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2 PhD candidates in Cultural Heritage and Popular Culture

Erasmus Universtiteit Rotterdam

Job description

Job description

We are looking for two highly motivated PhD candidates who consider it a challenge to conduct their PhD research in the context of a collaborative and interdisciplinary research project on the relation between war heritage and popular culture. The research program “War! Popular Culture and European Heritage of Major Armed Conflicts” is based on a collaboration between three research centres / networks at the ESHCC: the Centre for Historical Culture (CHC), the Erasmus Research Centre for Media, Communication and Culture (ERMeCC) and Erasmus Studio. As a PhD candidate you will have ample opportunity to collaborate with renowned academics affiliated with these centres.

Project description War!

Over the last decades major armed conflicts and wars in Europe – such as WW1, WW2 and the Cold War - have been commemorated in institutionalised ways, but their legacy is also increasingly remembered and sometimes celebrated in popular ways, crossing national boundaries in Europe. These popular initiatives vary from playing popular video games such as Brothers in Arms and Medal of Honor to the reenactment of complete scenes of war battles by enthusiastic ‘war fans’. No less important in this respect are staged 'real' battlefield experiences in war museums and the Liberation Route Europe where visitors are promised to encounter and ‘experience’ what happened during these dramatic events, as well as online portals giving access to individual testimonies/life-stories addressing war and trauma.
Not all of these initiatives are characterised by a strong awareness of moral and sensitive issues concerning violence and wars. Popular ways of dealing with the material and immaterial traces of major armed conflicts have evoked fierce public debates, mostly because of the risks of banalising and/or distorting history. These controversies reveal the growing contrast between the - often uncontrollable - popular initiatives and the institutionalised commemorative practices. The tensions between official commemoration and popularisation are at the heart of our research. We aim to investigate these tensions and to achieve a meaningful collaboration between government bodies, tourist industries, museums, heritage institutes, and educational organisations. The central research question is: How is the heritage of modern war history represented and appropriated in contemporary popular culture, and which modifications or additions can be advised to harmonize these appropriations with the requirements and principles of democratic historical and civic education?

This question will be answered in three research projects, including two PhD projects, focusing on Europe.



Research duties (80%)

  • Conducting PhD research within the framework of War!;
  • Contributing to the data collection and data analysis of these projects;
  • Publishing and presenting research results in the form of articles in international peer reviewed journals and papers at international conferences;
  • Writing a dissertation;
  • Defending the dissertation to complete the doctoral degree;
  • Performing organisational tasks in the context of CHC, ERMeCC and Erasmus Studio;
  • Taking part in seminars, workshops, etc. that are organised by the CHC, ERMeCC and Erasmus Studio

Teaching duties (20%)

  • Preparing and giving lessons within the context of the various degree programmes provided by the ESHCC;
  • Monitoring the literature and integrating new insight into the lessons;
  • Supervising and coaching students;
  • Pointing out possible improvements and integrating them into teaching methods and/or the content of the lessons given;
  • Contributing to the evaluation of the lessons, both in terms of structure and execution;
  • Participating in committees or working groups, as well as performing the designated organisational tasks.


  • A master’s degree in one of the social sciences or humanities;
  • A wide-ranging knowledge of and affinity with cultural history, the sociology of popular culture and with qualitative methods of social science research, such as textual analysis, interviewing and participant observation;
  • Proven affinity for qualitative empirical research, as evidenced by your master’s thesis, publications, research plans and other projects;
  • Didactic potential. Teaching experience at university level is considered an advantage;
  • A willingness to develop one’s knowledge and skills in various disciplines, to increase one’s ability to teach a wide range of subjects within the faculty’s degree programme;
  • Organisational experience and skills;
  • Proficiency in spoken and written English. Non-English speakers have to meet the C1-standards of the Common European Framework (CEF);
  • Proficiency in the Dutch language. International applicants are expected to acquire a passive understanding of the Dutch language within 1 year;
  • PhD Project 1 requires a profound gaming experience (a personal 'gamography').


Conditions of employment

Conditions of employment                                                           

Employment starts July 1, 2015. The initial contract will be running for a term of 1,5 years, which - depending on performance – will be extended with a second term of 2,5 years.

The conditions of employment correspond with the CAO Nederlandse Universiteiten (CAO NU). For the job of PhD Candidate (Promovendus) the salary amounts to a maximum of € 2.717,- (grade P) gross per month on a 38 hour per week contract. 

The EUR has attractive employment conditions, which include a holiday allowance of 8.0%, an end-of-year bonus of 8.3% and 41 annual vacation days in case of a full workweek.  

