Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Université libre de Bruxelles - Digital Immersions

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Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Université libre de Bruxelles - Digital Immersions


Applications are open for a 2-years postdoctoral position in social anthropology at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB). The fellowship is part of the project “Digital Immersions” funded by the FNRS (National Funds for Scientific research).
Project abstract:
This research is intended to produce qualitative knowledge about the embodied experiences of 3D headsets users in existing digital communities of sociability. Whilst socio-anthropological studies exist about Second Life and multi-player video games (such as World of Warcraft), with the 3D headset new experiential, communicational and interactive dimensions materialize. The present research intends to study lived experiences in virtual realities to better understand the mechanisms of the identity and attachment in such digital subcultures. Our aim is to observe users’ communicative and interactive practices when they are “online” and “offline”, and to collect their accounts of virtual experiences on social and gaming applications (VRChat, AltspaceVR, NeosVR, RecRoom). How does the identification with a 3D avatar work when it is guided at the first person? What are the social, bodily, aesthetic, emotional and linguistic effects? How do users talk about it? What do these experiences tell about the deployment of digital selves? 
Under the supervision of David Berliner (at Laboratoire d’Anthropologie des Mondes Contemporains - LAMC), the postdoctoral researcher will carry out ethnographical fieldwork on VRChat, NeosVR, RecRoom and AltSpaceVR. Applying the methodological principles of digital ethnography, (s)he will engage in participant observation on these platforms as well as conduct informal online and offline interviews. If Meta’s Horizon (formerly Facebook) becomes available to European subscribers in 2023-24, surveys could also be conducted on this application. 


Applicants should hold a PhD in social sciences for less than 8 years and with demonstrable expertise in digital cultures and ethnographic methods. They have neither resided or exercised their principal activity (employment, studies,...) in Belgium for more than 24 months during the last 3 years (immediately preceding the postdoc). Fieldwork experience involving the use of ethnographic and digital methodologies is a key selection criterion. Proficiency in English is required. Excellent written and oral communication skills are necessary. Knowledge of French is an asset.

The fellowship starts at the latest on the 1st of June 2023. Initial monthly salary is 2800€ net approx. The candidate will affiliate her-/himself with the LAMC at the ULB. (S)he should be prepared to settle in Belgium for 2 years.


Application (in English or French) includes the following documents:

-A curriculum vitae;
-A pdf copy of the PhD dissertation (if the PhD is in progress, please provide a letter from the thesis supervisor confirming completion by May 2023 at the latest);
-If available, an article accepted for publication in a scientific journal ;
- Copies of all academic degrees acquired (if the PhD is in progress, please provide a letter from the thesis supervisor confirming completion by May 2023 at the lastest);
- A cover letter (not exceeding 2 pages) explaining interest in the project, any former experience or expertise pertinent to the project, and preliminary research intentions;
- The name, institution and email of two academics who may be contacted for letters of recommendation.

These documents should be sent electronically to David Berliner ( by the 15th of January 2023. For further information, you are welcome to contact me at this same address.