Post-doc position in the project "Epidemic Traces"

Post-doc position in the project “Epidemic Traces”

Job description

Applications are invited for a three-to-four-year position as a post-doc in social anthropology, to be based at the Department of Social Anthropology, University of Oslo, and working within the above project. Upon the discretion of the department, an additional 12 months of teaching duty will be considered. The contract will commence in autumn 2022, and the place of employment is Oslo. The post-doc will conduct fieldwork in an eastern African country, conducting a case study of how traces – i.e., material remains and residuals – of past epidemics, disease control or anti-epidemic measures persist in and affect the present, and shape the future.


We are looking for candidates with a recent PhD degree, who have not previously held a post-doctoral position at the University of Oslo, and with ethnographic research experience, preferably from Africa. The successful applicant will work with senior and post-graduate researchers as part of the research project “Epidemic Traces. Remains of infectious disease control in Africa” Epidemic Traces – Sosialantropologisk institutt (SAI), led by Wenzel Geissler and Ruth Prince and funded by the Research Council of Norway.


The successful applicant will lead their own research project on an epidemic-related subject at the interface of anthropology and history (and STS, geography or archaeology), engaging with the theoretical-methodological frames of the “anthropology of modern traces”, i.e. ethnographic studies of modernity’s material remains, and how these sediment in landscapes and infrastructures, objects and bodies, affecting present and future social life and wellbeing. “Traces” of epidemics or disease control include anything that they leave behind, e.g., flora and fauna; landscape, architecture and infrastructures; tools and technologies; institutional practices, social collectives and professional knowledge; archives and inscriptions; routines and protocols; chemicals and pharmaceuticals; bodies, antibodies and DNA mutations.


The applicant’s project will contribute, in its own way, to these overall project questions:

1.      What remains after epidemics/anti-epidemic measures, and how do such traces survive and change over time?

2.      What historical events, processes and logics do they reference, what memories do they carry?

3.      What affective responses do they trigger in the present, and are they acknowledged, lived with and used, or ignored and erased, by local inhabitants?

4.      What is their lasting potential to affect future human and non-human social life and wellbeing? 


Examples of possible epidemic traces one could study in the above fashion are:

  • Insecticide treated bed nets:  an iconic global health tool that left behind, e.g., re-used nets, insecticide residuals, resistant insects, and yet unknown health effects.
  • HIV control/treatment: lifesaving global campaigns leaving, e.g. NGOs and groups, clinical and lab infrastructure, pharmaceuticals, protective devices, altered DNA and  bodies.
  • Clinical trial/surveillance: areas designed to trial new policies, interventions or pharmaceuticals, leaving behind evidentiary infrastructures, professionals, data.
  • Vaccination infrastructures: nationwide or international infrastructures, techniques and circulations that endure over time, adapt to changing policies and epidemics.
  • These are just examples of suitable topics; applicants are welcome to propose other ideas. Applicants can contact us with ideas and should read some publications by the project team:
  • Articles (available on our academia/researchgate sites)
  • Bannister, D. (2021). The sorcerer’s apprentice. Sleeping sickness, onchocerciasis and unintended consequences in Ghana, 1930–60. The Journal of African History 62(1): 29-57.
  • Geissler, P. W. (2011). Parasite Lost: Remembering Modern Times with Kenyan Government Scientists. Evidence, Ethos and Ethnography. P. W. Geissler and C. Molyneux (eds). Oxford, Berghahn: 297-232.
  • Geissler, P. W. (2014). What future remains? Remembering an African place of science.Para-states and medical science: making global health in Africa. P. W. Geissler (ed). Durham, Duke UP:142-178.
  • Lachenal, G. (2016). At home in the postcolony: Ecology, empire and domesticity at the Lamto field station, Ivory Coast. Social Studies of Science 46(6): 877-893.
  • Prince, R. J. (2020). From Russia with love: medical modernities, development dreams, and Cold War legacies in Kenya, 1969 and 2015. Africa 90(1): 51-76.
  • Tousignant, N. (2013). Broken Tempos: Of Means and Memory in a Senegalese University Laboratory. Social Studies of Science 43 (5): 729-753 


Books illustrating the general approach

  • Geissler, P. W., G. Lachenal, Manton, J, Tousignant, N (2016). Traces of the Future. Bristol, Intellect/Chicago.
  • Lachenal, G. (2022). The Doctor Who Would Be King. Durham, Duke.
  • Tousignant, N. (2017). Edges of Exposure: Toxicology and the Problem of Capacity in Postcolonial Senegal. Durham, Duke.
  • Kilroy-Marac, K. (2019). An Impossible Inheritance. Berkeley, University of California Press.


