Postdoctoral Research Associate - IAJ0009-1

Brunel University London

Full time, fixed term for 3 years, to start on 1 April 2018 or as soon as possible thereafter.

The project:

Applications are invited for a full-time, three-year postdoctoral research associate position that explores forms and ideas of relatedness, care and extinction at play in orangutan adoption programmes. This position is part of a new European Research Council-funded project (Starting Grant), Refiguring conservation in/for ‘the Anthropocene’: the global lives of the orangutan, which will be led by Dr Liana Chua at Brunel University London.

The main project has two key aims: 1) to explore how global conservation is being re(con)figured and ‘scaling up’ to meet the challenges and possibilities presented by the so-called ‘Anthropocene’; and 2) to figure out ‘the Anthropocene’ by examining how it is experienced, conceptualized, produced, contested, or refused in multiple ethnographic settings. In the process, it seeks to generate new conceptual and theoretical optics through which to grasp the mutually transformative relation between conservation and ‘the Anthropocene’. The postdoctoral associate will be part of a four-person research team exploring these questions through an unprecedented multi-sited ethnography of the global nexus of orangutan conservation.

What you will be doing:

This project seeks to produce an ethnography of the burgeoning field of virtual orangutan adoption—a prominent means through which orangutan charities raise awareness of the threats facing orangutans, and a popular entry point into orangutan conservation and welfare for many ordinary supporters in the Global North. This study will examine how notions of kinship, relatedness, intimacy and care are negotiated in this field, and ask how they shape and are shaped by mounting public awareness about extinction, environmental crisis, interspecies ethics and ‘the Anthropocene’. This study will be based mainly in the UK and involve working with charities and supporters of orangutan causes.

The successful candidate will be expected to carry out approximately 10 months of in-depth ethnographic research, and to participate fully in the project’s activities. These will include attending regular reading/discussion groups, organising a workshop and conference, and carrying out outreach and other public engagement activities. You will also have the opportunity to author and co-author open access publications based on your research during the life of the project (2018-2022).


The successful candidate should hold, or be close to completing, a PhD in anthropology or a closely related discipline. You must be able to engage critically and creatively with relevant theoretical and conceptual frameworks within anthropology, as well as with conservation debates and literature. You should also be highly motivated, able to work independently and as part of a team, and have excellent written and verbal communication skills, including the ability to work with a diverse range of individuals and organisations. Previous experience of engaging with non-academic parties, such as NGOs, is not necessary but would be an advantage.

Potential applicants are welcome to contact Dr Liana Chua ( for an informal discussion.

Interviews will be held in late January/early February.

For further details and to apply please visit

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