ESHCC and ESPhil honored with three NWO PhDs in the Humanities grants


The Dutch Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) has awarded three PhDs in the Humanities grants to the Erasmus University Rotterdam. The grants are awarded to Erasmus School of History Culture and Communication and Erasmus School of Philosophy. The aim of the PhDs in the Humanities funding instrument is to provide research talent with the opportunity to carry out an independent PhD project. Only 17 of the 38 applicants in PhDs in the Humanities call were awarded in this year's round.

The three winners of the NWO PhDs in the Humanities grants are Mariana Fried, Martijn van der Meer and Sophie van Balen. PhD candidate Mariana Fried will start a research project at ESHCC on how digital city workers can reshape the Silicon Valley bandwagon. This ERMeCC research project fits perfectly into the Vital Cities and Citizens initiative. 

History @ Erasmus PhD candidate Martijn van der Meer will research how physicians, officials and parents practically shaped child health intervention, and analyses how local health infrastructures influenced the twentieth century political debate on prevention. This project will take place in collaboration with Erasmus MC.

And at ESPhil, PhD candidate Sophie van Balen will research on how breathability practices can inform a future-oriented politics of care for facing the ecological crisis.

Beyond the Silicon Valley story: An ethnographic approach to digital workers' discursive production of smart cities

PhD candidate: Mariana Fried
Promotor: Susanne Janssen
Co-promotors: Isabel Awad & Jiska Engelbert

Technologies and stories about how technologies can help cities circulate rapidly and globally. App-based services, entrepreneurial start-ups, and innovative tech-companies are allegedly the answer to urban challenges. But do digital workers —typically seen as crucial in transforming cities according to Silicon Valley’s recipe— really think, talk, and act accordingly? This ethnographic project compares the experiences of three types of digital workers in cities in The Netherlands and Argentina. The project, thereby, provides insights into how digital city workers, against the odds, can re-shape the Silicon Valley bandwagon. Mariana: “Preparing for this grant was in itself a journey full of learning opportunities, and I can only look forward with enthusiasm to the next challenges and learning experiences that the next few years of my PhD at ESHCC will bring."

Safeguarding a healthy future: Dutch preventive child health intervention between politics and practice, 1901-2020

PhD candidate: Martijn van der Meer
Promotor: Ralf Futselaar
Co-promotor: Timo Bolt

A growing group of medical and political reformers claims that Dutch health care should focus more on prevention. Critics, however, argue that these ambitions elaborate on increasing governmental control throughout the twentieth century. Yet, remarkably little is known about the history of Dutch preventive child health interventions. This PhD-project therefore investigates how physicians, officials and parents practically shaped child health intervention, and analyses how local health infrastructures influenced the twentieth-century political debate on prevention. This research thereby results in a relevant long-term perspective on the ideologically driven public health policies and preventive practice. Martijn: "I feel honored to be able to carry out this exciting project with fantastic researchers. I look forward to the years to come and foster the connection between the humanities and biomedical sciences."

Out of Breath: Towards a politics of breathability

PhD candidate: Sophie van Balen
Promotor: Marli Huijer
Co-promotor: Robin van den Akker

This research project inquires into the politics of air, air pollution and breathability in face of the climate crisis. Inspired by the foam theory of cultural theorist Peter Sloterdijk and contemporary debates in the environmental humanities, the project will rethink politics from a more-than-human perspective. The project includes two case studies. The first regards the nitrogen crisis, specifically beef farms in the Netherlands. The second case revolves around the biodiversity crisis and more specifically the declining numbers of pollinating insects. Both cases will add layers and perspectives to the conceptualization of a politics of breathability underway. Sophie: “I am so grateful to receive this grant and for all the help from colleagues at ESPhil and EUC. This changes everything! I cannot wait to start working”.

More information

For more information please contact our Marketing and Communications officer:

For ESHCC - Lieke van Eijk
For ESPhil - Eddie Adelmund

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