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School of Culture and Society - Anthropology, Department of - Faculty: Arts

TWO 2-3 YEAR POSTDOCTORAL POSITIONS: The experience and cultivation of love in religious and contemplative traditions

Deadline15 Sep

Expected start 1 Feb

  • School of Culture and Society - Anthropology, Department ofMoesgård Allé 208270 Højbjerg

  • Fixed term full-time position 1 Feb 2022 - 31 Jan 2025ID: 6590


The School of Culture and Society, Faculty of Arts, Aarhus University invites applications for two 2-3 year postdoctoral positions. The two positions are full-time and are expected to begin on 1 February 2022 or as soon as possible thereafter.

The university is keen for its staff to reflect the diversity of society and thus welcomes applications from all qualified applicants, regardless of their personal background.

Deadline for applications: 15 September, 2021.


The two postdocs will be part of the core research team in the project HEART OPENINGS: THE EXPERIENCE AND CULTIVATION OF LOVE IN BUDDHISM, CHRISTIANITY AND ISLAM, headed by Associate Professor Christian Suhr, who is the principal investigator, and funded by the European Research Council under the European Union's research and innovation programme (ERC-STG project 2021-2026, grant agreement No 950386). 

The HEART OPENINGS project focuses on the experience and cultivation of love in religious and contemplative practice. The project is planned to be conducted over five years in collaboration with Buddhists, Christians and Muslims in Denmark, Nepal, Papua New Guinea and Egypt (and possibly also including additional contemplative communities in other parts of the world).

Using audiovisual and microphenomenological methods, HEART OPENINGS will examine in detail the sensory and emotional structures of concrete experiences of love. Through participant observation and life history interviews, the project will examine and compare how the cultivation and experiences of love impact and emerge from people’s everyday lives across different contemplative and religious traditions.
The project has originally envisioned postdoctoral projects of 2-3 years focusing on communities in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition in Denmark and Nepal and Pentecostal communities in Denmark and Papua New Guinea.
However, postdoctoral candidates with other specialisations and regional competences are also encouraged to apply with suggestions for sub-projects with other contemplative traditions in different parts of the world. A final decision on the exact composition of the sub-projects will be made based on the specific qualifications of the postdoctoral candidates. 

The PI, Christian Suhr, will be responsible for a sub-project involving Sufis in Denmark and Egypt.

For further information, potential candidates are welcome to contact the PI: Christian Suhr, suhr@cas.au.dk.


We are looking for intellectually creative, open-minded and dedicated researchers with a background in anthropology, religious studies or related disciplines.

The two postdocs are expected to conduct in-depth fieldwork with the communities of their projects, and are expected to participate actively in joint disciplinary and interdisciplinary analyses and publications with the HEART OPENINGS team members, focusing on the experience and cultivation of love across different contemplative and religious traditions.

The two postdocs will be based in Aarhus at the Department of Anthropology, and affiliated with the Interacting Minds Centre (IMC) as well as research initiatives at the Department of the Study of Religion, AU.

The successful applicants will have good social and communication skills and will engage in interdisciplinary collaboration with project team members. Strong methodological skills, and a strong capacity and willingness for establishing and maintaining respectful collaborations with research participants and other external partners are equally indispensable.

The successful applicants will be expected to:
  • Develop their research within the framework provided by the HEART OPENINGS project, in collaboration with the PI.
  • Undergo intensive training in the core research methods of the HEART OPENINGS project in the early phase of the project (see below). 
  • Oversee the project’s data collection, in collaboration with the PI.
  • Conduct fieldwork and interviews with research participants in the communities engaged in the HEART OPENINGS project.
  • Take responsibility for the transcription, analysis and storage of research data, in collaboration with the PI.
  • Work both independently and collaboratively with the PI, other postdocs and team members with a view to presenting and discussing empirical data, ideas and results.
  • Present their research at international meetings and publish results in peer-reviewed, international scientific journals.
  • Develop a book manuscript for a monograph based on their research findings in the HEART OPENINGS project.
  • Contribute to the joint development of an ethnographic film exploring the emergence of the research findings through the different sub-projects.
  • Contribute to the organisation of research workshops and an international conference hosted by the HEART OPENINGS project.

Postdocs will be selected based on:
  • Research experience: methodological and analytical skills and long-term fieldwork experience with religious or contemplative communities.
  • Thematic expertise: e.g. prior research on contemplative and religious practice and experience; prior research and relevant experience with the topic of love or related concepts (compassion, kindness, conviviality, empathy, generosity, gratitude, passion, etc.).
  • Regional expertise. 
  • Fluency in English and a high level of proficiency in other languages related to the project (e.g. Danish / Nepali / Tibetan / Tok Pisin, or other languages related to the specialisation of applicants).
Upon recruitment, postdocs will be expected to have already mastered at least one of the methods applied in the project and will undergo intensive training in the other methods in the early phase of the project. 

The methods of the project are:
  • Microphenomenological interviews and analysis
  • Life history interviews
  • Collaborative visual anthropology
  • Participant observation.
The positions may be extended for 6-12 months of teaching, depending on funding and agreement from the Head of the Department of Anthropology, AU. Applicants may indicate their interest in such an arrangement in their application.

Knowledge exchange
The successful applicants will be expected to disseminate findings of their project with various sectors of society and to contribute actively to public debate in areas related to the positions. In particular, they will be encouraged to contribute to knowledge exchange opportunities at Aarhus University (in particular the Department of Anthropology, the IMC and the Department of the Study of Religion), and to make presentations at international inter-disciplinary conferences in collaboration with the other members of the core research team.

