Three PhD positions (SNSF doctoral positions, 100% for four years) Universität Bern / Switzerland

Extended application deadline until July 31, 2023

3 PhD positions (SNSF doctoral positions, 100% for four years)

Three PhD positions are available in the SNSF-funded project “Global Bones: Entangled Histories, Transfers and Translations in the Early Modern Age” at the Institute of Art History of the University of Bern starting on 1 October 2023.

“Global Bones” investigates the global trajectories of Christian body relics in the era usually referred to – from a European perspective – as the Early Modern period. The research project describes and analyses intercontinental relic transfers and conducts local case studies to examine the negotiation processes that took place between actors of different cultural and religious traditions regarding the handling of human remains.

“Global Bones” is divided into five regional projects, each with a specific geographical focus, and a transversal project, in which the results of the regional projects flow together. For three of the regional projects, doing research on the Kingdom of Kongo (present-day Angola, DR Congo and Republic of Congo), on New Spain (present-day Mexcio), and on Portuguese Latin America (present-day Brazil), we are seeking doctoral students. The projects trace and analyze the movements of relics, as well as the entanglements and conflicts of the respective local traditions in dealing with human remains and the Christian cult of relics brought to the regions in the course of Christian missions. “Global Bones” is an interdisciplinary project and draws on approaches and methods from the various humanities. Applications from graduates (Master) of disciplines such as history, ethnology, religious studies, and art history are welcome.

The projects envisage research trips in the respective regions and international library and archive studies. In addition, intensive collaboration of the project team is planned, with regular meetings, joint work on the transversal project’s database, workshops, and a concluding conference. Residence in Bern or Switzerland is therefore mandatory. (If a move to Switzerland is necessary, this should be arranged by the start of the project).

The project language is English. Language skills in Portuguese and/or Spanish are required. It would be advantageous if candidates already had expertise and knowledge of local historical and cultural contexts.


Tasks include

  • the writing of a PhD thesis in the respective thematic field of the project
  • the collaboration in the planning and implementation of the joint transversal project (data collection and input into the database)
  • the participation in the activities of the project (jours fixes, reading courses, project

presentations, workshops, lectures, and conference)


Required are

  • an above-average Master’s degree in art history, history, ethnology, or religious studies
  • very good written and spoken English
  • good reading skills in Portuguese and/or Spanish
  • a willingness to undertake research trips to the respective research region
  • a residence in Switzerland or the willingness to move to Switzerland
  • reliability and the ability to work in a team


We offer

  • a 100% position for four years
  • close collaboration in an inspiring project team with international contacts
  • intensive and supportive doctoral supervision
  • the opportunity to contribute to the conception and realization of innovative research
  • a central workplace
  • salary according to SNSF guidelines

For information about the position, content, or formal questions, please contact:

The application with the following documents must be sent in a single PDF file by July 31, 2023 to: and

  • Letter of motivation
  • Curriculum vitae with references
  • Sample of your work (either your Master’s thesis or thematically relevant seminar papers)
  • Proposal of a thematically suitable research project (max. 3 pages)


Web Design SkiptonWeb Developer Skipton

Copyright 2023. All Rights Reserved