Susan Legêne (b. 1955) is a historian and has been a professor of political history at the Vrije University, Amsterdam (VU) since 2008.
Legêne has published many lectures and articles, on subjects such as the interface between (colonial) history and museology. In 1998 her PhD thesis was published: De bagage van Blomhoff en Van Breugel, over Nederlandse natievorming en de negentiende-eeuwse Nederlandse cultuur van het imperialisme (The baggage of Blomhoff and Van Breugel, on Dutch nation building in the nineteenth century Dutch culture of imperialism). For several years, starting in 2004, Susan Legêne has also been associated with the University of Amsterdam as affiliate professor cultural history, with a special emphasis on the study of objects.
Since 1985 Legêne has been an associate of the Royal Tropical Institute in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, since 1997 as head of the Museological Matters devision of the Tropics Museum. In that position she was responsible for the reorganization of the museum and established the semi-permanent exhibition Oostwaarts! Kunst, cultuur & kolonialisme (2003) (Eastward Bound! Art, Culture and Colonialism). The conference Tropenmuseum for a Change! dedicated to the reorganization was held in 2009. She is also known for her critical publications on colonial photography, such as From India to Suriname. A journey into the future narrated by two photograph albums (1913-1930). Allahabad (Manav Vikas Sangrahalaya – GB Pant Institute) 2007.
Legêne has been involved in the symposiums Shared Heritage – Theory and Practice and The Colonial Gaze at Framer Framed, as well as introducing the exhibition On the Nature of Botanical Gardens, curated by Sadiah Boonstra, on 23 January 2020. Legêne is a member of the National UNESCO Comity and the Ethical Code Comity for Museums. She is project leader of the Indonesian/Dutch research project Sites, Bodies & Stories – The Dynamics of Heritage Formation in Colonial & Postcolonial Indonesia & the Netherlands, about the relationship between inheritance, processes of image formation, citizenship and national identity. She is also part of the research project Agora/The semantics of History, about the digital gateway to heritance collections and historical awareness.