Gepubliceerd op 05-10-2023

PhD Researcher ‘Sound and Foreign Affairs from a Digital History Approach, 1700-1990’ – Universiteit van Amsterdam

Faculteit/Dienst:  Faculteit der Geesteswetenschappen
Opleidingsniveau:  Master
Functie type:  Promotieplaats
Sluitingsdatum:  1 december 2023
Vacaturenummer:  12197

The Amsterdam School of Historical Studies (ASH) invites applications for a PhD position as part of the Faculty of Humanities starting grant “Sound and Foreign Affairs from a Digital History Approach, 1700-1990”, led by principal investigators Dr. H. Alloul and Dr. M.J.H.F. Wevers. This interdisciplinary project is situated at the crossroads of two fields. International History is broadly conceived and includes the study of diplomacy, interstate relations, conflict studies, and transnational encounters. Sonic History examines the significance of sound, noise, silence, or music within formal and informal spaces. The project seeks to harness the possibilities of digital methods to examine the reproduction, representation, reception, or the materiality of sound in foreign affairs. For further background, see the suggested reading list below.

The PhD position, commencing on 1 February 2024, is fully funded and lasts 4 (1,0 fte) to 5 years (0,8 fte), depending on the candidate’s preference. The position includes coursework and limited teaching duties.

What are you going to do?

We are seeking to hire an enthusiastic PhD candidate with a strong methodological focus who wants to specialize in International History, taking sound as an object of study. Candidates can work on a project of their own choosing and are encouraged to think creatively in terms of research design. We invite interested candidates to prepare short pitches (details below) that could, for instance, examine:

  • listening practices, elucidating how sound was perceived and understood by historical actors with different backgrounds in various international settings;
  • how silence, noise, sonorous aspects, or sound technologies shaped diplomatic dialogues and debates, using sound design methods or speech-generation to reconstruct events;
  • how artists and their music participated to, or operated in transnational circuits, for instance using network analysis or GIS;
  • how sound, in its relation to foreign affairs, was historically depicted and recorded through various mediums, employing multimodal digital history techniques;
  • the physical and acoustic properties of spaces and their influence on international exchanges, relying on, for example, 3D-modelling.

The chosen timeframe should fall within 1700-1990. There are no geographical restrictions, provided that candidates can read the relevant primary sources. Projects exploring non-Western perspectives are encouraged.

Candidates without prior experience in digital methods should demonstrate a keenness to acquire these skills. The University of Amsterdam will provide the necessary training and guidance.

Depending on the research project, potential primary sources – digitally accessible or easily digitizable – could consist of:

  • Sound and radio recordings;
  • (Printed) diplomatic documents;
  • (Un)published (and serialized) correspondence;
  • Newspaper and magazine archives;
  • Parliamentary proceedings and court records;
  • Visual sources (incl. photographs, paintings, etchings, drawings).

Tasks and responsibilities:

  • submission of a PhD thesis within the period of appointment;
  • presenting intermediate research results at workshops and conferences;
  • participation in the Research School and Faculty of Humanities PhD training programmes;
  • teaching deployment at BA-level in the second or third year of the appointment, for a maximum of 0,2 fte per year.

What do you have to offer?

You are a motivated, creative thinker who is willing to explore uncharted territories of research. You can work independently while guided by your supervisors. Being a team-player, you enjoy working in close collaboration with other researchers and institutions. You have good communication skills that will enable you to present your research clearly in papers, talks, and the final dissertation.

Candidates should have:

  • a completed Master’s degree in a field relevant to the proposed PhD project, e.g. History, Digital Humanities, International Relations, Anthropology, Media Studies, or Musicology. Alternatively, you may also apply if you have not yet completed your Master’s degree but can provide a signed letter from your supervisor stating that you will graduate before February 2024;
  • excellent research skills demonstrated by an outstanding Master’s thesis and/or a track record of academic publications;
  • good command of English.

Please note that if you already hold a doctorate/PhD or are working towards obtaining a similar degree elsewhere, you will not be admitted to a doctoral programme at the UvA.

What can we offer you?

