Jobs: 2 PhD Researchers for ERC Project “Charting the Digital” at Utrecht University

2 PhD Researchers ERC Project “Charting the Digital”

Utrecht University, The Netherlands
Faculty of Humanities

Salary starts at € 2,042.- and increases to € 2,612.- gross per month in the fourth year of the appointment
Respond before 01-04-2012

Job description

Two PhD positions are now available as part of the European Research Council (ERC) funded project “Charting the Digital: Digital Mapping Practices as New Media Cultures.”

The key objective of this research programme is to investigate to what extent and how digital maps can be considered as new techno-cultural phenomena that have altered our way of being in and moving through our spatial environments. Digital maps allow a greater degree of interaction between users and mapping interfaces than analogue maps do. Instead of just reading maps, users have far more influence on how maps look. Whether a navigation device that adjusts its route-display according to where the driver chooses to go, or a map in a computer-game that is partly created by players, maps have become more interactive and are now co-produced by their users.

This project works from the notion that digital mapping always takes place via interfaces. As the term already indicates, interfaces facilitate interaction between map and user. However, this study will not view interfaces as empty vessels that let this interaction ‘come to pass’ but as material signs that are inscribed with socio-spatial ‘programs of action’ (Latour 1999,1993).

The main task of the students will be to contribute to a critical inventory of the corpus of digital mapping practices that exist, by analysing and comparing them through this theoretical lens. The candidates will focus on how interfaces as technological artefacts act as such mediators – creating and prescribing links between users and spaces – and how they compare in this respect. The aim is to look for similarities and differences between various kinds of digital mapping interfaces in terms of what spaces they produce and connect.

For their dissertation both students will concentrate on one kind of mapping interface, that will be analysed and compared in more detail, as representing an important point in the overall spectrum of digital mapping interfaces. It will be essential that the students are able to situate this case in this broader spectrum, which requires a firm theoretical and interdisciplinary understanding of the role that digital media play in daily life.


Candidates with a strong background in New Media Studies, Science and Technologies Studies (STS) or Human Geography who are interested in crossing disciplinary boundaries are encouraged to apply. The positions will be available to applicants on a competitive basis and who, in their research proposal, can clearly demonstrate the academic excellence that is relevant to the project.

Apply Please send with your application a letter of motivation, a curriculum vitae, your research proposal (in English and not exceeding 1000 words) and the contact details of at least two references.

Additional information

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