Postdoctoral Researcher in “Archiving the Planet: Material Infrastructures and Ecologies of Storage in the High North” at University of Oulu, Finland
The University of Oulu’s Faculty of Humanities (Unit of History, Culture and Communications) is hiring a Postdoctoral Researcher for the project “Archiving the Planet: Material Infrastructures and Ecologies of Storage in the High North”. The project is funded by the Eudaimonia Focus Institute and will study past and present infrastructures and agricultural practices in the circumpolar North. It takes cultural perspectives on the role of Northern regions in local and global landscape and agricultural practices in the context of the ongoing environmental crisis that involves the concerns of sustainability, climate change and biodiversity. The project is situated within environmental humanities and the disciplines of anthropology, archaeology, history, and heritage studies, and is led by Professor Vesa-Pekka Herva. The length of this postdoctoral position is fixed term for 30 months and cannot be extended beyond June 2026.
This project benefits from an affiliation to the Biodiverse Anthropocenes programme. Biodiverse Anthropocenes is a Research Programme of the University of Oulu supported by the Academy of Finland PROFI6 funding (2021-2026). This innovative and transdisciplinary research initiative brings together scholars from across the social and natural sciences to collaboratively investigate the biodiversity loss currently threatening multi-species well-being and planetary sustainability, and to generate future-oriented solutions both in the Arctic and around the planet. The postdoctoral researcher will be encouraged to become a core member of Biodiverse Anthropocenes and take part in the programme’s exciting calendar of interdisciplinary activities and events.
About the job:
You will become part of a transdisciplinary project that investigates questions around seeds, plants, agricultural practices and imaginaries, and infrastructures of agriculture in relation to circumpolar regions. This project investigates the extent to which the circumpolar and high North are becoming a new frontier for world agriculture, facilitated via the melting of permafrost and recent initiatives for preserving collections of the planet’s seeds specimen for future generations. Made up of a group of leading archaeologists, historians, and anthropologists, the project investigates the “social lives” of seeds, through analysis of contemporary and historical data (across e.g. museums, archives, doomsday vaults, and biological seed laboratories). It also considers the long-term fluctuations of agricultural practices in the circumpolar North and how material-genetic stores shape infrastructures of conservation, the socio-cultural construction of nature, and the production of global knowledge across institutions and disciplines.
For this position they are looking to recruit a talented and highly motivated research-oriented person interested in the relationships between past, present and future entanglements of agriculture and the circumpolar North. More specifically, they welcome research ambitions that engage with practices, knowledges and/or imaginaries of human-plant-animal-landscape relationships in the North. The focus of the specific postdoctoral project is open, but some examples of possible themes could be:
- material cultures of agricultural practices in the circumpolar North;
- colonial relationships in the context of agricultural practices;
- cultural meanings of plant or landscape cultivation;
- techno-scientific imaginaries or governance of human-environment relations;
- agricultural practices of local/Indigenous communities;
- the cultural or social politics of food security in the circumpolar regions;
- relations between humans and seeds/plants in scientific and commercial laboratories.
You are welcome to propose any research topic of relevance to the intersection of plant cultivation and its landscapes in the context of the circumpolar/high North in connection to the broader themes of sustainability, climate change, and the Anthropocene. Northern agricultural histories and futures have become increasingly topical in the context of changing climate, biodiversity loss, and resource exploitation in the Arctic. Prof. Herva and the team have engaged with human-environmental relations in the northern world extensively and from multiple perspectives and the postdoctoral researcher will benefit from the team’s experience and contact networks, as well as from the Biodiverse Anthropocenes programme, and you will have a unique opportunity to produce original work within a new and dynamically growing research area. You are encouraged to take a transdisciplinary approach across, between and beyond different disciplines.
As the core postdoctoral researcher on this team, you will both carry out your own proposed research project and will also support Prof Herva in delivering the broader goals of the SEEDARC project. Primary duties attached to the position will thus include:
- Carrying out your own proposed research project;
- Disseminating research results in publications and at workshops and conferences;
- Taking part in collaborative social scientific research on infrastructures and agricultural practices, sustainability, and environmental change in the North. This could include, i.e., desk-based research, grey literature analysis, interviewing, qualitative data analysis;
- Engaging in writing and submitting funding applications for follow-on research grants;
- Organising and facilitating one or more project-related workshops in Finland (with support from PI and Co-I);
- Engaging in activities with various team, Faculty and programme members.
