Postdoctoral researcher in Languages ​​and Cultures
Ghent University, Department of Languages ​​and Cultures

Postdoctoral researcher

Last application date
Nov 10, 2019 09:41

LW21 - Department of Languages and Cultures

Employment category
Postdoctoral staff member group 3

Unlimited duration

Occupancy rate

Vacancy Type
Research staff


Job description

Postdoctoral fellowship vacancy for ERC Project ‘Later-in-Life Intimacy: Women’s Unruly Practices, Places and Representations’ (LiLI) – Component 3 Within an ERC-funded project focusing on older women’s sexuality (Later-in-Life Intimacy: Older Women’s Unruly Practices, Places and Representations (LiLI)), a postdoctoral fellowship is offered for a period up to three years (a longer contract with a lower percentage of employment can be negotiated). We are particularly looking for a team member with a strong background in cultural/media studies. The starting date will be 1 January 2020 or as soon as possible thereafter. For this position, we offer an internationally competitive salary that depends on seniority and corresponds to the salary scales for Postdoctoral Research Fellows as established by the Flemish government.

Project summary:

Almost half a century ago, Simone de Beauvoir denounced what she called the ‘conspiracy of silence’ in public and scholarly debates about women growing older. Little has changed since then. In spite of the expanding number and proportion of older women in the population and the changing cultural norms regarding sexuality, older women are still often overlooked in research, and their sexuality in particular is still a taboo. Older women are supposed to become asexual and when their sexuality is considered, it is interpreted within a medicalized and phallocentric framework that starts from young adult standards. So far, social sciences and humanities have failed to develop a viable alternative to this line of thinking. The proposed project aims to rectify this significant gap in research and break the silence around older women and sex. A multi-disciplinary team of scholars with expertise in anthropology, social geography, cultural studies and feminist philosophy will collaborate and tackle challenging research questions in order to acquire a fundamentally new, affirmative understanding of women’s later life sexuality. A radical multi-method ethnographic research methodology will be developed, (1) based on long-term participant observation in various settings and (2) with a specific focus on ‘unruly’ sexual strategies of older women across different social categories. By uncovering counter-hegemonic knowledge of older women—knowledge that usually stays under the radar of academic attention—the project has great potential to revolutionize how we look at women, old age, and sex. A shift in thinking is needed because the prevalent conceptualizations are blatantly oppressive for older women. Moreover, the project’s methodological-theoretical design that brings older women’s subversive sexual strategies to the forefront of research has also the potential to open the way for radical changes in feminist theorizations of intersectional power, sexual desire and ageing. The postdoctoral researcher will be based at Ghent University, Ghent (Belgium), being part of the research team led by Prof. Dr. Katrien De Graeve, as well as actively participating in the academic life of the Department of Languages and Cultures, and more particular of the Centre for Research on Culture and Gender during the period of the contract.

The postdoctoral researcher is expected to work in Ghent and conduct fieldwork in Belgium. More specifically, s/he/x is expected to carry out the research related to the third component of the study, which focuses on subversive representations of women older than 50 years of age. Through multi-method ethnographic fieldwork, this component will focus on media artefacts, media audiences and the production of media images.

Profile of the candidate

Required Education:

Cultural Studies: PhD or equivalent

Required Languages

- Excellent spoken and written academic English

- Good language capabilities in Dutch and/or French and/or a language that is spoken by a relatively large community in Belgium (e.g. Turkish, Arabic, Farsi, Polish, Russian, Italian, Spanish, German, etc.) to be able to undertake the necessary field research.

Skills, qualifications:

- PhD degree in Cultural Studies– finished or to be completed soon, preferably with expertise on topics related to gender, sexuality and/or old age. Candidates with a degree in Anthropology or other social science disciplines such as Sociology or Gender Studies but with a strong focus on cultural and media representations will also be considered.

- Extensive experience with multi-method ethnographic research methodology based in interpretive/reflexive epistemology and constructivist ontology is a must.

- Excellent publication record, with publications in international peer-reviewed academic journals and books in fields such as Cultural/Media Studies, Anthropology, Sexuality/Queer studies, Gerontology Studies, Crip Studies, Fat Studies, etc.

The successful candidate will be expected to:

- Undertake ethnographic fieldwork in selected settings and in collaboration with the rest of the team

- Publish articles and book chapters on the research project, independently and in collaboration with other team members, in international peer-reviewed academic journals and books

- Participate in the team meetings and trainings

- Partake in and organize meetings, seminars and conferences within the scope of both the ERC project and the research centre.

- Participate in relevant academic conferences in Belgium and/or elsewhere

- Undertake small amount of teaching and administrative duties Women and minority candidates are especially encouraged to apply.

How to apply

All applications must be submitted by email ( before 11 November 2019 . In the subject of the email, please specify for which position you are applying (for this vacancy: postdoc component 3). Please send a single PDF file including:

a) Motivation letter (why do you want to join the project?) with brief description of previous research that demonstrates your suitability for the position.

b) A research proposal (1 page) describing research ideas related to the project description (including the theoretical approach and expertise you might contribute to the project and potential research sites and analytical-methodological approach)

c) Curriculum Vitae, including a list of academic output

d) Copy of one representative publication

e) Names and contact addresses of two academic references, who will be contacted for recommendation letters after the applicant is shortlisted. Shortlisted candidates will be notified by the end of November 2019. Job interviews (face-to-face or Skype) will take place in the second week of December 2019.

Decision letters will be send the fourth week of December 2019.

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