Postdoc to SNM, Field/Work in the Archive: Herbaria as Sites of Cultural Exchange

Updated: about 2 months ago
Job Type: FullTime
Deadline: 02 Sep 2022

The Natural History Museum of Denmark, Faculty of SCIENCE, University of Copenhagen invites applications for a full-time, fixed term (18 month) postdoc in the study and cultural activation of unique historical herbarium specimens that were collected in former Danish colonies including the Danish West Indies (now the US Virgin Islands), Serampore, Tranquebar India), Danish Guinea (now Ghana), and Greenland, as well as concomitant collections. Deploying humanities and social science methods in a science context, the project aims to understand the intercultural and historical value of these significant scientific collections — a shared heritage of global nature held in the Herbarium of the Natural History Museum of Denmark — including their value to present-day communities both in Denmark and in their communities of origin.

The successful applicant will be based in the Section for Botany at the Natural History Museum of Denmark.

The appointment begins 1 December 2022 or as soon as possible thereafter, and is open to international applicants with appropriate qualifications and expertise. FIELD/WORK in the ARCHIVE is funded by the Augustinus Fonden.

Research Project and Context and Working Environment

FIELD/WORK in the ARCHIVE is a two-year project of the Natural History Museum of Denmark, led by Principal Investigator Associate Professor Dr Martha Fleming. The Museum is both a national museum and a university museum of the University of Copenhagen’s Faculty of SCIENCE, offering a well-supported and richly diverse research environment. The Museum’s collections are outstanding and its staff is highly active in both discipline-specific and interdisciplinary research at national and international scale.

The vision of the Natural History Museum of Denmark is to empower citizens to connect with nature. We want to inspire, engage, and enable people to enjoy, understand, and care for the diversity of the natural world. In the coming years, the Natural History Museum of Denmark (NHMD) will go through major changes as a new museum facility is created in the Botanical Gardens.

The Museum has a longstanding collaboration with the University’s Department of Science Education, which has both science communication and history and philosophy of science research nodes. The project’s Co-Investigators and collaborating institutions bring with them their own valuable research contexts, methodological and field specialisms, and cultures of excellence. They are:

  • Associate Professor Casper Andersen: History of Ideas, School of Culture and Society, University of Aarhus
  • Associate Professor Dr Signe Mellemgaard: Saxo Institute, Faculty of Humanities, University of Copenhagen
  • Dr Jens Soelberg, Curator, Museum of Natural Medicine, Department of Pharmacology, University of Copenhagen
  • The project also has an International Advisory Board and a Danish Expert Group of colleagues with extensive knowledge in the areas of plant humanities, material culture, and colonial histories

FIELD/WORK in the ARCHIVE is designed to engender a national and international understanding of the cultural and historical significance of unique elements of the Copenhagen Herbarium through rigorous historical, collections-based and community research. Interdisciplinary research for FIELD/WORK in the ARCHIVE will break new ground intellectually as well as making significant contributions to the interpretation, education and exhibition programmes of the Natural History Museum of Denmark, whose new building is scheduled to open in 2024.

The Position

The successful applicant will work closely with the PI and the Co-Investigators to answer the project’s research questions, and will work across all five of the project’s Workpackages. There are no teaching responsibilities with this post. The main areas of research and project management that the appointed postdoc will be involved in include:

  • Effect collaborative research with the research team, including provenance research, object biographies, actor-network studies, etc. This will include collaborative and guided archival and literature research in the Herbarium, in correlative archives including the Royal Library and the Rigsarkiv, as well as in other museum collections and archives as required
  • Participate in collections-based research to understand the evolving historical and present-day contexts in which global herbarium specimens are collected, curated, researched, shared and displayed
  • Work closely with colleagues at the Natural History Museum of Denmark, including collection managers, curators, archivist/registrars, digital teams, public engagement and education teams
  • Participate in the design and delivery of intercultural workshops (both in person and online) with widely varying international and intercultural community stakeholders from Denmark and from the former colonies, acting as a liaison-point across a wide range of individuals and community groups both locally and internationally, including communities of practice in divergent knowledge regimes
  • Publish and present findings in collaboration with the research team, assist in the editing of a special issue of a scholarly journal that will present a selection of the project findings, and contribute to display and interpretation projects of the Museum
  • Support the PI and a digital team to manage digital research infrastructures:
    • build and maintain a Virtual Research Environment which will support the research and exchanges of the project team and its international community
    • build and maintain an interactive Herbarium<>Archive public-facing website which will both share the project’s findings and solicit further engagement and research
  • Contribute to project management, including reporting and financial accounting
  • Some travel, mainly within Denmark and Northern Europe, is to be expected, and the post may also include the performance of other duties as agreed with the PI

