Vacancies: The PhD Council needs you!

The PhD Council needs you!

Due to a number of graduations, the RMeS PhD Council is looking for new members. The Council meets twice a year and organizes one network event each year. The Council represents the PhD community in the RMeS Advisory Board and gets to evaluate and discuss the direction of the Research School for Media Studies.

Joining the PhD Council is also a great way to get to know PhD’s from other universities in your field of study and broaden your network.

We are currently looking for new members of the Council from:

  • Radboud University Nijmegen
  • Utrecht University
  • VU University Amsterdam
  • University of Amsterdam
  • University of Leiden

Each of these universities has one seat in the PhD Council.

If you are interested in a position, or just want to ask some more questions, please let us know by sending an e-mail before February 28, with your name, current title of your PhD, and what year of your contract you are in, if applicable (no resume’s or motivation letters required) to

In the case of more than one applicant for a single position, the current PhD Council will select a council member from the candidates based on:

  1. Research subject (we aim to have council members from as wide a range of different areas of media studies as possible);
  2. Diversity (we aim to have a council that represents the PhD community as best as possible);
  3. Phase of PhD (ideally new members would be able to join the council for at least a year);
  4. Type of contract (we aim to have the council represent the different kinds of PhD’s in RMeS (inside/outside-PhD’s)).

We hope to hear from you.

RMeS PhD Council

RMeS Seminar: Exploring Death… and Ways to Live

Exploring Death… and Ways to Live
A RMeS Seminar On Contemporary Theory, Creativity, The Earth And Us.

Organized by Dr. Rick Dolphijn UU/HKU
featuring Rosi Braidotti, Susanne Winterling and others

When? February 2019, Exact dates see below
Utrecht University / University of Amsterdam
PhD Candidates and RMa Students

THE SEMINAR IS FULLY BOOKED, please send an e-mail to with your name, university and research school. We will put you on our waiting list.

Platform for Posthuman Ecologies and the Contemporary (post)-Humanities (Utrecht University) /Sonic Acts Festival
With the Research School or Media Studies (RMeS)

“I meant to write about death, only life came breaking in as usual.”

Virginia Woolf

At the interstices of contemporary philosophy and contemporary art, psychoanalysis and ecology, we get together for a triptych of events that explore the concepts of death and life differently. Leaving modernist and anthropocentric oppositions behind us, our aim is to explore how different ideas of death give rise to different forms of life, to how these concepts relate to the organic and the inorganic, to space and time. Doing these explorations, we keep asking ourselves how thinking death and life otherwise allows us to practice an affirmative politics worthy of the earth today. How is a necropolitics through art and theory offering us new tools to think our earth in pain and to be a valuable part of it? With a close reading session, a workshop with prominent guests and a festival visit and intervention, this RMeS seminar aims to map some key thoughts that relate to life and death from a posthuman perspective

February 14, 2019 | Utrecht University
Dr. Rick Dolphijn
Close Reading Session: Still Alive and Already Dead


  • Gilles Deleuze 2004 Painting Forces (from 56 to 64) in: Francis Bacon; the Logic of Sensation.
  • Continuum.
  • Michel Serres 1995 Dream (from 123 to 139) in: Genesis. University of Michigan Press.

February 21, 2019 | University of Amsterdam
Rosi Braidotti, Rick Dolphijn and Susanne Winterling
Workshop: a Necropolitics of Life


  • Braidotti, Rosi (2019) excerpts from Posthuman Knowledge
  • Dolphijn, Rick (2018) The world, the mat(t)er of thought. In Michel Serres and the Crises of the Contemporary. Bloomsbury
  • Serres, Michel, Janina Pigaht and Rick Dolphijn (2018) A new culture to suit the world. In Michel Serres and the Crises of the Contemporary. Bloomsbury
  • Yazdani, Sara Elina Rundgren; Winterling, Susanne M. (2015) New Forms of Life: The Physicality and Poetics of Pictures. Objektiv. Tidskrift for kamerabasert kunst.

February 22, 2019
Sonic Acts Festival
Rethinking Death… and Ways to Live


The [urban interfaces] graduate seminar 2018-2019

The Right to the City & Urban Commons

Outline for the 2019 [urban interfaces] graduate seminar series at Utrecht University

Dates: 12 & 26 February 2019, 12 March (seminars); 19-20 March 2019 (workshop)
Location: MCW Lab, Kromme Nieuwegracht 20, Utrecht
Organized by: Nanna Verhoeff, Michiel de Lange, Sigrid Merx, and Lotte van der Molen from the [urban interfaces] research group at Utrecht University.
More information: See
Fee: € 10,00 (partly covering coffee/lunch during workshop), please bring exact change on the first day of the workshop (March 19)
Registration via:
Please be sure to specify your master programme, national research school and university

THIS SEMINAR IS FULLY BOOKED. It’s no longer possible to register for this course.

New technologies and datafication in so-called smart cities affect how we interface with the city. Social, economic and technological changes also lead to new urban frictions, and increasingly put strain on collectively shared urban commons and the right to the city. This shifting landscape of urban politics and power dynamics and the role of media, arts, and performance, provides the framework for this seminar series.

