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Job Opening: Postdoctoral Researcher (m/f/d) in the project "Objects from Afar and Sustainable Liberal Identity - The Contestation of Material Representation in National Museums of the Global North”"

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: Postdoc_SCRIPTS_Temporality. DEADLINE: 06 February 2023

News from Jan 16, 2023

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.

About the Research Project

Western liberal-democratic countries currently use museums exhibiting “objects from afar” to deliberately forge a sustainable (i.e. future-oriented) and thus “modern” view of themselves vis-à-vis the “others.” The international discussion on provenance and on the moral obligation of former colonial powers to restitute artefacts and art pillaged or bought from dubious third sources during the time of occupation and imperial dominance has led to an active, broad and passionate public debate about history, historic responsibility, discrimination and the re-interpretation or even public re-surfacing of a forgotten or suppressed memory of the (colonial) past. These debates not only put into question the future of traditional museums and of traditional international (cultural) relations. They are linked to wider discussions on how to interpret the past, present and future of Western societies. Do these criticisms and debates represent a specific, object-related contestation to the liberal script? This is what this project will investigate. Read more about the project here.

The post-doc position is open to candidates from the social sciences and history. Candidates themselves choose and propose which methods they plan to use and which case studies to choose. They will closely collaborate with the Research Units Temporality (Prof. Philipp Lepenies, Political Science, Freie Universität Berlin) and (Re-)Allocation (Prof. Andreas Eckert, History and African Studies, Humboldt University Berlin).

The overall project is a collaborative effort between various Principal Investigators of the SCRIPTS Research Units Temporality, (Re-)Allocation and Borders as well as with other partners. This collaboration will facilitate the interdisciplinary exchange and the integration of transcontinental perspectives that the post-doc will not be able to cover alone. The overall output of the project will be a series of joint workshops and publications. The post-doc will be based at the Otto-Suhr-Institute of Political Science of the Freie Universität Berlin and be part of the Research Center for Sustainability (Forschungszentrum für Nachhaltigkeit FFN).

The position serves for the applicant’s own academic qualification (second book, Habilitation equivalent).


  • Support the conceptualisation and organisation of a series of international workshops bringing together an interdisciplinary group of scholars from the fields listed above.
  • Participation in and support the publication of collaborative project outputs such as special issues/collective volumes.
  • Participation in the research activities of the project
  • Contributing to the general activities of SCRIPTS

Recruitment Requirements

  • Completed scientific university studies in the Social Sciences or History


  • Willingness to make use of interdisciplinary approaches and cooperations
  • Pronounced interest in issues of materiality, museum policy and cultural diplomacy, post-colonialism and national identity creation, ideally with a knowledge of relevant Area Studies.
  • Excellent English language proficiency (C1 or equivalent)
  • Very good/excellent French language skills (C1-C2) – ideally also of Spanish
  • Knowledge and experience in the application of qualitative methods
  • Excellent doctorate

Further questions can be directed to Prof. Dr. Philipp Lepenies: sustainability@polsoz.fu-berlin.de

The selection will be done by both Prof. Lepenies and Prof. Eckert. The selection is made according to the SCRIPTS diversity guidelines.


Applications should be sent electronically by e-mail until 06 February 2023 with relevant documents (a curriculum vitae, copies of degrees and achievements, and language competence; in addition, you should outline your motivation in an application letter that already sketches the methodological approach and regional international case study selection, maximum 2 pages) in PDF format and stating the reference code SCRIPTS_Postdoc_Temporality (preferably as one document) to Prof. Dr. Philipp Lepenies: sustainability@polsoz.fu-berlin.de or postal to

Fachbereich Politik- und Sozialwissenschaften
Otto-Suhr-Institut für Politikwissenschaft
Exzellenzcluster "Contestations of the Liberal Script" (SCRIPTS)
Mr. Prof. Dr. Philipp Lepenies
Ihnestr. 22
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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