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  3. PhD positions Faculty Theology and Religious Studies (2.0 FTE)

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PhD positions Faculty Theology and Religious Studies (2.0 FTE)

The research project
The PhD positions are part of a larger collaborative, international and interdisciplinary research team that investigates socio-cultural and religious meanings of cereals in Odisha (India) in the context of changing government policies and new global and loc

3 maanden geleden


Broerstraat, Groningen, Groningen
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
38 - 38 uur
€ 3061 - € 3061 per maand


The research project
The PhD positions are part of a larger collaborative, international and interdisciplinary research team that investigates socio-cultural and religious meanings of cereals in Odisha (India) in the context of changing government policies and new global and local valuations of cereals in connection to discourses of bio-diversity, sustainability and food security. The present call relates to the NWO (Dutch Research Council) funded research project (more information on this project below) that will be hosted by the University of Groningen. Two other complementary projects are funded by the DFG (German Research Foundation) and hosted by the Frobenius Institute for Research in Cultural Anthropology (FI, Frankfurt am Main, Germany). For more information on these projects and possibilities of PhD positions, please contact the Director of the FI, Prof. Roland Hardenberg (hardenberg@em.uni-frankfurt.de).

Summary of the NWO project: “Salvage Crops, ‘Savage’ People: A comparative anthropological and archaeobotanical investigation of Millet Assemblages in India”; Project leaders: Dr. Peter Berger (Social and Cultural Anthropology) and Prof. René Cappers (Archaeology, Archaeobotany).

Millets, grasses grown mostly in Africa and India, used to be marginalized as “poor-man’s food”. Now they are globally regarded as crucial for the attainment of the UN’s Sustainable-Development-Goals due to their excellent nutritional and ecological properties. In order to promote millets, the Indian state of Odisha recently initiated the “Millets Mission” in regions inhabited by millet-cultivating indigenous peoples (Adivasis). However, agro-scientists and policymakers fail to recognize the cultural dimensions of food-crop production. While they now consider millets as salvage crops, the original Adivasi cultivators are often considered as backward and their cultures curtailed. We argue, conversely, that bio-diversity depends on cultural diversity.

The policies entail new configurations and valuations of millets that relate people, crops, ideas and technology in novel ways. We aim to investigate the full complexity of human engagements with millets in these changing circumstances. Understanding the conditions, dynamics and implications of crop selection is crucial for a sustainable future. We achieve this aim by integrating the approaches of anthropology and archaeobotany and by combining ethnographic and historical perspectives. Our societal aim is to challenge mainstream representations of Adivasi cultures, to explicate the consequences of the disconnection of crops and culture, and to facilitate constructive dialogue between stakeholders.

The two ethnographic sub-projects (each carried out by a PhD researcher) will involve long-term fieldwork among two Adivasi communities of Odisha that employ different traditional cultivation systems. 1) Adivasi shifting cultivators (PhD sub-project I): Numerous communities inhabiting steep hills practice shifting cultivation. This type of non-irrigated cultivation uses one type of field, which is cleared in the forest and then cultivated for a number of years. It also involves intensive multi-cropping, that is, different kinds of millets are cultivated in the same field next to pulses, roots and fruits. Millets have been the single most important staple food for these communities. 2) Adivasi rice & millets cultivators (PhD sub-project II): The situation is different on the Koraput plateau of Odisha. Here, millet and rice are complementary traditional staple crops cultivated in different ways. While millets are grown on permanent dry fields, the specific ecological conditions of the plateau allow wet-rice cultivation in terraced riverbeds. While rice is a new crop among shifting cultivators, on the plateau rice cultivation is an ancient practice and together with millet cultivation deeply engrained in ritual and worldview.


The PhD researcher is expected:

• to have a (research) master in socio-cultural anthropology or related disciplines within the field of humanities and social sciences
• to have a thorough training in empirical, qualitative research skills and experience in conducting ethnographic fieldwork
• to be committed to conduct intensive long-term ethnographic fieldwork (at least 15 months) in a rural part of Odisha (India)
• to be fluent in English (both oral and written)
• to be able and willing to work in an international, interdisciplinary environment
• to be able to finish the PhD thesis in four years
• to enjoy planning, taking initiative, and academic writing; and
• to have the desire to publish.


We offer you in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities:

• a salary from a minimum of € 2,395 gross per month in the first year to € 3,061 gross per month in the fourth year, in case of fulltime employment
• attractive employment conditions, which include a holiday allowance of 8%, a year-end bonus of 8.3% and up to 41 days paid time off. Substantial tax benefits may apply to non-Dutch citizens, conditional on permission granted by the Dutch Tax Office
• a position for a period of four years. First you are offered a temporary position of one year with the option of renewal for another three years. Prolongation of the contract is contingent on sufficient progress in the first year to indicate that a successful completion of the PhD thesis within the contract period is to be expected. The conditions of employment are available at the University of Groningen website under Human Resources: https://www.rug.nl/about-ug/work-with-us/new-staff/conditions-of-employment?lang=eng

• 5 August 2021 - deadline for submitting applications (23:59 Dutch local time)
• 25 August 2021 - selection of candidates for online interviews; notification of invited candidates
• 2 September 2021 - online interviews with PhD candidates; notification of selected candidates
• 1 November 2021 - preferred starting date of PhD’s in Groningen.

Additional information

Dr Peter Berger