The Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology is one of the leading centres for research in social anthropology. Common to all research projects at the institute is the comparative analysis of social change; it is primarily in this domain that its researchers contribute to anthropological theory, though many programmes also have applied significance and political topicality.

The Department ‘Law and Anthropology’ at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology is offering two to four positions for PhD students (starting 1 October 2019.

The positions are offered within the framework of the fellowship group “Environmental Rights in Cultural Context”, conducted by Dirk Hanschel (Max Planck Fellow and Professor of Law at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg) from 2019 through 2023.

Project Description The project examines to what extent environmental rights (ranging from a human right to a sound or healthy environment to rights of nature itself) provide protection and serve as a tool of resilience for local communities that are particularly vulnerable to environmental challenges to their cultural identity and autonomy resulting from, e.g., climate change, large scale infrastructure projects and extraction activities. This will require an in-depth analysis of pertinent legal norms, which can emanate from state law (such as constitutions or statutory provisions) or local indigenous practice, and of the specific cultural contexts defining the legal relationship between human beings and their natural surroundings. Scholars will therefore combine critical legal and anthropological scholarship, including doctrinal analysis, examination of judicial practice, and ethnographic fieldwork.

Your Profile Applicants should hold an advanced degree in law and/or anthropology. Excellent academic writing and communication skills in English are essential. Projects may focus on any geographical area, but there is a clear preference for Ecuador/Bolivia, Ethiopia and Mongolia. Prior field experience and knowledge of relevant national and local languages are desirable. Brief research proposals (maximum 2 pages) should be attached; successful applicants are expected to be willing to modify details of their proposal if necessary when the Research Group is consolidated.

Our Offer The PhD positions are awarded for three years, with the possibility of two six-month extensions. PhD students are expected to complete six to twelve months of fieldwork as part of their studies. Employment will be on a full-time contractual basis. The workplace is Halle/Saale (Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany). The Max Planck Society strives to ensure gender equality and diversity. Furthermore, the Max Planck Society is committed to employ more persons with disabilities and explicitly encourages applications.

Contact Please submit your application electronically by 15 June 2019 following the link for vacancies on our homepage (under ‘Career’), or by going directly to the online application form using the link below.

Applicants should send the following documentation:

– cover letter

– CV including a list of publications

– two-page summary of the proposed research, which should demonstrate clear links to the applicant’s previous work and qualifications and to the respective research field

– copies of university degrees

– names of two or three referees whom we may contact 


Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology Personnel Administration Janka Diallo ( 

Informal enquiries concerning the positions may be directed to Prof. Dr. Dirk Hanschel ( 

We look forward to receiving your completed online application under: 

Further information on the research agenda of the Max Planck Institute is available on our website: 


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