Utrecht University’s Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences is looking for 2 Postdocs. Interested? Read more and apply here.


We seek to appoint 2 Postdoc candidates who will investigate the role of religious vigilante organizations. Both Postdocs will be part of the ERC Consolidator project: Sacralizing Security: Religion, Violence and Authority in Mega-Cities of the Global South (SACRASEC). In mega-cities of the Global South, state agencies often lack the capacity to provide infrastructure and security to all citizens. In such contexts, religious organizations and non-state security actors (vigilantes) have merged into alternative governance organizations. The emergence of religious vigilantes suggests a different connection between religion and violence than emphasized in current research on religious fundamentalism and terrorism. While religious vigilantes use violence systematically, they generally do not aim to overthrow the state, nor do they seek a global audience to witness their violence. They operate side-by-side with state actors to maintain order. SACRASEC will analyze the production of authority of religious vigilantes in mega-cities of the Global South through an ethnographic comparison of groups in three mega-cities: Rio de Janeiro, Jakarta and Lagos. We seek to appoint Postdocs that will focus on specific case-studies that have been designed for the project:

  • Postdoc 1: Jakarta, Indonesia. Focus on religious preman.
  • Postdoc 2: Lagos, Nigeria. Focus on Pentecostal or Islamic vigilantes.

Candidates should indicate for which case study they wish to apply specifically and explain in a research statement why.

The project will draw on the methods of participant observation, ethnographic interviews, urban ethnography, content analysis, and sensory ethnography. It will also engage with the recent turn to materiality within religious studies, cultural anthropology and security studies. This project will be embedded in the Department of Cultural Anthropology’s research program Sovereignty and Social Contestation in Complex Societies (SoSCo), and the candidate will be supervised by Dr. Martijn Oosterbaan (PI of SACRASEC).

Job tasks/responsibilities

  • Conducting the research (literature research, ethnographic data collection and analysis, reporting the results), resulting in international scientific publications.
  • Assist in data collection and collective analysis.
  • Assist in the training of the PhDs.
  • To present results at national and international scientific conferences.
  • Active participation in the research group of the project and of the Department.
  • Ambition to collaborate with (inter)national partners.


We are looking for someone who:

  • holds a PhD in Cultural Anthropology or a related field, preferably with a specialization in the anthropology of conflict and security and/or anthropology of religion;
  • preferably has affinity with the case study she or he wishes to apply for (regional expertise, language skills, previous research in the city);
  • has good social skills;
  • is effective and efficient, and able to think conceptually;
  • is able to meet deadlines, and conduct research independently and as part of a team;
  • has good communication skills (written and oral) in English.

We offer a temporary position (1.0 FTE) for one year, starting preferably January 1, 2020. Upon a positive performance, the appointment will be extended for one more year. The gross salary – depending on previous qualifications and experience – ranges between €3,637 and €4,978 (scale 11 according to the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities) gross per month for a full-time employment. Salaries are supplemented with a holiday bonus of 8 % and a year-end bonus of 8.3 % per year. We offer a pension scheme, (partly paid) parental leave, collective insurance schemes and flexible employment conditions (multiple choice model). More information is available at: working at Utrecht University.


A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University, the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major societal themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Sustainability.

Utrecht is a young and vibrant city with a large academic population, around 30 minutes south of Amsterdam. It combines a beautiful old city centre with a modern university. Utrecht has an excellent quality of life, with plenty of green space and a strong bicycle culture.

The Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences is one of the leading Faculties in Europe providing research and academic teaching in Interdisciplinary Social Science, Cultural Anthropology, Educational Sciences, Pedagogical Sciences, Psychology, and Sociology. More than 5,600 students are enrolled in a broad range of undergraduate and graduate programmes. The Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences has some 850 faculty and staff members, all providing their individual contribution to the training and education of young talent and to the research into and finding solutions for scientific and societal issues.

Additional information concerning this position can be obtained by contacting Babs van den Born (Secretary) via b.vandenborn@uu.nl.

Please apply before October 5, 2019. Interviews will take place in the week of 11-15 November, 2019 in Utrecht.


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