PhD Researcher 'Sound and Foreign Affairs from a Digital History Approach, 1700-1990'

PhD Researcher 'Sound and Foreign Affairs from a Digital History Approach, 1700-1990'

Published Deadline Location
4 Oct 1 Dec Amsterdam

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Job description

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.


University of Amsterdam (UvA)


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.

Conditions of employment

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 2024.

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?


Faculty of Humanities

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.


  • PhD
  • Behaviour and society
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • max. €3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • 12197


University of Amsterdam (UvA)

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Kloveniersburgwal 48, 1012CX, Amsterdam

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