Sarah de Rijcke

Postdoctoral Researcher

Current research

Sarah is currently working on a project called Network Realism: Making Knowledge from Images in Digital Infrastructures (with Anne Beaulieu). The project investigates databases of visual images on the web. Fieldwork is pursued at the Rijksakademie for the visual arts; the Tropenmuseum (an ethnographic museum); real estate database Funda; and Flickr as used by scholars who study street art. At all sites, images act as sources of knowledge about objects, are part of databases, and circulate in networked contexts. Leading questions for the post-doc research are: through which practices do images come to be things to be acted upon? How are these interactive practices learned by users and producers of databases of images? What is the place of this new kind of knowing in daily life and contemporary culture? The ethnographic study of interactions with databases will provide insight into the specific ways in which users and producers come to know through networked images, in contrast to other forms of visual knowing.

Current and forthcoming events

Festival Key of Life on The Body and the Brain, 21-23 October, Leiden – invited speaker.

Conference SLSA (Society for Literature Science and the Arts), 28-31 October 2010, Indianapolis – paper on the production, handling, and dissemination of images of art objects and museum collections  in increasingly networked settings.

University of California, San Diego, dept. of Communication, Visiting Research Fellow, 1-15 November.

Conference UCLA Reimagining the Archive, paper (with Anne Beaulieu) on The enactment of museum collections in digital infrastructures: authorizing actors, configuring expertise.

Artful Encounters - Co-organiser of expert meeting on ethnography, art and conservation, Maastricht, 18-19 November 2010.  Virtual Knowledge Studio, University of Maastricht, Hogeschool Zuyd.

Visual Culture Platform (Werkgroep Visuele Cultuur); ‘salon’ on representing the brain, 10 Dec. 2010 – keynote speaker.

MemoRad , professional journal Dutch radiologists, dec. 2010. Interview on my phd project Regarding the Brain.


Sarah received her PhD (with honors) from the University of Groningen, the Netherlands. The dissertation focused on different visual ways of knowing the brain, in relation to changing notions of objectivity. De Rijcke was a pre-doctoral research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in 2007.  She has published in several peer-reviewed journals, including Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, History of the Human Sciences, Library Trends and Theory & Psychology (with Anne Beaulieu), and the Journal of the History of the Neurosciences.  While working on her PhD, Sarah also worked as a lecturer. Earlier research together with Douwe Draaisma focused on the images in the handbooks of one of the founding fathers of psychology, Wilhelm Wundt. Douwe Draaisma also acted as supervisor to the dissertation, together with Trudy Dehue and Anne Beaulieu. The PhD committee consisted of José van Dijck, James Elkins, Fernando Vidal and Rob Zwijnenberg.


The Virtual Knowledge Studio for the Humanities and Social Sciences – VKS
Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences

Cruquiusweg 31
1019 AT Amsterdam
The Netherlands

T: +31 (0)20 8500 225