Jan Breman (1936) majored in the social sciences at the University of Amsterdam and specialized in South and Southeast Asian Studies. In 1962 he became a staff member, later reader and professor, at Erasmus University Rotterdam. He held a chair in the sociology of development since 1974.
His transfer in 1987 to Amsterdam University, to teach comparative sociology, coincided with the establishment of the post-graduate Centre for Asian Studies Amsterdam (CASA). He was Dean of CASA and the Amsterdam School for Social Science Research with which CASA merged, until September 1998.
He was appointed extraordinary professor of development sociology at the Institute of Social Studies in The Hague, a post he held until 2001. His Valedictory Address delivered on 25 October, 2001 was entitled ‘A Question of Poverty’.
He continues to be affiliated to the Amsterdam School but is also Fellow of the International Institute of Asian Studies.
Jan Breman is a visiting professor in India (Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi) and in Indonesia (Agricultural University, Bogor), and has travelled widely on short-term academic visits to other Asian countries. He has carried out consultancy missions in the Asian region for ILO, UNRISD, ESCAP, Asian Development Bank, as well as for various non-government agencies and for the Dutch Ministry of Development Cooperation.
Spread over a period of forty-five years Jan Breman has conducted anthropological fieldwork in India (South Gujarat) and Indonesia (West Java), mainly on rural and urban labour and employment. The outcome of his research has been published in books and journals.
Professor Breman was awarded an Honorary Doctorate at ISS on 29 October, 2009. His Inaugural lecture was entitled The Great Transformation in a Globalized Perspective.
On this occasion Professor Jan Pronk delivered the laudatio.