Postdoctoral position | Transformative Intermediaries

Scientist Halle (Saale)
Cultural Studies Jurisprudence Social Sciences

Job Code: 405

Job Offer from May 12, 2021

The Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology is one of the leading centres for research in social anthropology. Common to all research projects at the Max Planck Institute is the comparative analysis of social change; it is primarily in this domain that its researchers contribute to theory building, although there is also an applied dimension to much of our work, as well as legal and political topicality.

The Department "Anthropology of Economic Experimentation" is offering 1 Postdoctoral position in studies on "Transformative Intermediaries" (starting as soon as possible after 1 August 2021). 

Essential Duties & Responsibilities

We are seeking a postdoctoral scholar on the research topic of " Transformative intermediaries: infrastructure, platform, and logistics". Contrary to the predication that technological innovations would remove intermediaries, economic operations in many sectors are more intensively mediated than before. The mediators include human agents, physical infrastructure, and technologies, particularly that of algorithms. Digital platforms, for instance, become new bases of profit and power by concentrating, upscaling, and physically concretizing intermediation activities. Does intermediation represent a fundamental mode of socioeconomic organization in the twenty-first century that is comparable to other well-established organizing principles, like reciprocity, redistribution, networks, and hierarchies? Is the means of mediation replacing both the means of production and of legitimate violence as the defining factors of political economy?

The postholder is expected to critically advance our understandings of how the global economy is being reorganized through the lens of mediation (broadly defined). Given our interest in mobilities, we particularly welcome proposals focusing on how the circulation of people, goods, and information are mediated.

The postholder must have carried out in-depth field research on related topics and be committed to broad conceptualization beyond case studies.

Your Profile

Applicants should either be in possession of a doctoral degree in anthropology, sociology or a related discipline or submit evidence indicating that such a dissertation will be finished and submitted before the designated starting date.

Our Offer

The postdoctoral position (TVöD E13) will be for a duration of 2 years, renewable for a third year. Employment will be on a full-time contractual basis. The workplace is Halle/Saale (Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany). The Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology offers a diverse, international, flexible and stimulating work environment, with support for training and professional development opportunities.

The Max Planck Society is committed to increasing the number of individuals with disabilities in its workforce and therefore encourages applications from such qualified individuals. The Max Planck Society strives to ensure gender equality and diversity. Furthermore, the Max Planck Society seeks to increase the number of women in those areas where they are underrepresented and therefore explicitly encourages women to apply.

Deadline: 1 July 2021.


Please submit your application materials electronically by following the link for vacancies on our homepage (under ‘Career’), or by going directly to the online application form using the link below.

Applicants should send the following documentation:

  • cover letter
  • CV, including list of publications
  • 2 writing samples (chapter or article length)
  • 1-2 page summary of doctoral thesis
  • short (1-2 pages) proposal for the work (this will form a basis for discussion if the applicant is short-listed).
  • photocopies of university degrees
  • names of two referees

Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology
Personnel Administration
Janka Diallo

We look forward to receiving your completed online application.

Further information on the research agenda of the Max Planck Institute is available on our website.

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