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Hum­boldt-Uni­ver­si­tät zu Ber­lin - Exzel­lenz­clus­ter Mat­ters of Activity

The Clus­ter of Excel­lence will explore mate­ri­als' own inner activity, which can be dis­co­ve­red as a new source of inno­va­tive stra­te­gies and mecha­nisms for rethin­king the rela­ti­ons­hip bet­ween the ana­log and the digi­tal and for desi­gning more sustainable and energy-effi­ci­ent tech­no­lo­gies.

Rese­arch assi­stant (PhD posi­tion (m/f/d) with 67% regu­lar working time) in the field of social and cul­tu­ral anthro­po­logy

E 13 TV-L HU (third party fun­ding, from 01.01.2020 until 31.12.2022)

Work­ing field:

The Clus­ter of Excel­lence Mat­ters of Activity announ­ces a doc­to­ral stu­dent posi­tion as part of its struc­tu­red doc­to­ral pro­gram. The doc­to­ral pro­gram pro­mo­tes disci­pli­nary doc­to­ra­tes in con­nec­tion with joint rese­arch in an inter­di­sci­pli­nary working group with a pro­gram dura­tion of 36 mon­ths.

Job descrip­tion:
The pro­ject »Object Space Agency« seeks to fill a doc­to­ral stu­dent posi­tion. Anthro­po­logy and social sci­en­ces are cur­r­ently dis­cus­sing various onto­lo­gi­cal approa­ches to mate­ria­lity in the so-cal­led 'onto­lo­gi­cal turn'. This pro­ject wants to eth­no­gra­phi­cally com­pare approa­ches that see mate­ria­lity and objects as 'active' in con­trast to widespread Wes­tern under­stan­dings that do not. Such active under­stun­dings can come from non-Wes­tern con­texts. But they can also be found in highly spe­cia­li­zed epis­temic cul­tures of sci­ence, medi­cine or tech­no­logy deve­lop­ment.

The suc­cess­ful can­di­date should send an exposé that deve­lops a com­pa­ra­tive eth­no­gra­phic explo­ra­tion of selec­ted onto­lo­gies in the broad field of envi­ron­ment/nature/sustai­na­bi­lity. At least one case study should be from a non-European con­text. Ideas are also desi­red as to how onto­lo­gi­cal dif­fe­ren­ces can be rep­re­sen­ted and dis­cus­sed in col­la­bo­ra­tion with muse­ums such as the Hum­boldt Labor in the Hum­boldt Forum or the Ber­lin Museum of Natu­ral History.


A com­ple­ted uni­ver­sity degree (MA or equi­va­lent) in social and cul­tu­ral anthro­po­logy or a rela­ted sub­ject; trai­ning in eth­no­gra­phic rese­arch; above-average wil­ling­ness for inter­di­sci­pli­nary coope­ra­tion; high pro­fi­ci­ency in spo­ken and writ­ten Eng­lish; high level of social com­pe­tence, abi­lity to work in a team

How to ap­ply:

To apply for this posi­tion, please send your app­li­ca­tion inclu­ding CV, let­ter of moti­va­tion, degree cer­ti­fi­ca­tes and rese­arch pro­po­sal to Hum­boldt-Uni­ver­si­tät zu Ber­lin, Clus­ter of Excel­lence Mat­ters of Activity. Image Space Mate­rial Prof. Dr. Jörg Nie­wöh­ner, Prof. Dr. Sharon Mac­do­nald, Unter den Lin­den 6, 10099 Ber­lin or pre­fer­a­bly by e-mail as one sin­gle pdf-docu­ment to with the refe­rence num­ber DR/115/19.

Mat­ters of Activity’s rese­arch pro­gram can be found at

HU is see­king to increase the pro­por­tion of women in rese­arch and tea­ching, and spe­ci­fi­cally encou­ra­ges qua­li­fied female scho­l­ars to apply. Severely dis­ab­led app­li­cants with equi­va­lent qua­li­fi­ca­ti­ons will be given pre­fe­ren­tial con­si­de­ra­tion. People with an immi­gra­tion back­ground are spe­ci­fi­cally encou­ra­ged to apply. Since we will not return your docu­ments, please sub­mit copies in the app­li­ca­tion only.

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