Two PhD Positions (Research Associates, 65%), Research Group "Marking Power: Embodied Dependencies, Haptic Regimes and Body Modification"

The Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies invites applications for two PhD Positions (Research Associates, 65%). Starting Date: October 1, 2020

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The Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn is an international research university that offers a wide range of degree programs. With 200 years' worth of history, some 38,000 students, over 6,000 employees, and an excellent domestic and international reputation, Bonn University is among Germany’s leading universities.

The Research Group "Marking Power: Embodied Dependencies, Haptic Regimes and Body Modification." is an integral part of the Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies, established in 2017 within the Faculty of Philosophy. The BCDSS was awarded the status of "Cluster of Excellence: Beyond Slavery and Freedom. Asymmetric Dependencies in pre-modern Societies" by the German Research Council. The Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies offers excellent opportunities for interdisciplinary and comparative study of different forms of dependencies from Antiquity to the present, across many regions. 

Job Description
The successful candidates will formulate independent projects within the Research Group "Marking Power: Embodied Dependencies, Haptic Regimes and Body Modification." The research group focuses on the notion of touch and different forms of body modification from a historical and anthropological perspective. Combining theories and methodologies of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Material Culture Studies, Oral History, Postcolonial Theory and Gender Studies, it examines (historical) practices of body modification such as tattooing, piercing, scarification, branding, etc., as well as the bodies and material objects involved in these practices. Besides investigating the entangled histories of tactility, body modification and power relations, it discusses the dynamic relations between social actors with a focus on the Americas during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It also takes the various (forced) migratory movements from and to the Americas into account, for example from Asia to the Caribbean.
Individual projects of the research group will examine how body marks and practices of body modification have visualized, materialized and performatively (re)created asymmetrical power relations and embodied experiences of dependency. They will discuss how marking practices have defined and negotiated boundaries of humans and non-humans, subjects and objects, culture and nature, and how discourses about and silences on these practices have influenced the (im-)possibility of specific historical narratives. They will analyze the multiple and interacting forms of oppression and empowerment in relation to the practices of marking, unmarking, inscribing and touching, which may create, maintain or challenge networks and systems of asymmetrical dependency. The research group itself forms part of the wider research of the BCDSS and here of the Research Area B Embodied Dependencies.

Contracts will have a fixed duration of three years (ending September 30, 2023), with an option of extending for an additional year after a positive interim evaluation (3+1 years). The positions are funded on a salary of 65% of the TV-L-E13 salary level, approximately €30,000 pro-rata per annum before tax. The successful candidates will receive a salary and social security benefits. In addition, access to extra funding for archive trips and conferences will be available, as well as institutional support for women and applicants with families. They will participate in the BCDSS’s PhD program which offers both academic and non-academic training units. PhD candidates at the University of Bonn are advised to enroll as PhD students at the bi-annual fee of about €300. This fee covers free regional public transport within the state of North Rhine-Westphalia as well as student discounts at museums, cinemas, and other benefits.

Applicants are required to have completed a university degree (Master, Magister or Staatsexamen) in Social and Cultural Anthropology or in a similar area of study relevant for the research group. We welcome applications from all over the world. English is the working language within the Research Group "Marking Power: Embodied Dependencies, Haptic Regimes and Body Modification" and within the BCDSS. The English of the applicant must therefore be on an equivalent level of: ETS TOEFL certificate (minimum score of 600 for the paper-based test, 250 for the computer-based test, and 100 for the online test); Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English, CPE (any grade); Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English, CAE (grade A or B); IELTS test (level 7.0); C1 level according to CEFR native speakers or graduates from an English-speaking university are exempt from this verification. However, we do not require a formal certificate.

How to Apply
Applicants are invited to submit:

  • their application, consisting of a) curriculum vitae; b) a list of publications (if applicable); c) copies of their BA and MA certificates or equivalents (including official transcripts).
  • an outline of the research project they would like to develop (max. four pages), including key research questions and hypotheses, sources and methodology, connections of the proposed project with, and relevance for, the topic of the research group.
  • a sample of work of max. three pages, together with a short description of the context (e.g. part of BA or MA thesis, term paper, published article etc.) in its original language.
  • the names and contact details of two referees (position, professional address, and e-mail).

The University of Bonn is committed to diversity and equal opportunities. It is certified as a family-friendly university. It aims to increase the proportion of women in areas where women are underrepresented and to promote their careers in particular. It therefore urges women with relevant qualifications to apply. Applications will be handled in accordance with the Landesgleichstellungsgesetz (State Equality Act). Applications from suitable individuals with a certified serious disability or similar are particularly welcome.

If you are interested in this position, please send your complete English application documents combined into one single pdf file by March 15, 2020, to application[at] with the application code 97/19/3.202.


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