Ledig stilling på Universitetet i Oslo

Blindern og Urbygningen (Foto: Wikimedia og Colourbox)
Blindern og Urbygningen (Foto: Wikimedia og Colourbox)

PhD Research Fellowship in Okinawan Studies

Deadline: 11.08.2019

Whales of Power: Aquatic Mammals, Devotional Practices, and Environmental Change in Maritime East Asia

Universitetet i Oslo

The University of Oslo is Norway’s oldest and highest ranked educational and research institution, with 28 000 students and 7000 employees. With its broad range of academic disciplines and internationally recognised research communities, UiO is an important contributor to society.


The Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages(abbreviated IKOS from its Norwegian name) is one of the seven departments at the Faculty of Humanities. The Department has a broad competency in the study of religion and culture and in language based area studies of South Asia, East Asia and the Middle East and North Africa. The Department has several study programmes at both BA and MA levels. Among the Department's 110 employees about 40 are PhD and Postdoctoral Fellows.

Flere stillinger fra Universitetet i Oslo

Job description

One Doctoral Research Fellowship (SKO 1017) in Okinawan Studies is available at the Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages, University of Oslo.

The PhD candidate will take part in the ERC-funded project “Whales of Power: Aquatic Mammals, Devotional Practices, and Environmental Change in Maritime East Asia”, led by Aike P. Rots. Whales of Power is concerned with the comparative study of human-cetacean relations in maritime East Asia, as expressed in popular worship practices and beliefs in different parts of the region. We will examine several of these traditions through a combination of historical and ethnographic research. Marine mammals and associated worship practices will serve as a prism through which we approach human responses to socio-economic and environmental change in Asian coastal communities. The project has three important theoretical objectives: 1) apply recent theoretical developments associated with “environmental humanities” to the comparative study of popular religion; 2) reconsider the role of local worship traditions in the Asian Secular Age, examining the new meanings attributed to ritual practices; and 3) establish a new comparative paradigm in Asian studies.

The PhD candidate will work on marine mammals, sacralisation, and environmental activism in Okinawa. S/he will examine claims that the dugong has traditionally been seen as a sacred animal, associated with creation myths and the Ryukyu royal institution. In addition, s/he will analyse the current significance of the dugong as a critically endangered species which has come to symbolise the preservation of Henoko Bay, an area with high biodiversity, where a large new military base is currently under construction. Through interviews and participant observation within activist communities in Okinawa, the PhD candidate will explore the different meanings attributed to the dugong today, and explore internal debates about the significance of Okinawan “heritage” and of “sacred” animals and places in contemporary struggles for environmental protection and self-determination.

Applicants are invited to apply with a project proposal in which they elaborate on how they will approach this case study theoretically and methodologically. The case study should be placed within the overall framework of the Whales of Power project, and the candidate should show familiarity with the main project’s contents and objectives. For more information about Whales of Power, and the different work packages, see the project website. If you have any questions, please contact the project leader, Aike Rots: [email protected]

More about the position

The successful candidate is expected to join the existing research milieu and contribute to its development. S/he will take part in group activities such as the weekly “WhoP Lab” seminars, workshops, and excursions, and will also be affiliated with the Faculty’s organised research training. The academic work is to result in a doctoral thesis that will be defended at the Faculty with a view to obtaining the degree of PhD. Read more about the doctoral degree.

The application should be submitted by 11 August 2019. Interviews will be conducted in late August. The PhD candidate will start on 1 October 2019, or as soon as possible thereafter. The appointment is for a duration of 3 years. All PhD Candidates who submit their doctoral dissertation for assessment with a written recommendation from their supervisor within 3 years or 3 ½ years after the start of their PhD position, will be offered, respectively, a 12 or 6 month Completion Grant.

Qualification requirements

  • A Master’s degree or equivalent in Asian area studies, religious studies, social anthropology, environmental humanities, indigenous studies, or a related discipline. The Master’s degree must have been obtained and the final evaluation must be available by the application deadline.
  • Fluent oral and written communication skills in English.
  • Excellent command of Japanese. Knowledge of Classical Chinese or Okinawan is an added advantage.
  • Personal suitability and motivation for the position.

To be eligible for admission to the doctoral programmes at the University of Oslo, applicants must, as a minimum, have completed a five-year graduation course (Master’s degree or equivalent), including a Master’s thesis of at least 30 ECTS. In special cases, the Faculty may grant admission on the basis of a one-year Master course following an assessment of the study programme’s scope and quality.

In assessing the applications, special emphasis will be placed on:

  • The project proposal’s academic merit, research-related relevance and innovation
  • The applicant’s estimated academic and personal ability to complete the project within the time frame
  • The applicant’s ability to complete research training
  • Good collaboration skills and an ability to join interdisciplinary academic communities

Applicants who have recently graduated with excellent results may be given preference.

We offer

  • Salary NOK 479 600 – 532 300 per annum depending on qualifications
  • A professionally stimulating working environment
  • Membership in the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund
  • Attractive welfare benefits

How to apply

The application must include

  • Application letter describing the applicant’s qualifications and motivation for the position
  • Curriculum Vitae (with a list of education, positions, teaching experience, administrative experience and other qualifying activities, including a complete list of publications)
  • Transcript of records of your Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. Applicants with education from a foreign university must attach an explanation of their university’s grading system.
  • Detailed project plan, in which you describe your theoretical approach to the work package, the challenges you expect, your previous experience with academic research (including ethnographic fieldwork), how you can contribute to the project Whales of Power as a whole, etc. (3-5 pages).
  • One writing sample (chapter from MA thesis, journal article, or term paper).

Please note that all documents must be in English or a Scandinavian language.

Educational certificates, master theses and the like are not to be submitted with the application, but applicants may be asked to submit such information or works later.

The application with attachments must be delivered in our electronic recruiting system, please follow the link “Apply for this job”.

Short-listed candidates will be invited for an interview.

Formal regulations

Please see the guidelines and regulations for appointments to Research Fellowships at the University of Oslo.

No one can be appointed for more than one PhD Research Fellowship period at the University of Oslo.

According to the Norwegian Freedom and Information Act (Offentleglova) information about the applicant may be included in the public applicant list, also in cases where the applicant has requested non-disclosure.

The appointment may be shortened/given a more limited scope within the framework of the applicable guidelines on account of any previous employment in academic positions.

The University of Oslo has an agreement for all employees, aiming to secure rights to research results etc.

Contact information

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