Research Associate in Social Anthropology

London (Greater) (GB)
£40,386 - £47,414 per annum, including London Weighting Allowance
02 Dec 2022
End of advertisement period
08 Jan 2023
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

Job description

The Department of Theology and Religious Studies at King’s College London is seeking to appoint a Postdoctoral Researcher in Social Anthropology starting on 1 February 2023 or as soon as possible thereafter. The post is open to applicants with expertise in the anthropology of China. Applicants should have a strong command of Mandarin Chinese. The successful applicant will join a creative, forward-looking  project team. ‘Cosmological Visionaries: Shamans, Scientists, and Climate Change at the Ethnic Borderlands of China and Russia’, is a European Research Council funded project led full-time by Dr Katherine Swancutt in the Department of Theology & Religious Studies. It is a six-year project, and the successful applicant will focus on animistic religion and climate change in Southwest China. Dr Swancutt is leading the China Team on this ERC Synergy Grant project, which is being conducted in collaboration with the Russia Team for the project based at the University of Manchester.


The successful applicant will be a person with a strong academic record of high-quality published research, appropriate to their stage of academic career. They will continue to produce high-quality research publications and contribute to the research culture of the Department and King’s


The project website:


At King’s, we are committed to ensuring that applicants from under-represented backgrounds, and/or those with protected characteristics, feel confident applying to work with us. We strongly encourage applications from members of groups with protected characteristics, and/or that have been marginalised on any grounds, so that we better reflect the community we serve.

About the Faculty:


About the Department of Theology and Religious Studies:


This post will be offered on a full-time, fixed term contract until 31 August 2026.


Key responsibilities

  • Research collaboratively with a team comprised of experts in social anthropology, the philosophy of ethics, and the history and philosophy of science in order to uncover the ‘visions’ of animistic peoples and natural scientists with regards to climate change in Southwest China.  
  • Conduct multi-month ethnographic fieldwork among animistic peoples in Southwest China.
  • Publish original research articles and a monograph in the anthropology of religion and the anthropology of climate change.
  • Participate in routine workshops and conferences for the project, both in the UK and abroad. (Relevant travel costs for the postholder are included in the project budget.)
  • Collaborate within the vibrant multidisciplinary environment in the Department of Theology & Religious Studies at King’s. (In addition to the teamwork in the Department itself, there are numerous opportunities for close collaboration with colleagues in relevant research areas elsewhere at King’s and beyond.)
  • Undertake any other reasonable duties that may be requested by your line manager and the Head of Department. 

Skills, knowledge, and experience 

Essential criteria  

1.       PhD in Social Anthropology (or a related discipline in the social sciences, such as sociology, area studies, or human geography)

2.       Strong command of Mandarin Chinese 

3.       A track record and/or working plan of publications appropriate to the applicant’s career stage 

4.       Experience of long-term anthropological fieldwork 

5.       Knowledge of or Willingness to learn Tibeto-Burman languages (through Chinese) 

6.       Commitment to extended (multi-month) anthropological fieldwork in China 

7.       Willingness to work within a team 


Desirable criteria

1.       A track record of research undertaken within the anthropology of religion and/or the anthropology of climate change and the environment 

2.       Willingness to mentor other team members 


Please note that this is a PhD level role but applicants who have submitted their thesis and are awaiting award of their PhDs will be considered. In these circumstances the appointment will be made at Grade 5, spine point 30 with the title of Research Assistant. Upon confirmation of the award of the PhD, the job title will become Research Associate and the salary will increase to Grade 6

Further information

Applicants should submit with their application their CV, a Cover Letter, and one writing sample that is representative of their research (e.g., an article, book chapter, or chapter from a thesis).

It is anticipated that interviews will be held in the week of 16 to 20 January 2023. Shortlisted applicants will be asked during the interview to discuss how they would approach their work package for the project, which requires them to conduct multi-month ethnographic fieldwork each year in the city of Xichang and nearby country villages in Sichuan province, with a focus on how Nuosu (Liangshan Yizu) priests and shamans approach climate change and concerns about forestry protection.