The successful applicant will independently design and pursue their own research project (a 4-page research idea outline is part of the application, see below). The researcher will spend 6-9 months conducting fieldwork in East Africa. They will work closely with the other researchers on the project – who work across the University of Oslo (Department of Anthropology and Institute for Health and Society), University College London, and project partners in Senegal, Ghana and Kenya – and jointly pursuing workshops, publications and other more creative forms of dissemination. Enthusiasm for group work and commitment to shared efforts, including fieldwork, and outcomes is thus a precondition for this post.

More about the position

The appointment is a fulltime position and is made for a period of up to three years.

The successful applicant might be offered an option of up to 12 months of teaching duty (in addition to the 36 months).

Postdoctoral fellows who are appointed for a period of four years are expected to acquire basic pedagogical competency in the course of their fellowship period within the duty component of 25 %.

The main purpose of the fellowship is to qualify researchers for work in higher academic positions within their disciplines.

Qualification requirements

  • Applicants must hold a degree equivalent to a Norwegian doctoral degree in

    in Social Anthropology or a closely related discipline. A solid grounding in social anthropology and familiarity with neighbouring disciplines like history, archaeology, STS, geography and material culture studies would be useful.

  • Applicants should have prior research experience including ethnographic fieldwork and/or research that combined ethnographic and historical methodology. A focus on materiality will be an advantage.

  • Doctoral dissertation must be submitted for evaluation by the closing date. Appointment is dependent on the public defence of the doctoral thesis being approved.

  • Fluent oral and written communication skills in English.

The following qualifications will count in the assessment of the applicants:

We offer

  • salary NOK 553 300– 626 300 per annum depending on qualifications in position as Postdoctoral Research Fellow (position code 1352)
  • a professionally stimulating working environment
  • attractive welfare benefits and a generous pension agreement, in addition to Oslo’s family-friendly environment with its rich opportunities for culture and outdoor activities

How to apply

The application must include

  • cover letter (statement of motivation, summarizing scientific work and research interest)
  • project description, including progress plan (max. 4 pages excluding references), outlining the questions to be pursued and the work to be undertaken
  • CV (summarizing education, positions, pedagogical experience, administrative experience and other qualifying activity)
  • copies of educational certificates (academic transcripts only)
  • a complete list of publications
  • 2 numbers of academic works that the applicant wishes to be considered
  • list of reference persons: 2-3 references (name, relation to candidate, e-mail and phone number)

The application with attachments must be delivered in our electronic recruiting system. Foreign applicants are advised to attach an explanation of their University’s grading system. Please note that all documents should be in English (or a Scandinavian language).

In assessing the applications, special emphasis will be placed on the documented, academic qualifications, the project description (whenever this is required in the call for applicants), and the quality of the project as well as the candidates motivation and personal suitability. Interviews with the best qualified candidates will be arranged.
It is expected that the successful candidate will be able to complete the project in the course of the period of employment.

Formal regulations

Please see the guidelines and regulations for appointments to Postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Oslo.

No one can be appointed for more than one Postdoctoral Fellow period at the University of Oslo.

According to the Norwegian Freedom of Information Act (Offentleglova) information about the applicant may be included in the public applicant list, also in cases where the applicant has requested non-disclosure.

Inclusion and diversity are a strength. The University of Oslo has a personnel policy objective of achieving a balanced gender composition. Furthermore, we want employees with diverse professional expertise, life experience and perspectives.

If there are qualified applicants with disabilities, employment gaps or immigrant background, we will invite at least one applicant from each of these categories to an interview.

Contact information

Interested applicants are encouraged to contact project leaders and co-supervisors to discuss possible themes and case-studies:

Professor Wenzel Geissler –

Associate Professor Ruth Prince –

Dr. Noemi Tousignant –

About the University of Oslo 

The University of Oslo is Norway’s oldest and highest ranked educational and research institution, with 28 000 students and 7000 employees. With its broad range of academic disciplines and internationally recognised research communities, UiO is an important contributor to society.

The Department of Social Anthropology The Department of Social Anthropology was founded in 1964 and is today a highly ranked anthropology department. Our researchers study society and culture through extensive, ethnographic fieldwork. The Department of Social Anthropology educates students at bachelor’s-, master’s and ph. d.-level.

Deadline: 11 September 2022
Unit: Department of Social Anthropology
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Post expires on Sunday September 11th, 2022