Gepubliceerd op 11-10-2021

Postdoc/Team leader Semantic Contextualisation – Huygens ING-KNAW – Amsterdam

For the NWO-funded project GLOBALISE, which will develop an advanced digital infrastructure based on the extensive archives of the Dutch East India Company (VOC), the Huygens Institute is looking for a: Postdoc / Team leader Semantic Contextualisation.

GLOBALISE is a collaboration of the Huygens Institute with the International Institute of Social History, the Digital Infrastructure Department of the KNAW Humanities Cluster, VU University Amsterdam and the Dutch National Archives. The project actively seeks involvement of researchers from all over the world, especially from the regions in Asia that the VOC archives contain information about. In addition, the project encourages participation and active input from the wider public (citizen science).

What will you do?
You are responsible for the daily management of the interdisciplinary Semantic Contextualisation team. You coordinate the development of an ontology and the application of NLP models to a large corpus of VOC documents, and oversee the usability of the data produced for different types of research. You report to the PI and project manager and ensure a smooth cooperation with other work packages. You are driven—together with your team—to apply and further develop language technology and other digital techniques for historical sources.

The goal of GLOBALISE is to provide access to extensive series of documents from the VOC archives (in particular the General Missives and Letters and Papers Received) for advanced research. These documents contain a wealth of unique information for world, colonial and non-Western history. The Semantic Contextualisation team, with at least one staff member associated with the Computational Linguistics & Text Mining Lab of the VU, will contribute to this goal by developing a knowledge graph with entities and events from the VOC texts.

The Semantic Contextualisation team will work closely together with the Historical Contextualisation team, which will compile a large set of structured data from external sources relevant to making the VOC corpus accessible. This team annotates the historical texts to train the NLP models and will validate your team’s results. As the team lead for Semantic Contextualisation, you will also make a constructive contribution to the User Interaction team, to gain insight into the practicability of your results for different types of research.


What do we ask?
You have:

  • A PhD in Computational Linguistics, Computer Science with NLP experience, or similar;
  • Relevant work experience with (infrastructural) digital humanities projects;
  • Expertise in NLP and Semantic Web, or related;
  • Good organisational and project coordination skills;
  • You have the ability to engage with people and are a strong communicator.

The following are an advantage:

  • Experience in project management and/or supervision of research staff;
  • Knowledge of (old) Dutch;
  • Affinity with themes related to the project (such as history, cultural heritage, colonialism/post-colonialism).


What do we offer?
The appointment at the Huygens Institute is for a period of one year with the possibility of an extension for a total of four and a half years.
The starting date is between 1 February 2022 and 1 July 2022 at the latest.
Depending on relevant work experience, the gross monthly salary ranges between € 3,807 and € 5,211 based on a fulltime appointment (scale 11 of the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities). The KNAW offers attractive secondary employment conditions, such as 8.3% year-end bonus, 8% vacation allowance, a good pension scheme, 6 weeks annual vacation and the possibility to buy/sell holiday time.


The Huygens Institute for the History of the Netherlands (Huygens ING) is an Academy research institute that studies the history of science, Dutch history and literature. Huygens ING extracts information from historical sources and literary texts, is building a digital infrastructure, and offers searchable online data. It provides an historical context for contemporary issues related to politics and governance, literature, science and society.

The Huygens Institute is one of the three institutes of the KNAW working together in the KNAW Humanities Cluster (HuC), which conducts humanities research using advanced, often computational methods.


For more information about the vacancy and the project, please contact Dr. Lodewijk Petram via e-mail lodewijk.petram@huygens.knaw.nl (project manager) and/or Dr. Matthias van Rossum via e-mail mvr@iisg.nl (project leader).

More information about the project can be found at: https://globalise.huygens.knaw.nl/.

Diversity & Inclusion
The KNAW considers a working environment in which everyone feels welcome and appreciated of great importance. A working environment in which attention is paid to individual quality and where development opportunities are paramount. Together we strive for an inclusive culture in which we embrace differences. We would therefore like to invite candidates who want to contribute to this through their background and experience. In the event of equal suitability, preference will be given to the candidate who thus enhances diversity within the Academy.


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Het KNHG is de grootste organisatie van professionele historici in Nederland. Het biedt een platform aan de ruim 1100 leden en aan de historische gemeenschap als geheel. Word lid van het KNHG.
Het Huygens Instituut beoogt de Nederlandse geschiedenis en cultuur inclusiever maken. Het ontsluit historische bronnen en literaire teksten en ontwikkelt innovatieve methoden, tools en duurzame digitale infrastructuur.