Postdoctoral Researcher Authenticity, Cultural Mediation, and Consumption

Faculty/Services:  Faculty of Humanities
Educational level:  Promoted
Function type:  Academic Staff
Closing date:  31 August 2022
Vacancy number:  9258



The Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA) currently has a vacant Postdoc position as part of the ERC-funded research project Fashioning Power through South-South Interaction: Re-thinking Creativity, Authenticity, Cultural Mediation and Consumer Agency along China-Africa Fashion Value Chains, led by main researcher dr. Tommy Tse. 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


This Postdoc position is embedded in the ERC-funded research project Fashioning Power through South-South Interaction: Re-thinking Creativity, Authenticity, Cultural Mediation and Consumer Agency along China-Africa Fashion Value Chains. The aims of the project are 1) to move beyond a Western-centric epistemology to map the chains, restraints and materialities of China’s power expansion through everyday fashion; 2) to collect and triangulate empirical information along complete South-South commodity chains through multi-sited ethnography, semiotic and visual analysis, individual and focus group interviews, wardrobe archival studies, and other digital methods; and 3) to provide evidence of how Chinese-African fashion industries impact upon the social, cultural, economic and affective lives of Eastern African consumers in the context of increasing globalisation, digitalisation, consumerism, and China’s ambition abroad.


While the ERC-funded research as a whole will use an assortment of research methods to map out the (1) production, (2) trade, (3) retail, and (4) consumption processes of fashion products along the China-Africa fashion value chains, the Postdoc researcher – focussing on one of the four subprojects – will primarily focus on the third stage (retail) and work closely with a PhD researcher (fourth stage, consumption) in the fieldsites, and the main researcher (dr. Tommy Tse).


The Postdoc’s research includes the following:


  • Conducting ethnography in key fashion marketplaces in Nairobi, Kenya and Maputo, Mozambique in his/her second and third year of research (the fieldsites are primarily based in Nairobi and Maputo, but may also extend to other cities in Kenya and Mozambique following the full fashion value chains).
  • Building rapports and carrying out formal interviews and informal dialogues with various actors (e.g. wholesalers, retailers, salespersons, consumers), observing their everyday work procedures, work conditions and online-and-offline social interactions with others, and partaking in both their work-related and leisure activities.
  • Joining the full research team for a short multi-sited ethnographic visit to China (Guangdong) in his/her third year of research.


Your tasks and responsibilities:

  • Conducting research and publishing three peer-reviewed journal articles within the period of appointment;
  • Completing a monograph within the period of appointment;
  • Setting up and managing project data (while taking into consideration the project’s risk analysis, and complying to its data management plan);
  • Participating in the meetings of the project, and closely collaborating with the main researcher, 1 other Postdoc researcher, and 2 other PhDs;
  • Assisting with knowledge dissemination and with the organization of project workshops, conferences and a creative exhibition;
  • Presenting research results at national and international workshops and conferences;
  • Contributing to the content of the project website with your research findings.


What do we require


You are passionate about developing innovative strategies for combining humanities and social science research of fashion, media and culture. You are interested in media and cultural theory, non-Western fashion and its connections to current debates on China’s global power and cross-cultural exchange. In addition, you have a social and cooperative attitude, and you thrive in a team setting. You are curious and open-mined towards research traditions you are less familiar with.


Your experience and profile:

  • A relevant PhD degree in the Humanities or Social Sciences, on a topic relevant to the project, completed no later than 31 March 2023. You may apply if you have not yet completed your PhD degree only if you provide a signed letter from your supervisor stating that you will graduate before 31 March 2023.
  • Outstanding research qualities manifested in strong transcripts, a high-quality PhD dissertation and peer-reviewed academic publications.
  • Demonstrable knowledge and experience of the following research methods: ethnography; participant observation; interviews; narrative, semiotic and visual analysis; wardrobe study.
  • Demonstrable experience working with theoretical frameworks, and a keen interest in the research fields central to the project: media and cultural studies, fashion studies, consumption studies, South-South relations, and African studies.
  • Excellent written and spoken English (IELTS certificate of qualification 7.0 or higher), a high-level of proficiency in Portuguese and Mandarin, and a basic understanding of Cantonese.
  • 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.


Experience with digital research methods and knowledge in Kiswahili will be a plus.


Our offer


The PhD researcher will be appointed at the Media Studies department of the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Amsterdam and will conduct the research at the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis. The first temporary contract will be for one year, with an extension for two years, contingent on a positive performance evaluation within the first 12 months. The employment contract is for 38 hours (1,0 fte) a week. The preferred starting date is 1 April 2023.


The gross monthly salary, based on 38 hours per week and relevant experience, ranges between €3,561 to €5,230. This sum does not include the 8% holiday allowance and the 8,3% year-end allowance. A favourable tax agreement, the ‘30% ruling’, may apply to non-Dutch applicants. The Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities is applicable.


What else do we offer

  • Excellent possibilities for further professional development and education.
  • An enthusiastic, inspiring and professional academic team in the centre of Amsterdam.
  • The opportunity to collaborate with leading researchers at research institutes that – partly as a result of their interdisciplinary approach – are world renowned.


About us


The University of Amsterdam (UvA) is the Netherlands' largest university, offering the widest range of academic programmes. At the UvA, 30,000 students, 6,000 staff members and 3,000 PhD candidates study and work in a diverse range of fields, connected by a culture of curiosity.


The Faculty of Humanities provides education and conducts research with a strong international profile in a large number of disciplines in the 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. Its Media Studies Department, which hosts this project, is ranked 1st in the 2022 QS World University Rankings in Communication & Media Studies for the fifth year in a row.


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




Do you have any questions, or do you require additional information?

  • Contact dr. Tommy Tse:
  • For practical questions, contact dr. Eloe Kingma (


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. The deadline for applying for this vacancy is 31 August 2022, 23:59 CEST.


Applications should include the following information (submitted in one pdf file):

  • A letter, motivating your reasons for applying, and detailing why you are an excellent candidate for the position (no more than 1,000 words).
  • 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 (e.g. photography, art and design), teaching and curriculum design experiences, if applicable.
  • Transcripts of your PhD degree, and of your Master’s (or equivalent) degree.
  • The names and contact details of two referees familiar with your academic record and research skills, including your PhD thesis advisor. They may also be approached by the selection committee.
  • For non-native English speakers: IELTS certificate or equivalent.
  • Only complete applications received within the response period via the link below will be considered.


The interviews will be held over Zoom on 30 September/14 October 2022 (tentative).



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.


If you encounter Error GBB451, reach out to our HR Department directly. They will gladly help you continue your application.


No agencies please.