New PhD Candidate: Shekoufeh Behbehani,(Un)screened Narratives: Non-Normative Gender and Sexuality in Contemporary Iran

Shekoufeh Behbehani | University of Amsterdam | (Un)screened Narratives: Non-Normative Gender and Sexuality in Contemporary Iran.

The legalization of sex reassignment surgery (SRS) in the 1980s in Iran has created an ambivalent space within Iranian gender politics. Although politico-religious discourses on SRS recognize transsexuality without necessitating medical transitioning, they have created a system that perpetuates heteronormativity and gender binarism. Since the early 2000s, an increasing number of Iranian films and theatrical performances have engaged issues of gender and sexuality, highlighting the broader deployment of violence that organizes Iranian gender politics. In doing so, they have joined activists in Iran in producing a counter-discourse to the reigning politico-religious paradigm. Through an interdisciplinary lens, my project studies a recent corpus of films and performances that reveal the ambivalences within Iranian gender politics in relation to the regime of violence in the country. In light of these representations, I explore the extent to which Iran’s particular mapping of gender and sexuality both facilitates and constrains non-normativity and queerness.

CALL for Benelux students interested in the Environmental Humanities

CALL for Benelux students interested in the Environmental Humanities

BASCE, the Benelux Association for the Study of Culture and the Environment (, is back! We are looking for Phd, RMA and MA students interested in joining a new BASCE events committee. The goal of the events committee is to bring together people interested in the Environmental Humanities -including fields like ecocriticism, environmental history, and environmental philosophy- as well as those working outside of academia on topics relevant to the Environmental Humanities.

We aim to create a team of students who will work together to organize an event in the Spring of 2021, and preferably stay on the committee to design a program with two or more events in the academic year 2021-2021. Candidates should ideally live in the Benelux or have a close link to the Benelux, and should have relevant experience in the Environmental Humanities. There will be a high degree of freedom to pursue formats and topics of your own interest.

If you’re interested in joining the BASCE events committee, please send a concise (informal) email outlining your relevant experience and motivating your interest to Tom Idema at no later than 4 December. Please note that these are unpaid positions.

Imagining the Image 2020-2021

Imagining the Image 2020-2021

VU University
Organiser: dr. S. Lutticken
Period: The course has been scheduled on Tuesdays from 13:30 17:15. We will have sessions approximately every two weeks from the first week of February to the last week of May. 

Course Objective

Participants in this course will:

  1. analyse and compare relevant theories of the image in art history, media studies, design studies and the history of architecture.
  2. actively apply theories to selected case studies.
  3. examine the historicity of theories of the image and the potential contemporary relevance of older writings.
  4. reflect on the wider social and cultural relevance of various conceptualizations of the image and visibility.
Course Content

This course examines different conceptualizations of the image in the context of historical transformations of the arts. If, from visual studies to Bildwissenschaft, images and the visual have received a significant amount of scholarly and theoretical attention, the use and reflection on the notion of form seems to have migrated from disciplines such as art history and architectural history largely to fields such as (cultural) history, philosophy and literary studies.

In modern art and theory, form became a master signifier that to some extent displaced the image, understood as representation. Form is the image become autonomous. However, even if the notion of form was key to formalist approaches that prized the autonomy of art, form always threatened (or promise) to flow over into life; the romantic notion of the Lebensform (life form or form of life) has recently staged a return in Giorgio Agamben’s work (but not just there), and Judith Butler theorize social forms, such as that of the assembly; an approach taken up by artists such as Jonas Staal.

But are the crucial forms that shape social reality really visible? Marx’s value-form was anything but directly perceptible, and in our 21st-century Capitalocene, the world is being pre-formed in ways that once again cast doubt on our ability to imagine and to image this world.

More information




NOTE: This is not a NICA core activity but an elective announced on this site solely for  your information. You should register for this course through the university that offers it, and the credits you will earn will also be given out by that university. If your program includes a requirement to earn credits from a national research school, the credits for this elective do not count towards that requirement. You may need to acquire the permission of your programme coordinator and/or board of examinations in order to participate and earn credits for this elective.

Dissertation Defense: Ozge Calafato, Posing for the Republic. Making the Modern Turkish Citizen in Vernacular Photographs from the 1920s and 1930s

Posing for the Republic. Making the Modern Turkish Citizen in Vernacular Photographs from the 1920s and 1930s

Supervisors: Luiza Białasewicz, Esther Peeren. 25 November 2020, 13:00 hrs.

This research project focuses on photographic representations of the urban middle classes in Turkey in the 1920s and the 1930s in the context of a society undergoing rapid secularization and modernization. The project investigates the ways in which middle classes used portrait photography in and outside the studio to perform a new national identity following the foundation of the Republic in 1923. This dissertation looks at the role that photographic representations played in negotiating a desired identity for the newly minted Turkish citizens through a focus on the relationship between photography and gender, photography and body, photography and space as well as photography and language. It also explores the role of circulation of photographs with regard to the making of a modern citizen.

New PhD: Inte Gloerich, Blockchain imaginaries: A Critical Analysis

“Blockchain imaginaries: A Critical Analysis” – Inte Gloerich

This research aims to contribute to a better understanding of the societal and cultural consequences of blockchain technology. Blockchain technology is increasingly considered a new general-purpose technology that in the near future will play a role in many aspects of society. Blockchain technology is widely researched for its technical capacities but has yet to be fully recognized as a cultural force. This research aims to contribute to such recognition by means of a close analysis of sociotechnical imaginaries that exist around blockchain technology, as found in blockchain products as well as speculative design and blockchain art engaging with the technology.

A critical analysis of these sociotechnical imaginaries offers a useful tool to get a first understanding of what the socio-cultural implications of implementing this technology might be. How may this affect power relations? And who or what has agency? How may ideas of ownership and responsibility change when automation and anonymization become core features of governing systems? How may blockchain technology affect personal relations? Identifying these and other implications and thus contributing to understanding the possibilities and risks of large-scale implementation of blockchain technologies is the aim of this research.


Image by Lina Theodorou for Bad Shibe (Torque and Furtherfield, 2017), licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.