In the graduate seminar series The Right to the City & Urban Commons , students participate in three seminar sessions and a 2-day ‘pressure cooker’ workshop. The first seminar will focus on conceptualizing the notions of ‘the right to the city’ and the ‘urban commons’. What are today’s urban commons and how can people claim their right to the city in contemporary shifting urban conditions? The second session is dedicated to current urban common practices, and the imagining of new ones, from the perspective of media, art and performance projects. Several case studies will be discussed and analyzed. The third seminar prepares participants for the two-day pressure cooker workshop, where students will learn how to put their theoretical knowledge into practice through the use of a ‘critical making’ approach.

Students prepare readings for every seminar and write short blog posts to be put on the website of [urban interfaces]. The pressure cooker workshop – organized in collaboration with partners HKU and Creative Coding Utrecht – consists of two days in which hands-on making is combined with in-depth theoretical analyses and inspirational keynote speakers. During these two days, students work in small groups on the design of urban public interventions that depart from Elinor Ostrom’s commons design principles. This critical making workshop trains students to put their theoretical knowledge into practice and to position themselves within the current debates on urban commons and the right to the city.



RMeS Workshop Appnography: Researching the apps of life and the life of apps

Workshop organized by Dr Rik Smit (RUG), within the context of the RMeS PhD Workshop Grant

When? 1 April 2019
Where? University of Groningen, Academiegebouw – A2, Broerstraat 5, Groningen
Time? 10.00 – 17.30
Coordinator? Dr Rik Smit (RUG)
Open to? PhD’s and research master students, max 20 participants

This workshop explores how we can study mobile application software, popularly known as ‘apps’, discussing and applying methods from digital ethnography and user interface analysis. For most people who own a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet, apps are part and parcel of everyday life. Whether people cook, play, jog, or date, they increasingly use apps to aid them in these activities and practices. At the same time, apps – or at least their developers – use us to gather user data, often for commercial purposes, or to refine their proprietary algorithms.

During this workshop we will explore possible ways to study these “apps of life” and the “life of apps.” Like any medium or technology, apps live a life of their own: they are conceived of, presented to the world, implemented and used, and they may stop being used (they die). As a specific form of digital ethnography (Pink, et al. 2016), “appnography” will be proposed as a way to analyze the various stages of development (production) of an app, the discourses surrounding the app (how the app is marketed and presented to the world), and how it is used and made sense of by app users. Moreover, we will discuss various ways in which to analyze app interfaces, features, and affordances, which enable, shape, and restrict practices.

The workshop is organized by Dr Rik Smit and is connected to a new research project following his recently completed PhD project Platforms of Memory: Social Media and Digital Memory Work (defended March 2018, cum laude). In this new project, he investigates the plethora of personal memory apps available in app stores. Apps such as The Memory App, Lifecake, Relive, Facebook’s On This Day, and Moment Garden help organize mediated memories by categorizing, sorting, and filtering them. These apps, he argues, signal a broader shift toward systems and services that structure and automatically re-present our pasts for us, so-called “mnemotechnologies” (Stiegler, 2010). As such, they are part of an emerging “algorithmic culture” (Striphas, 2014), in which our daily practices have come to involve algorithmic procedures such as automatic recommendation and personalization. Thus, in a nutshell, this research scrutinizes how the logic of computational systems and databases intertwine with personal digital memory work.

Guest speakers

Anne Helmond (UvA)

Anne Helmond is assistant professor of New Media and Digital Culture at the University of Amsterdam. She is a member of the Digital Methods Initiative and the App Studies Initiative where she focuses her research on social media platforms, apps, and web history. She holds a Veni grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) for the project ‘App ecosystems: A critical history of apps’.

Fernando van der Vlist (UvA)

Fernando van der Vlist is a research associate with the Collaborative Research Centre ‘Media of Cooperation’ at the University of Siegen. He is a member of the Digital Methods Initiative (University of Amsterdam) and the App Studies Initiative. He has lectured in new media, digital culture, and digital methods (University of Amsterdam, Utrecht University, Utrecht Data School) and has a background in media arts and design.

Nathaniel Tkacz (U of Warwick)

Nathaniel Tkacz is Reader at the University of Warwick. His work investigates the political, economic and organizational dimensions of technology, with a specific focus on networked and digital forms. This has led him to analyze notions of political openness in web-based communities, the practice of ‘mass collaboration’, experimental economic platforms, software forking, trolling, and emerging forms of governance in network cultures, among other things. His current work is on 1) the rise of ‘dashboard interfaces’ and 2) the relationship between media and economy.

