Postdoctoral Researcher: Psychoactive Plants and Cultural Heritage in Latin America

Postdoctoral Researcher: Psychoactive Plants and Cultural Heritage in Latin America

Published Deadline Location
6 Mar 3 Apr Nijmegen

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Job description

The Faculty of Arts at Radboud University is looking for a postdoctoral researcher to collaborate on the project 'Poison, Medicine or Magic Potion? Shifting Perceptions of Drugs in and from Latin America (1820-2020)', which was recently awarded a grant by the Dutch Research Council. As a postdoctoral researcher, you will join the VICI research team (including two PhD candidates, two postdoctoral researchers and the PI) and also be a member of the Radboud Institute for Culture and History (RICH) and the department of Modern Languages and Cultures (MTC).

The Radboud Institute for Culture and History is looking for a postdoctoral researcher 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 that they constitute a threat to society. Latin America plays a key role in this debate, as psychoactive plants 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 the present day (1820-2020). The project focuses on the representation of ayahuasca, peyote and coca/cocaine over time. It 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.

As a postdoctoral researcher, you will analyse and compare shifting perceptions of ayahuasca, coca/cocaine and peyote in museums and memorials, and uncover how these intersect with national and legal constitutions of indigenous culture and religion. The comparative dimension will open a fruitful discussion with broader scholarship on the relation between Indigenous knowledge and heritage. You will use the different theoretical frameworks of the project (decolonial theory, posthumanism and affect studies) to study cultural heritage in the Amazonian Basin, the Andes region, the Sierra Madre Occidental, and the Netherlands. You will contribute to the development of the PhD candidates' methodological and theoretical skills and will work closely together with your fellow postdoctoral researcher on Drugs and Tourism in Latin America. In addition, you will work with scientific and societal partners in Latin America and in the Netherlands. You will organise several events for stakeholders in Nijmegen and make a podcast together with the other members of the team.

Your research will be embedded in RICH. Apart from the specific context of the VICI research project, you will participate in one of its research groups and contribute to the institute in general. Together with the present staff of the research institutes, you will set up research collaborations on these topics. You will publish about your research in highly qualified journals, conference proceedings, or edited volumes. Lastly, you will be expected to teach a limited number of Bachelor’s and Master's courses.


Radboud University


  • You hold a PhD in a relevant field, such as Anthropology, Cultural Studies, Heritage Studies or a comparable discipline.
  • You have excellent oral and writing skills in Spanish (C2 or native) and hold a Cambridge Certificate (CPE2 level) in English or equivalent, or you are committed to obtaining this certificate within six months.
  • You are able to work independently and flexibly, taking initiative where needed, but are also able to communicate and collaborate effectively in a team setting.
  • You have administrative and organisational skills and you easily manage social media.
  • You are willing to live in the Netherlands during the contract period and to do field work in Latin America.
  • You have a track record of international high-profile publications.
  • Demonstrable experience in collaborating with museums in Latin America and with fieldwork is highly recommended.
  • Demonstrable experience in interdisciplinary research, including ethnobotany, environmental humanities, historiography or anthropology, is recommended.
  • Passive knowledge of Indigenous languages of Latin America relevant in this field and of Dutch is considered an advantage.

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: It concerns a temporary employment for 3 years.

  • It concerns an employment for 0.8 FTE.
  • The gross monthly salary amounts to a minimum of €3,974 and a maximum of €5,439 based on a 38-hour working week, depending on previous education and number of years of relevant work experience (salary scale 11).
  • You will receive 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus.
  • It concerns a temporary employment for 3 years.
  • 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.
Work and science require good employment practices. This is reflected in Radboud University's primary and secondary employment conditions. You can make arrangements for the best possible work-life balance with flexible working hours, various leave arrangements and working from home. You are also able to compose part of your employment conditions yourself, for example, exchange income for extra leave days and receive a reimbursement for your sports subscription. And of course, we offer a good pension plan. You are given plenty of room and responsibility to develop your talents and realise your ambitions. Therefore, we provide various training and development schemes.


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 programmes and research profiles.

Radboud University

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!


  • Postdoc; Research, development, innovation
  • Language and culture
  • €3974—€5439 per month
  • Doctorate
  • 1206714



Houtlaan 4, 6525 XZ, Nijmegen

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