iamhist

Fully funded PhD position at the University of Antwerp

Fully funded PhD position at the Visual Studies and Media Culture Research Group (ViSMeC) of the University of Antwerp

Digital images have today, in many parts of the world, become ubiquitous. We consume and produce them daily through our computers, smart-pads and mobile phones. Yet, to what extent do such practices intervene upon the politics of our everyday lives? Can digital-imaging practices really help us constructing a more just world? And, more specifically, can digital images help bringing about instances of empowerment among marginalized individuals and groups?
If you are interested in conducting in-depth, transnational research on these topics then consider applying for the fully funded PhD position at the Visual Studies and Media Culture Research Group (ViSMeC) of the University of Antwerp.
Research will be conducted within the framework of the project “Defying Social Invisibility: A Transnational Study of Empowerment And Social Intervention in the Field of Contemporary Digital Imaging Practices” a transnational ethnography-based project focusing on Belgium, South Africa and India.

The Project
Digital images filter today most of our experiences of ourselves and of the world surrounding us. We consume them daily through our computers and mobile phones and, given in particular the spread of latest-generation mobile phones, we also constantly produce them. It is estimated that every day 6.7 billion people view the world through their own lens. Despite their ubiquitous character digital images are, however, conventionally approached as a matter of entertainment detached from the material and social conditions of our lives. Questioning such stances, this study looks at digital imaging as an instrument of empowerment and social intervention. Focusing on a number of image-based projects in Belgium, India and South Africa that aim to combat social marginalization in the fields of respectively youth, urban poverty and HIV-AIDS, the study explores the manifold ways in which digital images can actually bring about change. The innovative aspect of this study is that it addresses questions of digital empowerment though a specific attention to images, a language with enormous potential to favour communication across boundaries of language and culture. The study will also give birth to an integrated methodological model for the study of digital imaging at global level in which participant-observation, interviews, audio-visual recordings and digital ethnography will be integrated into a coherent whole.

The Team
This research project is funded by the Research Foundation Flanders (FWO) and supervised by Dr. Paolo Favero (visual anthropologist) and Dr. Luc Pauwels (visual sociologist). The research project will be embedded within the Visual Studies and Media Culture Research Group (ViSMeC).

The Tasks
Conducting ethnographic fieldwork abroad for a period of approximately 12 months in total in two or more of the following countries: Belgium, India and South Africa.
Writing and completing a PhD dissertation within four years.
Actively participating in the activities of the Visual Studies and Media Culture Research Group (ViSMeC) and the Dept. of Communication Studies.
Collaborating with the team in research and publications.
Participating in conferences, workshops, seminars and other scholarly activities.
The Candidate’s Profile
A Master’s degree in Anthropology, Sociology, Communication Studies, Urban Studies, Social and Cultural Geography (or any other degree relevant to the project) and preferably with distinction.
Interest in research and ability to work both independently and in team.
Interest in the use of image-making and digital technologies as research tools. Previous experience in these fields will be considered a plus.
A high standard of spoken and written English is required.
Relevant experience in one or more of the countries described in the project and strong qualitative research skills will be considered a plus.
Master students in their final year may also apply.

The offer
> A full-time PhD scholarship starting on 1 October 2014. The appointment is initially for one year, but renewable for three (so four years in total to complete a PhD).
> A dynamic and stimulating work environment of experienced scholars, post docs and PhD candidates.
> A very competitive gross monthly salary of minimally € 2.124,11 (= approx. € 1.860 net income).

To apply send:
> a CV
> a short motivation letter (max. 1 page).
> a reference letter.
> one proof of your writing skills (paper, article or thesis) preferably in one of the fields addressed by the project.
and, importantly, a preliminary sketch (approx. 2 pages) of the project that you would like to realize for your PhD. This sketch must be approximately 2 pages long and focus on some of the topics, areas and fields described above. If you have concrete examples of projects, associations, artists etc. working in these fields do please mention them as to make your proposal more concrete.
These materials have to be sent to Prof. Paolo Favero (paolo.favero@uantwerpen.be) and Prof. Luc Pauwels (luc.pauwels@uantwerpen.be).
To facilitate our job kindly write “Application for PhD position in Digital Imaging and Empowerment” in the subject of your e-mail.
For questions kindly contact: paolo.favero@uantwerpen.be

Deadline
18th June 2014.

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