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About

Mission

Located at the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Amsterdam, the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA) is a research institute and doctoral school dedicated to the interdisciplinary study of culture from a broad humanities perspective.

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?

ASCA is home to more than 100 scholars and over 100 PhD candidates active in literature, philosophy, film and media studies, art and visual culture, musicology, religious studies, theatre and performance studies, and argumentation theory. 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 social and political debates. Within ASCA, they collaborate to provide an innovative, stimulating, and productive research environment for scholars, professionals, and graduate students from the Netherlands and abroad.

ASCA has particular strengths in four key areas of research: globalisation and cultural transformation; creative industries; cultural heritage and identity; and digital humanities. These strengths, which combine expertise and insights from members across all constituent departments, make ASCA ideally suited to address the ‘big questions’ facing contemporary society, including issues of multiculturalism; inequality; migration and urbanisation; new media and communication technologies; and knowledge production, sharing, and archiving.