CfA: PhD-researcher “The embarrassment of riches? Inequality and the Dutch material culture. Amsterdam, 1581-1780”

Call for applications, deadline 15 July 2021

Department: Department of History
Regime Full-time

We are looking for a PhD-researcher for 4 years. Your research is part of the FWO-project “The embarrassment of riches? Inequality and the Dutch material culture. Amsterdam, 1581-1780”

The project

At present, the historical study of social inequality ranks high on the research agenda, and in the past years our knowledge of changing income and wealth inequality has progressed significantly. The major ambition of this project is to contribute to a more balanced multidimensional view on social inequality by studying the material inequality in “Golden Age” Amsterdam. In so doing we will contribute to a deeper understanding of one of the critical transition periods in the history of European material culture. Recent historiography has credited the Dutch society of the seventeenth century for its pivotal role in the genesis of a new, allegedly more modern consumer culture. Thanks to the influence of the urban middling layers of society, the argument goes, the very nature of consumption changed in this era & area. When it comes to ‘material culture’ in the Netherlands luxury consumption is thought to have emancipated from conspicuous consumption, a luxury model which traditionally was associated with highly unequal societies. Rather than reproducing social inequalities, which 'old luxury' consumer patterns did, the ‘new luxuries’ targeted the middling sort of people and served multiple goals such as comfort, pleasure, respectability. This project is the first major attempt to empirically verify this hypothesis on Dutch urban consumerism by explicitly linking it to debates on social and economic inequality.

The research network

The project is firmly grounded in interuniversity cooperation. While the University of Antwerp, the Centre for Urban History is the main host Institution (Bruno Blondé), the collaboration includes the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Wouter Ryckbosch), Utrecht University (Maarten Prak), as well as MIT – Massachusetts Institute for Technology (Anne McCants).

Job description

  • You prepare a joint doctoral thesis (with the Vrije Universiteit Brussel) on the history of material culture and consumption inequality in early modern Amsterdam
  • You enroll in the PhD Training Program of the N.W.Posthumus-Institute
  • You will publish scientific articles/book chapters related to the research project. These publications can be co-authored with other researchers.
  • You participate in the activities of Aipril (The Antwerp Interdisciplinary Platform for Research into Inequality), HOST (Vrije Universiteit Brussel), the Centre for Urban History & the Urban Studies Institute of the University of Antwerp.

Profile and requirements

  • You hold a master degree in history
  • Students in the final year of their degree are encouraged to apply as well
  • You are attracted to both, quantitative and qualitative research methods
  • You have the potential and the willingness to become an autonomous researcher
  • Experience in the field of economic and/or social history of the medieval, early modern or modern period is recommended.
  • You are fluent in academic English and Dutch
  • You are looking forward to work with original sources and improve your palaeographic skills
  • You can submit outstanding academic results
  • You are quality-oriented, conscientious, creative and cooperative
  • You are open minded and cooperative
  • You have strong communication skills
  • Your academic qualities comply with the requirements stipulated in the university’s policy

 What we offer

  • We offer a fully-funded 4-year Phd-Scholarship position
  • 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 the UAntwerp City Campus in the dynamic and stimulating working environment of the Centre for Urban History
  • You will spend at least 6 months at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel
  • The research also implies research stays in Utrecht and Amsterdam
  • The planned start date is 1 October 2021 (or later).

Want to apply?

  • You can apply for this vacancy through the University of Antwerp’s online job application platform up to and including 15 July 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, (2) your academic CV with Bachelor and Master qualification (including grades or marks), (3) a separate statement explaining your motivation for the relevant vacancy and (4) a pdf version of your MA-thesis (if already available).
  • The selection committee will review all of the applications as soon as possible after the application deadline. As soon as a decision has been made, we will inform you about the next steps in the selection procedure.
  • 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.dr. Bruno Blondé ( 

Because of the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis, we need to be flexible in this hiring procedure. If we can assist in any way or should be made aware of certain issues that affect your application, please let us know as soon as possible so we can take these into account.

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.