Partner sites:EURES

Postdoctoral positions in Anthropology

This offer has expired

You can not apply any more to this job offer. Please go to the list of all available jobs to find a still valid offer.

The job offer is available for the following event:

2 x VITAL postdoctoral research fellows: “Learning to live with disease” & “Standardised subjects”


The positions are open from 1 February 2016 or shortly thereafter for 39.5 months (of which 36 months will be dedicated directly to research and 3.5 months will be related to teaching.).

This is an exciting opportunity to join a new research team that will carry out collaborative ethnographic research on the making of quality of life; based in one of Europe’s most vibrant Anthropology departments and living in one of the world’s best cities. The research project “The Vitality of Disease – Quality of Life in the Making” (VITAL) is hiring two postdocs to commence duties in early 2016. Funded by the European Research Council, candidates will contribute to the overall objectives of VITAL by carrying out independent ethnographic studies within predefined problem fields. The country and concrete site of the studies will depend on the candidate and should be outlined in detail in the application. There are no geographic limitations, and while a strong effort will be made to have a diversity of project countries and sites, the strongest candidates will be offered the positions. VITAL postdocs will play a crucial role in the conceptual and methodological innovations required by the project as a collective endeavour. Read more about the project at


Postdoc 1: Learning to live with disease (39.5 months)

This study will be an ethnography of how patients and families living with a chronic disease are guided and assisted to live the best possible lives with their disease as a means to improve their lives. The study will focus on the concrete practices that are recommended and taught through patient training programmes and expert patient schools with a specific focus on how the practices that are taught intersect with knowledge of living with the diseases in question. The study will track the different ways in which patients and carers are taught to on the one hand treat and manage their conditions and on the other tackle the daily challenges they face as a matter of quality of life, i.e. how they are taught to live with their disease. Through collection of relevant documents, ethnographic participation in expert patient courses, as well as through interviews with course convenors, nurses, participants as well as family members, the study will examine:

1.How is knowledge about the ‘quality of life’ of patients with a particular disease generated?

2.How are ‘good’ ways of living with disease developed and disseminated through expert patient courses?

3.How do notions of ‘quality of life’, ‘healthy living’ and ‘wellbeing’ circulate among patients and course convenors?

4.In which ways are strategies of morbid living devised and practiced?

A 3-page project proposal must be prepared detailing how and where such a study will be carried out (incl. a 1-page time plan) as part of the application.

Postdoc 2: Standardised Subjects (39.5 months)

The development of rating scales and indices to measure health-related quality of life has become a crucial component of medical research today. Since treatments are not only used to lengthen life, researchers must be able to measure improvements in the way a patient experiences or lives with a disease. This study will examine how notions of ‘improved living’ circulate among researchers and trial participants with a specific focus on how rating scales come to be developed and trials that measure improvements in living designed. The study will focus on the specific formation and deployment of instruments like the Activities of Daily Living Scale (ADLS) or Quality of Life in Reflux and Dyspepsia (QOLRAD) in a clinical trial focused on a so-called ‘lifestyle disease’ as a way to ethnographically research the ways in which quality of life comes to be made measureable and auditable. By following a clinical trial through the phases of protocol preparation, recruitment and study, this study will generate ethnographic insight into the standardisation of the subjective experience of disease. The study will include ethnographic participation during the development and carrying out of a clinical trial, interviews with clinicians and nurses as well as trial participants. Key research questions will include:

1.How are the treatment-outcomes of a trial negotiated?

2.What kinds of standardised rating scales are developed or used to measure treatment effects?

3.How do notions of ‘improved living’ circulate among researchers and trial participants?

4.How are concrete practices of rating carried out during the course of a trial?

A 3-page project proposal must be prepared detailing how and where such a study will be carried out (incl. a 1-page time plan) as part of the application.

Job Description

VITAL is a collaborative research project and the aim is to build a research team that will work synergistically and collectively in the coming five years. In the period of employment the candidate will participate as a member of the VITAL research team with an obligation to deliver the research and dissemination outputs that are outlined in the project’s Description of Activities. The candidate will participate in research team meetings, carry out research/fieldwork, attend and organise academic events, organise a research visit to a partner institution, prepare and submit publications as well as actively disseminate findings. Each Postdoc will have a specified budget to carry out these activities to be agreed with the PI. The candidate will be an active member of the VITAL team throughout the period of employment. Candidates are expected to participate in Departmental life (e.g. by joining a researcher group and attending Departmental seminars) and will also have the opportunity to teach at the Department of Anthropology as well as on affiliated Masters programmes on Global Health and Global Development in accordance with the teaching needs of the Department.



A postdoctoral position is a fixed-term academic position. The positions are heavily weighted in favour of research. In addition, a certain amount of teaching will be required. Other duties (e.g. research administration) may, furthermore, have to be performed to a limited extent. The University determines the exact ratio between the various responsibilities. The ratio may vary over time.

The candidate must hold a PhD degree in anthropology, sociology or science studies. Experience with social studies of medicine is preferred. Publications are preferred although not necessary, in which case a chapter from your PhD dissertation should be submitted. The candidate should have a strong network to ensure that the carrying out of the proposed research is feasible within the period of employment. Teaching experience will be an asset.

The position will not contribute to a broadening of pedagogical competencies. Therefore, the postdoctoral position may not alone qualify for appointment as Associate Professor/Senior Researcher.

Salary and conditions of employment 

Salary and conditions of employment will be in accordance with the agreement between the Danish Ministry of Finance and the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations (AC). The annual salary for postdoctoral researchers is within the range DKK 383,000 – 402,000 (EUR 51,000 – 53,600 app.). In addition to the salary paid directly to you, the University will also pay a monthly contribution to your pension fund corresponding to 17.1 % of your salary. Negotiation for additional supplements will be possible. A special tax scheme is offered for researchers recruited abroad, see


The application must be in English and include the following appendices:

Appendix 1: Cover letter detailing how the scientific qualifications of the applicant meet the requirements for this position. Please specify which of the two Postdoc positions you are applying for.

Appendix 2: Curriculum vitae – including full contact details and documentation of education and teaching experience.

Appendix 3: A complete list of publications.

Appendix 4: A detailed description of how and where (country and site) the relevant Postdoc project would be carried out including a time plan (2 A4 pages, time plan 1 A4 page).

Appendix 5: Your best publication (or chapter from PhD dissertation) (max 35 PDF pages)

Please note that applications will be assessed on the basis of these mandatory enclosures. Applicants cannot expect for any additional documentation to be taken into account in the assessment.

Application procedure 

After the expiry of the deadline for applications, applicants are selected for assessment on the advice of the Appointment Committee. All applicants are then immediately notified whether their application has been passed for assessment by an expert assessment committee. Selected applicants are notified of the composition of the committee and each applicant has the opportunity to comment on the part of the assessment that relates to the applicant him/herself. You can read about the recruitment process at


The University of Copenhagen wishes to encourage everyone interested in this post to apply, regardless of personal background.


For further information, please contact project PI Associate Professor Ayo Wahlberg:

The deadline for applications including enclosures is 30 November, 2015
(at 12:00 PM Danish Time)


Please note: Applications must be submitted and documents must be uploaded online. Press “Apply now” and fill in the application form.

Please note that it is only possible to upload one document per attachment category. If more than one document has to be uploaded in the same category, please make sure that the documents are scanned and collected in one file.

Applications received after deadline will not be taken into account.

Applications sent by regular mail or e-mail will not be accepted.