PhD Fellow in Sámi Cultural Studies

Deadline: 30.06.2021

UiT The Arctic University of Norway

UiT is a multi-campus research university in Norway and the northernmost university of the world. Our central location in the High North, our broad and diverse research and study portfolio, and our interdisciplinary qualities make us uniquely suited to meet the challenges of the future. At UiT you can explore global issues from a close-up perspective.

Credibility, academic freedom, closeness, creativity and commitment shall be hallmarks of the relationship between our employees, between our employees and our students and between UiT and our partners.

The Arctic University Museum of Norway and Academy of Fine Arts

The position

A Ph.D. position in Sámi Cultural Studies is available at The Arctic University Museum of Norway, UiT The Arctic University of Norway.

The position is part of an interdisciplinary, international research project New Sámi Renaissance: Nordic Colonialism, Social Change and Indigenous Cultural Policy (NESAR). The project investigates how the dynamics of colonialism and Sámi Cultural revitalization are articulated in the context of contemporary arts and popular culture, and what are the new issues, challenges and opportunities that growing general interest in Sámi identity and culture is presenting to the Sámi society on the level of cultural politics and policy. The project is funded by the Research Council of Norway’s program for Media and Culture.

We encourage applications from all parts of Sápmi and from various disciplinary backgrounds. More important than the disciplinary background is the candidate’s familiarity with the Sámi world, interest in developing new critical perspectives, and an ability to work in an interdisciplinary environment.

The workplace is at UiT in Tromsø. You must be able to start in the position within a reasonable time after receiving the offer.

The position is for a period of three years, which is the nominal length of the PhD programme. The objective of the position is to complete research training to the level of a doctoral degree. Admission to the PhD programme is a prerequisite for employment, and the programme period starts on commencement of the position.

The project and field of research

The project, New Sámi Renaissance: Nordic Colonialism, Social Change and Indigenous Cultural Policy (NESAR), brings together concepts and approaches in Cultural Studies, Indigenous studies and Sámi research. Cultural Studies is a politically engaged, interdisciplinary field of study, which focuses attention on the political dynamics of cultural and social phenomena, and seeks to identify and address new questions and problems that arise in today’s rapidly changing world. Indigenous Studies emphasizes accountability to the needs and world views of the indigenous society and posits indigenous self-determination as a fundamental value in research.

As part of NESAR, you will study Nordic colonialism and Sámi culture and society together with an ambitious international research group consisting of Nordic Sámi and non-Sámi scholars, and overseas collaborators. Our point of departure is that Nordic colonialism is not a thing of the past – it is reproduced actively in the present. Secondly, we recognize that along with Sámi cultural revitalization, there is also growing general interest in Sáminess across the Nordic societies, which is reflected especially in the arts and popular culture as Sámi artists, productions, designs and themes have become increasingly popular and prominent. NESAR investigates how the relationships between the Sámi and majority societies are contested, reorganized, and reproduced in this context, and explores what are the new issues, challenges and opportunities that the growing interest in Sámi arts, culture and identity is presenting to the Sámi society on the level of cultural politics and policy. The project’s primary aim is to support Sámi cultural revitalization through a better understanding of the complex social, political and economic forces which are reshaping the politics of indigeneity today. The secondary aim is to generate research-based knowledge that could support sustainable indigenous cultural policy design and implementation, and be of use for the Sami society as well as for public authorities and stake-holders working with Sámi arts and culture.

The applicants are asked to submit a tentative project proposal which shortly describes their tentative ideas and how their research align with NESAR’s objectives.

We pinpoint that relevant areas of research could include (but are not limited to):

  • Sámi arts and artivism as a prism of Nordic colonialism, decolonization and/or social change.
  • Sámi cultural ownership and contemporary forms of cultural appropriation.
  • Sámification and its meanings in the arts, design, tourism and/or popular culture
  • What is Sámi art and who can claim it? Sámi identity negotiations and management in the context of the arts and popular culture (including art administration, institutional funding policies and curatorial practice).
  • “Cultural appreciation” as a new concept in indigenous studies and cultural policy – meanings and implications?
  • Indigenous cultural policy - for what? New visions for Sámi cultural revitalization and the role of public institutions.

We also ask the applicants to identify in their project proposal empirically grounded cases that have potential for being applied and how you would approach the topic.

Research environment

The Arctic University Museum of Norway is part of the UiT’s University Museum and the Academy of Arts (UMAK), which is a multidisciplinary faculty consisting of three institutes, the University Museum, the Music Conservatory, and the Academy of Arts. The University Museum is the oldest research institution in Northern Norway (founded in 1872), and has two main research areas, Natural Sciences and Cultural Science, of which the latter holds expertise in Sámi history and culture. The University Museum is home to extensive Sámi collections and two permanent Sámi-related exhibitions, Sámi Culture and Sápmi – Becoming a Nation, and it hosts an active Sámi research group. In the coming years, the University Museum will assume an increasingly visible and active public role as its premises will be moved to a new building at Tromsø’s city centre.

Supervision and collaboration

The principal supervisor will be NESAR's project leader Laura Junka-Aikio. Other supervisors will be chosen together with the PhD candidate based on the thematic and methodological aspects of the candidate’s research plan.


