Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Anthropology

Durham, United Kingdom
£34,304 per annum
04 Oct 2021
End of advertisement period
01 Nov 2021
Academic Discipline
Social Sciences, Sociology
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

Department of Anthropology

Grade 7: - £34,304 per annum
Fixed Term - Full Time
Contract Duration: 4 years
Contracted Hours per Week: 35
Closing Date: 01-Nov-2021, 7:59:00 AM

The closing date for applications is 31 October 2021 at midnight

Durham University

Durham University is one of the world's top universities with strengths across the Arts and Humanities, Sciences and Social Sciences. We are home to some of the most talented scholars and researchers from around the world who are tackling global issues and making a difference to people's lives.

The University sits in a beautiful historic city where it shares ownership of a UNESCO World Heritage Site with Durham Cathedral, the greatest Romanesque building in Western Europe. A collegiate University, Durham recruits outstanding students from across the world and offers an unmatched wider student experience.

Less than 3 hours north of London, and an hour and a half south of Edinburgh, County Durham is a region steeped in history and natural beauty. The Durham Dales, including the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, are home to breathtaking scenery and attractions. Durham offers an excellent choice of city, suburban and rural residential locations. The University provides a range of benefits including pension and childcare benefits and the University’s Relocation Manager can assist with potential schooling requirements.

Durham University seeks to promote and maintain an inclusive and supportive environment for work and study that assists all members of our University community to reach their full potential. Diversity brings strength and we welcome applications from across the international, national and regional communities that we work with and serve.

The Department

The Anthropology Department at Durham University has an outstanding international reputation for teaching, research and student employability. We are one of the largest Anthropology Departments in the UK, with nearly 40 permanent academic staff working across social, evolutionary and health anthropology. The Department of Anthropology has a vibrant research culture with many visitors, seminars, global conferences and workshops. We provide an intellectually inclusive environment, fostering the academic freedom and confidence to work at both the core and boundaries of anthropology in exciting and innovative ways. We were the top-ranked integrated Anthropology department in the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014); fifth in the UK for overall GPA (Times Higher Education); first equal for world-leading and internationally excellent Impact and Research Environment, and second equal for world-leading publications.

Each year, we welcome over 100 undergraduate students onto our single honours programs with their flagship residential field course and ~30 students onto our joint honours degrees with the Departments of Archaeology, Sociology and, from October 2021, Psychology. Our postgraduate taught and research degrees attract ~70 students from around the world each year. We provide a supportive, friendly and inclusive environment with a strong sense of community.

The Department of Anthropology is located in the Dawson building and houses the Bilsborough Lab for palaeoanthropological and morphometric research, the Physical Activity Lab, the Sleep Lab and the Endocrinology and Ecology Lab. The Department also supports the Anthropology Field Station based in the Soutpansberg Mountains of South Africa.

The Role 

Applications are invited for a Postdoctoral Research Associate in Anthropology to work with Dr Hannah Brown on a project funded by the European Research Council entitled ALIVEAfrica: ‘Animals, livelihoods and wellbeing in Africa’. With a particular focus on Sierra Leone and Kenya, ALIVEAfrica explores how relations with animals in sub-Saharan Africa are changing; how these relations are shaped by the attention, funding and interventions of different institutions; and the implications of these changes for livelihoods and wellbeing.  ALIVEAfrica consists of two interconnected thematic strands, ‘Health and Wellbeing’ and ‘Livelihoods and Development.  The successful applicant will develop a research project that feeds into the Livelihoods and Development strand, provisionally titled ‘Hunting Livelihoods’. As a case study of animal-based livelihoods in Sierra Leone, you will study contemporary hunting strategies and economics, alongside institutions and strategies set up to manage and intervene upon hunting activity. The project will involve approximately 10 months’ ethnographic fieldwork in Sierra Leone.

As a four-year position, this role will give the holder the opportunity to grow their academic career through the development of major academic publications and research expertise. There will be opportunities to extend and/or adapt the specific focus of the case study depending on personal interest and expertise.

Key themes are currently envisaged as follows:

  • Studying human relations with hunted animals including, for example, hunting practices; studying how, when, where, and by whom wild animals are hunted, butchered, sold, cooked, and eaten.
  • Taking a multispecies approach to exploring social, material, and imaginative interactions and transactions that occur in hunting encounters.
  • Taking anthropology of development/organisations approach to studying governmental and non-governmental initiatives aimed at controlling hunting activity and/or human-animal livelihoods more broadly.


