PhD Researchers

Yichen Zhao | The influence of social media use on social trust in the context of public crises in China

This project aims to explore how people’s social engagement with news on social media may influence social trust in the context of public crises in China. Social media has changed main features of news consumption and the way in which people engage with news. Previous audiences are enabled to produce, share and discuss news on social media. News engagement on social media even becomes a popular way for people to interact with each other and maintain social relationships. Social trust, defined as people’s trust in other citizens, is considered to be an essential aspect of social capital. Previous studies have addressed the impacts of social media use and online social interactions on social trust, though the results remain controversial due to different circumstances.

Dennis Jansen | The becoming-playful of warfare in the Netherlands

How can we understand and explain the occurrence of the ludification of warfare in the Netherlands? Over the past two decades, the Netherlands Armed Forces have witnessed an increased usage of virtual training environments and serious games across all branches of the organisation. In the same period, the armed forces began acquiring remote-controlled unmanned aerial vehicles (a.k.a. drones); this recently culminated in the scheduled acquisition of four MQ-9 Reaper drones in 2021.

PhD Defence: Anouk Mols (Erasmus University Rotterdam)

8 December 2021 at 13:00
On an ordinary Wednesday evening, a family is about to have dinner. Meanwhile, the father receives WhatsApp messages from the neighbourhood crime prevention group, the mother checks the student tracking system of the youngest son, and the daughter instructs a smart speaker to play music. In this scenario, personal information of the family members is collected, processed and shared. In other words; they are the subject of surveillance.

Emillie Victoria de Keulenaar | Norm and technique in language moderation: deplatforming and replatforming problematic speech across contested public spheres

Emillie Victoria de Keulenaar | Norm and technique in language moderation: deplatforming and replatforming problematic speech across contested public spheres | University and department: University of Groningen, Media Studies | Promotors: Marcel Broersma and Bharath Ganesh | 1 September 2021 – 1 september 2025 |[at] Focusing on 2015 to 2021 as period of significant […]

Jakob Boer | Sensing Slowness: A Phenomenology of Slow Cinema

This PhD-research entails a qualitative audience study into the experience of watching slow cinema. This is ‘a type of cinema characterized by minimalism, austerity, and extended duration; downplaying drama, event, and action in favor of mood; and endowing the activity of viewing with a meditative or contemplative quality’ (Oxford Dictionary of Film Studies).

Esther Schoorel | Challenging the State Narrative: Transnational Online Memory Activism After Lebanon’s 2019 ‘October Revolution’

In the wake of the Arab Uprisings, a vibrant debate among scholars of Middle Eastern Studies emerged about the impact of the digital sphere on political activism in the region. Twitter, Facebook and blogs played a vital role in these uprisings, specifically when it came to organizing protests on the ground and connecting people in- and across societies.

Jülide Kont | Winning the ‘information war’: creating knowledge and methods to measure and enhance individual’s resilience to disinformation

Disinformation has always existed and even though there are prevention methods, with yet more to be developed, we currently cannot assume it will disappear anytime soon. What we can do however, is to create and understand the conditions for resilience, both on a societal and individual level. The focus in this work will lie on the latter, with the guiding question: Who are vulnerable to disinformation and how can we protect (these) individuals from the potentially harmful effects of disinformation?

Cristel Kolopaking | Re-Frame: Tracing Re-Use of Audiovisual Data in Journalism

Cristel Kolopaking is a PhD candidate at the Institute for Cultural Inquiry in the RE-FRAME project, based on a collaboration between Utrecht University, the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision and Make Media Great Again. RE-FRAME addresses the merging of journalistic sourcing practices by investigating the reuse of audiovisual data with Artificial Intelligence (AI) through an affordance analysis of the technical components, combined with an ethnographic production and action-based research with journalists.

Bartosz Grzegorz Żerebecki | Depolarizing Narratives: The role of TV shows in promoting positive diversity attitudes

The support for LGBTQ people and immigrants is a contentious issue in Poland. Young people, who are still in high school, witness a strongly polarized public discourse. The national, pro-government media staunchly oppose pride parades and multiculturalism, while private ones take more liberal stances. This project wants to establish whether the media, which are now seen as part of the problem of tearing people apart, can also be part of the solution in bringing people together.

Victoria Balan | Discourses of Digital Citizen Activism

Digital activism has been gaining increased attention in recent years: the media coverage of #MeToo stories from all around the world, the political debates on racial discrimination and police brutality in the context of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, the growing number of anti-vaccine groups on social media during the Covid-19 pandemic – all illustrate the rise of this phenomenon and its inclusion in the broader public discourse.

Cedric Waterschoot | Constructive messaging and computer-assisted moderation of online platforms

Online platforms, like social media or newspapers with comment sections, often struggle with moderating the enormous influx of new posts. The Better-MODS project, a collaboration between KNAW Meertens Instituut, Tilburg University and, aims to improve the moderation practice of such online content by developing computer-assisted moderation tools. My research specifically deals with the recognition and computational classification of so-called constructive posts, the opposite of spam, toxicity or other unwanted content.