Applicants must hold a PhD degree or equivalent qualifications in anthropology, religious studies or similar subject fields.

Applicants must be able to document a relevant research profile of high international research quality.

Applicants must also document:
  • Research experience of studying religious or contemplative practices and experiences.
  • Experience of prior fieldwork projects, methods and interviewing skills of relevance to the HEART OPENINGS project.
  • An interest in collaborative, interdisciplinary work. Applicants need good social and communication skills in order to engage in cross-disciplinary cooperation with project team members, research participants and external collaborators.
  • Fluency in English and a high level of proficiency in other languages related to the project (e.g. Danish / Nepali / Tibetan / Tok Pisin, or other languages related to the specialisation of applicants).

Applications must be uploaded in English.

Applicants must submit:
  • A concise statement of their motivation for applying for the positions (maximum two pages).
  • A CV (maximum five pages).
  • A maximum of five publications. Please note that only submitted publications will be assessed: a list of publications is not sufficient. Applications to which no publications are attached will not be assessed.
  • If applicants have produced audiovisual work as part of their prior research, they are also invited to include examples of this (photographs, film, sound work, artistic products, etc.). Such audiovisual materials can be included as links to external media webpages such as Vimeo and YouTube.
Applicants' earlier research will be evaluated in relation to the actual research time they have had available. We therefore encourage applicants to specify any periods of leave they may have had without research activities (e.g. maternity/paternity leave), so these can be taken into consideration when evaluating their productivity.

Professional references or recommendations should not be included. Applicants who are selected for an interview may be asked to provide professional references.

For further information about the positions and the HEART OPENINGS project, please contact the principal investigator Christian Suhr by email: suhr@cas.au.dk

For more information about the application and the employment procedure, please contact HR supporter Marianne Birn, tel. +45 21 66 58 13, e-mail mbb@au.dk.

The key research environments related to the project are at the Department of Anthropology, the Interacting Minds Centre, and the Department of the Study of Religion. Read more about these research environments here:

Department of Anthropology
The Department of Anthropology is among the strongest in Europe and attracts guest researchers, PhD students and students from across the world. Our teaching is deeply anchored in our research, with particular specialisations in the fields of globalisation and development, innovation and design, and medical as well as visual anthropology.


The Interacting Minds Centre
The Interacting Minds Centre (IMC) provides a transdisciplinary platform to study human interaction. It involves researchers from the humanities, social sciences, cognitive sciences, biology and clinical research. We study the interplay between three related topics: cognition, communication, and choice. Bringing these fields together to bridge topics related to human interaction makes the IMC a unique methodological and theoretical centre of research and inquiry.


The Department of the Study of Religion
The Department of the Study of Religion at Aarhus University is one of the largest research environments in the world in this field, including strong research competences in Norse religion, contemporary religion, Islamic studies, cognition and experimental studies. The environment is interdisciplinary in its organisation and working methods, and the department’s researchers are involved in a wide range of research projects with colleagues from other fields, such as biblical studies and church history within theology, the humanities in general, the social sciences and the natural sciences.


School of Culture and Society
At the School of Culture and Society the object of research and teaching is the interplay between culture and society in time and space:

-  From the traditional disciplines of the humanities and theology to applied social research
-  From Antiquity to the issues facing contemporary societies
-  From local questions to global challenges.

The school’s goal is to produce compelling research with an international resonance, as well as offering teaching and talent development of high quality. The school has a broad cooperative interface with society, both in Denmark and abroad, and contributes to social innovation, research communication and further and continuing education. 



Qualification requirements

Applicants should hold a PhD or equivalent academic qualifications.


Faculty of Arts refers to the Ministerial Order on the Appointment of Academic Staff at Danish Universities (the Appointment Order). Aarhus University also offers a Junior Researcher Development Programme targeted at career development for postdocs at AU. You can read more about it here: https://talent.au.dk/junior-researcher-development-programme/

If nothing else is noted, applications must be submitted in English. Application deadline is at 11.59 pm Danish time (same as Central European Time) on the deadline day.

Aarhus University’s ambition is to be an attractive and inspiring workplace for all and to foster a culture in which each individual has opportunities to thrive, achieve and develop. We view equality and diversity as assets, and we welcome all applicants.

Shortlists may be prepared with the candidates that have been selected for a detailed academic assessment. A committee set up by the head of school is responsible for selecting the most qualified candidates. See this link for further information about shortlisting at the Faculty of Arts:shortlisting

Faculty of Arts

The Faculty of Arts is one of five main academic areas at Aarhus University.
The faculty contributes to Aarhus University's research, talent development, knowledge exchange and degree programmes.
With its 550 academic staff members, 275 PhD students, 9,500 BA and MA students, and 1,500 students following continuing/further education programmes, the faculty constitutes a strong and diverse research and teaching environment.
The Faculty of Arts consists of the School of Communication and Culture, the School of Culture and Society and the Danish School of Education. Each of these units has strong academic environments and forms the basis for interdisciplinary research and education.
The faculty's academic environments and degree programmes engage in international collaboration and share the common goal of contributing to the development of knowledge, welfare and culture in interaction withsociety.

Read more at arts.au.dk/en

The application must be submitted via Aarhus University’s recruitment system, which can be accessed under the job advertisement on Aarhus University's website.


Questions about the position?

Christian Suhr

Christian SuhrAssociate professor, School of Culture and Society - Department of Anthropologysuhr@cas.au.dk

Questions about application and proces?

Arts Administrative Centre - HR, AR, Emdrup+4587151737emply.ar.hr@au.dk


Deadline: Wednesday 15 Sep 2021 at 23:59 CEST