1 PhD position – Cultural Expressions of Trauma and Nostalgia in the Uyghur Diaspora | ULB

1 PhD position – Cultural Expressions of Trauma and Nostalgia in the Uyghur Diaspora | ULB

Application deadline: 2021, March 1


EASt, centre for East Asian Studies, is a research unit within the Maison des sciences humaines of the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Belgium. The key role of EASt is to be a central hub of the ULB to foster Asia related activities and research across the university. EASt offers high quality research on current developments in the East Asian region, and established research projects and networks focusing on Asian studies.

This PhD position is funded by a MIS (Mandat d’Impulsion Scientifique/ Incentive Grant for Scientific Research) project, “Bearing Witness to Traumatic Experiences: Cultural Productions of Uyghurs in Exile”. Uyghurs are a Turkic-speaking people based at the border of Central Asia and the north-western part of China. Massive internments and arrests of hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs have taken place in the region since 2016, including the Uyghur elite. In these conditions, centers of cultural production of the Uyghurs have shifted from their native land to the diaspora spread across the world. This project looks at Uyghur diasporic cultural production that aims at drawing the world’s attention and bearing witness to the various abuses perpetrated at home by the Chinese government. The whole project analyses selected poems, short films, video clips and dance and music performances to tackle new transmedial forms of testimonies in the Uyghur case.


Cultural Expressions of Trauma and Nostalgia in the Uyghur Diaspora

The doctoral research will explore cultural expressions of trauma and nostalgia within the Uyghur diaspora by analyzing audiovisual productions and artworks produced to testify about the on-going violent state repression in the Uyghur region. In the first stage of the project, the candidate will focus on 1/ producing an in-depth literature review on Uyghur cultural production in general, the Uyghur diaspora and issues of trauma, exile and nostalgia; 2/ writing proposals for further Belgian funding (FNRS, FRESH, mini-ARC, etc.). The second stage will involve fieldwork in Europe, North America and in Turkey to collect data, interview cultural producers and conduct on-site participant observation. The selected candidate will work in collaboration with his or her PhD supervisor and a postdoctoral researcher. Beside his or her PhD dissertation, the candidate is expected to (co)produce scientific articles, share research findings in international conferences and actively participate in EASt activities. The candidate is also expected to be available on ULB campus at least 4 days a week when he or she is not doing fieldwork.

The selected candidate is expected to start his or her PhD on 1 July 2021 at the latest and should have obtained a MA with top grades no sooner than February 2020 and no later than March 2021.

Supervisor: Vanessa FRANGVILLE, vanessa.frangville@ulb.ac.be
Faculty of Letters, Translation and Communication: https://ltc.ulb.be
EASt: https://www.facebook.com/EAStULB/ et http://msh.ulb.ac.be/equipes/east/

Any question pertaining to this post and the related application process are to be directed via e-mail to the supervisor.


Hiring Institution:

Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Brussels, Belgium


24 months (July 2021- July 2023). Besides this two-year internal funding, the research fellow will be invited to apply for a FNRS PhD-grant in January/February 2022, to extend the duration of the research to 60 months. The selected candidate is expected to start his or her PhD on 1 July 2021 at the latest.


34.500€ Gross per year. The research fellow will enjoy a monthly gross income of about 2900€ which corresponds to an average net income of about 1900€. Please note that a Fellow’s individual net income after Social Security Contributions can vary in light of their nationality, family status and antecedents.

Requirements Degree:

Top-level graduate degree (Master or equivalent) in Anthropology, Sociology, Media Studies or Asian Studies. Candidates should have obtained their MA with top grades no sooner than February 2020 and no later than March 2021.


Proficiency in written and spoken English is required.
Knowledge, or willingness to learn French, is a plus.
The research fellow is expected to learn basic Uyghur during the first years of fieldwork.

How to apply

Candidates must send their applications as a single PDF file to the PhD supervisor’s professional email address (vanessa.frangville@ulb.ac.be) no later than 1st of March 2021 (17:00 CET).
Applications must include:

  • A letter of introduction (statement of motivation and personal interpretation of the research project);

  • A full academic CV, including the name and contact details of two academic referees (we may contact your referees during the application process);

  • An academic record with marks obtained for the different grades (BA and MA).

Key Dates

  • By 1 March 2021: Candidates must send their applications to the relevant supervisor.
    10 March 2021: Shortlisted candidates will be invited to a Skype interview with a selection committee composed of the supervisor and two other members of EASt.
    15 March 2021: Shortlisted candidates will be informed about final decision.
    Before 1 July 2021: Selected candidates to arrive at the Université libre de Bruxelles to start his/her training and research.