2 Post-doc Positions in the project Remembering Activism The Cultural Memory of Protest in Europe (ReAct) (deadline 1 November 2018 )

The project Remembering Activism: The Cultural Memory of Protest in Europe is set to run at Utrecht University, the Netherlands, in the period 2019-2024. The project is funded by the European Research Council (ERC) and will be conducted at the Institute for Cultural Inquiry (ICON). Principal Investigator is Prof. Ann Rigney.

Mass demonstrations are newsworthy. But how are they remembered when they are no longer news? Social movements are usually studied in terms of their emergence and subsidence. Despite recognition that activists are ‘inspired’ by precedents, the afterlife of activism in story and image has never been systematically explored. ReAct claims that knowledge of this cultural memory is needed for a full understanding civil resistance.

The project will provide the first in-depth account of the remembering and forgetting of activism in Europe since the late 19th century. It will reveal continuities and changes in how protest has been depicted in different media regimes; demonstrate the role of texts, images, and commemorative practices in conveying the memory of protest to later generations; and show how this memory feeds back into later movements at home and abroad.

The project is designed around case studies from periods of heightened activism in Europe: 1871-1914; 1960-1970; 2011-2012. The different subprojects follow 3 intersecting lines of inquiry: mediation (what cultural frames have been used to turn activism into transferable knowledge?); afterlives (how has the memory of particular movements been culturally transmitted?); memoryscapes (how have later movements referenced earlier ones?).

ReAct effects a reorientation in cultural memory research: by developing analytic tools with which to capture the cultural transmission of hope, it aims to provide an alternative to the trauma-based models that currently dominate the field of cultural memory research. It will also open up a new area of social movement research by revealing hitherto neglected traditions of civic memory and how the latter is culturally produced. Outside of the academy, ReAct aims to provide critical literacies with which to rethink collective memory and identity in terms of active citizenship rather than ethnic-national grievances.

Appointments will start preferably on 1 February 2019 and by 1 June 2019 at the latest.

Post-doc 1: Images of Protest (24 months at 90%, beginning 1 February 2019)

Since the rise of the illustrated press after 1850, images have played an increasingly important role in the self-fashioning of protesters and in the media-reporting on their actions; digitization has led to a veritable explosion of images as well as a new capacity to bring older ones back into circulation. This project will investigate how the visual framing of protest has developed since the late nineteenth century. The aim is to examine visual representations of key episodes, establish continuities and changes in the scopic regimes that shape the interpretation of protest; and show how the memory of earlier events impacts on the visual framing of new events. In addition, the researcher will be expected to build up a database of images and further develop digital methodologies for analysing patterns in the production and recycling of images.

Post-doc  2:  Memoryscapes of Protest, 1965-68 (24 months at 90%, beginning 1 February 2019)

The aim of this project is to study comparatively the memoryscape of two different protest movements in the 1960s so as (1) to identify and compare their points of reference in the distant and more recent past; (2) to identify the entanglement between local and transnational memories; (3) to develop further methodologies for mapping memoryscapes that are transferable to different cases. The proposed focus of this comparative study are protest movements in Amsterdam (especially the Provo movement, 1965-67) and the West German Außerparlamentarische Opposition (APO; 1966-68). The comparative analysis between two youth-dominated movements should show which memories were mobilised at each location, establish the degree of overlap between the two memoryscapes, and explain communalities and differences.

Your tasks as a Post-doc will include:

  • completion of the assigned research task;
  • regular presentation of intermediate research results at workshops and conferences;
  • publication of at least 4 substantial articles in journals or edited volumes;
  • co-editing of collective work;
  • coaching PhD candidates;
  • co-organisation of project workshops and conferences;
  • participation in all project-related activities, including outreach activities.


  • max. 34 hours per week
  • €2972—€3190 per month


  • a (soon to be completed) PhD degree in a relevant discipline (a.o. Literary and Cultural Studies, Cultural History, Art History);
  • demonstrable academic excellence;
  • demonstrable affinity with cultural memory studies and/or social movement studies;
  • demonstrable affinity with digital humanities (PD 1 and PD 2) and with visual analysis (PD 1);
  • skills in searching archives as well as in interpreting cultural artefacts and practices;
  • excellent English, academic writing and presentation skills;
  • ability to read primary source materials in the languages relevant to the particular subproject;
  • ability to meet deadlines and work both as an independent researcher and as a team member;
  • good organisational, social and communication skills.

Conditions of employment
Two post-doc positions are offered at 0.9 FTE each. Appointments are initially for a period of 6 months. Upon good performance, the contract will be extended for another 18 months (two years in total). The salary – depending on previous qualifications and experience – ranges from €2,972 to €3,190 (scale 10 according to the Collective Employment Agreement of the Dutch Universities) gross per month for a full-time employment.

Salaries are supplemented with a holiday bonus of 8% and an end-of-the-year allowance of 8.3% per year. In addition, Utrecht University offers excellent secondary conditions, including an attractive retirement scheme, (partly paid) parental leave and flexible employment conditions. You will find here more information about working at Utrecht University.

A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University, the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major societal themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Sustainability.

The Faculty of Humanities has around 6,000 students and 900 staff members. It is made up of four departments: Philosophy and Religious Studies, History and Art History, Media and Culture Studies, and Languages, Literature, and Communication. Enthusiastic and committed faculty members and excellent amenities in the historical city centre of Utrecht, where the faculty is housed, make for an inspiring working environment.

Members of the ReAct team will be attached to the Research Institute for Cultural Inquiry (ICON) and to the Department of Languages, Literature, and Communication (TLC)

For more information, please contact Prof. A. Rigney.
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