Three post-doctoral researcher positions

At The Institute of Sociology at Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main, Germany, (German pay scale E 13TV-G-U, fulltime).

The three positions are in science and technology studies by 1st April 2019 or as soon as possible thereafter (the starting date is negotiable).

The project

The project ‘CRYOSOCIETIES’ (“Suspended Life: Exploring Cryopreservation Practices in Contemporary Societies”), led by Thomas Lemke, has received funding in the shape of a European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grant under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement No. 788196). The project explores the crucial role of cryopreservation in affecting temporalities and the concept of life. It is based on the hypothesis that in contemporary societies cryopreservation practices bring into existence a new form of life: “suspended life”. “Suspended life” enables vital processes to bekept in a liminal state in which biological substances are neither fully alive nor dead. CRYOSOCIETIES aims to empirically enrich and theoretically advance our understanding of vitality and the politics of life in the 21st century. It will conduct an ethnographic exploration of how the collection, storing and usage of human and non-human organic material by technologies of freezing and thawing is entangled with social, cultural and moral issues. The project consists of three case studies: investigation of cord blood storage in the Czech Republic, oocyte freezing in Spain and an initiative to cryopreserve endangered or extinct species in Great Britain.

Qualifications and requirements

In order to be considered for the position, applicants must hold a successfully completed PhD in science and technology studies or in a social science with a focus on a topic closely related to those of the research project. Depending on the position for which they apply, candidates should demonstrate experience in one of the following fields: science and technology studies, anthropology, sociology or environmental humanities. Experience in the use of qualitative research methods, especially ethnographic work and interviewing, is essential. Applicants should also demonstrate the ability to work both in a team and independently.

The successful candidates will carry out postdoctoral research in one of the following subprojects:

  • cord blood storage to prepare for possible regenerative therapies in the future (fieldwork site: Czech Republic)
  • oocyte freezing to extend fertility and rearrange reproductive futures (fieldwork site: Spain)
  • cryopreservation of endangered or extinct species with the prospect of “bringing them back to life” by employing reproductive and genetic technologies (fieldwork site: Great Britain)

    The subprojects are designed to capture the complexities of different cryo projects, providing complementary as well as contrasting data. They examine central domains and materials in cryopreservation, including human and non-human contexts and ranging from the beginning to the end of life. Rather than simply demonstrating diversity, together the three subprojects will trace emerging features and forms of sameness and difference, mapping continuities as well as conflicts between sites and settings of cryopreservation. Finally, the subprojects will also examine processes of translation and analyse how different versions of“suspended life” are configured in popular texts and in the media.

    The appointees will be part of a cross-disciplinary team of dedicated and highly qualified researchers who are eager to work in a truly collaborative way. The team will investigate the social, cultural and moral dimensions of cryopreservation in contemporary societies. While each of the postdoctoral researchers will be responsible for one of the three subprojects, they will also draw on and benefit from each other’s expertise.

    Furthermore, emphasis will be placed on the following:

  • research qualifications, which will be assessed in relation to the period of active research, the degree of originality and academic output
  • the applicant’s scientific record, academic breadth and depth, thoroughness and accuracy, as well as academic relevance in relation to the job description
  • documented teaching qualifications, if any
  • documented administrative qualifications, if any
  • Participation in networks – national and international
  • good interpersonal and communication skills
  • management and organizational skills
  • excellent skills in English, both written and spoken (and in the case of subprojects 1 and 2: very good language skills in Czech or Spanish respectively). Knowledge of German is not a requirement, but the successful candidates will be encouraged to acquire at least minimum proficiency in order to be able to participate in some locally organized events

The successful candidates will be based at the Faculty of Social Sciences of Goethe University, which is hosting the ERC-funded project. They will be employed full-time for four years (with the option to extend the contract until the end of the project in January 2024). Terms of appointment and salary will be in accordance with Goethe University’s employment contracts and salary scales.


The application must be written in English and include the following:

  • application letter/cover letter, also specifying the position(s) for which you are applying (e.g. subproject 1, 2 or 3)
  • curriculum vitae (with your email address and telephone number)
  • evidence of your qualifications (examination certificates/PhD diploma, etc.)
  • complete and numbered list of publications (please do not attach any publications)
  • short description of previous research and a plan for the coming years that includes an outline of how you aim to contribute to the deliverables in the project description
  • documentation of teaching qualifications and research dissemination, if any

    For further information about the positions, the overall objectives of the CRYOSOCIETIES project and its methodology, please contact Thomas Lemke, the Principle Investigator: (lemke[at]

    If you are interested in applying for one of the three positions, please submit your application online in Adobe PDF or Word format as a single document to the Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, email address: dekanat.fb03-bewerbungen[at] using the subject line 35/2018. The closing date for applications is 20.11.2018.