We are offering a 1,5 year postdoc position (0,8 fte) for an outstanding and highly motivated researcher who will be part of the Netherlands-subproject in the Trans-Atlantic Partnership funded project, Worlding Public Cultures: The Arts and Social Innovation. This Netherlands- subproject is jointly led by Prof. dr. Wayne Modest (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam/VU) and  dr. Chiara de Cesari (Universiteit van Amsterdam/UvA). There will be two postdoc researchers in this subproject, one based at the VU and one based at the UvA, working on these topics from different perspectives. The subproject explores institutional change in relation to the conceptual framing of the overall project (see below). In looking at “worlding and/as decolonization,” it focuses on projects and processes of institutional decolonization and especially transformations in the Global South, including artists and activists’ ongoing efforts to decolonize museums. The project will address questions such as: where have these decolonizing practices emerged and thrived? Under what conditions have they emerged? How do they operate and who pushes them through? What are the conditions necessary for their success? What artistic, activist, and curatorial strategies are being mobilized to change institutions in response to the question of enduring colonial legacies?

The successful candidate will be embedded within the department of Art & Culture, History, and Antiquity (AHA), Faculty of Humanities, the interfaculty Research Institute for Culture, History and Heritage (CLUE+) and within national and international research networks and schools.

Your duties

Working together in an interdisciplinary team, the postdoc will:

  • collect data on different projects aiming to decolonize museums and cultural institutions
  • assist in organizing the Amsterdam Academy, multi-sited international workshop/conference that will take place over several days, that will include project partners, as well as diverse global participants including artists, academics and activists (expected to take place in November 2020) so as to help it address the project themes
  • write up research findings in a fieldwork report
  • complete and submit a significant body of writing for publication within the period of the appointment
  • contribute to developing a published paper on best practices with respect to decolonial themes
  • contribute to the Platform’s collaborative Book Series project
  • contribute to the content of the project website


  • a PhD degree in the Humanities or Social Sciences or the Arts
  • outstanding research qualities and demonstrable research experience manifested in a high-quality PhD dissertation and publications
  • keen interest in critical, interdisciplinary research methods and approaches
  • excellent written and spoken English
  • social media skills
  • proven organizational, administrative and leadership skills
  • ability and willingness to work in a team
  • experience with work in the arts and culture is a plus

What are we offering? 

The employment contract will be for 0,8 fte for a period of 1,5 year. The intended starting date is 1 September 2020 or as soon as possible thereafter. On a full-time basis the remuneration amounts to a minimum gross monthly salary of €3,389 (scale 10) and a maximum of €4,978 (scale 11), Dependent on relevant experience the job profile is Researcher 4 (scale 10) or Researcher 3 (scale 11).

Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:

  • a maximum of 41 days of annual leave based on full-time employment
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus
  • solid pension scheme (ABP)
  • contribution to commuting expenses
  • optional model for designing a personalized benefits package

About Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

The ambition of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is clear: to contribute to a better world through outstanding education and ground-breaking research. We strive to be a university where personal development and commitment to society play a leading role. A university where people from different disciplines and backgrounds collaborate to achieve innovations and to generate new knowledge. Our teaching and research encompass the entire spectrum of academic endeavour – from the humanities, the social sciences and the natural sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 26,000 students. We employ over 4,600 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible and located in the heart of Amsterdam’s Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.


We are an inclusive university community. Diversity is one of our most important values. We believe that engaging in international activities and welcoming students and staff from a wide variety of backgrounds enhances the quality of our education and research. We are always looking for people who can enrich our world with their own unique perspectives and experiences.

Faculty of Humanities

The Faculty of Humanities links a number of fields of study: Language, Literature and Communication, Art & Culture, History, Antiquities and Philosophy. Our teaching and research focus on current societal and scientific themes: from artificial intelligence to visual culture, from urbanization to the history of slavery, from ‘fake news’ in journalism to communication in organizations. We strive to ensure small group sizes. Innovative education and interdisciplinary research are our hallmarks.

Working at the Faculty of Humanities means making a real contribution to the quality of leading education and research in an inspiring and personal work and study climate. We employ more than 250 staff members, and we are home to around 1,300 students.

Project Description – Worlding Public Cultures: The Arts and Social Innovation

The Trans-Atlantic Partnership funded project Worlding Public Cultures: The Arts and Social Innovation (WPC-TAP) is a collaborative research project and transnational platform that facilitates multipronged dialogues concerning the global in the arts and culture. As such, it puts forward an understanding of the globalized world as historically constituted by open-ended processes involving lived interrelations and interconnections. Bringing together universities and museums across the Atlantic, from Canada to the UK, The Netherlands, and Germany, Worlding Public Cultures sees art, art history, and curating as world-making and activating practices that imagine the global otherwise. By conducting research on and for institutions of public culture, this project endeavors to foster social innovation. In particular, it aims to contribute towards building more resilient public cultures and institutions so as to best address contemporary challenges to pluralist democracies and open pathways towards decolonizing “universal” narratives and epistemologies.


Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button and upload your curriculum vitae and cover letter until 28 June 2020.

Your application must consist of the following:

  1. a detailed letter of motivation, stating your motivation for applying, and why you are an excellent candidate for the role (no more than 750 words)
  2. a research proposal, detailing the countries, sites, institutions and movements in the Global South you propose to investigate as well as your research approach for how to tackle the project’s topics (no more than 1,000 words)
  3. a full academic CV, including a list of publications
  4. a summary of your PhD thesis (250-500 words)
  5. one relevant writing sample (totalling no more than 10,000 words)
  6. the names and contact details of two referees familiar with your academic record and research skills

Only complete applications received via the application button will be considered.

Shortlisted candidates may be requested to provide additional materials. Interviews are planned for 14 and 15 July, most likely digitally, for example via Zoom.

Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.

Vacancy questions

If you have any questions regarding this vacancy, you may contact:

Name: Prof. dr. Wayne Modest

Position: Professor of Material Culture and Critical heritage Studies

E-mail: w.a.h.modest@vu.nl


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