Join our PhD community to study artists networks and the global majority

Applications are open for a fully funded PhD scholarship at the University of Leeds, with the White Rose College of Arts and Humanities (WRoCAH) and Yorkshire and Humber Visual Arts Network (YVAN).

The PhD is titled Artists Networks: Whose Voice Counts? Researching the disconnects with and for artists from the Global Majority in the Yorkshire region.

The positive impact of participation in networks to support artistic resilience and ensure a flourishing visual arts sector with benefits to the artist and economy is well noted. However, artists from the Global Majority lack visibility within such networks, and within research into the visual arts more generally.

Contributing to ongoing projects by YVAN, this PhD aims to research and impact on arts policy frameworks, asking key research questions such as:

  • What are the barriers to the active participation of Global Majority artists?
  • Where does value lie within these relationships and organisational structures?
  • Can peer-led participative research methods facilitate data gathering and strengthen collective action for and by Global Majority artists?
  • What approaches can be adopted to mobilise post-colonial activism in research to institute change in organisational behaviours?

The supervisory team will include Robert Knifton and Helen Graham (School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies at the University of Leeds) and Sharon Gill (YVAN).

YVAN have developed programming such as Beyond the Obvious, supporting emergent Global Majority artists groups via exhibition and publication around themes of heritage, social and cultural space.

Alongside facilitating co-production of knowledge exchange with Global Majority organisations and artists, the student would be invited to help deliver YVAN’s work in this area such as exhibitions, ‘socials’, symposia and publications.

Robert Knifton, PhD supervisor of the Whose Voice Counts? project, said:

“This PhD project builds fantastically on the previous partnerships we’ve developed with YVAN, but excitingly proposes a radical revision in taking its starting point from practices and texts by Global Majority artists, critical writers and theorists.

“Harnessing these to action-based and participatory research methodologies has great potential to make a positive contribution to research, to arts policy, and to the activities of YVAN as an organisation.”

Read the full details about this PhD opportunity and find out how to apply.

The closing date for applications is 12 noon on Wednesday 6 March 2024.

For informal conversations about the project, email Robert Knifton at


Audience at Debjani reading, Beyond the Obvious 2 Launch at Sheffield Hallam University, 28 March 2022. Photo courtesy of YVAN.