For further information about the position, please contact:

Dr. Laura Junka-Aikio:

or Professor Trude Fonneland:


This position requires a master’s degree or equivalent in Social Sciences or Humanities. Applicants must document fluency of English and be able to work in an international environment. Working knowledge of Norwegian, Scandinavian or one of the Sámi languages is also expected.

Other beneficial skills and attributes:

  • Excellence in master thesis work
  • Creativity, independence and self-motivation
  • Ability to work in an interdisciplinary team and environment.
  • Pre-existing engagement with Sámi society and community affairs
  • Skills in Sámi language(s)
  • Interest in theories and research methods

In the assessment, the emphasis is on the applicant's potential to complete a research education based on the master's thesis or equivalent, and any other scientific work. The project proposal will also be considered. In addition, other experience of significance for the completion of the doctoral programme may be given consideration.

We will also emphasize motivation and personal suitability for the position.

As many as possible should have the opportunity to undertake organized research training. If you already hold a PhD or have equivalent competence, we will not appoint you to this position.

Admission to the PhD programme

For employment in the PhD position, you must be qualified for admission to the PhD programme at the Faculty of Humanities, Social Sciences and Education and participate in organized doctoral studies within the employment period.

Admission normally requires:

  • A bachelor's degree of 180 ECTS and a master's degree of 120 ECTS, or an integrated master's degree of 300 ECTS.
  • A master's thesis with a scope corresponding to at least 30 ECTS for a master's degree of 120 ECTS.
  • A master's thesis with a scope corresponding to at least 20 ECTS for an integrated master's degree of 300 ECTS.

All applicants should have a grade point average of B (or equivalent) on their master’s degree in order to be admitted to the PhD programme. The grade point average also applies to 300 ECTS points integrated five-year master’s degrees, in which all courses are to be included in the grade point average. A more detailed description of admission requirements can be found here.

Applicants with a foreign education will be subjected to an evaluation of whether the educational background is equal to Norwegian higher education, following national guidelines from NOKUT. Depending on which country the education is from, one or two additional years of university education may be required to fulfil admission requirements, e.g. a 4-year bachelor's degree and a 2-year master's degree.

Inclusion and diversity

UiT The Arctic University i Norway is working actively to promote equality, gender balance and diversity among employees and students, and to create an inclusive and safe working environment. We believe that inclusion and diversity is a strength and we want employees with different competencies, professional experience, life experience and perspectives.

If you have a disability, a gap in your CV or immigrant background, we encourage you to tick the box for this in your application. If there are qualified applicants, we invite least one in each group for an interview. If you get the job, we will adapt the working conditions if you need it. Apart from selecting the right candidates, we will only use the information for anonymous statistics.

We offer

  • Involvement in an interesting research project
  • Good career opportunities
  • A good academic environment with dedicated colleagues 
  • Flexible working hours and a state collective pay agreement 
  • Pension scheme through the state pension fund 
  • More practical information for working and living in Norway can be found here: https://uit.no/staffmobility


Your application must include:

  • Cover letter of 1-3 pages explaining your motivation and research interests
  • CV
  • Diploma for bachelor's and master's degree
  • Transcript of grades/academic record for bachelor's and master's degree
  • Explanation of the grading system for foreign education (Diploma Supplement if available)
  • Documentation of English proficiency
  • Documentation of proficiency in Norwegian (or Sámi/Scandinavian language)
  • 2-3 references with contact information
  • Master’s thesis, and any other academic works
  • Project proposal of 3-6 pages which tentatively describes the theme of the PhD research project you wish to undertake.

The proposal should include information on the following:

1. Theme or topic of the research.

2. Central research questions or problems that you wish to address.

3. Brief description of methods and/or theoretical framework

4. Brief description of research materials and/or empirical case(s) through which you wish to address the research theme and

5. Justification why the research is important.

While we do not expect fully established research plans at this stage, the proposal should demonstrate an original idea and good skills in academic writing, and convince the reader of the study’s scientific and/or social relevance. Once chosen for the position, the proposal will be revised and developed further with the support of the supervisors and the research group.

Qualification with a master’s degree is required before commencement in the position. If you are near completion of your master’s degree, you may still apply and submit a draft version of the thesis and a statement from your supervisor or institution indicating when the degree will be obtained. You must document completion of your degree before commencement in the position. You must still submit your transcripts for the master’s degree with your application.

All documentation to be considered must be in English. Diplomas and transcripts must also be submitted in the original language, if not in English or Scandinavian. We only accept applications and documentation sent via Jobbnorge within the application deadline.

General information

The appointment is made in accordance with State regulations and guidelines at UiT. At our website, you will find more information for applicants.

A shorter period of appointment may be decided when the PhD Fellow has already completed parts of their research training programme or when the appointment is based on a previous qualifying position PhD Fellow, research assistant, or the like in such a way that the total time used for research training amounts to three years.

Remuneration for the position of PhD Fellow is in accordance with the State salary scale code 1017. A compulsory contribution of 2 % to the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund will be deducted.

We process personal data given in an application or CV in accordance with the Personal Data Act (Offentleglova). According to the Personal Data Act information about the applicant may be included in the public applicant list, also in cases where the applicant has requested non-disclosure. You will receive advance notification in the event of such publication, if you have requested non-disclosure.

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