Dr. Esther Captain is a historian and director of research Senior researcher at KITLV – Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies in Leiden. She is also an associate researcher at the National Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies NIOD in Amsterdam, and associated with the Centre for the Humanities of Utrecht University. Captain has been working as a PhD researcher at Utrecht University and the University of Amsterdam and was affiliated with Rutgers University (NJ, USA) and fellow of the National Endowment of the Humanities at the East-West Center of the University of Hawaii.
She has published extensively in the fields of heritage studies, postcolonial history, (in-)tangible heritage and the Second World War in overseas Dutch territories. Her publications include: Oorlogserfgoed overzee. De erfenis van de Tweede Wereldoorlog in Aruba, Curaçao, Indonesië en Suriname (Bert Bakker, 2010), Tonen van de oorlog, toekomst voor het museale erfgoed van de Tweede Wereldoorlog (NIOD 2011), Wandelgids. Sporen van de Slavernij in Utrecht (Centre for the Humanities, Universiteit Utrecht, 2013), Het Geluid van Geweld van de Indische Revolutie 1945-1946 in collaboration with Onno Sinke (Amsterdam University Press, 2022), Het koloniale en slavernijverleden van Hofstad Den Haag in collaboration with Gert Oostindie and Valika Smeulders (Boom uitgevers Amsterdam, 2022).
Esther Captain holds various social positions. Between 2017 and 2019 she has been a member of the board of Framer Framed and between 2019 and 2021 a member of the Supervisory Board of Framer Framed. Captain is chairman of the Keti Koti Tafels Foundation.
Next to being a historian with a PhD-degree, Esther Captain is a palm reader. By combining her academic skills with her knowledge of palmistry, she connects her analytic insights with elements that are familiar to her from her Indonesian-Dutch background. In 2013, she finished her training in palmistry with noted palm reader Ellen Duim. She has been reading palms at Happinez Festival, Lotus Fair and Margriet Winter Fair. Her knowledge of palmistry is kept up to date during monthly sessions of intervision with colleagues Katinka Bartels and Greetje Schaap.