Doctoral Research Position (all genders welcome)

The Zentrale Kustodie/Centre for Collection Development at the Georg-August-University Göttingen is looking to fill a

Doctoral Research Position (all genders welcome)

The position should be filled by 1st July 2020 with a limited contract of 3 years. The position will be remunerated at the TV-L 13 level (in accordance with the German public sector pay scale), employment: 65 % (currently 25,87 hours per week).

The project „Sensitive Provenances – Human Remains from Colonial Contexts in the Collections of the University of Göttingen“ (2020-2023), which is funded by the Volkswagen Foundation, will focus on two academic collections of human remains at the University of Göttingen. A first investigation revealed that many of the remains originated from the former German colonies in Africa and Oceania. The project will examine the provenance of the remains in regard to their origin, the circumstances of acquisition, their transfer to Europe and their transformation to “epistemic objects” in academic collections and finally their historical and current use for teaching and research purposes. Part of the project funds from the Volkswagen Foundation will be used to involve a doctoral student from the societies of origin in the project.

This interdisciplinary project combines methodological approaches from historical provenance research, mainly based on archive material; and qualitative cultural-anthropological methods that make the project itself an object of research to examine critically the often unexamined assumptions that have shaped the formation and use of collections. Representatives of the source communities will be integrated into the project to discuss its research agenda and the future handling of human remains in academic collections.

We seek a PhD student holding an MA either in history or cultural anthropology or related disciplines who can take on the perspective of persons from a formerly colonized region of origin from Oceania (with Australia and New Zealand) preferably from within those regions conventionally described as Melanesia and Micronesia. The candidate will conduct provenance research on a selected number of human skulls that came to Europe by means of the so-called “Hamburger Südsee Expedition” between 1908 and 1910. The research will focus on archival material in Germany and in one of the regions of origin addressed in the project. Ideally it will combine the archival work with ethnographic fieldwork to address the effect and aftermath of colonial interventions up to the present in the affected regions of origin. This individual will be part of the team of the provenance research project (2 PostDocs, 2 PhDs) that works at the intersection of history, cultural anthropology and physical anthropology.

Additional funds are available for travel expenses, archive visits and German language courses. The position is equipped with a student assistant.

Requirements for the position:
– The candidate should hold an MA degree in one of the following disciplines: (colonial) history, cultural anthropology, postcolonial studies, or history and philosophy of (colonial) science (or related disciplines).
– The candidate should be able to take on perspective of peoples and communities from formerly colonized regions of Oceania, preferably from those regions conventionally described as Melanesia or Micronesia.
– He/she should be familiar with the colonial history and current conditions in Oceania (including Australia and New Zealand), especially in the former German colonies in the Pacific region; a research interest in postcolonial debates about restitution, colonial museum holdings or human remains is desirable.
– The candidate is eager to take up the challenge of combining historical and ethnographic methods.
– Museum experience would be an advantage.
– Basic knowledge of German is advantageous; additional training on language is part of the grant package.

The University of Göttingen is an equal opportunities employer and places particular emphasis on fostering career opportunities for women. Qualified women are therefore strongly encouraged to apply in fields in which they are underrepresented. The university has committed itself to being a family-friendly institution and supports their employees in balancing work and family life. The mission of the University is to employ a greater number of severely disabled persons. Applications from severely disabled persons with equivalent qualifications will be given preference. Since parts of the fundings are reserved for scholars who are able to take on perspective of peoples and communities from countries of the assumed origins of the human remains under research, applications from candidates from the pacific region of Oceania, especially Melanesia and Micronesia, with equivalent qualifications, will be given preference.

Please send your application as one pdf file (in English):

(1) Application letter (letter of intent)
(2) Curriculum vitae (including also a list of all publications)
(3) Outline of possible project design (max. 2-3 pages)
(4) Writing sample (e.g. a published paper or a chapter of the MA thesis)
(5) Degree certificates
(6) Names and contact details of two referees

by 21.04.2020 to Georg-August-Universität Göttingen,

If you have any questions, please contact Mr. Christian Vogel, e-mail:

Please note:
With submission of your application, you accept the processing of your applicant data in terms of data-protection law. Further information on the legal basis and data usage is provided in the Information General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)


31. März 2020

Einrichtung: Zentrale Kustodie/Centre for Collection Development (ID 100672)

Ansprechpartner: Mr. Christian Vogel

Besetzungsdatum: 01.07.2020

Veröffentlichungsdatum: 26.02.2020