Postdoctoral Researcher: Psychoactive Plants and Cultural Heritage in Latin America

6 days left

Nijmegen, Netherlands
07 Mar 2023
End of advertisement period
04 Apr 2023
Contract Type
Full Time

The Faculty of Arts at Radboud University is looking for a postdoctoral researcher to collaborate on the project 'Poison, Medicine or Magic Potion? Shifting Perceptions of Drugs in and from Latin America (1820-2020)', which was recently awarded a grant by the Dutch Research Council. As a postdoctoral researcher, you will join the VICI research team (including two PhD candidates, two postdoctoral researchers and the PI) and also be a member of the Radboud Institute for Culture and History (RICH) and the department of Modern Languages and Cultures (MTC).

The Radboud Institute for Culture and History is looking for a postdoctoral researcher for the NWO-funded project Poison, Medicine or Magic Potion? Shifting Perceptions of 'Drugs' in and from Latin America (1820-2020). The conception of drugs has differed greatly over time, and the distinction between 'illegal drugs' and 'legal medicines' continues to be contested. An increasing number of scientists claim that it is necessary to demythologise drugs and to revise the perception that they constitute a threat to society. Latin America plays a key role in this debate, as psychoactive plants are part of its natural resources and Indigenous cultural history.

The main aim of this project is to analyse the changing perceptions of drugs in Latin America from the continent's independence to the present day (1820-2020). The project focuses on the representation of ayahuasca, peyote and coca/cocaine over time. It uses a partially unexplored corpus of discourses on these plants, including literature, ethnography and travel writing. The project will nuance the complex yet often reductive link between drugs and violence by studying the multifaceted perceptions of drugs from a cross-cultural, diachronic and interdisciplinary perspective. Two workshops and a symposium with stakeholders will examine how cultural perceptions of drugs influence policy making and vice versa.

As a postdoctoral researcher, you will analyse and compare shifting perceptions of ayahuasca, coca/cocaine and peyote in museums and memorials, and uncover how these intersect with national and legal constitutions of indigenous culture and religion. The comparative dimension will open a fruitful discussion with broader scholarship on the relation between Indigenous knowledge and heritage. You will use the different theoretical frameworks of the project (decolonial theory, posthumanism and affect studies) to study cultural heritage in the Amazonian Basin, the Andes region, the Sierra Madre Occidental, and the Netherlands. You will contribute to the development of the PhD candidates' methodological and theoretical skills and will work closely together with your fellow postdoctoral researcher on Drugs and Tourism in Latin America. In addition, you will work with scientific and societal partners in Latin America and in the Netherlands. You will organise several events for stakeholders in Nijmegen and make a podcast together with the other members of the team.

Your research will be embedded in RICH. Apart from the specific context of the VICI research project, you will participate in one of its research groups and contribute to the institute in general. Together with the present staff of the research institutes, you will set up research collaborations on these topics. You will publish about your research in highly qualified journals, conference proceedings, or edited volumes. Lastly, you will be expected to teach a limited number of Bachelor s and Master's courses.

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