Volkswagen Foundation Fellowships for Junior Scholars, Africa & Oceania

  •  Fellowship
  •  01-Mar-2022
  •   Germany
  • $$  Varies

The Volkswagen Foundation-funded research project “Sensitive Provenances” investigates the provenance of human remains from (proto-)colonial contexts in two collections at the University of Göttingen. This project aims to investigate the origin of human remains, the circumstances of acquisition, their transfer to academic collections, their use for research and teaching as well as their contemporary socio-political meanings. Alongside research, the project is establishing contacts with representatives of regions from which these human remains originate, discussing their future handling and initiating restitution processes. The project focuses on human remains from Oceania and Africa. The Sensitive Provenances project is interdisciplinary and combines different methodological approaches from historical-critical provenance research, cultural anthropology and biological anthropology and welcomes inquires and applications from potential fellows in these and related fields.

The focus of the project is a) on the “Blumenbach Skull Collection”, which was initiated by the natural scientist Johann Friedrich Blumenbach (1752-1840) and today comprises about 800 skulls, of which about 200 are of non-European provenance; and b) on the “Anthropological Collection”, originally created in Hamburg’s Museum für Völkerkunde. This collection contains about 1,200 human remains from Oceania and Africa. Our preliminary research suggests that currently the University of Göttingen holds remains from regions that correspond to contemporary: Australia, French Polynesia, Hawaii (USA), Indonesia, Kiribati, Malaysia, Marshall Islands (USA), Micronesia, Nauru, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu, in Oceania; and from Cameroon, Congo, Guinea, Kenya, Namibia, South Africa, and Tanzania, in Africa. 

Georg-August-Universität Göttingen Information

Georg-August-Universität Göttingen Grants

Volkswagen Foundation Fellowships for Junior Scholars, Africa & Oceania Founded in 1734, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen (University of Göttingen) is a non-profit public higher education institution located in the urban setting of the large town of Göttingen (population range of 50,000-249,999 inhabitants), Lower Saxony. Officially accredited and/or recognized by the Niedersächsisches Ministerium für Wissenschaft und Kultur (Ministry for Science and Culture of Lower Saxony), Georg-August-Universität Göttingen is a large (uniRank enrollment range: 20,000-24,999 students) coeducational higher education institution. Georg-August-Universität Göttingen offers courses and programs leading to officially recognized higher education degrees such as bachelor degrees, master degrees, doctorate degrees in several areas of study. See the uniRank degree levels and areas of study matrix below for further details. This 285 years old higher-education institution has a selective admission policy based on students' past academic record and grades. International students are welcome to apply for enrollment.

Eligibility Criteria

We are seeking to award six short-term fellowships, each lasting from two to three months, for junior researchers from Africa and Oceania who would wish to engage with our project. We are open to all kinds of small-projects that propose new perspectives, expand or challenge what we do. The topic, questions, research methods and interests of the fellows are deliberately kept open in order to facilitate broad perspectives on collections of human remains, their colonial histories and contemporary meanings and treatment. Queries from the fields of History & Archives, Museum Studies, Social & Cultural Anthropology, Biological Anthropology, Indigenous Studies, and related areas are welcomed. We also invite proposals for artistic research and interventions that critically engage with the main themes of the project.

Offered Benefits

  • The scholarship holders will receive a monthly stipend of 2.100 €. Pending on individual circumstances, a replacement allowance and a family and childcare allowance can also be made available.
  • The travel costs to and from Göttingen will be covered. During the research stay in Göttingen, the scholarship holders will receive support in different organisational and content-related matters. 
  • Pending on the pandemic situation and travel restrictions, each visiting fellow will be invited for a three months stay in Göttingen, in the second half of 2022 (specific dates are negotiable).
  • The visiting fellow, depending on the needs and specificities of their proposed project, will be connected to researchers and experts in the following fields: history, cultural anthropology/ethnology, biological anthropology, provenance research, curatorial practice, museum practice and exhibition organisation; or more specifically with the Seminar for Medieval and Modern History, Institute of Cultural Anthropology/European Ethnology, Historical Anthropology and Human Ecology, Centre of Anatomy, Centre for Collections Development, or the newly established Forum Wissen.

Application Process

Applications will be considered on a rolling basis until 01 March 2022. In order to apply, please send documents of application to Dr. Christian Vogel

Required Documents:

  • Cover letter (specifying the motivations and interests of the candidate)
  • A description of the proposed project/activities for the period of the scholarship (max 1000 words)
  • CV 
Apply Here
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