to an outstanding female researcher who inspires others to embark on a career in science or scholarship. The biennial prize is conferred on a female researcher working alternately in the social sciences/humanities (2013) and science.

In its report, the jury writes that it is deeply impressed by the way in which Corinne Hofman developed her discipline and put it prominently on the international map. Her authoritative, innovative research makes her an inspiring role model. She also actively encourages talented women to compete for positions in research and academia.

About the laureate

Corinne Hofman’s research shows that the history of the Caribbean goes back thousands of years before the arrival of Columbus. Without written sources, however, that history can only be reconstructed from archaeological finds. Hofman began excavating sites on the island of Saba in the 1980s, and since then has done field work virtually throughout the entire region. She has been driven by the idea that the Caribbean islands and parts of the mainland were once linked by a network in which people, goods and ideas circulated freely. She works with research groups in other disciplines specialising in isotopes and DNA analysis, network theory, history and ethnography.

In addition to a grant from the NWO Open Competition, Professor Hofman recently received ESF HERA funding and the prestigious ERC Synergy Grant. This will allow her to begin collaborating with three other research groups in the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium this autumn on a new, large-scale multidisciplinary study exploring the first cultural encounters between European colonizers and the New World from the perspective of the indigenous population. Hofman’s aim in her research is to raise the historical consciousness and self-awareness of the current population of the Caribbean. She regularly invites schools to visit her excavation sites.

The Academy Merian Prize consists of EUR 50,000 and a specially designed ornament. Corinne Hofman will use the full amount to give promising young female researchers from the Caribbean an opportunity to obtain their doctorates within one of her projects.

About the SNS REAAL Fonds

SNSreaal fonds logoSNS REAAL Fonds supports enterprising cultural and unusual social initiatives. It provides funding for striking projects, both large and small, in two areas: Arts and Culture, and Youth and Society. It also supports research and educational projects linked to these areas, giving applicants the chance to achieve their ambitions. In 2012, SNS REAAL Fonds awarded a total of €14 million to 459 different initiatives.

About the Academy

As the forum, conscience, and voice of the arts and sciences in the Netherlands, the Academy promotes the quality and represents the interests of science and scholarship and strives to ensure that Dutch scholars and scientists make the best possible contribution to the cultural, social, and economic development of Dutch society. As an umbrella organisation, the Academy manages outstanding research institutes and their collections and encourages interdisciplinary cooperation and the exchange of knowledge.

For the editors:

For more information and to request interviews, please contact
Eva Wolf, +31 20 620 3354, e-mail or
Marja van der Putten +31 20 551 0858/+31 6 1315 0837,

Photographs of Corinne Hofman are available.