Department: Antwerp Research Institute for the Arts

Regime: Full-time

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The Antwerp Research Institute for the Arts in the Faculty of Arts is looking for a full-time (100%) doctoral candidate in the fields of cultural history, the history of science and performance.

The PhD candidate will work in the framework of in an interdisciplinary ERC project called “Science at the Fair: Performing Knowledge and Technology in Western Europe, 1850-1914”, coordinated by Prof. Nele Wynants. The EU-funded SciFair project will perform pioneering research on the role itinerant show people played in the dissemination of information about scientific and technological advances at fairs in North-Western Europe between 1850 and 1914. The project is based on the hypothesis that fairs during this period were not only local folk events but also centres of international exchange. SciFair will engage a multilingual and multidisciplinary team to analyse practices of science performance across national frontiers and map transnational networks of scientific entertainment. For more information and other available vacancies, see:

The PhD candidate will work on a subproject, entitled Performances of the Otherworldly, Supernatural Science at the Fair in North-Western Europe (1850-1920). The candidate will investigate areas of exchange and confrontation between scientists and fairground entertainment in the realm of the supernatural such as mediums communicating with the dead, electric girls, sleepwalkers and seers. The project aims to advance an interpretation of the ways in which supernatural phenomena were framed, with a focus on identifying various attempts to scientifically explore and explain the supernatural. In addition, the project studies these attractions as fora for social ambitions of solidarity, women's rights, education and egalitarianism.

The PhD student will be supported by two supervisors and a postdoctoral researcher.


  • You will work actively on the preparation and defence of a PhD thesis in the fields of cultural history, and the history of science and performance.
  • Your research will be conducted within the framework of the EU-funded SciFair project.
  • You will publish scientific articles related to the research project. These publications can be co-authored with other project members.
  • You are involved in the valorisation program of the SciFair project, communicating the results to different target audiences (including the media and the public) and share the findings of your research at international academic conferences.
  • You participate in the research activities of the SciFair project, as well as related projects such as B-magic ( and relevant activities of ARIA.


  • You hold a Master degree in cultural history, theatre studies, media studies, art history (or an allied discipline) or you will have obtained it by the time you start work.
  • Students in the final year of their degree are also encouraged to apply.
  • You can demonstrate excellent study results. Previous academic work, publications and expertise will be taken into account.
  • You have an affinity for working with historical sources.
  • You are willing and able to work and communicate within a broader team of international researchers.
  • You are willing to occasionally conduct research in archives abroad.
  • You can speak and write fluently in English.
  • You have a good command of at least two of the following languages: French, Dutch and/or German.
  • You act with attention to quality, integrity, creativity, and cooperation.
  • Your research qualities are in line with the faculty and university research policies.

What we offer

  • We offer a doctoral scholarship for a period of two years. Following a positive evaluation, the scholarship can be renewed for another two years.  
  • The planned starting date is 1 February 2022 or as soon as possible after that date.
  • Your monthly scholarship amount is calculated according to the scholarship amounts for doctoral scholarship holders on the pay scales for Contract Research Staff (Dutch: Bijzonder Academisch Personeel, BAP).
  • You will do most of your work at UAntwerp City Campus in a dynamic and stimulating working environment.
  • Find out more about working at the University of Antwerp here.

Want to apply?

  • You can apply for this vacancy through the University of Antwerp’s online job application platform up to and including 15 November 2021 (by midnight Brussels time). Click on the 'Apply' button, complete the online application form and be sure to include the following attachments: (1) a motivation letter, including a statement explaining your motivation for this particular project, (2) your academic CV with Bachelor and Master qualification (including grades or marks), (3) a writing sample (excerpt from your Master's thesis, paper, article, etc.), (4) a reference letter (e.g. from your thesis supervisor)
  • The selection committee will review all of the applications as soon as possible after the application deadline.
  • Shortlisted candidates, selected to take part in interviews, will be notified by 1 December 2021. The interviews will take place on 15 December 2021. Candidates will be expected to propose a research plan based on the proposed subproject at the interview.
  • If you have any questions about the online application form, please check the frequently asked questions or send an email to If you have any questions about the job itself, please contact Prof. Nele Wynants: .

The University of Antwerp received the European Commission’s HR Excellence in Research Award for its HR policy. We are a sustainable, family-friendly organisation which invests in its employees’ growth. We encourage diversity and attach great importance to an inclusive working environment and equal opportunities, regardless of gender identity, disability, race, ethnicity, religion or belief, sexual orientation or age. We encourage people from diverse backgrounds and with diverse characteristics to apply.