PhD researcher on the topic of Transforming Access to Audio-visual Archives

PhD researcher on the topic of Transforming Access to Audio-visual Archives

Published Deadline Location
13 Apr 30 Apr Amsterdam

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Job description

Are you looking for a challenging position in a dynamic setting? The Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA) currently has a vacant PhD position as part of the SNSF project Narratives from the long tail: transforming access to audio-visual archives. The project team at ASCA will be led by principal investigator Prof. Giovanna Fossati. The Research School is one of the five Research Schools within the Amsterdam Institute for Humanities Research.

ASCA is home to more than 110 scholars and 120 PhD candidates, and is a world-leading international research school in Cultural Analysis. ASCA members share a commitment to working in an interdisciplinary framework and to maintaining a close connection with contemporary cultural and political debates.

What are you going to do?

You will contribute to a project funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation, ‘Narratives from the long tail: transforming access to audio-visual archives’ and led by École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), which addresses and aims to resolve the gap between public access to digital audio-visual archives and the embodied, participatory world of museum experiences. The project offers the opportunity to join an international team, consisting of audio-visual heritage specialists at UvA and collection and digital presentation experts at Eye Filmmuseum, led by Prof. Giovanna Fossati (ASCA and Faculty of Humanities, UvA), and to work with international partners in Lausanne and Zurich.

Bridging academic, archival, and museum perspectives, the project specifically aims to resolve contemporary challenges of public access to audio-visual archives through computational analysis of audio-visual collections and data visualization. The highly interdisciplinary project combines the expertise of four leading academic partners in the fields of machine learning, visual analytics, digital museology, and film archiving. The project is a collaboration between the Laboratory for Experimental Museology (eM+), EPFL; Visual intelligence for Transportation Laboratory (VITA) EPFL; Visualization and MultiMedia Laboratory (VMML), University of Zürich and; the Faculty of Humanities, University of Amsterdam (UvA).

The project draws on leading digital audio-visual archives including: Radio Télévision Suisse, the UNESCO Memory of the World listed Montreux Jazz Festival archive, and the Eye Filmmuseum. Responding to the demand of accessing these vast collections from various user groups and addressing a need for developing access and presentation formats that are not limited by copyright restrictions, the project develops gallery-based, in situ installations for museum settings. To this end, the project: carries out computational visual analysis so as to augment conventional audio-visual archival metadata with richer semantic meaning; designs a narrative visualization framework, combining spatio-temporal, social, aesthetic and affective semantics to pioneer new audio-visual storytelling formats; and develops platforms for the navigation, exploration and creative reorganization of moving images through immersive and interactive systems, for broad publics in museums.

Working with the Eye Filmmuseum's unique Mutoscope & Biograph collection (1897-1902), you and the team will develop a presentation of the collection for the new 360-degree 3D Narrative Visualization Engine, developed by eM +. The research will focus on developing ways of exploring the collection dynamically based on spatial, temporal, material and aesthetic features within the Visualization Engine’s scalable and participatory engagement format, while aiming to situate audiences and their experiences at the centre of knowledge production and to stimulate innovation in archival access. Read more about the project Narratives from the long tail.

Your tasks and responsibilities:

  • submission of a PhD thesis within the period of appointment;
  • completion and submission of at least one article and/or videographic or audio-visual scholarly work for an international, peer-reviewed journal within the period of appointment;
  • carrying out archival research on the Eye Filmmuseum’s Mutoscope & Biograph collection and related collection data;
  • participation in the ASCA and Faculty of Humanities PhD training programmes;
  • teaching courses at BA-level or other types of activities in the second and third year of the appointment (0,2 FTE per year).


University of Amsterdam (UvA)


What do we require?

You are curious and motivated with a background in either audio-visual archiving or curation, media and/or film studies, digital humanities or heritage. You have a strong interest in visualization strategies for audio-visual content and a passion for research into innovative ways to research and access audio-visual collections.

Your experience and profile:

  • a MA degree in Audio-visual archiving, (new) Media, Film, Digital humanities, Digital heritage or a closely related field, completed no later than 1 June 2021. You may apply if you have not yet completed your Master's degree only if you provide a signed letter from your supervisor stating that you will graduate before 1 June 2021;
  • outstanding research qualities, manifested in strong grade transcripts and a high-quality Master’s thesis;
  • excellent written and spoken English;
  • strong analytical skills;
  • strong organizational skills;
  • skills in handling audio-visual collections (preferably both analog and digital);
  • a background or interest in the applied world of museums, in the futures of large-scale digital archives and immersive installation systems design for museum audiences;
  • knowledge of or interest in data visualization and/or interface design for museum collection data;
  • team spirit and the ability to work in an interdisciplinary, international environment;
  • willingness to travel abroad for fieldwork, research stays, conferences and workshops.

In light of the international constellation of the project consortium, basic knowledge of French and/or German is a plus, but not a requirement.

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.

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 4 years.

Our offer

We offer a temporary full-time 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 starting date is 1 June 2021.

The gross monthly salary will be €2,395 during the first year to reach €3,061 during the fourth year, based on 38 hours per week, in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities. This is exclusive 8% holiday allowance and 8,3% end-of-year bonus. A favourable tax agreement, the ‘30% ruling’, may apply to non-Dutch applicants.

What else do we offer


University of Amsterdam

The University of Amsterdam is the Netherlands' largest university, offering the widest range of academic programmes. At the UvA, 30,000 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.

Curious about our organisation and attractive fringe benefits such as a generous holiday arrangement and development opportunities? Here you can read more about working at the University of Amsterdam.


Faculty of Humanities

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.


  • PhD
  • Language and culture
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • €2395—€3061 per month
  • University graduate
  • 21-232


University of Amsterdam (UvA)

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Kloveniersburgwal 48, 1012 CX, Amsterdam

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