PhD Candidate: Shifting Perceptions of Ayahuasca in and from Latin America
An increasing number of scientists claim it's necessary to demythologize drugs and revise their perception as a threat to society. Latin America plays a key role, as psychoactive substances are part of its natural resources and Indigenous cultural history. Would you like to help analyse the changing perspectives of 'drugs' in Latin America? Then you have a part to play as a PhD candidate.
The Radboud Institute for Culture and History seeks a PhD candidate for the NWO-funded project 'Poison, Medicine or Magic Potion? Shifting Perceptions of Drugs in and from Latin America (1820-2020)'. The conception of drugs has differed greatly over time, and the distinction between 'illegal drugs' and 'legal medicines' continues to be contested. An increasing number of scientists claim that it is necessary to demythologise drugs and to revise the perception of drugs as a threat to society. Latin America plays a key role in this debate, as psychoactive substances are part of its natural resources and indigenous cultural history.
The main aim of this project is to analyse the changing perceptions of drugs in Latin America from the continent's independence to our present day (1820-2020). The project focuses on the representation of ayahuasca, peyote and coca/cocaine over time. The project uses a partially unexplored corpus of discourses on these plants, including literature, ethnography and travel writing. The project will nuance the complex yet often reductive link between drugs and violence by studying the multifaceted perceptions of drugs from a cross-cultural, diachronic and interdisciplinary perspective. Two workshops and a symposium with stakeholders will examine how cultural perceptions of drugs influence policy making and vice versa.
Your research will focus on the shifting perceptions of ayahuasca in the Amazonian basin (1820-2020). In studies on ayahuasca, perspectives from cultural and medical anthropology have been dominant so far, while the historical and cultural analytical perspectives are less developed as for peyote and coca/cocaine.
You will collect written and visual sources published by travellers and inhabitants from Latin America from 1820 till 2020 through archival research. Importantly, you will integrate indigenous perspectives through archival research and oral history. Your research will complement existing anthropological research from a cultural studies perspective. You will therefore use a solid theoretical framework in which you will integrate decolonial, indigenous perspectives on the environment and the life of plants, and bring it into dialogue with theories on posthumanism, material culture and affect theory. Important methods in your research will be discourse analysis, close reading and oral history.
You will write a PhD thesis and participate in the Graduate School for the Humanities, which includes taking courses for approximately six months and providing academic service to the Faculty of Arts at Radboud University, also for six months. Your research will be embedded in the Radboud Institute for Culture & History (RICH), which focuses on understanding the complexities of Europe in a changing world, and of the changing world of which Europe is a part. You will collaborate closely with the researchers in the project who focus on the shifting perspectives on peyote and coca, and on cultural heritage and tourism related to psychoactive plants. In addition, you will work with scientific and societal partners in Latin America, where part of your research will take place. You will organise several events in Nijmegen in collaboration with stakeholders and make a podcast together with the other members of the team.
- You should hold a Master's in Latin American studies, indigenous studies, cultural studies, or a comparable discipline.
- Demonstrable experience in cultural theory, discourse analysis and/or historical fieldwork (oral history and archival work) is highly recommended.
- Demonstrable experience with other disciplines (ethnobotany, environmental humanities, historiography, anthropology) and familiarity with the area of the Amazonian basin (especially Spanish speaking parts) is also recommended.
- You have excellent oral and writing skills in Spanish (C2 or native).
- You hold a Cambridge Certificate (CPE2 level) in English or equivalent, or you are committed to obtaining this certificate within 6 months.
- Passive knowledge of indigenous languages relevant in this field and of Dutch is considered an advantage.
- You are able to communicate and collaborate effectively in a team setting.
- You are able to work independently and flexibly, taking initiative where needed.
- You have administrative and organisational skills and are well acquainted with managing social media.
- You are willing to live in the Netherlands during the contract period and to conduct field work in Latin America.
The Faculty of Arts is committed to knowledge production with a significant scientific and social impact. With over 500 academic and support staff, we teach and conduct research in the fields of history and art, languages and cultures, and linguistics and communication, using innovative methodologies and working in close collaboration between the disciplines. Our research is embedded in two research institutes: the Centre for Language Studies (CLS) and the Radboud Institute for Culture & History (RICH). We currently have approximatively 2,500 students, enrolled in three departments: the Department of History, Art History and Classics, the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures, and the Department of Language and Communication. We aim to contribute to a more sustainable and inclusive world, which is why we especially seek applications from candidates who bring diverse perspectives, backgrounds, and skills that will be assets to our study programs and research profiles.
We want to get the best out of science, others and ourselves. Why? Because this is what the world around us desperately needs. Leading research and education make an indispensable contribution to a healthy, free world with equal opportunities for all. This is what unites the more than 24,000 students and 5,600 employees at Radboud University. And this requires even more talent, collaboration and lifelong learning. You have a part to play!
- It concerns an employment for 1.0 FTE.
- The gross starting salary amounts to €2,541 per month based on a 38-hour working week, and will increase to €3,247 in the fourth year (salary scale P).
- You will receive 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus.
- You will be employed for an initial period of 18 months, after which your performance will be evaluated. If the evaluation is positive, the contract will be extended by 2.5 years (4 year contract).
- You will be able to use our Dual Career and Family Care Services. Our Dual Career and Family Care Officer can assist you with family-related support, help your partner or spouse prepare for the local labour market, provide customized support in their search for employment and help your family settle in Nijmegen.
- Working for us means getting extra days off. In case of full-time employment, you can choose between 30 or 41 days of annual leave instead of the legally allotted 20.