Job: Postdoctoral position at Cardiff University on Synthetic Pasts project

Call for Applications

Postdoctoral Research Associate
School of Journalism, Media and Culture at Cardiff University
Synthetic Pasts project
Cardiff, Wales, UK

Application deadline: June 2, 2024

An exciting opportunity has arisen for a postdoctoral Research Associate to join the School of Journalism, Media and Culture at Cardiff University to work on the Synthetic Pasts project. Synthetic Pasts is funded by the Leverhulme Trust to investigate automated and algorithmic processes designed to change the structure and behaviour of images from the past, offering them new kinds of ‘afterlife’. More information about Synthetic Pasts can be found on the project website:

The RA will join the team to conduct research within digital media, digital culture and digital heritage studies. They should have established expertise in one or more of these areas, and an interest in emerging technologies and AI.

This post is part-time (21 hours per week), and is fixed term for two years, starting on 1st September 2024. The deadline for applications is 2nd June.

If you have any queries feel free to get in touch with Jenny Kidd at kiddjc2@CARDIFF.AC.UK

About Synthetic Pasts

Synthetic Pasts is a critical-creative inquiry into what future(s) for personal and collective memory our algorithmic present anticipates and paves the way for. It explores how fragments from the past – photos or audio recordings of our deceased relatives for example – are remediated/animated through algorithmic systems, and with what consequences for how we remember and commemorate. The creation of unanticipated ‘afterlives’ in the present has ethical, emotional, and political dimensions, and it is crucial that we critically examine these unprecedented processes, as well as the socio-technical infrastructures and platforms that enable and encourage them (for example, genealogy sites, Amazon, OpenAI and Google).

For the first time, the project explores how the ‘resurrection’ of our ancestors and public figures in this way (1) affords new networked, technological, temporal, spatial and affective realities for archival materials, and (2) impacts individual, collective, and cultural memory work as a consequence.

Synthetic Pasts speaks to a range of pressing concerns about what futures our uses of AI will facilitate, what ethical challenges these systems suggest in the present, and how our relationship to the past is oriented and experienced. It bridges from Digital Memory and Heritage Studies to Critical Algorithm Studies in order to explore these developments and their socio-/mnemo-technical implications. Through a series of work packages, the project creates and interrogates original datasets, offering unique insights in a nascent interdisciplinary research field. It will result in a range of outputs, including a book and the project website.


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