PhD Candidate: Shifting Perceptions of Peyote in and from Latin America

Updated: 5 months ago
Deadline: 08 Jan 2023

1.0 FTE

Gross monthly salary
€ 2,541 - € 3,247

Required background
Research University Degree

Organizational unit
Faculty of Arts

Application deadline
08 January 2023

Apply now

An increasing number of scientists claim it's necessary to demythologize drugs and revise their perception as a threat to society. Latin America plays a key role, as psychoactive substances are part of its natural resources and Indigenous cultural history. Would you like to help analyse the changing perspectives of 'drugs' in Latin America? Then you have a part to play as a PhD candidate within this broader research project (including 2 PhD candidates, 2 postdocs and the PI). You will also be part of the Radboud Institute for Culture and History (RICH).

The Radboud Institute for Culture and History seeks a PhD candidate for the NWO-funded project Poison, Medicine or Magic Potion? Shifting Perceptions of 'Drugs' in and from Latin America (1820-200).   The conception of drugs has differed greatly over time, and the distinction between 'illegal drugs' and 'legal medicines' continues to be contested. An increasing number of scientists claim that it is necessary to demythologise drugs and to revise the perception of drugs as a threat to society. Latin America plays a key role in this debate, as psychoactive substances are part of its natural resources and indigenous cultural history.
The main aim of this project is to analyse the changing perceptions of drugs in Latin America from the continent's independence to our present day (1820-2020). The project focuses on the representation of ayahuasca, peyote and coca/cocaine over time. The project uses a partially unexplored corpus of discourses on these plants, including literature, ethnography and travel writing. The project will nuance the complex yet often reductive link between drugs and violence by studying the multifaceted perceptions of drugs from a cross-cultural, diachronic and interdisciplinary perspective. Two workshops and a symposium with stakeholders will examine how cultural perceptions of drugs influence policy making and vice versa.
Your research will focus on the shifting perceptions of peyote in relation to different regions in Mexico (1820-2020). You can build on important existing research on peyote within cultural history and anthropology. You will collect written and visual sources published by travellers and inhabitants from Latin America from 1820 till 2020 through archival research. Importantly, you will integrate indigenous perspectives through archival research and oral history.
Your research will complement existing anthropological research from a cultural studies perspective. You will therefore use a solid theoretical framework in which you will integrate decolonial, indigenous perspectives on the environment and the life of plants, and bring it into dialogue with theories on posthumanism, material culture and affect theory. Important methods in your research will be discourse analysis, close reading and oral history.
You will write a PhD thesis and participate in the Graduate School for the Humanities, which includes taking courses for approximately six months and providing academic service to the Faculty of Arts at Radboud University, also for six months. Your research will be embedded in the Radboud Institute for Culture & History (RICH), which focuses on understanding the complexities of Europe in a changing world, and of the changing world of which Europe is a part. You will collaborate closely with the researchers in the project who focus on the shifting perspectives on ayahuasca and coca, and on cultural heritage and tourism related to psychoactive plants. In addition, you will work with scientific and societal partners in Latin America, where part of your research will take place. You will organise several events in Nijmegen in collaboration with stakeholders and make a podcast together with the other members of the team.

  • You should hold a Master's degree in Latin American studies, indigenous studies, cultural studies, or a comparable discipline.
  • Demonstrable experience in cultural theory, discourse analysis and/or historical fieldwork (oral history and archival work) is highly recommended.
  • Demonstrable experience in other disciplines (ethnobotany, environmental humanities, historiography, anthropology) and area studies focusing on Mexico is recommended.
  • You have excellent oral and writing skills in Spanish (C2 or native).
  • You hold a Cambridge Certificate (CPE level) in English or equivalent, or you are committed to obtaining this certificate within 6 months.
  • Passive knowledge of indigenous languages of Mexico relevant in this field and of Dutch is considered an advantage.
  • You are able to communicate and collaborate effectively in a team setting.
  • You are able to work independently and flexibly, taking initiative where needed. 
  • You have administrative and organisational skills and are well-acquainted with managing social media.
  • You are willing to live in the Netherlands during the contract period and to conduct field work in Latin America.

We are

The Faculty of Arts  is committed to knowledge production with a significant scientific and social impact. With over 500 academic and support staff, we teach and conduct research in the fields of history and art, languages and cultures, and linguistics and communication, using innovative methodologies and working in close collaboration between the disciplines. Our research is embedded in two research institutes: the Centre for Language Studies (CLS) and the Radboud Institute for Culture & History (RICH) . We currently have approximatively 2,500 students, enrolled in three departments: the Department of History, Art History and Classics, the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures, and the Department of Language and Communication. We aim to contribute to a more sustainable and inclusive world, which is why we especially seek applications from candidates who bring diverse perspectives, backgrounds, and skills that will be assets to our study programmes and research profiles.

Radboud University

We want to get the best out of science, others and ourselves. Why? Because this is what the world around us desperately needs. Leading research and education make an indispensable contribution to a healthy, free world with equal opportunities for all. This is what unites the more than 24,000 students and 5,600 employees at Radboud University. And this requires even more talent, collaboration and lifelong learning. You have a part to play!
We offer
  • It concerns an employment for 1.0 FTE.
  • The gross starting salary amounts to €2,443 per month based on a 38-hour working week, and will increase to €3,122 in the fourth year (salary scale P ).
  • You will receive 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus.
  • You will be employed for an initial period of 18 months, after which your performance will be evaluated. If the evaluation is positive, the contract will be extended by 2.5 years (4 year contract).
  • You will be able to use our Dual Career and Family Care Services . Our Dual Career and Family Care Officer can assist you with family-related support, help your partner or spouse prepare for the local labour market, provide customized support in their search for employment and help your family settle in Nijmegen.
  • Working for us means getting extra days off. In case of full-time employment, you can choose between 30 or 41 days of annual leave instead of the legally allotted 20.

Additional employment conditions
Work and science require good employment practices. This is reflected in Radboud University's primary and secondary employment conditions . You can make arrangements for the best possible work-life balance with flexible working hours, various leave arrangements and working from home. You are also able to compose part of your employment conditions yourself, for example, exchange income for extra leave days and receive a reimbursement for your sports subscription. And of course, we offer a good pension plan. You are given plenty of room and responsibility to develop your talents and realise your ambitions. Therefore, we provide various training and development schemes.
Would you like more information?
For questions about the position, please contact Brigitte Adriaensen, Professor in Hispanic Studies at .
Practical information and applying
You can apply until 8 January 2023, exclusively using the button below. Kindly address your application to Brigitte Adriaensen. Please fill in the application form and attach the following documents:
  • A motivation letter.
  • Your CV, including the names and contact details of two references, one of which should be your MA thesis supervisor or equivalent.
  • A full transcript of grades obtained during your BA and MA studies.
  • A writing sample, relevant to this vacancy (preferably in English, but Spanish will also be accepted).
  • A one-page statement in which you elaborate on how you propose to approach the project.
The first round of interviews will take place on Thursday 19 January. The second round of interviews will take place on Tuesday 24 January. You would preferably begin employment on 1 March 2023.
We can imagine you're curious about our application procedure . It offers a rough outline of what you can expect during the application process, how we handle your personal data and how we deal with internal and external candidates.
Apply now Application deadline 08 January 2023

We would like to recruit our new colleague ourselves. Acquisition in response to this vacancy will not be appreciated.

Prof. Adriaensen, B.Y.A. (Brigitte)
Professor in Hispanic Studies

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You are an internal candidate if you:
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Last modified: 28 November 2022
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