- Participating in outreach initiatives that engage both academic and non-academic publics;
- Taking part in teaching or supervisory activities, subject to your own teaching/research capabilities and interests, and to faculty needs (max 5% of the total 1612 working hours per year);
- Carrying out other relevant administrative support functions.
What they offer?
- Supportive and transparent research environment in which your work is valued and your contribution is recognized;
- A world-class research environment in a multinational, high ranking research group working to solve globally significant scientific and environmental challenges;
- A lively community of committed scholars in an innovative and internationally focused programme keen on generating new research ideas;
- You will be supported to lead-author academic papers, and you will be encouraged to attend and present at key academic conferences (funding dependent);
Benefits of working at the University and in Finland include:
- A competitive salary paid monthly, which includes paid leave and an additional holiday bonus in the summer;
- You will receive university occupational health insurance. The Finnish government also provides benefits to residents and their families, for example access to the national healthcare system and high-quality, affordable childcare and school services;
- Wellness benefit ePassi covering sport, culture and well-being. Read more about other staff benefits here.
- Their Buddy Programme and Spouse Network support you and close-ones in settling into Oulu.
- They have a HR Excellence in Research -quality label which is a recognition awarded by the European Commission for the development of researchers’ working conditions and careers.
- Work that matters and a workplace that promotes flexibility and work-life balance. Read more about working with us.
- Finland is one of the most livable countries in the world, with a high quality of life, safety, excellent education system, and competitive economy. Read more about living in Oulu.
Who are you?
In order to succeed in and enjoy the position, they would expect from you:
- An applicable Doctoral degree in a relevant field (anthropology, archaeology, history, geography, social studies of science, environmental humanities, or a related field in human sciences) that has been awarded not more than ten years ago;
- An interest in (and ideally experience with) issues related to landscape, agriculture, time, space and human-animal relations;
- High motivation, efficiency, self-organization; independence, and the ability to work in a group.
- An experience in qualitative social scientific research, especially when evidenced by peer-reviewed publications;
- Excellent written and interpersonal communication skills in English (the working language of the SEEDARC project is English).
They also appreciate:
- A transdisciplinary research orientation, with work anchored in multiple approaches from across the social, natural sciences and/or humanities;
- Capacity to collaborate in research and research dissemination activities;
- Proficiency in Finnish or a Scandinavian language is an advantage, but not a requirement.
The position is fixed-term for 30 months beginning on 1 January 2024 or as soon as possible thereafter and ending on 30 June 2026.
The salary will be based on the levels 5-6 of the demand level chart for teaching and research staff of Finnish universities. In addition, a salary component based on personal work performance will be paid (maximum of 50 % of the job-specific component). Starting gross salary will be approx. 3600-4200 € per month (before taxes).
A trial period of 6 months is applied in the position.
How to apply?
Interested? If yes, please apply by Wednesday 8 November 2023 (23:59 Finnish local time) through their recruitment system.
The application should be written in English and include the following:
- CV, following the guidelines of the Finnish Advisory Board on Research Integrity (max 4 pages);
- Cover letter (max 2 pages);
- A tentative research proposal (max. 3 pages) presenting your proposed research idea, relevant methodologies and theories, and an estimated timeline. Please be sure to detail how this project is related to the core themes of the SEEDARC project;
- List of publications, following the guidelines of the Academy of Finland;
- Certificate/Diploma: a scanned copy of the original doctoral degree certificate;
- Contact details of 2 senior/experienced researchers who may be asked to give a personal statement about you (note that these will only be requested if you are shortlisted for this position).
The eligible applicants fitting best in the profile expected for the position will be invited to an on-site or remote interview. All applicants will be notified during the selection process.
They welcome applicants from all backgrounds, including people of different ages, genders and members of different language, cultural or minority groups.
If you have any further questions about this position or the SEEDARC project, please contact Prof. Vesa-Pekka Herva (firstname.lastname@example.org).