PhD Position in Literary Studies: Re-Imagining Water in the Neerlandophone Space

PhD Position in Literary Studies: Re-Imagining Water in the Neerlandophone Space

Published Deadline Location
26 Apr 1 Jun 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 Startersbeurs Grant ‘How to Welcome the Water: Re-Imagining Water in the Neerlandophone Space’, led by Dr Marrigje Paijmans and Prof. Gaston Franssen. The ASCA is one of the five Research Schools within the Amsterdam Institute for Humanities Research (AIHR).

ASCA is one of the five Research Schools within the Amsterdam Institute for Humanities Research. ASCA is home to more than 120 scholars and 160 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 work on a research project of your own design within the project ‘How to Welcome the Water: Re-Imagining Our Life with Water through Marginalised Stories in the Neerlandophone Space.’ The project aims to open new perspectives for sustainable becomings with water by dismantling objectifying narratives of water in historical and present-day water management. It seeks to envisage alternatives to the age-old Dutch narrative of the ‘battle against the water’, which precludes a sustainable coexistence between humans and water. Hypothesising that Dutch narratives of water as the ecological Other hark back to colonial notions of toleration and integration, this project aims to confront dominant narratives about water with marginalised stories of living and becoming with water in the neerlandophone space at large, using ecocritical and decolonial theory.

The central methodology will be textual analysis, considering ‘text’ in the broadest sense, including legends, religious stories, oral history, travel accounts, cartography, etc., on topics varying from any body of water to its inhabitants, waterworks, pollution, etc. The corpus will be compiled in consultation with the PhD researcher, based on their research proposal, but the focus should lie with marginalised voices in the neerlandophone space, i.e. all places where people spoke or have been in contact with Dutch language, such as the Netherlands, Flemish Belgium, Indonesia, South Africa, Suriname, and the Caribbean Islands.

The PhD project has an interdisciplinary character in the sense that it combines insights and methods from Literary Studies with, for example:
  • a multilingual approach: examens stories about water in non-Dutch languages by indigenous, enslaved or indentured peoples, and their descendants, in former Dutch colonies. This approach may involve archival research, oral history, and translation studies.
  • a neo-materialist approach: focuses on the material realities of water, informed by a neo-materialist theoretical framework. This approach involves close collaboration with Environmental Studies, Life Sciences or Earth Sciences.
  • a transhistorical approach: investigates the interactions between stories about water at different moments in the history of Dutch colonialism, globalization, immigration, etc. This profile should distinguish itself from ongoing research into water in the field of Dutch literary studies.

Tasks and responsibilities:
  • Conducting research and completing a PhD thesis within the period of appointment;
  • Publishing two peer-reviewed (co-authored) journal articles or book chapters within the period of appointment;
  • Setting up and managing project data (while taking into consideration the project’s risk analysis, and complying with its data management plan);
  • Participating in project meetings, and closely collaborating with relevant research groups and colleagues in the department of Dutch Language and Culture;
  • Assisting with knowledge dissemination and with the organization of project workshops, conferences and creative events;
  • Presenting research results at national and international workshops and conferences;
  • Participating in the ASCA and Faculty of Humanities PhD training programmes;
  • Teaching in BA programmes in years 2 and 3 of the PhD project.

What do you have to offer?
You are fascinated by the multiple dimensions and entanglements of water, and you see that the ecology of water is intertwined with Dutch (post)colonial history and culture. You want to conduct international research of the cultural imagination of water, because you believe that humanities research and the creative imagination can contribute to more sustainable perspectives on the natural environment. You are curious and open-minded towards research traditions and methodologies you are less familiar with. You do not necessarily have a background in Dutch Language and Culture, but you have affinity with the neerlandophone space at large. In addition, you have a social and cooperative attitude, and you thrive in a team setting, but you can also work independently, and set your own goals.

Your experience and profile
Candidates need to have the following qualifications:
  • A completed Master's degree in the Humanities or in a field relevant to the project. You may apply if you have not yet completed a Master's degree only if you provide a signed letter from your supervisor stating that you will graduate before 31 August 2024;
  • Outstanding research qualities manifested in strong BA and MA transcripts;
  • Demonstrable knowledge of and experience with relevant research methods, such as text analysis, cultural analysis, historical research, archival research, oral history, etc.;
  • Demonstrable experience working with theoretical frameworks, and a keen interest in the research fields central to the project: ecocritical theory, postcolonial or decolonial theory, colonial history, neerlandophone literature;
  • Excellent written and spoken English, and a high level of proficiency in/understanding of Dutch;
  • Team spirit and experience working in an interdisciplinary, international setting;
  • Willingness to travel abroad for fieldwork, research stays, conferences and workshops;
  • Strong interpersonal, analytical and organizational skills.

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?
The PhD researcher will be appointed at the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis. 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 October 2024.

Your salary is in the first year of the employment contract € 2,770 and in the last year a maximum of € 3,539 gross per month on the basis of a full working week of 38 hours. This sum does not include the 8% holiday allowance and the 8,3% year-end allowance. Favourable tax agreements may apply to applicants moving from abroad. The Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities is applicable.

What else do we offer?
  • PhD candidates receive a tuition fee waiver;
  • PhD candidates have free access to courses offered by the Graduate School of Humanities and the Dutch National Research Schools;
  • excellent possibilities for further professional development and education;
  • an inspiring academic and international work environment in the heart of Amsterdam;
  • an enthusiastic and professional academic team.

About us
The University of Amsterdam is the largest university in the Netherlands, with the broadest spectrum of degree programmes. It is an intellectual hub with 42,000 students, 6,000 employees and 3,000 doctoral students who are all committed to a culture of inquiring minds.

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.

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

If you have any questions about the position or the department, please contact during office hours:

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. We will accept applications until 01 June 2024.

Your application should include the following information:
  • A letter, stating your reasons for applying, and detailing why you are an excellent candidate for the position (500-800 words). In this letter, introduce a case-study relevant to this PhD position, and explain how you would investigate it (one paragraph as part of the letter);
  • Your curriculum vitae, listing at least: full address and contact details, education, professional employment and language proficiency. Also include grants/honours, conference presentations, academic publications and creative work, if applicable;
  • Transcripts of your Master’s (or equivalent) degree, and of your Bachelor’s degree;
  • The names and contact details of two referees familiar with your academic record and research skills. One of the referees must be your Master’s thesis advisor. The referees may be approached by the selection committee.

Please submit the required information in 1 pdf by uploading in the required field ‘CV’.

The first round of interviews will be held in the week of 24 June 2024.

The UvA is an equal-opportunity employer. We prioritise 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.


University of Amsterdam (UvA)


  • PhD
  • Language and culture
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • 12928


University of Amsterdam (UvA)

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Kloveniersburgwal 48, 1012CX, Amsterdam

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