University of Jyväskylä

2 Project Researchers, Cultures, Communities and Change

2023-10-01 (Europe/Helsinki)
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About the employer

The JYU is a nationally and internationally significant research university and an expert on education that focuses on human and natural sciences.

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The Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Jyväskylä is seeking to recruit:


2 Project Researchers (Cultures, Communities and Change) for a fixed-term period of 1.11.2023-27.2.2026.


Positions are allocated to the Department of History and Ethnology and to a project funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland titled: “LGBTQI+ and Street-level bureaucrats: Assessing Motives, Violence and Possibilities for Collective Advocacy in East Africa”.


The abstract of the project 

In most African countries, formal laws threaten long prison terms for LGBTQI+ persons, but what actually happens to them is different. I examine local authorities’ everyday practices to explain social control of and violence against persons of non-conforming genders and sexualities (NCGSs). I ask: 1) What are the motives and logics behind the practices used by local bureaucrats to deal with this stigmatized group? Using D. Graeber’s (2012) theory that bureaucrats use violence to avoid interpreting groups that demand alternate conceptual schemas, I ask further: 2) why are local bureaucrats and law enforcement not willing to undertake interpretation? Is violence part of the interpretation and if so, how to theorize it? 3) In what ways do the practices of bureaucrats impact NCGSs capacities for collective self-advocacy?

Data. Source data will be 450 qualitative interviews from three cities of East Africa, including from NCGSs, local government authorities, police, local security guards, and perceived ‘real men’ who pay for sex with NCGSs.

Research methods. Instead of focusing on legislation, social media, or surveys about societal tolerance, we examine the local-level practices that are less visible to the international development community, but which comprise the greatest risks to the rights and well-being of NCGSs. S. Ahmed’s (2014) concept of ‘the stop’ is used as a methodological lens to examine how NCGSs experience treatment by local authorities. To produce critical theory from the bottom up, genuine dialogue is needed between Euro-US and African researchers on NCGSs, and this will be ensured through open discussions with local NGOs, interview participants in the studied localities, and African colleagues. Local NGO leaders will be invited to speak to human rights and LGBTQ+ groups in Finland to decolonialize thinking and create future collaboration.

Expected results and outcomes. The research will produce new theory on the social control of stigmatized groups in developing countries and will refine my theoretical concept of bureaucrats’ adaptation to multivocal authority, that is, to the cacophony of voices struggling for public authority in East African countries. The project will make clear policy recommendations for organizations seeking to improve the lives of NCGSs in Africa.


Duties and requirements

The main task of the Project Researcher, as a member of an international research team consisting of two Project Researchers located in the University of Jyväskylä and collaborators in Uganda, Malawi, Finland and Sweden, is to conduct research on the street-level interaction between local authorities (local government, security guards, vigilantes) and persons of non-conforming gender and sexuality in three African cities (Dar es Salaam, Kampala, and Lilongwe). The researcher is expected, through the analysis of collected data, to focus on answering the questions in the abstract shown above. The Project Researcher will conduct qualitative analysis of semi-structured interviews, narrative analysis of photos taken by interview participants, and analysis of walk-alongs with mobile phone mapping. Project researchers in the project will be trained in these methods by the Project Director at the start of data collection. The position includes a total of six months of fieldwork in Malawi, Tanzania, and Uganda as well as analysis and write-up of publications. The Project Researcher will also participate in two mobility visits to the Institute for Human Rights at Åbo Akademi, Finland (Institute for Human Rights | Åbo Akademi University ( led by Assoc. Prof. Viljam Engström and the Department of Cultural Anthropology and Ethnology / Forum for Africa Studies, Uppsala University (Start - Forum for Africa Studies ( led by Sten Hagberg.

The applicants are expected to have a PhD degree in the field of anthropology, gender studies, ethnography, development studies, African studies, violence studies, or other relevant academic backgrounds. For exceptionally experienced applicants, a Master’s degree may be considered sufficient. A good command of English is required for this position. Applicants are also expected to have experience of living in Uganda or Malawi, and to speak and read fluently one or more of the main languages of Uganda and/or Malawi besides English. Prior expertise on working with socially and culturally sensitive issues, familiarity with ethnographic methods of data collection (especially interviews in low-income areas), and familiarity with using social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) will be considered assets.