Preliminary programme
10.00-10.30Doors open. Coffee
10.30-10.45Welcome (Prof. Marcel Broersma)
10.45-11.15Introductory lecture: Swipe, tap, Open, Remember (STORe): Personal Digital Memory in the App Ecology (Rik Smit)
11.15-11.30 Coffee
11.30-12.30Workshop I: Researching App Ecologies: Methodological affordances and challenges of studying apps and app stores (Anne Helmond & Fernando van der Vlist)
Discussion and debate
13.00-14.00Lunch break
14.00-15.00Workshop II: User Interface Analysis and the Walkthrough Method (Nate Tkacz)
15.00-15.30 Coffee
15.30-16.30Workshop III: Studying App Discourses, Rhetoric and Logics (Rik Smit)
16.30-17.00 Design Fiction: Introduction to the assignment
17.00-17.15Closing remarks
Assignment for participants

The assignment for this workshop is rather unconventional. Instead of writing a paper, participants will have to come up with a “design fiction”—speculative, critical design that aims to explore and critique possible futures. This can take many forms: a story revolving around an imagined technology, an extended prototype description, a piece of journalistic reporting about this future technology, a conversation between two philosophers discussing the technology, an extended manual for the technology, a review of a future technology, or a visual representation of a possible future technology, accompanied by a rationale. Some well-known design fictions are the “Memex” by Vanavar Bush (1945) and technologies featured in films and books such as Black Mirror, 1984, and Minority Report.

The design fiction will need to engage with one of the workshop themes:

  • Apps and datafication
  • App ecologies
  • Dashboards and interfaces
  • Memory (both personal and collective)
  • Algorithmic culture

The themes are broad on purpose, in order to stimulate creative/critical thinking. All design fictions are to be accompanied by a 1,000 word rationale which reflects on the design fiction, using the workshop material (lectures, workshops, readings).

  • Striphas, T. (2015). Algorithmic culture. European Journal of Cultural Studies, 18(4-5), 395-412.
  • Levine, D. (2016). Design Fiction. Medium.
  • Dieter, M., et al. (2018). Store, interface, package, connection: Methods and propositions for multi-situated app studies. Medien der Kooperation – working paper series, 4. 1-16.
  • Bush, V. (1945). As we may think. Atlantic.
  • Bell, F. et al. (2013). Science fiction prototypes: Visionary technology narratives between futures. Futures 50. 5-14.
  • Bartlet, J. & Tkacz, N. (2017). Governance by Dashboard: A policy paper. Demos.



RMeS Masterclass: Spatiotemporal Interface perturbations with James Ash (Newcastle University)

When? 18 January 2019
Where? University of Amsterdam BG 2 0.12, Turfdraagsterpad 15-17, Amsterdam
Time? 14.00-17.00
Coordinator? Dr Alex Gekker (UvA)
Open to? PhD’s and research master students, max 15 participants

The world, we are told, is continuously data-fied and algorithmized, through an ongoing application of computational organizational modes onto routines of work and leisure. Data is the new oil and algorithms will either save or destroy the very fabric of our society. There is, in other words, a profoundly software-centric turn in contemporary media studies, bringing to the fore the material realities of living with and in digital environments. Most users however, do not see data nor feel the algorithms. They experience computation at the level of the various digital interfaces that package and prescribe one’s understanding of the machine “below”. Cambridge Analytica might be an abstract concern for a day or a week, but we tap, click and scroll the Facebook feed every day, and it is through it that we perceive the platform. On the other hand, throughout the design process and its data-intensive collection methods, it is via our interaction with the interfaces that designers generate their own conception of users and attempt to influence them.

This masterclass engages with this dual nature of interface as an encounter between designers and users in daily lives. Specifically, it explores such interfaces from the combined perspectives of media theory and post-phenomenological geography, as interfaces emit subtle influence over how users experience the rhythms of the world, shaped by the interest of those who design them.

The workshop is organized and moderated by Alex Gekker, a lecturer in new media and digital culture at the University of Amsterdam, who published on the production of interfaces in digital cartography and beyond.

The masterclass is given by James Ash, a social scientist working at the intersection between human geography and media. He is located at Newcastle University, where he is a Senior Lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies. Specifically he  investigates the cultures, economies and politics of digital interfaces and the role digital technologies play in transforming everyday life. He is the primary investigator on the ESRC funded project ‘Digital Interfaces and Debt: understanding mediated decision making processes in high cost short term credit products’ that runs between 2016-18.  His books include Phase Media: Space, Time and the Politics of Smart Objects (2017, Bloomsbury) and The Interface Envelope: Gaming, Technology, Power (2015, Bloomsbury).

In the first part (1 hr)  he will give a lecture on his conceptualization of the interfaces. After a break, we will convene for a 1.5 hrs practical session where we will use the analytical tools presented to work in groups on analyzing various familiar user interfaces of apps and websites. In the end, we will present the results of our analysis.

Assignment for participants

The students are expected to present the results of their short investigation as 5-minute concise presentations. Those will be graded according to their ability to incorporate the preparatory literature (5 points); the clarity and conciseness of the argument made (3 points); creativity (2 points) and presention (2 points). The group grade will be awarded as the workshop grade for those requiring the 1 EC for the completion of the seminar.


  • Ash, James, Ben Anderson, Rachel Gordon, and Paul Langley. 2018. “Digital Interface Design and Power: Friction, Threshold, Transition.” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, April, 0263775818767426.
  • Ash, James. 2015. Chapter 1 & 2. The Interface Envelope: Gaming, Technology, Power. New York: Bloomsbury Academic.