Postdoctoral Researcher in Socially Engaged Art and State Transformation in Italy
University of Amsterdam Faculty of Humanities Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis

Postdoctoral Researcher in Socially Engaged Art and State Transformation in Italy

Publication date 17 April 2020

Closing date 31 May 2020

Level of education PhD

Hours 30,4 hours per week

Salary indication €3,389 to €3,773 gross per month, based on 38 hours per week

Vacancy number 20-239

The Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA), one of the six research schools of the Faculty of Humanities, has a vacant postdoctoral position as part of the NWO VIDI project IMAGINART—Imagining institutions otherwise: Art, Politics, and State Transformation, led by Dr Chiara de Cesari.

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.

Project description

Funded by the Netherlands’ Research Organization, the IMAGINART project explores the role of socially engaged art in reinventing failing public institutions and social structures. Whereas political and cultural theorists often claim that art serves to imagine society differently, this project uses ethnographic methods to examine how this works in practice. Focusing on creative institutional experiments in Hungary, Italy, and Lebanon/the West Bank, IMAGINART has two main aims. The first is to investigate these experiments’ impact on societal resilience, governmental policy, and state formation. The second is to assess their potential for developing 'concrete utopias' in response to state failure or transformation under (post)colonial, postsocialist, or neoliberal conditions.

Within the broader framework of IMAGINART, this two-year postdoctoral subproject will focus on fieldwork in Italy. By means of participant observation, interviews, and critical discourse analysis, the researcher will examine creative experiments with institutions in Rome and possibly other cities too. In so doing, they will pay particular attention to the political complexities of socially engaged art in Italy, which is both taking over some state urban functions and seen as complicit in gentrification. Read more.

In addition, the researcher will help the PI run the initial phases of the project.

Tasks of the postdoctoral researcher include:

  • carrying out fieldwork in Italy;
  • writing up your findings in a fieldwork report;
  • completion and submission of a significant body of writing for publication within the period of appointment. This might be at least three articles for international, peer-reviewed journals; a peer-reviewed monograph; or a combination of these;
  • contributing to collaborative publications undertaken by the IMAGINART team;
  • celping build a platform of experts around the intersection of art studies and theories of the state;
  • organising project valorization activity (small public program or workshop) at relevant institution(s);
  • co-organising mid-term project workshop.


  • A PhD degree in the Humanities or Social Sciences or the Arts;
  • outstanding research qualities manifested in a high-quality PhD dissertation and (preferably) international peer-reviewed publications;
  • demonstrable research experience with either work in the cultural field or ethnographic fieldwork therein;
  • excellent Italian;
  • excellent written and spoken English;
  • keen interest in critical, interdisciplinary research methods and approaches;
  • ability and willingness to work in a team;
  • willingness to travel abroad for conferences and workshops;
  • proven organizational, administrative and leadership skills;
  • social media skills is a plus.

Our offer

The selected Postdoc will be employed at the University of Amsterdam’s Faculty of Humanities within the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis. The employment contract will be for 30,4 hours per week (0,8 fte) for a period of 2 years. The intended starting date is 1 September 2020 or as soon as possible thereafter. The employment contract is initially for a period of 1 year, with an extension for up to 1 year contingent on a positive evaluation after 9 months. The gross monthly salary will range from €3,389 during the first year to €3,773 during the second year, depending on experience and qualifications, in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities

We are currently working on the assumption that this Postdoc project will start on 1 September 2020, or as soon as possible thereafter. However, we may need to delay the starting date if travel restrictions will still be in place, or foreseen for the near future, by mid-June 2020. Candidates still in the procedure will be duly informed.


For more information on the project, please contact:

  • Dr Chiara de Cesari

For practical questions, please contact:

  • Dr Eloe Kingma

Would you like to learn more about working at the University of Amsterdam? Visit our website.

Job application

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.

Please submit your application in a single PDF file (not zipped) via the CV button. Your application must consist of the following:

  1. a detailed letter of motivation, describing how you would approach this research project, your motivation for applying, and why you are an excellent candidate for the role (no more than 1,000 words);
  2. a full academic CV, including a list of publications;
  3. a summary of your PhD thesis (250-500 words);
  4. one relevant writing sample (totaling no more than 10,000 words);
  5. the names and contact details of two referees familiar with your academic record and research skills.

Shortlisted candidates may be requested to provide additional materials. Interviews are planned for 26 June, most likely via Skype.

Applications must be submitted via the link below. Deadline for applications is 31 May 2020.  #LI-DNP


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