Postdoctoral researcher in Urban Studies and Urban History

Postdoctoral researcher in Urban Studies and Urban History

Published Deadline Location
23 Oct 13 Nov Amsterdam

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Job description

The Centre for Urban Studies and the Department of Human Geography, Planning and International Development Studies (GPIO) are currently inviting applications for a postdoctoral researcher in Urban Studies and Urban History to study existing and historical forms of commoning in urban public space in the project Common Spaces? A long-term study of the use of public spaces in Amsterdam, 1880 to the present, supervised by Prof. Robert Kloosterman (Professor of Economic Geography and Planning) and Dr Claartje Rasterhoff (assistant professor in Urban History and Digital Methods).
The postdoc position is for 2 years (0,7 fte). 

Project description

This postdoctoral research project is part of the research project Commons: New Chances for the City and Public Space, funded by NWO-SIA in the Smart Culture program, and led by Dr Jeroen Boomgaard of the Research Institute for Art and Public Space at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy. The research consortium further consists of the Waag: Institute for technology and society, the Casco Art Institute: Working for the Commons, and Nautilus, a collective housing project on Zeeburgereiland. This project focuses on the ways in which the notion of ‘the commons’ can contribute to new forms of (digital) public space and initiate different forms of urban development, while taking the potential contribution of design and art towards processes of 'commoning' as the main point of departure. The project zooms in on the Amsterdam neighbourhood Zeeburgereilandand will run for the duration of two years.

In this postdoctoral project, the temporal dimension shifts from the short-term interventions in the overall project to a long term perspective on the role of art and design in public space and processes of commoning. This perspective has two purposes. First, it serves to emphasize that the affordances of commons are dependent on broader social and institutional contexts. And second, it reveals various designs through which the social act of commoning in public spaces has historically been facilitated or hampered, and thereby it provides concrete input for interventions and recipes developed in the projects of the Gerrit Rietveld Academy, the Waag and Casco.

In the proposed research, the postdoctoral candidate investigates processes of production, appropriation, contestation, and representation of urban spaces from a long-term perspective. Their project compares the present-day spatiality of commoning interventions in the Zeeburgereiland with, for instance, four selected public spaces in Amsterdam, originating in different periods (1970s, 1950s, 1920s, and 1890s). Each time period is characterized by different dominant artistic and design ideologies as well socio-demographic patterns. The postdoctoral researcher investigates how boundaries between public and private have shifted in the selected urban public spaces. The analysis will not only generate knowledge on the historical trajectories of public spaces, but will also provide useful insights for designing less vulnerable, high-quality public spaces and, hence, help to develop a meaningful, accessible public space in Zeeburgereiland. Although artists and designers are sometimes called upon in imagining urban commons and commoning practices, their role has not yet been critically examined or historically contextualized. This way, we contribute to the growing literature on urban commons by adding an explicit spatial historical dimension that zooms in on the role of arts and design in commoning.


University of Amsterdam (UvA)


We are looking for a candidate with:

  • a PhD degree;
  • a strong background or demonstrable interest in integrating research topics and methods in the fields of urban studies and urban history;
  • demonstrable knowledge of the history of urban development or urban renewal in the twentieth century, in particular related to public spaces, in the Dutch and international context;
  • a strong background or demonstrable interest in combining archival research with methods from the social sciences, such as interview techniques;
  • experience in engaging in contemporary debates on urban development and communicating academic research to various audiences;
  • a track record of project based work, and the ability to function in a multidisciplinary team;
  • a communicative and flexible attitude;
  • fluency in Dutch and
  • an open mind regarding different forms (i.e. artistic) of doing research and experiments in public spaces.

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: two years.

The position concerns a temporary appointment of 26,6 hours per week for a term of 24 months.
Salary depends on past education and relevant work experience, with a minimum salary of €3,637 and a maximum salary of €4,978 gross per month based on a full-time appointment for a 38-hour working week (in keeping with scale 11, as per the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities. We additionally offer an extensive package of secondary employee benefits, including a generous holiday scheme and year-end bonus. Because we value your continued personal development and professionalisation, we also offer excellent opportunities for study and development.

What else can we offer you?

A challenging work environment with a variety of duties and ample scope for individual initiative and development within an inspiring organisation. The social and behavioural sciences play a leading role in addressing the major societal challenges faced by the world, the Netherlands and Amsterdam, now and in the future.

To work at the University of Amsterdam is to work in a discerning, independent, creative, innovative and international climate characterised by an open atmosphere and a genuine engagement with the city of Amsterdam and society.


University of Amsterdam

With over 5,000 employees, 30,000 students and a budget of more than 600 million euros, the University of Amsterdam (UvA) is an intellectual hub within the Netherlands. Teaching and research at the UvA are conducted within seven faculties: Humanities, Social and Behavioural Sciences, Economics and Business, Law, Science, Medicine and Dentistry. Housed on four city campuses in or near the heart of Amsterdam, where disciplines come together and interact, the faculties have close links with thousands of researchers and hundreds of institutions at home and abroad.  

The UvA’s students and employees are independent thinkers, competent rebels who dare to question dogmas and aren’t satisfied with easy answers and standard solutions. To work at the UvA is to work in an independent, creative, innovative and international climate characterised by an open atmosphere and a genuine engagement with the city of Amsterdam and society.


Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences – Department of Human Geography, Planning and International Development Studies

The Department of Human Geography, Planning and International Development Studies (GPIO) is one of the six Departments in the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG). The successful candidate will be affiliated with the Centre for Urban Studies as well as the Amsterdam Centre for Urban History at the Faculty of Humanities.



  • Postdoc
  • Behaviour and society
  • max. 26.6 hours per week
  • €3637—€4978 per month
  • Doctorate
  • 19-701


University of Amsterdam (UvA)

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