We offer a temporary employment contract for the period of 48 months. The first contract will be for 16 months, with an extension for the following 32 months, contingent on a positive performance evaluation within the first 12 months. The employment contract is for 38 hours a week. The preferred starting date is 01 February 2023.

The gross monthly salary, based on 38 hours per week and relevant experience, ranges from € 2,770 up to a maximum of € 3,539. This sum does not include the 8% holiday allowance and the 8,3% year-end allowance. A favourable tax agreement, the ‘30% ruling’, may apply to non-Dutch applicants. The Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities is applicable.

What else do we offer?

About us

The University of Amsterdam is the Netherlands’ largest university, offering the widest range of academic programmes. At the UvA, 42,000 students, 6,000 staff members and 3,000 PhD candidates study and work in a diverse range of fields, connected by a culture of curiosity.

The Faculty of Humanities provides education and conducts research with a strong international profile in a large number of disciplines in de field of language and culture. Located in the heart of Amsterdam, the faculty maintains close ties with many cultural institutes in the capital city. Research and teaching staff focus on interdisciplinary collaboration and are active in several teaching programmes.

The successful candidate will join the interdisciplinary Amsterdam School of Historical Studies (ASH), an interdisciplinary body of diverse humanities researchers. ASH represents and fosters the study of the human past from Antiquity to the present day. It brings together about 200 academics who participate in ca. 16 research groups. ASH is one of the six Research Schools/Institutes within the Amsterdam Institute for Humanities Research. Each research school/institute covers an important research area within the faculty and has its own research programme, and is also the home base for PhD candidates, who interact with each other and with senior members in the research groups that make up the research school.

Want to know more about our organisation? Read more about working at the University of Amsterdam.


Do you have any questions or do you require additional information? Please write to

For practical questions with regard to the PhD position, please send an email to the ASH coordinator.

Job application

If you feel the profile fits you, and you are interested in the job, we look forward to receiving your application. You can apply online via the link below. The deadline for applying for this vacancy is 01 December 2023.

Applications should include the following information (submitted in one .pdf by uploading it in the required field ‘CV’):

  • A letter of motivation;
  • A full academic CV, listing at least:
    • Full address and contact details;
    • Previous education;
    • Professional information (previous university (or other relevant) employment);
    • Conference presentations and publications, if applicable;
    • Grants/honors;
    • Language proficiency;
    • Computational skills, if applicable.
  • A short pitch (max. 1,250 words, excl. references), tentatively outlining the proposed project’s main research questions, historiographical debates, possible digital methods, and (digitized) primary sources. The proposal should also include a brief and tentative bibliography;
  • The name and contact details of one academic referee;
  • A writing sample, such as a paper or a chapter of a Master’s thesis.

Only complete applications received within the response period via the link below will be considered.

Applicants will be informed whether they are invited for an interview on 8 December 2023. The interviews will be held online on 20 December 2023. The successful candidate will be notified the next day.

Suggested reading list

  • Gibson, K., and I. Biddle eds. Cultural Histories of Noise, Sound and Listening in Europe, 1300-1918. Routledge, 2016.
  • Mahiet, D., R. Ahrendt, and F. Ramel. “Introduction: Diplomacy, Audible and Resonant.” Diplomatica 3, no. 2 (2021): 235-43.
  • Sterne, J. ed. The Sound Studies Reader. Routledge, 2012.
  • Radano, R., and T. Olaniyan eds. Audible Empire: Music, Global Politics, Critique. Duke University Press, 2016.
  • Birdsall, C., and V. Tkaczyk. “Listening to the Archive: Sound Data in the Humanities and Sciences.” Technology and Culture 60, no. 2 (2019): 1-13.
  • Malmstedt, J. “Rhythms of Silence: Digital Audio Analysis of Swedish Radio Broadcasting, 1980-1989.” Journal of Cultural Analytics 7, no. 1 (April 20, 2022): 108-38.

Only complete applications received within the response period via the link below will be considered.

The UvA is an equal-opportunity employer. We prioritize diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for everyone. We value a spirit of enquiry and perseverance, provide the space to keep asking questions, and promote a culture of curiosity and creativity.

No agencies please.

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