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Welcome to ASCA

Read more about our mission and find out about our research fund and Grant Team.

Located at the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Amsterdam, the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA) is a research community devoted to the comparative and interdisciplinary study of culture (in all its forms and expressions) from a broad humanities perspective.

ASCA is home to more than 110 scholars and 120 PhD candidates active in film and media studies, literature, philosophy, visual culture, musicology, religious studies, theatre and performance studies.

Specialists in their own respective fields, ASCA members share a commitment to working within an interdisciplinary framework and to maintaining a close connection with contemporary cultural and political debates. Within ASCA, they collaborate to provide an innovative and stimulating research environment for scholars, professionals, and graduate students from the Netherlands and abroad.

ASCA does not subscribe to any single theoretical or methodological practice, but, rather, is defined precisely by its interdisciplinary approach, in which researchers work at the intersections of core disciplines in the humanities to develop new theoretical frameworks and research methodologies for analysing culture in all its forms and expressions. ASCA is the only humanities research institute in the Netherlands to place interdisciplinarity and theoretical research on culture at the core of its mission, vision, and programme.

Uniting the research conducted within ASCA is a commitment to the five principles of cultural analysis:

  1. responsible interdisciplinarity: disciplinary knowledge is highly valued and respected but is mobilized in conversation with other disciplines to allow new insights to emerge at the intersection of fields of knowledge to understand and resolve complex problems.
  2. theoretical and methodological renewal: theories and methods are not considered as fixed models, but as dynamic tools that open up important critical perspectives in their engagement with particular cultural expressions. The analysis of this engagement tests and transforms the theories and methods, leading to their innovative development.
  3. social relevance: ASCA research aims to diagnose, dissect and answer urgent questions about the world we live in by working with theories, methods and cultural expressions that are seen as emerging from and functioning within specific contexts.
  4. detailed analyses of cultural expressions: the detailed analysis of specific cultural expressions and their (changing) contexts (through close reading or other methods, including digital and ethnographic ones) is privileged.
  5. contemporary perspective: the past is important, but considered from the perspective of our present engagement with it. ASCA researchers ask: why and how do particular cultural expressions, theories or methods still matter to us now?

Esther Peeren, Academic Director