21.01. 2019


28.02. 2019

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Nadine Wagenbrett


The Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology is one of the leading centres for research in social anthropology. Common to all research projects at the Max Planck Institute is the comparative analysis of social change; it is primarily in this domain that its researchers contribute to anthropological theory, though many programmes also have applied significance and political topicality.
The new Max-Planck research group “Backwater Histories: Time and the Other in the German-Speaking Alpine Region” is looking for highly qualified and motivated candidates for

1 PhD position
starting 1 April 2019

“Backwater Histories” is a project led by Dr. Annika Lems that investigates the role of local, everyday notions of history in the increasing spread of exclusionary and anti-cosmopolitan sentiments in Europe. The project will zoom in on the everyday lives of people in rural villages in the German-speaking Alps – communities that are at once located at the crossroads of the European project and characterised by long histories of support for exclusionary political ideas. Taking the production of vernacular, amateur, “backwater” histories seriously, the aim is to come to a deeper understanding of processes of European fragmentation and disenchantment.

Essential Duties & Responsibilities

Projects should relate to one or more of the following conceptual areas: memory studies and/ or the production of amateur histories; the anthropology of history; the role of gender in rural settings; the role of climate change/ histories of human-nature engagements; visual and narrative representations of home (Heimat) and alienation; experiences of disenchantment and anti-EU sentiments; histories of dislocation in Alpine settings; the role of heritage clubs and other local social institutions; histories of tourism in the Alps; local-tourist interactions.

Proposals for the PhD position should focus on the German Alps (Bavaria, preferably Berchtesgaden area).

Your Profile
For the PhD position applicants should have a Master’s in social anthropology, European ethnology, history, or gender studies. Candidates should have a strong background in qualitative research methods, with proven experience in ethnographic field research. They need to be fluent in German and able to converse in the local dialects that are spoken in the respective field sites. As the working language at the Max-Planck Institute and language of publications will be mainly in English, candidates also need to have a strong English-language proficiency. They needs to be keen to collaborate in a team and have strong social and intercultural skills. Ideally candidates have a background in migration or critical race studies and have worked in challenging social settings before.
Candidates are expected to develop their independent research projects within the framework of the research group and publish their outcomes in key academic venues. They are also encouraged to think of creative means allowing the team to communicate research outcomes to a wider public. Candidates are expected to play an active role in the organisation of international conferences and workshops and in a joint publication project.

The PhD position is awarded for three years, with the possibility of two six-month extensions. We expect our PhD student to complete a one year period of fieldwork as part of him/her study.
The workplace is Halle/Saale (Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany), except when undertaking field research.
The Max Planck Society strives to employ more persons with disabilities and explicitly encourages applications. Furthermore, the Max Planck Society is committed to raising the proportion of women in underrepresented fields; we thus explicitly encourage applications by women.


Please submit your application electronically by 28 February 2019 following the link for vacancies on our homepage.

Applicants should send the following documentation:
• a cover letter outlining your research trajectory and interest in the position of maximum one page (12.0 Times New Roman with a minimum of 1.5 spaces)
• a CV, including list of publications
• a summary of the proposed research (maximum 1000 words)
• a writing sample (e.g. a published article or full thesis chapter)
• photocopies of university degrees
• the names and contact details of two potential referees

Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology
Personnel Administration
Nadine Wagenbrett

Informal enquiries concerning the positions may be directed to Dr. Annika Lems
Interviews are envisaged to take place in February/ March 2019, with the positions scheduled to begin in April 2019.

Source and further information: Max Planck Institute, (21 January 2019)