    Qualifications and Selection Criteria

Applicants for the position must demonstrate a high degree of motivation as a researcher, hold a PhD degree in one of the following disciplines, and be able to demonstrate a high level of understanding of one or more of the other areas of research listed here:

  • Global and Colonial History
  • History and Philosophy of Science
  • Critical Heritage Studies
  • Environmental History/Humanities
  • Museum Studies
  • Human Geography
  • Ethnography
  • Other Related Fields

    Applicants must be able to document:

  • Completed MA and PhD degrees in one or more of the above mentioned disciplines
  • A research record of outstanding achievement or potential, with relevant international peer reviewed outputs or publications (including those accepted or in press)
  • A track record in the interpersonal, time management and organisational skills required for the role
  • Experience of Collections-Based Research and museum practice in general
  • Experience of building or contributing to digital research infrastructures
  • Experience of community engagement and of public research dissemination
  • Fluency in English and Danish (or another Scandinavian or related language)

    Further desirable attributes include:

  • Knowledge of Danish colonial histories
  • Knowledge of Enlightenment science
  • Knowledge of Botany and Taxonomics

    The University wishes our staff to reflect the diversity of society and thus welcomes applications from all qualified candidates regardless of personal background. The University offers flexible working conditions with due consideration for the requirements of KU and with due respect for the individual employee: options will be discussed at the interview stage.

    FIELD/WORK in the ARCHIVE takes place in an international, intercultural, inter-institutional and interdisciplinary context in which a range of highly disparate methodologies, ontologies and epistemologies will be operative concurrently. Collections originating in colonial contexts are currently the subject of complex social and political conversations and therefore it will be essential for the post-holder to maintain dignity, respect, and intellectual rigour in all research activities and dealings with the various actors she or he will engage with and encounter in the project.

The Application

  • The application should include:
  • An academic CV including a full list of publications and/or practice-based research experience
  • A cover letter outlining relevant personal experience and motivation as they relate to the FIELD/WORK in the ARCHIVE project, its activities and aims: see Qualifications and Selection Criteria above
  • Up to three relevant research outputs/publications in any format or medium
  • Diplomas (Master and PhD degree or equivalent)

The names of two references whom we can contact for an evaluation of your work: these references will only be contacted with your permission

The application must be submitted in English.

For an informal conversation about the post, please contact Principal Investigator Dr Martha Fleming:

The deadline for applications is 2 September 2022, 23:59 GMT +1.

After the expiry of the deadline for applications, the authorized recruitment manager selects applicants for assessment on the advice of the Interview Committee. You can read about the recruitment process at .

Interviews will be held in Week: 38+39

Terms of employment

The position is covered by the Memorandum on Job Structure for Academic Staff.

Terms of appointment and payment accord to the agreement between the Ministry of Finance and The Danish Confederation of Professional Associations on Academics in the State.

Negotiation for salary supplement is possible.

For information relating to coming to Denmark to work at the University of Copenhagen, please see International Staff Mobility:

The application, in English, must be submitted electronically by clicking APPLY NOW below.


Part of the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU), and among Europe’s top-ranking universities, the University of Copenhagen promotes research and teaching of the highest international standard. Rich in tradition and modern in outlook, the University gives students and staff the opportunity to cultivate their talent in an ambitious and informal environment. An effective organisation – with good working conditions and a collaborative work culture – creates the ideal framework for a successful academic career.

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