Currents of faith, places of history, 3 PhD Scholarships, 1 Postdoc position

CALL FOR APPLICATIONS – 3 PhD Scholarships, 1 Postdoc position

Joint Research Programme: Currents of faith, places of history: religious diasporas, connections, moral circumscriptions and world-making in the Atlantic space

Starting date: October 1st, 2013

Duration: 3 years (36 months), fulltime for PhD-projects, part-time for postdoc-project

The JRP Currents of faith, places of history: religious diasporas, connections, moral circumscriptions and world-making in the Atlantic space, coordinated by Ruy Blanes (ICS Lisbon, Univ. Bergen) with Birgit Meyer (Utrecht U.), David Berliner (Univ. Libre de Bruxelles) and Ramon Sarró (Univ. Oxford), is an international HERA-funded Joint Research Project that brings together a multidisciplinary team of scholars. The central foci of this program are the interconnections between religion, mobility, place and heritage in the Atlantic space. We aim to rethink theories of Atlantic history by exploring three dimensions of ‘religious diasporas’: connections, moral circumscriptions and world-making.

Based on a partnership between universities in Portugal, Belgium, Netherlands, Norway and the UK, the program brings together a team of senior and junior scholars. Combining problems and methodologies sprung from social anthropology, history and religious studies, we seek to synthesize an empirical ethnographic methodology with a historical-comparative approach so as to explore ‘meaningful histories’ in their cultural and religious manifestations.

The CURRENTS JRP is offering 3 PhD positions for students interested in conducting field research and writing PhD theses on the topics under focus. Next to this, it offers one postdoc position. PhD-project 1 will be located at the Institute of Social Sciences of the University of Lisbon, Portugal, under the research theme Encounters, Historical Acknowledgements and Moral Landscapes Across the Atlantic (chaired by Ruy Blanes). More specifically, s/he will conduct research on “grassroots prophetism, political interventions and territorial heritagizations in contemporary South America”. For more information, contact Ruy Blanes (

PhD-project 2 will be located at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology of the University of Oxford, UK, under the research theme A King in the Atlantic: Centripetal and Centrifugal Forces in the Making of a Kongo Heritage. S/he will conduct research on how the historical connections between the Kindgom of Kongo and the South American continent, which started with the Atlantic slave trade, are remembered and recreated in today’s Brazil, a country today discovering and reassessing its African heritage. For more information, contact Ramon Sarró ( or visit

PhD-project 3 will be located at the Laboratoire d’Anthropologie des Mondes Contemporains, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium, under the research theme Slave Trade Transatlantic Heritagescapes. Reconnections and World- Making in Guinea-Conakry and the Mexican Gulf. More specifically, s/he will conduct research on “Heritagized religious traditions in the Mexican Gulf / Caribbean”. For more information, contact David Berliner (

The postdoc-project (part-time) will be located at the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Utrecht University, The Netherlands, under the research theme Atlantic spirits. Religion, Heritage, and the Making of the Atlantic World through Winti and Candomblé (chaired by Birgit Meyer). The research project will focus on “Candomblé in Brazil”.
For more information, contact Birgit Meyer (

The 3 PhD students and the postdoc will conduct field research in different locations. They will be based in their respective host institution, and will be supervised by the project’s Principal Investigator in that institution. They will be expected, however, to actively engage in JRP meetings, intellectual exchanges, and academic events bringing the entire international team together. Applicants should therefore be enthusiastic, well motivated and able to work independently and as part of a collaborative research team.

Applicants are expected to hold a very good MA, MSc, or MPhil degree in anthropology or a cognate field by the start of the three-year project.  The post-doc will have completed a PhD dissertation in anthropology, religious studies or a cognate field by the start of the three-year project. Fieldwork experience and familiarity with ethnographic research methods will be highly valued.
Relevant research experience in one of the contexts or topics of the Joint Research Project will be particularly advantageous.

Informal enquiries about the overall Joint Research Project should be addressed to Please contact each chair for specific instructions on applications.

Applicants interested in either of these four positions will need to send the respective chair a personal statement indicating why they think they are particularly well prepared to undertake this research, a short research proposal, letters of recommendation (two or three, depending on the University they are applying for) and a sample of written work.
Furthermore they will need to satisfy the criteria for acceptance to the PhD programmes of each of the universities involved. They will need to complete the respective application forms available on the links provided by each chair upon initial contact.

Deadline: Friday 21 June 2013 (noon).

Shortlisted candidates may be invited for an interview.