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Postdoc on the Anthropology of AI in Islam: computational and social network analysis

The Institute of Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology of the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences is looking for a Postdoc on the Anthropology of AI in Islam: computational and social network analysis (0,70 FTE)  
Vacancy number 21-543 9924


Project description

The Leiden University Institute of Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology (CADS) is host to the NWO-Vici research project One Among Zeroes |0100| Towards an Anthropology of Everyday AI in Islam (VI.C. 201.058) funded by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research.


Project abstract

The |0100| Project investigates the Islamic Information Society by turning to its most debated component – artificial intelligence – with multimodal and mixed methods, comparing and contrasting narratives and imagery of AI-religious futures in the national settings of Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore, each with sizeable yet differently positioned populations of Muslim adherents. |0100| situates ethical dilemmas surrounding algorithms, bots and machine learning by ethnographically and longitudinally observing and interviewing makers and users. Innovatively using a historical analysis of future-making discourse, we probe big and ‘thick’ data in situ and through digital ethnography, and use infographics, animations and comics to both map and represent future visions of AI in Islam.


We intend to strengthen our team with a postdoctoral researcher who, through the use of ‘big data’, will help us make sense of how (often competing) imaginations of AI in Islam influence decisions, relations and institutions, highlighting their longitudinal and cross-country variation. With automated text analysis (‘data mining’) we aim to analyze two different kinds of texts: social media content such as blogs, posts, tweets, and mainstream media content such as newspapers and tech journals. Using the Leiden Asian Library’s vast collection of journals, books and institutional documents from Southeast Asia and the broader Islamic world, we aim to map and visualize diverse articulations of ‘AI in Islam’ within and across different corpora.


Key responsibilities

  • Support the PI with automated text analysis of a larger corpus of Malay, Indonesian and English language documents in the Leiden Asian Library;
  • Work with the PI to define search queries and produce a social network analysis of the most important actors and tools emerging from the three fieldwork settings;
  • Design and deliver the project’s interactive digital platform in compliance with ethical and informed consent criteria;
  • Advise the |00101| team (PI, and three PhD researchers) on how to do social network analysis or other forms of mapping and help them produce data visualizations and infographics;
  • Publish (individually or jointly with PI) two articles on how a combination of ‘thick’ and big data may help us with the socio-historical analysis of what competing futures are shaped through AI in Islam, why and how.

Selection criteria

  • A relevant PhD in Anthropology, Sociology or in a neighboring and relevant social scientific or humanities (SSH) discipline;
  • Experience and skills in new digital SSH methods and the will to experiment with those to concrete ethnographic ends;
  • Experience with methods of data analysis and visualization. Knowledge of natural language processing techniques, such as structural topic models and word embeddings, or familiarity with concepts and algorithms from network science, is a plus; 
  • Inventive, communicative and with a proven ability to work both independently and as part of the research team;
  • Affinity with the topic of AI and Religion or the language and culture of Muslim Southeast Asia is wonderful, but not a must.

Our organisation

The Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences conducts high-quality research and offers a broad and disciplinary educational programme, focused on increasing our understanding of current developments in society. The faculty consists of five institutes: Centre for Science and Technology Studies, Cultural Anthropology and Developmental Sociology, Education and Child Studies, Political Science and Psychology. The faculty has approximately 7,000 students and 850 staff members. 


Diversity and inclusion are cherished as core values at Leiden University. At the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences we also strive to create a diverse and inclusive learning and working environment, in which everyone – no matter who they are or what they do – can feel at home and develop their talents.


Cultural Anthropology & Development Sociology

Information about the Institute for Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology can be found at the website. Our research program Global vulnerabilities and social resilience addresses ‘Diversity’, ‘Sustainability’ and ‘Digitalization’ as intersecting areas of critical investigation. These three themes articulate the urgent connection between economy, politics and ecology and run as a red thread through multiple projects in the institute, firmly emplaced in a signature methodology that combines qualitative, quantitative, digital and visual methods. The institute’s scientific staff work on economic and political anthropology, global sociology, the anthropology and sociology of environmental issues, citizenship and diversity, in Asia, Europe and the Middle East, Africa, Oceania and the Americas. Our unique combination of interdisciplinary interest, a comparative area studies approach, and social scientific research methods positions us within a larger partnership of Leiden Institutes and links our research and teaching to the extensive interdisciplinary and international networks we are currently involved in.

Terms and conditions
We offer a part-time (0,7 fte) position starting from 1 February 2022 onwards, The position is for one year with the possibility of extension for one more year based on need, funding and performance. Within our institute opportunities for small teaching tasks, such as supervising thesis, often arise. In case such an opportunity does arise, and you are interested, extension of your worktime up to 1.0 FTE can be discussed. Salary range from €3807.- to €5211.- gross per month on a full-time basis (pay scale 11, in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities).

The appointment is consistent with the collective employment agreement of Dutch universities (CAO). Leiden University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses (8.3 %), training and career development. Our individual choices model gives you some freedom to assemble your own set of terms and conditions. For international spouses we have set up a dual career programme. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break. 


Enquiries can be made to the PI of the |0100| Project, prof. dr. Bart Barendregt, email barendregt@fsw.leidenuniv.nl


Please submit online your application no later than November 28th 2021 via the blue button in our application system on the website.
Applicants should submit online a letter of interest accompanied by a CV and where possible a recommendation letter commenting on your professional qualifications and suitability for the position.