Postdoctoral researcher, Discovering the Limits of Reason - Europe and the Crisis in Universalism

Helsinki, Finland
31 Aug 2023
End of advertisement period
05 Oct 2023
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

The Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Helsinki invites applications for the position of POSTDOCTORAL RESEARCHER, DISCOVERING THE LIMITS OF REASON – EUROPE AND THE CRISIS OF UNIVERSALISM for a two-year fixed term period from 1.1.2024 onwards to contribute to the subproject Discovering the Limits of Reason of the Centre of Excellence (CoE) in Law, Identity and the European Narratives.

The CoE is part of the interdisciplinary Centre of European Studies. The purpose of the CoE is to launch a new, third generation inquiry that critically explores the emergence of narratives of Europe as responses to the crises of the twentieth century and how these narratives have shaped the ideas of justice and community in Europe. It studies the foundational stories that underlie the contested idea of a shared European heritage in law and culture, such as the ideas of rule of law, equality, tolerance, pluralism and the rejection of totalitarianism, and their relevance for current debates on identity and history. The CoE is divided into three subprojects.

The subproject Discovering the Limits of Reason focuses on the philosophical and intellectual roots of the post-World War II European project. In particular, the project investigates the unique relativization of European rationality in the theory and culture of the inter-war period and the subsequent attempts, including in literary and artistic works, to rethink the ideas of reason, universalism, progress, community and so on, and how this contributed to shaping the narratives and institutional developments of the post-WWII European project.

We invite projects that combine theoretical and historical approaches. Projects demonstrating connections and relevance to the other subprojects of the CoE are particularly valued, as are those that incorporate viewpoints from outside of Europe. We encourage applicants to discuss how their projects move away from canonical narratives and amplify marginalized perspectives and voices. We welcome applicants with a multidisciplinary academic background and experience in conducting high-level research in interdisciplinary groups. We offer an exciting and stimulating research community.


An appointee to the position must hold a doctoral degree in a relevant field to the research topic and have a high-quality research proposal. Relevant disciplines include but are not limited to philosophy, intellectual history, anthropology, theology, law, and political science. Moreover, appointees are expected to have the ability to conduct independent scientific research and possess the teaching skills required for the position. Fluency in the English language is required. The default assumption is that the doctoral degree requirement must be met by the beginning of the employment (January 2024). The period following the completion of doctoral degree must not exceed four years, excluding family leave and equivalent periods of absence.

An appointee must be able to provide a clear contribution to the theme of the CoE and to its general development, together with full-time researchers, postdocs, visiting faculty, PhD students, and graduate students working as research assistants. To fulfil the research requirements of the position, the applicant chosen is expected to be physically present on a regular basis and actively participate in the research and teaching activities of the CoE. An appointee is expected to contribute 2 months of the annual work time to joint projects at the CoE, develop their own and our common research agenda, and contribute to collective academic tasks such as teaching, seminars and joint academic papers. The teaching requirement is up to 5% of working time.


University of Helsinki is an equal opportunity employer and offers an attractive and diverse workplace with a variety of development opportunities and benefits. The annual gross salary range will be approx. €43,000 – €47,000, depending on the appointee’s qualifications and experience. Standard Finnish pension benefits and occupational health care are provided for university employees. Further information can be obtained online. The employment contract will include a probationary period of six months.

Finland is a member of the European Union, has high quality free schooling (also in English) and generous family benefits and healthcare. Finland was recently ranked as the best country in the world for expat families, and Helsinki in the world’s top ten most livable cities. Finland and the Helsinki region feature leading research and innovation facilities, clean environment, affordable accommodation, and excellent international, national, and local transport connections. For more information about working at the University of Helsinki and living in Finland, please see the website.

The chosen applicants are expected to reside in Finland while employed by the University of Helsinki. The Faculty of Social Sciences provides assistance in relocation.


Please submit your application, together with the required attachments, through the University of Helsinki Recruitment System via the link "Apply now" (“Hae nyt”). Applicants who are currently employed by the University of Helsinki are requested to submit their application via the SAP Fiori portal at The closing date for applications is Thursday  5 October, 2023.

Applicants are requested to enclose with their applications the following documents in English:

  1. A curriculum vitae (max 4 pages).
  2. A numbered list of publications on which the applicant has marked in bold their five key publications to be considered during the review. (You do not need to send copies of the publications themselves.)
  3. A statement (max 2 pages) outlining how the applicant’s expertise would contribute both to research conducted at the CoE and to cross-disciplinary collaboration between the CoE subprojects
  4. A research proposal (max 4 pages) of the applicants planned research

Detailed information on the CV and list of publications can be obtained online.

Applicants of any gender, nationality and cultural background are welcomed.


Further information about the position may be obtained from the team leader, Dr Marco Piasentier (, English), or Vice-Director, Professor Pamela Slotte (, English, Finnish and Swedish).

The University of Helsinki is an international scientific community of 40,000 students and researchers. It is one of the leading multidisciplinary research universities in Europe and ranks among the top 100 international universities in the world. We are an equal opportunity employer and offer an attractive and diverse workplace in an inspiring environment with a variety of development opportunities and benefits.

The Faculty of Social Sciences is Finland’s leading research and education institute in the social sciences, and the country’s most diverse social sciences faculty in terms of the range of its disciplines and fields of research. The Faculty has a strong international research profile and an international master’s programme, and several of its disciplinary units have been rated among the top 50 in the world.  The Faculty has approximately 500 research and teaching staff, and each year it awards some 350 bachelor’s degrees, 400 master’s degrees and more than 40 doctoral degrees.