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Job Opening: Postdoctoral Researcher (m/f/d) in the project "Reinterpreting the alternative script? War in Ukraine, state-sponsored narratives of block building in authoritarian countries and their public perception"

SCRIPTS is seeking a postdoctoral researcher (m/f/d) with full-time employment limited to 3 years, remuneration group E13 (TV-L HU), reference code: SCRIPTS_POSTDOC_RUS_CHIN_2022. DEADLINE: 22 Aug 2022

News from Aug 03, 2022

About the Cluster of Excellence SCRIPTS

The Cluster of Excellence “Contestations of the Liberal Script (SCRIPTS)” is a research consortium that analyses the contemporary controversies about the model of liberal democracy and the market economy. The term “liberal script” relates to a set of ideas and institutional prescriptions about how society is organised based on the core principle of individual self-determination. The main purpose of SCRIPTS is to understand why the liberal model of order has fallen into crisis despite its political, economic, and social achievements.

SCRIPTS has been operating since 2019 and is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) until the end of 2025. The Cluster is hosted by the Freie Universität Berlin and it unites eight major Berlin-based research institutes: Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, the Hertie School, the Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB), the German Institute for Economic Research Berlin (DIW), the Leibniz Institute of Global and Area Studies (GIGA), the Center for East European and International Studies (ZOiS) and the Leibniz Centre for Modern Oriental Studies (ZMO). Cluster research teams are made up of doctoral researchers, postdoctoral researchers, and professors from social and area studies. SCRIPTS is well connected with research institutes and knowledge exchange partners throughout the world, including political and cultural organisations, as well as civil society actors. In addition, SCRIPTS brings renowned visiting scholars from all over the world to Berlin.

The cluster's diverse research projects span the various partner institutions and thematic areas that the cluster researches and offer the opportunity to gain insight into the work of a large research network.

Job Description

The Postdoc will join the project on "Reinterpreting the alternative script? War in Ukraine, state-sponsored narratives of block building in authoritarian countries and their public perception" led by Prof. Genia Kostka (Institute for China Studies) and Prof. Alexander Libman (Institute for East European Studies) and funded by the excellence cluster SCRIPTS. The position provides an opportunity for both independent and collaborative research within an ambitious project while working in a small research team in Berlin. The goal of the research project is to investigate the state-sponsored narratives of economic block building emerging in conjunction with the war in Ukraine in China and in Russia. Based on the analysis of the official rhetoric, webscraping and analysis of social networks in Russia and in China, as well as analysis of search profiles in Chinese and Russian search engines and (if possible) public opinion surveys in both countries, we expect to identify the nature of the official narratives, as well as how these narratives are (re)interpreted by the general public in both countries.

About the Research Project

The project analyzes the construction of ‘alternative’ narratives by authoritarian governments competing against the liberal script and the way these narratives are perceived, reinterpreted and negotiated by the population of their countries. We focus at Russia and China and the narratives their regimes supply with respect to the war in Ukraine and the development of new dividing lines, blocks and alliances in the world associated with this war. In both countries, governments construct their own ‘story’ of the conflict and use state-owned media and other propaganda tools to communicate it to the public. In both cases, these narratives are part of the ongoing rhetoric of anti-Westernism and are associated with the discussion of the emergence of new geopolitical and geoeconomic blocks competing with each other. While accepting some aspects of these narratives, people in China and in Russia reject others or interpret them in a way different from the intention of the regime. The interdisciplinary research approach leverages both between-country variation (that between a rising power of China and a declining power of Russia) and the within-country variation (internal divisions in the Chinese and the Russian societies) to identify the differences in the construction, perception and (re)interpretation of narratives.


  • Empirical research for the SCRIPTS research project
  • Working on joint research publications
  • Join cluster activities
  • Support by organization of workshops and events within the framework of the project
  • The successful candidate is supposed to achieve the following goals within the project: by the end of the first year – assembling an original database of texts for the analysis of state-sponsored narratives in Russia and in China (text corpus); by the end of the second year – preparation and implementation of an original survey; by the end of the third year – preparation of two working papers based on the analysis of data collected within the framework of the project (possibly co-authored).

Recruitment Requirements

  • University degree; completed doctorate in any social-science discipline with a strong quantitative background, e.g. political science, economics or sociology, as well as related fields (mathematics, statistics, computer science, data science, area studies, linguistics etc.), by the time of the appointment.


  • Excellent university degree
  • Fluency in Russian AND / OR Chinese
  • Experience in empirical research with relevant focus for the project on either Russia or China (or both).
  • Fluency in English. German is not a must but willingness to learn German will be supported.
  • Strong background in quantitative research methods of social sciences.
  • Good working knowledge of R and / or Python.
  • Experience in webscraping of Russian and / or Chinese sources.
  • Familiarity with the tools of natural language processing or willingness to learn these tools within a short period of time.
  • The successful candidate must be willing to move to Berlin

Further questions can be directed to Prof. Dr. Alexander Libman (alexander.libman@fu-berlin.de / +49 30 838 67693) and Prof. Dr. Genia Kostka (genia.kostka@fu-berlin.de).

We value diversity and welcome all applications — independent of gender, nationality, ethnic and social background, religion, disability, age, sexual orientation and identity. Applications from women and persons with a migration background are especially welcome. Applications from people with a recognized disability status will be considered preferentially.


Applications should be sent electronically by e-mail until 22 August 2022 with relevant documents (CV including the publication list, doctoral certificate (if available), university diploma) in PDF format (preferably as one document) and stating the reference code SCRIPTS_POSTDOC_RUS_CHIN_2022 to Prof. Dr. Alexander Libman: sek-politik@fu-berlin.de or postal to

Freie Universität Berlin

Zentralinstitut Osteuropa-Institut

Exzellenzcluster "Contestations of the Liberal Script" (SCRIPTS)

Herrn Prof. Dr. Alexander Libman

Garystr. 55

14195 Berlin (Dahlem)

By submitting an online application, you as an applicant give your consent for your data to be electronically processed and stored.

We would like to point out that Freie Universität Berlin cannot guarantee the security of transmitted personal data if your application is sent electronically without protection.

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