PhD Position in History
University of Basel

PhD Position in History

The Department of History at the University of Basel, Switzerland, invites applications for a PhD position in a global history project led by Prof. Dr. Marie Muschalek (principal investigator, PI), to be filled as of April 1st, 2025 or by agreement.
The project Killing to Keep – Violent Field Practices and Natural History in the Age of Empire funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation explores the life-worlds of nature experts who killed animals in order to keep and study them in the long nineteenth century. Team members will research the practices, people, and objects of this endeavor in multiple places in the world:
Case study 1: Birds in the tropical dry and moist forests of Northern South America
Case study 2: Fish and mollusks in the shallow and deep waters of the Southwestern Pacific
Case study 3: Large mammals in the mixed wood and grasslands of Southern Africa (done by the PI)
We seek researchers interested in: 1) daily practices in the field, manual skills and techniques of capturing, shooting, skinning, and preserving animals, 2) the men and women, indigenous and intruder alike, involved in the business of collecting animals-turned-specimens, and/or 3) the specimens, trophies, and marketable commodities they produced. Our goal is to account for the complexities of human curiosity and the the many different and culturally specific histories of violence against nonhuman and human life within the broader framework of colonial subjugation and its politics of difference.

Your position

As a PhD candidate you will research the collection of fish and mollusks in the Southwestern Pacific, which was the stage of sustained and intense seafaring exploration and multi-imperial penetration throughout the entire nineteenth century. Possibly including the collectors of Hamburg's Godeffroy Museum, you will follow those naturalist journeys that crossed the vast seas between islands, littorals, archipelagos in search for marine life, while critically relying on indigenous navigation and fishing skills and animal knowledge.

You will be expected to

  • conduct independent archival research and complete the dissertation within the funding period;
  • actively participate in advancing the project's overall research goals, collaborate closely with your teammates;
  • help with administrative tasks, conference organization, communication tasks, webpage content management.

You will be encouraged to

  • conduct fieldwork, seek contact and respectfully collaborate with local experts in the geographical area of your work package
  • publish one peer-reviewed article or book chapter
  • present your findings at international conferences

Your profile

  • You must hold a Master's degree (or equivalent) in History or a related discipline.
  • You must be fluent in English, our team's working language. Additional language proficiencies relevant to your work package are welcome.
  • You must take residence in Basel during the entire contract period and be able to travel for the project's field research.
  • You should have some experiences in archival research and a familiarity with the historiography of the Southwestern Pacific's (post-)colonial past.
  • You should be keen to learn, open to creative, experimental work, and eager to actively participate in the team effort.

We offer you

  • A fully funded PhD position (4 years) at the History Department at the University of Basel, Switzerland.
  • A motivated, interdisciplinary team that will support your ideas, research, and career in a stimulating, welcoming and multicultural environment.
  • You pursue your dissertation project within a collaborative framework, affiliated as a member of the Basel Graduate School of History.
  • Salary and social benefits are provided according to Swiss standards and University of Basel rules.
Application / Contact

Please submit your complete application documents including a letter of motivation, CV, publication list (if existant), relevant diplomas, sample of writing (max. 10 pages), contact details of two references. 
  • Application deadline is September 15th, 2024.
  • All applications must be submitted through the University of Basel Employment portal.
  • Interviews will be held in person or via Zoom on October 8th and 9th, 2024. The expected starting date is April 1st, 2025.

If you have any questions, please contact Prof. Dr. Marie Muschalek.
You can also find out more about us at

If you apply for this position please say you saw it on Socioloxy


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