PhD Candidate: Whiteness, Spirituality and Esotericism

Updated: 29 days ago
Deadline: 29 Jan 2024

0.8 - 1.0 FTE

Gross monthly salary
€ 2,770 - € 3,539

Required background
Research University Degree

Organizational unit
Faculty of Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies

Application deadline
29 January 2024

Apply now

Are you intrigued by how esoteric belief and practice shape whiteness, and vice versa? Would you like to develop an innovative research project at the intersection of race, spirituality and religion? Then you may be the PhD candidate we are looking for! You will develop an independent research project, be supervised by a team of experts, and work closely with other scholars interested in race and religion.
Over the past decades, scholarly interest in esoteric, heterodox and alternative spiritualities has shown a steady increase. More recently, scholars have begun to use race as an analytical category to better understand the history, context and nature of such spiritualities, asking how such spiritualities inform political, societal and cultural domains, and vice versa. However, there has been little explicit attention to how whiteness shapes, and is shaped by, such spiritualities. We are looking for a PhD candidate who will address this gap.
Broadly, we are interested in two questions. How do contemporary esoteric spiritualities construct, reinforce, resist, or transform whiteness? In turn, how does whiteness shape esoteric practice and ideas, representation, and scholarship?
We explicitly invite you to develop and choose your own research questions, theoretical framework, methodology, and case studies, which may address either or both of these broad concerns. We are open to proposals that focus on specific movements, currents, people, or phenomena (for instance, New Age, Theosophy, occulture, reality shifting, conspirituality, or new animism) as well as industries and forms of cultural production that engage these (examples here could be the wellness industry or Silicon Valley, and Ari Aster's Midsommar or Jordan Peele's Nope, respectively). We invite applications with a background in a range of disciplines and fields - including religious studies, anthropology, literary studies, media studies, cultural studies, art history, and colonial and global history - and with various geographic and theoretical foci.
You will devote 75% of your time to your research for and writing of your PhD thesis. The remaining 25% will be spent on training and academic service to the Faculty of Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies, including teaching (10%).
You will be supervised by Dr Justine M. Bakker  (daily supervisor), Assistant Professor of Comparative Religious Studies specialising in the study of race and esotericism, and a second supervisor, who will be chosen and assigned in relation to your specific project. Prof. Thomas Quartier, who specialises in spirituality and ritual studies, will be the  promotor.
The project will be funded by a starter grant awarded by the Faculty of Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies to Dr Justine M. Bakker.

  • You have a (research) Master's degree in Religious Studies or another discipline related to your project, or will obtain this degree before July 2024.
  • You have an excellent command of written and spoken English.
  • You have excellent research and analytical skills.
  • You meet the necessary language requirements for the topic you seek to investigate.
  • You are able to work independently as well as in a team.

We are

You will be embedded in the Department of Comparative Religious Studies at the Faculty of Philosophy, Theology and Religion Studies , and participate in the Graduate School of Humanities (GSH). You will be expected to contribute to the Center for Religion and Contemporary Society  (CRCS), in particular to the Center's focus on a resilient society, social cohesion, and conflict. You will also become part of the Race-Religion Research Group, an interdisciplinary group of scholars at Radboud University concerned with the study of race and religion.
Staff and students in the Faculty of Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies reflect on the great challenges of our time, exploring concepts, belief systems and worldviews. In this way they provide philosophical and religious context to societal debate and contribute to the analysis and solution of major societal challenges. The faculty has over 180 staff, organised in eight academic departments and four support departments. Our academics collaborate in six research centres and teach more than 1,000 students.
Our staff and students are committed. The lines of communication are short and each individual student and staff member is given ample attention. We stand for an inclusive community and believe that diversity contributes to the quality of teaching and research. We welcome staff whose diversity in background and perspective contribute to the diversity of our faculty. As an employer, we are constantly investing in the professional development of our staff.
You can find more about our mission and vision on the 'About PTRS ' page.

Radboud University

At Radboud University, we aim to make an impact through our work. We achieve this by conducting groundbreaking research, providing high-quality education, offering excellent support, and fostering collaborations within and outside the university. In doing so, we contribute indispensably to a healthy, free world with equal opportunities for all. To accomplish this, we need even more colleagues who, based on their expertise, are willing to search for answers. We advocate for an inclusive community and welcome employees with diverse backgrounds, cultures, and perspectives. Will you also contribute to making the world a little better? You have a part to play.
If you want to learn more about working at Radboud University, follow our Instagram account (link is external) and read stories from our colleagues.

We offer
  • It concerns an employment for 0.8 (5 year contract) - 1.0 FTE (4 year contract).
  • The gross starting salary amounts to €2,770 per month based on a 38-hour working week, and will increase to €3,539 from the fourth year onwards (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) or 3.5 years (5 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.

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Would you like more information?
For questions about the position, please contact Justine M. Bakker, Assistant Professor of Comparative Religious Studies, at [email protected] .
Practical information and applying
You can apply until 29 January 2024, exclusively using the button below. Kindly address your application to Justine M. Bakker. Please fill in the application form and attach the following documents:
  • A proposal for the PhD project (title, research question, aims, method; max 1000 words).
  • A motivation letter, approx. 1 page, addressed to Justine M. Bakker.
  • Your CV, including the contact details of two referees.
  • A list of courses taken and grades obtained at undergraduate and graduate level.
The first round of interviews will take place on Tuesday 27 February and Tuesday 5 March. You will begin employment as soon as you'd like, as long as it is by 1 September.
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 29 January 2024

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

Dr J.M. Bakker (Justine)
Assistant Professor of Comparative Religious Studies
[email protected]
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You are an internal candidate if you:
  • Work at Radboud University (i.e. have an employment contract with Radboud University).
  • Are a former Radboud University employee receiving unemployment (WW/BWNU) benefits paid by Radboud University (which started less than two years ago or resulted from the discontinuation of your job/redundancy).
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  • Work as a temporary employee at, or have been seconded to, Radboud University.

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Last modified: 23 January 2024
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