Two Doctoral Researchers (m/f/d) in Junior Research Group - the University of Bayreuth

The Africa Multiple Cluster of Excellence at the University of Bayreuth, funded by the Excellence Strategy of the German Federal and State Governments, invites applications for part-time positions (75%) for

Two Doctoral Researcher s (m/f/d) in the Junior Research Group

‘Politics of the unknown. Conspiracism and conflict’

to start on July 1, 2021. The contract period will be four years. If the personal and collectively agreed conditions are met, the salary will fall into the pay grade E 13 TV-L. The doctoral researchers will pursue their degrees within the Bayreuth International Graduate School of African Studies (BIGSAS), the graduate school of the Africa Multiple Cluster of Excellence. A presence in Bayreuth as the main place of work is required.

The two positions are part of the transdisciplinary research project ‘Politics of the unknown. Conspiracism and conflict’ led by Dr. Joschka Philipps. The project focuses on the critical role of conspiracy allegations, whether considered true or false, in contemporary politics in West Africa (Guinea) and North Africa (Tunisia). Given the widespread media buzz surrounding conspiracy theories, fake news, and the often-dismissive criticism against them, this project aims at understanding conspiracism without pathologizing it, considering conspiracy allegations a social phenomenon that illuminates the political conflicts in which it is embedded. Bringing together researchers and artists from Africa and Europe, it combines multiple methodological and disciplinary approaches, including ethnographic, quantitative, and historical research, as well as artistic photography, critical geography, and theater.

The PhD candidates will ideally focus on specific disruptive events or political concerns that have attracted public suspicion (e.g., a pandemic, revolution, an international humanitarian or military intervention, the death or murder of a given politician, etc.), potentially also in virtual spaces such as social media. Their research should include an ethnography of what we call the “politics of the unknown”: how people react to situations that are often too complex to be known in detail and too urgent to be ignored, how rumors, suspicions, (fake) news, and conspiracy allegations circulate, how they are embraced and rejected, and what they “do” in politics, i.e., how they affect and potentially restructure the political field. A mixed methods approach is encouraged, as is an intersectional perspective on how conspiracism relates to gender, class, race, and inter-communal dynamics.

Candidates must have a Master’s degree in sociology, political science, anthropology, or a related discipline. They are expected to have a strong interest in interdisciplinary research, epistemological and methodological reflection, and in empirical fieldwork. They should be self-motivated, skilled in interpersonal communication, and be able to design and conduct their own research project. While their main task will be the completion of their doctoral thesis, the candidates will also contribute to the project by providing academic services such as co-organizing workshops and independently supervising research assistants. As the working language of the cluster is English, proficiency in English (spoken and written) or the capacity and willingness to learn English is required. PhD theses can also be written in French.

The University of Bayreuth values the diversity of its employees as an enrichment and is expressly committed to the goal of equal opportunities for the sexes. Women are strongly encouraged to apply. Applicants with children are very welcome. The University of Bayreuth is a member of the Best Practice Club "Familie in der Hochschule e.V.", and has successfully participated in the HRK audit "Internationalization of the University". Persons with severe disabilities will be given preferential consideration if equally qualified.

Applications should include a letter of motivation, a CV, a copy of their Master’s degree (or an official letter certifying the completion of the Master's studies within the specified time frame), the contact data of two academic references, and a 3–5-page research proposal. One writing sample (e.g., a published academic article, an unpublished seminar paper, your MA thesis, or a blog post) may be submitted but is not required (in case of co-authored writing samples, specify your contribution).

Please apply online: Applicant portal Uni Bayreuth with the required documents indicating the password “JRG Politics”.


The documents will be deleted after the position has been filled in accordance with data protection requirements.

 Application Deadline: 30 April 2021. Interviews will be held via Zoom in the first two weeks of May 2021.


Applicants are encouraged to contact Dr. Joschka Philipps to obtain further information via e-Mail:

The official website