  • To search, document and systematically analyse media reports, policy literature, web-based content and scientific scholarship relating to topics of hunting and animal livelihoods in Sierra Leone and comparative contexts.
  • To assist with the development of the project research objectives through the elaboration of a detailed research proposal relating to this case study.
  • To conduct individual and collaborative research ethnographic research in Sierra Leone under the direction of the Principal Investigator.
  • To document and manage research data and materials in order for them to be accessible to other team members as appropriate, and in line with the project data management plan.
  • To understand and convey material of a specialist or highly technical nature through presentations and discussions with the project team that leads to the development of research outputs including papers in conferences and publications.
  • To prepare and deliver presentations on research outputs/activities to audiences which may include: research sponsors, academic and non-academic audiences.
  • To publish high-quality outputs, including leading the organisation of an international conference and corresponding edited volume; producing at least TWO papers for submission to peer-reviewed disciplinary journals; contributing to stakeholder and academic-practitioner workshops that will lead to TWO co-authored policy-focused working papers; contributing to TWO framing articles that outline the approach and key findings of the project, in addition presenting at conferences and workshops under the direction of the Principal Investigator or Grant-holder.
  • To work with the Principal Investigator or Grant-holder and other colleagues in the research group, as appropriate, to identify areas for further research, develop new research methods, and extend the research portfolio.
  • To deal with problems that may affect the achievement of research objectives and deadlines by discussing with the Principal Investigor and offering creative or innovative solutions.
  • To liaise with research colleagues and make internal and external contacts to develop knowledge and understanding to form relationships for future research collaboration.
  • To develop strong and positive working relations with policy-makers, medical experts, NGO staff, conservation and health workers, and other relevant stakeholders, particularly in Sierra Leone.
  • To plan and manage own research activity, research resources in collaboration with others and contribute to the planning of research projects.
  • To disseminate work on the project website and via social media by writing blog posts and developing content for the project website
  • To be involved in student supervision, as appropriate.
  • To contribute to fostering a collegial and respectful working environment that is inclusive and welcoming and where everyone is treated fairly with dignity and respect.
  • To engage in wider citizenship to support the department and wider discipline.
  • To engage in continuing professional development by participating in the undergraduate or postgraduate teaching programmes or by the membership of departmental committees, etc., and by attending relevant training and development courses, in negotiation with the Principal Investigator.

This post is fixed term for four years and is funded by grant income from the European Commission for this fixed period only.

The post-holder is employed to work on research/a research project which will be led by another colleague. Whilst this means that the post-holder will not be carrying out independent research in his/her own right, the expectation is that they will contribute to the advancement of the project, through the development of their own research ideas/adaptation and development of research protocols.

Successful applicants will, ideally, be in post by 1 February 2022

How to Apply

For informal enquiries please contact alive-africa@durham.ac.uk all enquiries will be treated in the strictest confidence.

We prefer to receive applications online via the Durham University Vacancies Site. https://www.dur.ac.uk/jobs/. As part of the application process, you should provide details of 3 (preferably academic/research) referees and the details of your current line manager so that we may seek an employment reference.

Applications are particularly welcome from women and black and minority ethnic candidates, who are under-represented in academic posts in the University.

What to Submit

All applicants are asked to submit:

  • A CV and covering letter which details your experience, strengths and potential in the requirements set out below

Next Steps

The assessment for the post will include an interview and a short presentation outlining a provisional research proposal for this position. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview and assessment in October.

The Requirements



  1. A good first degree in Anthropology or related discipline 
  2. A PhD (or be close to submission) in Anthropology or a related subject.


  • Experience in conducting high quality academic research.
  • Demonstrable ability to write material of a quality commensurate with publication in highly-ranked journals.
  • Demonstrable ability to present research papers at national or international conferences and communicate complex information to specialists and within the wider academic community.
  • Experience in carrying out ethnographic fieldwork.


  • Demonstrable ability to work cooperatively as part of a team.
  • Ability to work independently on own initiative and to strict deadlines.
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills.



  • Strong publication record in peer-reviewed journals, commensurate with stage of career.
  • A track record of presenting research at conferences, symposia, or meetings, commensurate with stage of career.
  • Demonstrable ability to develop research proposals and designs in collaboration with other academics.
  • Experience of working collaboratively with non-academic partners
  • Experience in relevant sub-fields of Anthropology e.g., Economic Anthropology; Medical Anthropology; Anthropology of Development; Anthropology of Organisations; Multispecies Ethnography
  • Regional expertise in Sierra Leone or West Africa
  • Linguistic expertise in languages spoken in Sierra Leone


  • Demonstrable ability to plan and manage independent research.

DBS Requirement: Not Applicable.