Zhen Ye | Livestreaming Industry in China: An Investigation of Cultural Production, Labour and Platformization

We are witnessing how the development of live-streaming practices is increasingly influencing Chinese people’s everyday life in social, cultural, and economic terms: The showroom live-streaming, known as xiuchang zhibo in Chinese, features various content of entertainment from singing and dancing to mundane everyday life activities such as chatting and eating.

Pengnan Hu | China’s global cinema: state-driven film-related co-operations with BRI countries

China now constitutes the second-largest film market in the world. One significant change accompanying this unprecedented expansion has been the Chinese government’s active encouragement of film exports as part of its drive to augment soft power. This is closely allied to China’s most important foreign policy, known as Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which aims to intensify China’s influence in Eurasia.

Bianka-Isabell Scharmann | Fashion-as-Moving-Image: Dancing Figures, Swirling Fabrics

: Fashion-as-Moving-Image: Dancing Figures, Swirling Fabrics

By drawing on the rich history of fashion media from the 20th and 21st century – ranging from fashion magazines, fashion illustrations, filmed fashion shows for newsreels from early and silent cinema to feature films and contemporary productions such as fashion films – in a transmedial perspective, the project attempts to theorize and historize the relationship between fashion, dance and moving image media aided by a wide range of theories from film, media, fashion and dance studies.

Karla Zavala Barreda | Apps for Learning: A software study analysis of mobile applications for language development in children

Apps for Learning

The project analyses the ecology and development of mobile apps for language development in typical and atypical children from the perspective of software designers and developers. Software ethnography, quantitative analysis and modelling, and interviews with software developers will be integrated to identify how notions and theories of language acquisition and development in early childhood are translated into mobile applications for the market.

Inga Luchs | Data Discrimination: Rethinking Systems of Classification Beyond Homophily

Machine learning algorithms permeate our everyday life. They are used to discriminate against spam emails, to sort results in search engines and to recommend content. They find application in the detection of credit card fraud and in predictive policing. This PhD project seeks to investigate the key technical principles of machine learning in order to uncover underlying assumptions and beliefs.

Denise Mensonides | Digital Literacy within the family context

This PhD project considers if and how the causes that foster or prohibit the development of digital literacy differ between children with a more or less vulnerable socio-economic background. It asks under what circumstances the development of digital media literacy is supported within households, and what these differences in how families deal with media within the household mean for children’s media practices in- and outside the home.

Bjorn Beijnon | Controlling Platform Media Ecologies: The Cultural Logic of Subjectification in Contemporary Surveillance Cultures

Bjorn Beijnon | University of Amsterdam
This project investigates what role digital platforms play in the process of shaping the subjectivity of their users. Through the formalisation of surveillance platforms in users’ media ecologies, tech companies might not only have become able to quantify users’ attention and interactions, but they could also have become able to perform a new kind of subjectification: digital subjectification through data-driven decision-making systems that have emerged as powerful agents in users’ media ecologies.

Lisette Derksen | Radio Rocks!

In a society where every organisation strives for the attention of overwhelmed consumers, constant development seems key for long term existence. Creative industry is regarded as an example of this capacity, but the experienced medium of radio is overlooked in this perspective.

Virtual defence and real memories: Doing academia in times of CODIV-19 pandemic

“While being familiar with one-on-one video chat, I could only imagine what a virtual PhD defence would be like. After all, it turned out to be a memorable experience”. Dr. Min Xu defended her PhD titled “Getting close to the media world: An ethnographic analysis of everyday encounters with the film industry in contemporary China”. What makes her defence especially unique is the fact that it was done entirely online. In this interview, Min shares her story with us.

Sal Hagen | “Is this /ourguy/?”: Tracing Political Identity Formation within Anonymous Online Subcultures

Sal Hagen | University of Amsterdam
This research will engage with the question on how shared practices of cultural production can function as forms of political identification within anonymous online subcultures. In recent years, anonymous and pseudonymous websites have been described as forming a vanguard in an ongoing “online culture war”. While this has bestowed these websites with political relevance, there has been a lack of research into the techno-cultural dynamics that structure these obscure communities.

Nina Vabab | The Politics of Memory: Media and the Construction of Pahlavi Myth

Nina Vabab | Utrecht University
In December 2017, a series of public protests occurred in different cities in Iran and continued into 2018. Following days of demonstrations, protesters chanted slogans such as “Reza Shah, bless your soul” referring to Reza Shah, the Shah of Iran from 1925-1941 and founder of the Pahlavi dynasty who was dethroned in the 1979 revolution. This led to the establishment of the Islamic Republic under the leadership of Ayatollah Khomeini.

Kim Smeenk | Making it personal. A digital humanities analysis of how subjectivity shapes the news

Kim Smeenk | Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, Journalism and Media Studies |
My project conceptualizes personal journalism and its epistemological underpinnings by analysing its forms and underlying practices between 1945 and 2018 in Dutch newspapers through a multi-method digital humanities approach. Personal journalism, in which journalists are transparent about how stories are shaped by the reporter’s subjectivity, has been gaining prominence. By foregrounding reporters’ subjectivity, personal journalism overtly shows how a story is grounded in their experiences and beliefs