Postdoctoral Fellows are in the early stage of their academic career and plan to develop and implement an independent research project. Find out more about our Postdoctoral Fellowships here.

Henrique Almeida de Castro

History and Sociology

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Post office box: 216

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Responsibilities

Affiliated with the Department of History and Sociology & Cluster of Excellence "The Politics of Inequality"

Project: Curbing Labor Violations in Hard-to-Reach Places: Brazilian Rural Unions’ Strategic Repertoires within Global Value Chains

The research project explores how labor unions connect workers’ rights violations in hard-to-reach places to corrective measures, using rural unions in Brazil as a case study. Brazil, a significant player in several food value chains, is also a hotspot for violations ranging from irregular contracting to slave-like employment. The country’s several secluded rural workplaces present an extreme case of enforcement difficulty due to limited access and information for authorities. It is known that authorities’ successes have depended on the cooperation of local rural unions, which exist in almost every municipality. Yet, we understand little about these unions, including the conditions they face, the strategies available to them, and why they may behave in specific ways and not others. These gaps hinder our understanding of the challenges involved in protecting worker’s rights in global value chains. The research will draw on fieldwork and interviews to conceptualize and explain unions’ repertoires of organizational tactics.

Postdoctoral Fellow since 05/2025

Julia Ditter

Literature

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Affiliated with the Department of Literature, Arts and Media

Project: Energy Infrastructures and the Nineteenth-Century Periodical Press

This project examines representations of energy infrastructures in the Anglophone periodical press of the nineteenth century, focusing in particular on British and Antipodean periodical publications. The project contributes to the endeavour to understand the social, material and affective foundations of the (Western) reliance on fossil fuels by examining another age of energy transition, the nineteenth century, and exploring the foundations of dominant understandings of fossil energy. I posit that the periodical press of the nineteenth century played a central role in the creation of systems and epistemologies of energy that continue to structure our understanding of and relationship with energy today. Through a reading of the mass medium of the periodical press, I examine the role literary and cultural production play in mediating energy transition and reflecting on the process through which fossil fuels have come to form the energetic and ideational infrastructure of our lives in the West: from institutions, political systems and global networks to cultural practices, social formations and literary forms.

Postdoctoral Fellow from 06/2024

Eduardo Luersen

Literature

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Room: 226

Post office box: 216

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Responsibilities

Affiliated with the Department of Literature

Project: Cloud gaming atlas: from Earth's metabolism to the longing for radiant infrastructures

The project seeks to expand my research agenda into the realm of cloud gaming infrastructure while advancing further into the study of the interdependencies between digital technologies and the living environment. This is an important theme considering the still underexplored relations of gaming with the climate crisis. For this same reason, it is important to conceptualize how the infrastructure of digital media relates to natural systems. The emergence of planetary-scale remote gaming is historically coinciding with a broader cultural shift to "planetarity", in which issues related to the mitigation of anthropogenic climate change, renewable energy sources, and environmental regeneration are more clearly recognized as an issue of the commons. Thus, this research project will seek to assess the continuum between technology and nature in the infrastructure of cloud gaming, while also taking into account how the industry is preparing to manage the environmental problems associated with its escalation.

Postdoctoral Fellow since 06/2022

Angelo Javier Neira Albornoz

Computer and Information Science

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Responsibilities

Affiliated with the Department of Computer and Information Science

Project: Understanding the Environmental Fate of Organic Pollutants on Soils: Correlational and Causal Evidence on Sorption Coefficients.

The environmental fate of organic pollutants on soils is linked to sorption coefficients, i.e., the distribution between the retained and the aqueous concentration of pollutant in chemical equilibrium. Consequently, sorption coefficient data are used as scientific evidence for knowledge generation and decision-making in global and local contexts, such as agriculture and environmental health. The interpretation of these data is generally based on correlational evidence, which depends on experimental designs (i.e., methods for data production and processing) and assumptions (explicit or not). However, the inherent complexity of soil dynamics together with the diversity of pollutant-soil combinations, experimental designs, and scale-dependent findings, affect the validity of correlational evidence as a reliable way to interpret data and use them in contexts of environmental concern. For instance, the link between correlational and causal evidence depends on the presence of confounding variables and hidden processes due to uncontrolled, unknown and unavoidable sources of variability during the studies. In this sense, the aim of this project is to build a reliable evidence-based framework able to represent the sorption process and the environmental fate of organic pollutants on soils for better practices, with the intention of supporting scientists and decision-makers to simplify future experimental research, fill knowledge gaps and use reliable data for regulatory purposes.

ZUKOnnect Fellow from 07/2022 until 06/2023
Postdoctoral Fellow from 04/2024

Daniel Skibra

Philosophy

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Post office box: 216

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Responsibilities

Affiliated with the Department of Philosophy

Project: Reassessing Desire for Mode and Content

The dominant paradigm in contemporary philosophical theorizing about intentional states like belief and desire analyzes them as representational states. In turn, these representational states are to be understood as being comprised of a content (the information being represented) and a psychological mode (the relation to the content characteristic of the mental state), thus separating the representation from how it is represented. Philosophy has found this ?mode-content schema" attractive for a number of reasons; particularly for how it allows the analysis of mental states to interface with questions about language and communication. But the dominant way of understanding the schema constitutes a dramatic oversimplification. This is best illustrated by focusing on the case of desire, which has more complex representational features than adherents of the schema tend to appreciate, and presents difficult challenges to the schema. The project will mount a defense of the mode-content schema for desire, but will do so while acknowledging its limitations. It will set out a new account of desire, making precise how desire represents its content, and giving an appropriate characterization of desire's psychological mode. Such an account will manage to navigate the considerable challenges currently facing an adequate implementation of the mode-content schema.

Postdoctoral Fellow since 03/2023

Katerina Suverina

History and Sociology

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Responsibilities

Affiliated with the Department of History and Sociology

Project: Biopolitical Violence and a Society of Hope: HIV/AIDS in the Late USSR

In 2023, no cultural, social, or even medical history of the late Soviet and Russian HIV/AIDS epidemic has been written. HIV/AIDS remains a silenced figure in Russia’s contemporary public and academic discourses. At the same time, for most people in the country, an HIV-positive status has only one meaning: terrible stigma. When was this stigma created: at the beginning of the epidemic in the 1980s––or in the 1990s, after the collapse of the USSR, when intravenous drugs proliferated? Who were the main actors who contributed to the spread of this stigma and violent attitudes towards HIV-positive people? How did different actors of the Soviet system help to create a discourse of inverted care and the culture of stigma? What kind of impact did HIV/AIDS have on health governance, politics, and society in general? How did the stigmatized image of HIV-positive people contribute to the spread and consolidation of conspiracy theories, fear, and almost pervasive dehumanization during the late Soviet period?

Postdoctoral Fellow from 10/2024

James Wilson

History and Sociology

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Room: 226

Post office box: 216

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Responsibilities

Affiliated with the Department of History and Sociology

Project: Colonialism, the "Counter-Crusade" and the early development of Crusader studies

Medieval Arabic chronicles constitute a key source base for Crusader studies. Despite this, many historians rely upon nineteenth century translations of several vital Arabic literary sources. This project will reverse-engineer the traditional methodology of Crusade historiography. Rather than relying on these translated materials, it examines the extent to which colonial attitudes influenced their compilation, whilst simultaneously reviewing the legacy of this editorial process upon some of the key approaches, narrative structures and conclusions of modern Crusader studies. Accordingly, this project explores the latent challenges that anachronous editorial practices present to those engaging with difficult texts from the medieval past.

Postdoctoral Fellow since 06/2022