PhD Position

In the research project “Pathways from Injury: Naming, Proving, Interpreting” at the Institute of Social Anthropology @unibern; application deadline 1 June 2022 #southasia #legalanthropology #politicalanthropology



PhD Position (4 years), Institute for Social Anthropology, University of Bern.

We are looking for a doctoral student to be part of the research project “Pathways from Injury: Naming, Proving, Interpreting” at the Institute of Social Anthropology, University of Bern, which is funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation.

Terms of employment

  • Starting date: 01.10.2022, or to be agreed upon.
  • 100% Employment for four years in the SNF project “Pathways from Injury”, Institute of Social Anthropology, University of Bern.
  • Salary in accordance with the guidelines of the Swiss National Science Foundation.

The Project you will be part of:

The project “Pathways from Injury: Naming, Proving, Interpreting” enquires into the social and political impact of hate crime legislation. By comparatively examining how hate crime laws shape the articulation of injury of historically marginalized communities that fall under their protection and those that do not, the project seeks to shed light on the legal and social dynamics that unfold when hate is legally addressed in a majoritarian political landscape, such as that of India. While India's Prevention of Atrocities Act (PoA) of 1989, which criminalizes discriminatory acts against Dalits and indigenous groups, provides a legal safeguard against hate crimes, religious minority groups such as Muslims lack specific legal protections. Drawing on multi-sited ethnographic research in urban India, we investigate how India’s selective implementation of hate crime laws transform the ways Muslims and Dalits narrate experiences of violence when addressing police and courts. Through comparative ethnographic work with Muslim and Dalit communities, we analyze the respective legal narratives these groups employ to struggle against violence they are targeted by. We explore what is deemed proof of hate by India’s investigating agencies like the police and what is discounted. We compare how India’s judiciary interprets narratives of discrimination articulated by Dalits and Muslims. The project thereby aims to enrich wider debates about the socially transformative potential of legal anti-discrimination measures, as well as discussion about the potential, and limits of hate crime legislation in counteracting experiences and social practices of prejudice and hate.

We offer

  • A dynamic research team with extensive expertise in legal anthropology and research in India.
  • Extensive supervision by the principal investigator and main supervisor, Prof. Julia Eckert.
  • A lively and collegial institute, with many opportunities for exchange and collaboration.
  • The opportunity to join a Graduate Programme in Anthropology,
  • Scientific engagement in national and international networks, particularly in Legal anthropology and South Asia.


  • Realization of a research project addressing the legal logics and practices, local perceptions, and political implications of hate crime litigation.
  • Conduct extensive field research in India
  • Present research outputs at conferences, write a dissertation, and contribute to joint publications.
  • Co-organization of workshops.
  • Achieve a PhD in social anthropology.


  • M.A. in Social Anthropology or related disciplines in the social sciences (with demonstrated experience of ethnographic research).
  • Theoretical and empirical interest in the fields of legal anthropology and/or political anthropology.
  • Experience in research in South Asia; language skills in the region of research.
  • Fluency in English
  • Willingness to work autonomously and to collaborate in the project team.
  • Participation in the PhD colloquium, the Institute’s seminar, and in the activities of the institute is expected.


We are looking forward to your application. Please enclose the following documents:

  • Cover letter with an indication of your research interests
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • A writing sample (e.g. article, chapter of M.A. thesis)
  • Copies of your degrees

No reference letters are needed

Please send your documents in one pdf to eckert(at)

Institute of Social Anthropology,
University of Bern,
Lerchenweg 36
CH-3012 Berne

Application deadline 1.6.2022


Dokumente senden an

Prof. Julia Eckert

eckert[ at ]