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2 Postdocs on the History and Politics of Trauma in the 21st Century

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Two 2-year postdoc positions are available at DIIS, starting on 1 December 2022 or shortly thereafter. The postdocs are to work on the research project “Wars, pandemics, and the human mind: Competing conceptions of trauma in the 21st century” (

About the position

The project explores how the psychological sciences have shaped western societies’ responses to the wars and crises of the 21st century—and how these events in turn have affected psychological science. The psychiatric model of trauma known as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, currently defines how western societies perceive and treat the psychological effects of shock and violence. But since the attacks on September 11, 2001, the official model of trauma has been challenged by new and different understandings. Competing scientific vocabularies of “resilience” and “moral injury” now vie to provide an alternative to the psychiatric model of trauma.

The task of each postdoc is to select and conduct a case study that sheds light on the relation between the psychological sciences and the governance of trauma. The postdocs are free to propose their own case studies, which should include a focus on the scientific debates and the politics surrounding trauma, resilience, and moral injury, and how these concepts have been mobilized and instrumentalized in military and/or civilian contexts (e.g., among national policy makers within civilian or military health in Europe and the United States, in humanitarian organizations, or in international organizations like the UN).

The core team will consist of Senior Researcher Johannes Lang, the two postdocs, and a research assistant. The team will be based in Copenhagen, but each postdoc includes funding for a 2-month research stay in Europe or the United States.

DIIS as a workplace

You will become part of an inclusive and inspiring knowledge environment at an institution that aims to be at the forefront of multidisciplinary research, policy analysis, and dissemination on global affairs. It is essential that you are ready to engage in cross-disciplinary collaboration and that you value input from colleagues with different approaches, as mixing different disciplinary backgrounds and theoretical approaches is a large part of DIIS’ DNA. The project will be anchored in the research unit on Peace and Violence. You will have plenty of time to focus on your research on the project, as you do not have teaching obligations. We expect you to publish academically and communicate your research on relevant media platforms, at public seminars, or through lectures. We also expect you to participate proactively in the common efforts of the institute.

We prioritize a high degree of presence but want our employees to have a good work-life balance. Therefore, we offer flexible working hours and some possibility of working from home. We are located in Copenhagen’s new waterfront district, Nordhavn, approximately 3 km from the city center with excellent public transportation.

We expect you to:

  • have completed (or be in the process of completing) a relevant PhD degree within the humanities or social sciences within the last three years (due to the eligibility requirements of DIIS)
  • have a keen interest in the history and politics of the human or behavioral sciences, and familiarity with research methods in history or the social sciences
  • have proven research experience and preferably some peer-reviewed publications in one or more of the following fields: psychology; science studies; trauma studies; history or anthropology of psychology/psychiatry/medicine; intellectual history; cultural sociology; sociology of knowledge; political science; or a related area of research
  • preferably have experience with communicating your research results to a broader audience
  • preferably have experience with fieldwork, interviewing, and/or prior research stays abroad
  • be a skilled communicator in both written and oral English

Contract and renumeration

The postdoc position is a 2-year fulltime position, in which you may expect some travel activity. There are no language requirements besides English.

Renumeration and other job conditions follow the general agreement between the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations (AC) and the Danish Ministry of Finance as well as local collective agreements at DIIS. As such, the normal starting salary for a postdoc at DIIS is 450,096 DKK excl. pensions. In addition, it is possible to negotiate a personal supplement depending on your qualifications. A pension contribution of 17.1 % is added to the above-mentioned salary.

Candidates from abroad may under certain conditions be eligible for a special researcher tax scheme. The scheme offers a gross tax rate at 27 % plus labour market contributions, totalling 32.84 %, for a period of seven years. Read more about the tax scheme at

Do you want to know more?

Visit our website to learn more about DIIS as a workplace via Apply button. Questions regarding employment and renumeration can be sent to [email protected]. If you have inquiries regarding the professional focus of the position, you can contact Senior Researcher Johannes Lang at [email protected].

The application

The deadline for applying is 1 July 2022 at 23:59 CET (22:59 BST). Please note that we only accept applications through DIIS’ electronic recruitment system (HR Manager).

DIIS is a diverse workplace, and we encourage all qualified candidates to apply for this position regardless of age, gender, disabilities, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, or political beliefs.

Your application must include all the following documents:

  1. A short motivational letter
  2. Curriculum Vitae
  3. Master’s and PhD diplomas (or proof that Ph.D. will be obtained in 2022)
  4. Documentation of academic qualifications, including a complete list of publications
  5. Documentation of any policy work and scientific dissemination (media participation, etc.)
  6. A one-page reflection on how you see yourself contributing to the larger project. The reflection may include methodological and empirical as well as theoretical aspects

Applications go through a shortlisting process before being sent for external assessment. The shortlisted candidates will be requested to submit up to three scholarly works of which only one may be a monograph or thesis (only works in English will be assessed). The assessment process may take up to several months depending on the number of applications.

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