Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) funded project “Decolonising the Psyche: The Politics of Ethnopsychology, 1930-1980”
PhD position: “Observing African Child-Rearing Practices in Psychology and Anthropology”
PhD position: “Culture’ and Migration in Psychiatric Epidemiology after 1945”
Duration: 4 years
Starting date: 1 September 2021
Annual gross salary for each position: CHF 47’040-50’040 (activity rate: 100%)
Deadline for receipt of applications: 1 March 2021
Principal Investigator: SNSF Eccellenza Professorial Fellow Dr. Mischa Suter
The project is based at the Department of International History of the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies. The two doctoral students will work with the Principal Investigator, Mischa Suter (as of September 2021 SNSF Eccellenza Professorial Fellow at the Graduate Institute). Providing their acceptance, they will be fully integrated into the Department’s doctoral programme, which includes required course work and a preliminary dissertation proposal defence. They will benefit from a lively intellectual environment (workshops and a conference are in preparation). They will conduct multi-sited historical research financed by the SNSF.
The overall project “Decolonising the Psyche: The Politics of Ethnopsychology, 1930-1980” retraces debates on the universality and particularity of the human psyche during the “long moment of decolonisation”. The project focuses on the history of ethnopsychology, a scientific field at the intersection of anthropology and the psychological disciplines. Ethnopsychology (an umbrella term chosen here for a variety of approaches such as ‘ethnopsychiatry’, “ethnopsychoanalysis”, “cross-cultural psychology” and others) emerged in the interwar period and was reshaped after World War II. A central hypothesis of the project is that ethnopsychology was a technique for attempting to come to terms with, and even to manage, the end of empire, all the while acting as a factor catalysing it. A second hypothesis is that ethnopsychology functioned both as a tool of colonialism (for instance, by pathologising anti-imperial movements as “insane”) and as a medium of anticolonial critique (as exemplified in the works of thinkers such as Frantz Fanon and others). The project asks the following questions: How did psychological experts conceptualise the psyche of people from the Global South? What political visions and practical programmes did these conceptualisations entail? To answer these questions, the project historically examines different strands of the psychological disciplines in their respective dialogue with anthropology.
PhD project “Observing African Child-Rearing Practices in Psychology and Anthropology”
This project is located at the intersection of gender history and the history of developmental psychology (child psychology). Since the interwar culture-and-personality school, anthropologists and psychologists regarded infantile socialisation as the keysite for the psychic reproduction of society. Scientific debates on child-rearing provided a baseline for psychological models of attachment and development as well as for the political governing of family models. The project develops a novel perspective informed by the history of science. Where did research on child-rearing informed by differing backgrounds – for instance, in the tradition of Jean Piaget as opposed to the US-American “psychological anthropology” – converge, and where did it diverge? Within that broad framework, the PhD student is encouraged to develop their own distinct research agenda according to their interests and background. A demonstrated interest in gender history and/or African history is a plus.
PhD project “’Culture’ and Migration in Psychiatric Epidemiology after 1945”
This project is located at the intersection of the history of psychiatry and migration history. Global health institutions such as the WHO and the World Federation for Mental Health were crucial for the emerging discipline of psychiatric epidemiology that studied patterns of mental disorders around the globe. Intense debates were sparked by the question as to what extent psychopathological entities were determined by “culture” and, especially, by the transcending of “cultural boundaries”. WFMH and WHO considered the mobility of populations within the decolonising Global South as well as migration processes from the South to Europe as a concern for mental health. The project historicises the connections psychiatric epidemiology drew between culture and migration as a psycho-pathogenic factor: How were “traditional culture”, dislocation and “modernity” transformed into a problem from a psychiatric perspective? Within that broad framework, the PhD student is encouraged to develop their own distinct research agenda according to their interests and background. A demonstrated interest in the history of psychiatry and/or migration history is a plus.
Your Profile should include
- MA, MPhil in history or a related discipline; MA thesis of high quality
- Interest in interdisciplinary and theoretical debates
- Readiness to conduct multi-sited archival research and oral history interviews
- Excellent written and oral communication skills in English (French is a plus)
- Highly organised and capable of working autonomously
- Familiarity with archival work and/or oral history interviews is a plus
How to Apply
Please familiarise yourself early with the online application procedure of the Department of International History at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva, to which acceptance is necessary for the positions in this project: https://www.graduateinstitute.ch/application
Your Application should include
- Motivation letter: Specify your interest in the project “Decolonising the Psyche” at the Department of International History at the Graduate Institute and clearly indicate for which one of the two PhD positions you wish to apply. Describe how your scholarly background has prepared you for this research. Then outline a brief research proposal in which you indicate how you envisage approaching the subject (research question, aims, methods, sources, secondary literature).
- CV (detailing language skills, research experience, study stays abroad etc.).
- Transcripts of past higher education experiences (BA, MA).
- Contact details for two academic referees (they will be contacted and have an additional week to submit their reference letters).
- Writing sample (MA or MPhil thesis, or an article in preparation).
- Copy of your Master dissertation, in English or French.
If you did not write a dissertation, please provide an extensive research paper that formed part of your Master degree. If the document is not in English or French, please provide a translated summary (approx. 5 pages), along with the document in its original language.
- Copy of your thesis proposal (see instructions), containing a provisional title and a description of the topic to be researched. Your proposal can be in English or French.
Interviews with short-listed candidates will be held digitally shortly after the application deadline. Final notification is in April. Informal inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org