Contract type: Temporary, 1.5 yrs up to 4 yrs



Erasmus University Rotterdam

The expertise of Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) is concentrated in the fields of  Business Administration,  Economics, Medicine and Health Sciences, Law, Social Sciences, History, Culture and Communication, and Philosophy. In addition to the initial degree programmes and scientific research, the University offers specific postgraduate study programmes and courses. Erasmus University has around 25,000 students and some 2,700 staff members.



Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communcation (ESHCC)

The Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication  includes the Departments of Media and Communication, Arts and Culture Studies, and History at Erasmus University. The ESHCC is home to more than 1.000 students and some 120 staff members.


Additional information

Vacancies for two PhD projects

PhD Project 1 Games set in war-devastated European (urban) landscapes

This project focuses on historical gaming: the phenomenon of gamers playing games representing – or otherwise referring to – violent conflicts of the 20th century history which took place throughout Europe, in cities like Arnhem or Sarajevo. The increasing importance of gaming as a leisure activity and the large share of historical games available indicate a strong presence of these past conflicts in popular culture. The diversity of gamers (not only in terms of gender and age) and games (covering a wide variety of historical conflicts) deserve more scholarly attention in order to establish the roles played by these visual and virtual representations in contemporary historical culture. What outlook on war do these games offer? What are the actual experiences of these gamers and how do gamers identify with the urban landscapes that function as theatres of war on their screen? How does gaming relate to other ways in which people nowadays encounter the past and how can various types of games generate and stimulate critical awareness of the past? How is the immersive activity of gaming connected to the idea of experiencing the past, a widespread expectation across participants in today’s leisure society?

This project will study the three most popular commercial video games on modern war (large scale conflicts from 1939 onwards) as well as three political online games on contemporary armed conflicts. ‘High potentiality’ will define the main selection criterion, as the most popular games will offer the richest and most diverse data. The principal research question consists of three elements: How are the histories of various wars and their heritage represented in games? How are these virtual representations experienced and appropriated by various gaming communities in an increasingly transnational world? And to what degree do these representations and experiences have an educational meaning: do they meet the requirements and principles of a democratic historical and civic education, and in what ways can gaming be reconciled with more institutionalised historical culture?

PhD Project 2 Visiting War Sites

This project focuses on war tourism: the phenomenon of people traveling to locations because of their association with major armed conflicts. In the last decades this type of tourism has witnessed a remarkable growth. Not only do established heritage institutions welcome more and more visitors, but also a broad variety of individual and collective popular initiatives has emerged that create personalized experiences of European war history all over the continent. Why are so many contemporary tourists attracted by these locations? Although the fascination for images of war and the effects of seeing violence have gained attention within cultural history and media studies, little is known about the growing popularity of experiencing the physical remnants of war history ‘in situ’, and the role and importance of these tourist activities for those involved. While some of the tourists might be interested in visiting the well-known landmarks of a collective (trans-) national history, other tourists – such as veterans or survivors of specific (ethnic) groups of victims - will be driven by more personal reasons.

The principal research question is: How is war history being represented, experienced and commemorated on tourist sites and graveyards, and how are these tourist activities related to both cultural and individual processes of remembering and coping with the heritage of war? This question is divided into three lines of inquiry: first, the representation of war history and death on tourist sites; second, the motivation, experience and evaluation of these tourist sites by its visitors; and third, the role of remembrance and trauma in these activities. These questions will be answered by focusing on three major hallmarks of 20th century war history: World War One, World War Two and the Yugoslav Wars. These conflicts have explicitly been chosen because they can be considered as Europe’s most violent and well-known transnational conflicts that possess a fundamental position in Europe’s collective memory. 

Additional information
Additional information can be obtained through one of the following links:

Centre for Historical Culture

The Centre for Historical Culture (CHC) was established in 2006 to advance the visibility and impact of research conducted by its members. The Centre initiates, coordinates and produces academic research on historical culture, and collaborates with museums, heritage institutes and educational institutes.

About the Centre for Historical Culture

Erasmus Research Centre for Media, Communication and Culture (ERMeCC)
The Erasmus Research Centre for Media, Communication and Culture (ERMeCC) is a vibrant, internationally oriented research centre within the Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication which serves as the main base for researchers in Media, Communication and Culture at Erasmus.

About the Erasmus Research Centre in Media, Communication and Culture

 Erasmus Studio

Erasmus Studio is a network institute headed by a full professor that carries out a research programme around the role of research data for a series of scholarly themes with participation of several EUR groups.

About the Erasmus Studio

 Additional information about vacancy 1 can be obtained from prof. Kees Ribbens (; additional information about vacancy 2 can be obtained from prof. Stijn Reijnders (  

The above content was sourced from:

SUBMITTED BY: admin admin AUTHOR: Erasmus Universiteit RotterdamORIGINAL PUBLISHED DATE: 2/9/2015


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