Postdoc Meat Culture: Popular Representations of Meat Consumption in the 19th and 20th Centuries


The Amsterdam School for Historical Studies (ASH) currently has a vacant Postdoc researcher position as part of the “Re-authoring Meat Consumption Narratives” project. ASH is one of the five Research Schools within the Amsterdam Institute for Humanities Research (AIHR).

What are you going to do?

“Re-authoring Meat Consumption Narratives” is a team-based collaborative project that is part of the University of Amsterdam’s Healthy Future Research Priority Area. The project combines historical, cultural and public health perspectives and seeks to appoint two Postdoctoral Fellows for the duration of one year; one postdoc will be based at the Faculty of Humanities and one within Public Health/Anthropology.

Reducing meat intake has clear and undisputed benefits for climate, population health and animal welfare. However, implementing such reductions is challenging. Eating meat is deeply embedded in people’s diets, anchored in cultural values, meanings, and shared conventions that contribute to what is believed to be healthy, tasty, or sustaining food. For many people it is hard to imagine a predominantly plant-based diet becoming the norm. New narratives that respect historic, cultural, economic, health and social values around people’s diets and the role of meat in particular, can aid this transition. This project is focused on efforts to influence citizens’ dietary perspectives and narratives as bottom-up driver of food environment change, focused on meat consumption as a key impactful element.

“Re-authoring meat consumption narratives” brings together researchers from the Humanities, Social and Behavioural and Medical faculties to explore multifaceted dimensions of meat consumption through an interdisciplinary lens. It combines historical, cultural, and public health perspectives to understand the evolving narratives surrounding meat consumption in past and contemporary diets. Rather than focusing on health policies, commercial strategies or scientific sources, the project is aimed at their reception in popular, widely available representations of meat culture, such as cookbooks, etiquette books, public health campaigns, and other representations of meat cultures in fiction and non-fiction.

We are seeking a highly motivated and dynamic Postdoctoral Research Fellow to contribute to this exciting project. We invite those with a PhD in History, Literary Studies, Cultural Studies, or in other relevant fields to apply. The Postdoctoral Research Fellow will use a combination of historical and literary sources to analyse the development of narratives around meat intake and consumption, considering questions including, but not limited to: Why has meat occupied such a central place in collective narratives of healthy, tasty, luxurious food? What intersections of food science and food advertising during the 19th and 20th centuries produced narratives that are still key drivers to meat-based diets today? What place did these narratives have in cultural representations of “good” food? What counter-narratives came up? And how can we use these insights to help contribute to reduced meat consumption?

The Postdoctoral Research Fellow will develop these historical ‘meat narratives’ on the basis of a concrete 19th or 20th century case study (e.g. focusing on a specific city, nation, religious group, activist organisation etc). As part of the application procedure, please include in your Cover Letter a brief (10 lines max. will suffice) description of a concrete case study you would want to analyse and the sources available for study. We encourage applicants to make use of the collections of the University of Amsterdam library and Allard Pierson.

The postdoctoral fellow will be mentored jointly by staff from the History and Dutch Literature/English Language and Culture departments and will work towards a publication reflecting the interdisciplinary orientation of the project, as well as contribute to collaborative work authored jointly by all project members.

Moreover, the findings from this research can serve to spur public debate and societal reflection and inform public health campaigns. To that end, the Postdoctoral Research Fellow will collaborate with project members across the humanities, the social and behavioural sciences, and the medical sciences, and with governmental, scientific, and cultural partners, including the Municipal Health Service of Amsterdam, the Dutch Nutrition Centre, and Allard Pierson. See the Healthy Future RPI website at for more information. In particular, we will encourage collaboration with a second Postdoctoral Research Fellow to be appointed at the UvA Faculty of Medicine to this end.

Your tasks and responsibilities

  • conducting in-depth research on the historical and literary aspects of meat consumption;
  • analysing and interpreting historical and cultural narratives surrounding meat consumption;
  • collaborating with the project team to integrate findings into a broader interdisciplinary framework;
  • contributing to the development of academic publications and presentations, and to the acquisition of grants to further build upon the project;
  • assisting in organizing seminars, workshops, and public engagement activities related to the project;
  • participating in team meetings, discussions, and knowledge sharing.

What do you have to offer?

We are looking for a researcher who has a keen interest in doing societally-relevant research, and who has a strong interest in food studies, public health, and/or cultural history. We value a cooperative attitude, a willingness to engage in collaborative research within an interdisciplinary team, and a pro-active attitude towards possibilities for follow-up funding.

Your experience and profile

  • a PhD in History, Literature, Cultural Studies, or another relevant field;
  • excellent historical, literary and/or cultural analysis research skills demonstrated by a track record of publishing in high-ranking journals and/or with leading presses or a demonstrable capacity to develop such a record;
  • enthusiasm for communicating academic research to non-academic audiences;
  • excellent communication and writing abilities in Dutch and/or English.

What can we offer you?

The Postdoc researcher will be appointed at the History, European Studies & Religious Studies department of the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Amsterdam and will conduct the research in the Amsterdam School for Historical Studies. The employment contract will be for one year; we have applied for additional funding to extend this contract for several months. The employment contract is for 30,4 hours a week. Preferred starting date is 01 May 2024.

The gross monthly salary, based on 38 hours per week and relevant experience, ranges between € 4,036 to € 5,090. This sum does not include the 8% holiday allowance and the 8,3% year-end allowance. Favourable tax agreements may apply to applicants moving from abroad. The Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities is applicable.

What else do we offer?

  • excellent possibilities for further professional development and education;
  • an enthusiastic, inspiring and professional academic team;
  • the opportunity to collaborate with leading researchers at research institutes that - partly as a result of their interdisciplinary approach - are world renowned.

About us

The University of Amsterdam is the Netherlands' largest university, offering the widest range of academic programmes. At the UvA, 42,000 students, 6,000 staff members and 3,000 PhD candidates study and work in a diverse range of fields, connected by a culture of curiosity.

The Faculty of Humanities provides education and conducts research with a strong international profile in a large number of disciplines in de field of language and culture. Located in the heart of Amsterdam, the faculty maintains close ties with many cultural institutes in the capital city. Research and teaching staff focus on interdisciplinary collaboration and are active in several teaching programmes.

Want to know more about our organisation? Read more about working at the University of Amsterdam.


Do you have any questions or do you require additional information? Please contact (during office hours):

Job application

If you feel the profile fits you, and you are interested in the job, we look forward to receiving your application. You can apply online via the link below. The deadline for applying for this vacancy is 5 February 2024.

Applications should include the following information (submitted in one .pdf by uploading in the required field ‘CV’):

  • A letter of motivation, including a 10-line proposal for a case study.
  • A full academic CV, including a list of publications.
  • The names and contact details of two references who may be approached by the selection committee.

Only complete applications received within the response period via the link below will be considered.

The interviews will be held in the course of February 2024.

The UvA is an equal-opportunity employer. We prioritize diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for everyone. We value a spirit of enquiry and perseverance, provide the space to keep asking questions, and promote a culture of curiosity and creativity.

Date de candidature
1 year
Humanités : Anthropologie & Ethnologie, Histoire, Littérature