PhD in Afro-Dutch Jazz, Improvisation and Decolonisation (1.0 FTE)
- Hours per week:
- 38 to 40
- Faculty of Humanities
- departement Media- en Cultuurwetenschappen
- Application deadline:
We are offering two fully-funded PhD positions to form part of the team for the project IMPRODECO: Improvised Music and Decolonisation:
- Position 1: PhD in Afro-Dutch Jazz, Improvisation and Decolonisation
- Position 2: PhD in Indo-Dutch Jazz, Improvisation and Decolonisation
This project is funded by a Starting Grant from the European Research Council, and will be led by Dr. Floris Schuiling. You will be based at Utrecht University, at the department of Media and Culture Studies and the Institute for Cultural Inquiry (ICON). The project team consists of the PI, two PhD candidates, a Postdoc, and a project assistant.
The project as a whole studies the emergence of free improvisation in Europe in the context of the historical process of decolonisation, with a particular focus on the Netherlands. European improvisers distinguished their so-called ‘non-idiomatic’ free improvisation from jazz and other improvisatory musical practices. At the same time, post-war decolonisation processes meant that more and more musicians from former European colonies were making their livelihoods in Europe, with sometimes very different perspectives on the relation between jazz, improvisation, and concepts of musical and political freedom. We investigate whether and to what extent dominant notions of improvisatory freedom have actually excluded the participation of musicians of colour.
To achieve this, the project has three central aims:
- to determine the extent to which conceptions of ‘non-idiomatic’ improvisation constituted a form of musical whiteness;
- to develop a novel understanding of musical idiom informed by postcolonial critique; and
- to describe the participation of postcolonial migrant musicians in post-war Dutch and broader Western-European jazz and improvised music.
As part of this last project goal, the two PhD candidates will describe the currently unwritten history of postcolonial migrant musicians and their role in post-war Dutch jazz and improvised music. One will focus on Afro-Dutch musicians (mostly from Suriname and the Dutch Caribbean), and one will focus on Indo-Dutch musicians from Indonesia.
The role of the PhD candidate (position 1) will be to describe the participation of Afro-Dutch musicians in Dutch jazz and improvised music. Afro-Dutch musicians have made important contributions to Dutch jazz history from the early twentieth century to the present day. Especially since around the time of Surinamese independence, musicians such as Ronald Snijders, Franky Douglas, and Glenn Gaddum have cultivated unique musical practices, drawing on jazz, funk, Caribbean and Latin-American music, free improvisation, and many other stylistic influences including Surinamese and Curaçaoan music. Through archival research, oral history, and musical analysis, the PhD candidate will describe how these musicians negotiated questions of genre, idiom, and freedom in their musical practice. Since this is a highly specific research topic, applicants have the opportunity to further design or expand on the sub-project based on their expertise, in consultation with the PI. Additional case studies or critical perspectives can be described in the applicant’s research proposal.
The ideal candidate has a (Research) Master’s degree in musicology, ethnomusicology, or another relevant discipline such as cultural anthropology, history, or cultural studies, with a demonstrable interest in jazz and/or postcolonial studies.
- You have an active command of English, being a native speaker or having either a Cambridge Certificate or equivalent at C1 level or a degree from an English-language university.
- You preferably have an active command of Dutch, or are willing to learn, as this will be necessary to work with historical sources.
- You have experience with archival research and/or oral history.
- You are able to work as an independent researcher, showing initiative, creativity and originality.
- You are able to work as part of a project team, participating collaboratively in events, training programmes, and project events, and you have good interpersonal and communication skills.
- People with a background in former Dutch colonies are particularly encouraged to apply.
You will be offered a temporary position (1.0 FTE), initially for 18 months with an extension to a total of four years upon a successful assessment in the first year, and with the specific intent that it results in a doctorate within this period. The gross salary ranges between €2,541 in the first year and €3,247 in the fourth year of employment (scale P according to the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities) per month for a full-time employment. Salaries are supplemented with a holiday bonus of 8% and a year-end bonus 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 (multiple choice model). For more information, please visit working at Utrecht University.
About the organisation
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 strategic themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Sustainability.
The Faculty of Humanities has around 7,000 students and 1,100 staff members. It comprises four knowledge domains: Philosophy and Religious Studies, History and Art History, Media and Culture Studies, and Languages, Literature and Communication. With its research and education in these fields, the Faculty aims to contribute to a better understanding of the Netherlands and Europe in a rapidly changing social and cultural context. The enthusiastic and committed colleagues and the excellent amenities in the historical city center of Utrecht, where the Faculty is housed, contribute to an inspiring working environment.
The Department of Media and Culture Studies supports teaching and research in the fields of film, television, games, new media and digital culture, theatre, dance and performance, gender and ethnicity, musicology and cultural policy. Culture is a dynamic mix of artistic, creative and everyday practices with which people shape their identities and actions, and within which societal structures and institutions take shape. Media (old and new) are crucial factors in these processes.
As PhD candidate you will be member of the Institute for Cultural Inquiry (ICON). ICON is one of the four research institutes of the Faculty of Humanities. The researchers are working in six different research fields. PhD candidates are also embedded in the Graduate School of Humanities, which offers seminars and courses to improve your academic skills.
For more information about this position, please contact Dr. Floris Schuiling (Assistant Professor), via email@example.com.
Everyone deserves to feel at home at our university. We welcome employees with a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives.
To apply, please send your application via the ‘apply’ button. The application package should include:
- a letter of motivation (1-2 pages) explaining why you are a good fit for the position;
- a full academic CV;
- a 1000-word research proposal, written in English, connecting to the project description given above, including a research plan for one of the two PhD projects, and possibly identifying additional case studies or critical perspectives, based on the applicant’s expertise;
- one or more writing samples in English (max. 40 pages in total), such as a thesis chapter, conference paper, or published writings;
- names and contact details of two referees, including your thesis advisor, who may be approached by the selection committee;
- a copy of your Master diploma and a copy of your full transcript listing subjects studied and grades received;
- proof of language proficiency according to the Utrecht University requirement (Cambridge or TOEFL, level C1).
Interviews are expected to be held in late April. The starting date for both PhD positions is 1 September 2023.
The application deadline is 31 March 2023.