We expect from a Project Researcher preparedness to work as a full member of an international research team, to author their own publications and contribute to co-authored publications, to take part in the internal research seminars of the project, and to participate in weekly meetings to share insights and updates. All collected data will be shared openly among all three members of the project. The primary place to conduct the research is Jyväskylä, Finland. Six months will be spent in the field (Dar es Salaam, Kampala, and Lilongwe), two months will be spent in Uppsala, Sweden, and 20 months in Jyväskylä, Finland.  The duties and qualification requirements for the position of the Project Researcher are stipulated by the University of Jyväskylä Regulations, Rector’s decision on personnel matters and language skills guidelines. The qualification requirements should be met by the closing of the application time.


What does the University of Jyväskylä offer as an employer?

At the University of Jyväskylä, you are a recognized member of our community with a unique opportunity to influence international research. You get to participate in our international and multi-science community where the welfare of each individual is important.

Finland has a high standard of living, with free schooling (also in English), affordable childcare, good family benefits, and healthcare. Jyväskylä is located in central Finland in the Finnish Lakeland, is a peaceful town, and has excellent opportunities for nature, outdoor, and sports activities. The city of Jyväskylä is a major educational center and the city has a large student population. As such there is a vibrant cultural scene in the city.

At the University of Jyväskylä, we offer a great and lively university campus area with opportunities to maintain an active and healthy lifestyle. To find useful information about the University of Jyväskylä, the City of Jyväskylä and living in Finland, see the University's International Staff Guide.



The Postdoctoral Researcher positions are rated on levels 4-6 in the YPJ salary system for Finnish universities, depending on degree and experience after degree. The monthly salary (gross income) in this Postdoctoral Researcher position will be approximately 2.900–4.100€, depending on the qualifications and prior experience of the candidate.

Six months trial period is applied to the filling of the position.


How to apply?

Following documents must be included in English to the electronic recruiting system:

  1. CV composed according to good scientific practice and considering, when possible, the template for researcher´s curriculum vitae of the Finnish Advisory Board on Research Integrity (TENK);
  2. Short and informal motivation letter – why do you feel this position is a good fit for you and why are you a good fit for the project?
  3. Numbered list of publications covering the applicant’s the scientific and other publications according to the instructions of the Academy of Finland (please indicate the five most relevant publications vis-à-vis this project);
  4. One writing sample, for example an academic article or a PhD chapter. (Please attach this to the field "Research plan")
  5. References: email and phone number (with country code) of academics who can, if asked, tell about their experience of working with you as a teacher or colleague. (This is to be filled in the field "Referees")


Applicants are kindly asked to submit their applications using the online application form by October 1, 2023 (11.59 PM EEST). Selected applicants will be interviewed online during October.


For more information, please contact the head of the project, Professor Laura Stark:

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Department of History and Ethnology

The Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences is a strong contributor to human sciences. It has a central role in understanding and developing human activities and the structures of society. The faculty is a unique, strongly profiled unit that conducts internationally significant research with societal impact. Research and education at the faculty focus on culture, arts, traditions, languages and communication, social sciences and philosophy.
The University of Jyväskylä is a human-centred environment of 2,500 experts and 14,500 students. Our goal is to create wisdom and wellbeing for us all. It is essential that each member of the community thrives and has opportunities to develop and grow. We cherish openness of thinking as well as the balance between research and education. Our naturally beautiful campus is located at the heart of the city of Jyväskylä. JYU is the third largest employer in Central Finland.

Location: Seminaarinkatu 15

Information for the applicant

The application form cannot be saved as a draft. However, after submitting you can return to edit your application via the link you receive by email. The application can be edited until the application deadline.

You have 6 hours to complete your application before the timeout.

Job details

2 Project Researchers, Cultures, Communities and Change
Seminaarinkatu 15 Jyväskylä, Finland
Application deadline
2023-10-01 23:59 (Europe/Helsinki)
2023-10-01 22:59 (CET)
Job type
Save job

About the employer

The JYU is a nationally and internationally significant research university and an expert on education that focuses on human and natural sciences.

Visit the employer page

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