Postdoctoral position in US-China Deterrence Politics in the post-Cold War Era /ERC RITUAL DETERRENCE

Updated: 6 months ago
Deadline: 02 Apr 2023

The Department of Political Science, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Copenhagen (UCPH), invites applications from excellent and highly motivated candidates for a postdoctoral position in US-China Deterrence Politics in the post-Cold War era. The position is part of the European Research Council Consolidator Grant project “Ritual Action: Making Deterrence Matter in International Security and Memory Politics” (RITUAL DETERRENCE; PI: Dr Maria Mälksoo).

The position is for 4years, to be filled as soon as possible, and no later than 1 September 2023.

RITUAL DETERRENCE explores the role of ritual action in making deterrence effective and credible in international security politics between NATO and the Warsaw Pact during the Cold War and in various contemporary contexts (NATO-Russia, US-Russia, US-China relations). The project combines a variety of qualitative methods (participant observation, interviews, discourse analysis), generating new knowledge about how deterrence is made to matter in international politics, and what deterrence does politically for the communities that practice it. We work at the intersection of International Relations, Critical Security Studies, Social Theory and Anthropology with an aim to offer a novel framework for the study of deterrence in military, political-diplomatic and legislative conflict management contexts through a range of contemporary and historical case studies. The Postdoc will contribute to the project by leading the case study on US-China deterrence politics in the post-Cold War era.You will find more information on the project website:

RITUAL DETERRENCE research team is based at the Centre for Military Studies (CMS) of the Department of Political Science, UCPH. CMS is a university research centre focusing on research in defence, security, and strategic studies and working closely with the Danish Ministry of Defence, the Danish Armed Forces, and other national and international stakeholders. As a fully integrated part of the Department of Political Science, the Centre takes part in teaching and research activities at the Department. For more information, please consult our webpages: and  

Duties and Responsibilities
The Postdoc is expected to:

  • Conduct independent research in the context of RITUAL DETERRENCE, including the implementation of the case study on Chinese understandings of deterrence and US-China deterrence politics in the post-Cold War era
  • Engage in and participate actively in the development of RITUAL DETERRENCE and its academic activities, including collaborate in refining the project design and methodology and further developing the theoretical framework
  • Collect, code and analyse relevant empirical material (e.g., observations, interviews, official documents)
  • Conduct field research in China and the US (travel money covered by the project)
  • Prepare and participate in joint publications and workshops and help make an impact on the scholarly and public debate on contemporary deterrence
  • Contribute to and benefit from the flourishing intellectual life of the International Relations group and the Department of Political Science more broadly, together with the research culture at the Centre for Military Studies.
  • Carry out administrative and coordination duties associated with the project, including interim reporting to the ERC, co-organisation of thematic workshops and the project website

Your Competencies and Opportunities
The candidate must have obtained a PhD degree in political science, international relations, security studies or international history in the past three years. An older degree may be acceptable under special circumstances (such as sick leave, parental leave or similar).

The applicants should have proven research experience and academic publications in the area of Political Science, International Relations, Security Studies or International History. Furthermore, the applicants should have expertise in one or several of the following areas:

  • Qualitative methods, such as participant observation, interviews, discourse analysis, archival research
  • China’s security politics, deterrence, US-China relations, strategic studies, International Relations and/or Social Theory
  • Excellent command of English and a working ability in Mandarin Chinese
  • Considerable weight will be accorded to the ability to conduct independent research, scientific excellence, critical and creative thinking as well as the ability to work across disciplines and be a genuine team-player
  • Experience from teaching and participation in the international research community, such as organizing workshops, seminars and academic conferences is seen as a merit.

Strategy of the Faculty of the Social Sciences
The Department of Political Science is part of the Faculty of the Social Sciences. The Faculty is a successful academic community that strives to put knowledge into action by:

  • Engaging partners in the co-creation of knowledge, learning and social change.
  • Empowering our students to become reflective and responsible citizens who have the vision, the knowledge and the competences to change society for the better.
  • Energising global, European and Danish communities of knowledge by innovating research methodologies and by research findings with impact

For more on the Faculty strategy, see: . You can read the Department’s strategy here

Terms of Employment

The recruitment process
After the expiry of the deadline for applications, applicants are selected for assessment on the advice of the Appointment Committee. All applicants are then immediately notified whether an expert committee has passed their application for assessment. Selected applicants are notified of the composition of the committee, and each applicant has the opportunity to comment on the part of the assessment that relates to the applicant him/herself.

Further information on the recruitment process at University of Copenhagen can be found here:

An Equal Opportunity Workplace
The University of Copenhagen is committed in its pursuit of academic excellence to equality of opportunity and to creating an inclusive working environment and therefore encourages all qualified candidates to apply, regardless of personal background, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, ethnicity etc. For more on the diverse working place environment at the University and the University’s participation in the HRS4R HR Excellence in Research, see

International applicant?
The University of Copenhagen offers a broad variety of services for international researchers and accompanying families, including support before and during your relocation and career counselling to expat partners. Please find more information about these services as well as information on entering and working in Denmark here:

Contact information
Information about the recruitment process is available from HR, e-mail:, please refer to 211-1197/22-2I.

Additional information about the position can be obtained from Dr Maria Mälksoo, e-mail: , phone +45 35331157

How to apply
Submit a complete application at our online portal. Click on the “Apply now” icon at the bottom of the page to apply. The documents must be in Adobe PDF or Word. 

Your application must be written in English and include the following documents:

  • A short motivation letter (maximum 2 pages), including a brief description of the main research areas and methodological competence
  • A 3-5-page research proposal
  • Curriculum vitae, including education, work/research experience, language skills and other skills relevant for the position
  • A copy of the doctoral (PhD) certificate
  • A list of publications
  • Three scholarly works, of which one may be a monograph or compilation thesis

The closing date for applications is 2 April 2023 23:59 [CEST.

Applications or enclosures received thereafter will not be considered.

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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