Postdoctoral Associate at the Rutgers Center for Historical Analysis, "Life & Death Seminar" 2021-22

Rutgers University
New Jersey, United States
Salary Commensurate with experience
Jan 08, 2021
Employment Level
Employment Type
Full Time

The Rutgers University School of Arts and Sciences and the Rutgers Center for Historical Analysis invites applications from all disciplines for post-doctoral resident fellowships during the 2021-2022 academic year. The fellows will take a leading role in a yearlong Center for Historical Analysis seminar on the subject of Life and Death, co-directed by Professors Kim Mutcherson, Rutgers Law School, and Johanna Schoen, Rutgers Department of History. The Seminar will explore what it has meant, and what it now means, to be alive or dead using a cross-cultural and multidisciplinary lens. 


Many scholars have studied the relationship between life and death, how individuals and institutions have tried to govern the beginning and end of life, and the importance of beliefs about the Afterlife. They have also explored life, death, and the value of bodies in slavery and labor camps as bodies were commodified and a monetary value assigned. Others have been fascinated with the history of pregnancy, conception, and the fetus, as well as the rise and implications of the marketplace as it relates to assisted reproduction. Medical and scientific developments as they relate to the creation of life and the end of it have only increased the urgency and complexity of this area of scholarly study.


This seminar will explore discourses and practices around the beginning and end of life from the ancient period to the present, with particular emphasis on comparative approaches from around the globe. If the existing scholarly work on life and death illustrates anything, it is that the opposition between living and dead bodies was never absolute and that the desire to manipulate the beginning and end of life, be it through rituals or medical technology, has been a constant.  Participants in the seminar will consider the legal, social, political, religious, and ethical ramifications of the study of life and death and will grapple with perennial questions such as:


  • When does life begin or end and why does it matter?
  • Who gets to decide what constitutes life or death and in what contexts?
  • What is the relationship between life, death, and being human and/or being a person?
  • When, if ever, should secular institutions embrace or condone religious definitions of life or death?


Fellows will receive stipends of $48,000 annually as well as an annual research allocation of $2,000; they will also receive Rutgers University health benefits.  Fellows will pursue research and participate in the weekly seminars and other activities at the Rutgers Center for Historical Analysis. Applications consisting of a CV, a description of no more than 1,500 words of your research project and its significance to the theme, Life and Death, and 3 letters of recommendation are required.  Applications must be received by February 26, 2021. Not limited to recent Ph.D.s; applicants must have finished all requirements for the Ph.D. by July 1, 2021.