Researcher (PostDoc) in Indigenous Heritage- Material Culture

Researcher (PostDoc) in Indigenous Heritage- Material Culture

Published Deadline Location
30 May 30 Aug Leiden

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Job description

This Post-Doctoral position is part of the ERC Starting Grant Project BRASILIAE. Indigenous Knowledge in the Making of Science: Historia Naturalis Brasiliae (1648).

BRASILIAE takes the book Historia Naturalis Brasiliae (HNB), published in 1648 by Willem Piso and George Marcgraf, as its central focus and proposes an interdisciplinary study of the role of indigenous knowledge in the making of science. Situated at the intersection of history and anthropology, its main research objective is to understand the transformation of information and practices of South American indigenous peoples into a body of knowledge that became part of the Western scholarly canon. It aims to explore, by means of a distinctive case study, how European science is constructed in intercultural settings. This Post-Doc will be working within the BRASILIAE team, consisting of a Principal Investigator, the Post-Doc, and two PhD candidates, along with partners from Naturalis Biodiversity Center (Leiden) and the Museu Paraense Emilio Goeldi (Brazil).

This Post-Doctoral project focuses on the material culture associated with indigenous knowledge-practices that are presently kept in European museums and collections. Since the mid-twentieth century, anthropologists and historians have been trying to locate and document the multiple collections of Brazilian indigenous materials taken from Brazil to Europe. However, no systematic effort has been made so far to reconnect the historical Tupi collections in museums to indigenous knowledge-practices. This project develops an inventory of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Tupi indigenous objects in European museums related to knowledge-practices such as medicinal and shamanic rituals. It aims to generate new knowledge about the historical processes that led to the formation of these collections in the early modern period. This project includes a workshop meeting that brings together indigenous experts and museum specialists to study a previously selected collection of material culture associated with indigenous knowledge practices.

Key responsibilities

  • Research leading to international peer-reviewed publications;
  • Development of the inventory of Tupi objects in museum collections;
  • Organization of workshop meetings and a conference as part of the BRASILIAE project. 


Leiden University


  • PhD Degree in Anthropology, Archaeology, History or a related discipline;
  • Knowledge of the fields of indigenous heritage, material culture, and early modern history, particularly concerning Brazil/Latin America;
  • Experience in researching museum collections;
  • Experience of fieldwork and working with indigenous peoples is desirable.
  • Excellent research qualities and writing skills, demonstrated for example by international peer-reviewed publications;
  • An excellent command of the English language and knowledge of either Spanish or Portuguese; knowledge of the Dutch language is considered an advantage.  

Conditions of employment

We offer a part-time (0.8 fte), 3-year fixed-term position. The position is available from 1 January 2018 or as soon as possible thereafter. Salary range from € 2,588.- to € 4,084.- gross per month (pay scale 10, in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities). Salary scale depends on education and experience.

Leiden University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end- of-year bonuses (8.3 %), training and career development and sabbatical leave. Our individual choices model gives you some freedom to assemble your own set of terms and conditions. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break. More at

Leiden University is strongly committed to diversity within its community and especially welcomes applications from members of underrepresented groups.



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  • Postdoc positions
  • Behaviour and Society; Language and Culture
  • max. 30.4 hours per week, temporary
  • €2588—€4084 per month
  • Doctorate
  • 17-229



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