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Caribbean history, c. 1650-1850 (Enslaved mobility)

The Saxo Institute at the University of Copenhagen is pleased to announce a call for applications for a 3-year postdoctoral position in Caribbean history. The position is available from May 1, 2021 and is funded by the research project IN THE SAME SEA financed by the European Research Council from 2020-2025.

IN THE SAME SEA investigates the shared history of the Lesser Antilles from the 1650s to the 1850s. The research team explores how the islands of the Lesser Antilles were shaped by inter-island connections that transformed separate islands in different empires into a common world of slavery and freedom.

The successful postdoctoral candidate will focus on the mobility afforded to and enforced upon enslaved Africans and African Caribbeans by the small size and close proximity of the islands of the Lesser Antilles while also contributing to the overall research aims of IN THE SAME SEA. Enslaved sailors and maritime workers were engaged on small vessels crossing between islands. Also, nearby islands were locations of temporary respite and/or freedom for enslaved people caught in the crushing regime of plantation labor. Mobility between islands was not, however, only a matter of slaves escaping the hardships of slavery. Enslaved people were sold in the inter-island slave trade, and they were violently uprooted from their homes, because small islands were vulnerable targets during the recurring wars of the period. Moreover, enslaved men and women were regularly banished from particular islands due to alleged offenses against the numerous laws, local and metropolitan, that criminalized their activities. Though this is a practice about which we know little, it presumably generated a circulation of slaves with knowledge of allegedly criminal activities, such as healing and escape. Relevant research themes include, but are not limited to, questions about who (men, women, African-born, Caribbean-born) was on the move, where they went, what their motives were, and what types of knowledge informed their decisions as well as a focus on how white authorities attempted to shape enslaved mobility.

The successful candidate will be part of an international research group consisting of the Principal Investigator (PI), two postdoctoral fellows and two PhD-students based at the Saxo Institute, University of Copenhagen, under supervision of the PI.


The research team of IN THE SAME SEA closely collaborates in all stages of the research process and the selected candidate is expected to contribute substantially to this research method. Collaborative research elements include :
- Collecting and sharing historical evidence concerning the various research topics of IN THE SAME SEA
- Teaming up during research trips to archives, libraries, workshops, and conferences.
- Participating in bi-monthly research seminars.
- Contributing to the construction of databases and historical maps.
- Publishing within the framework of IN THE SAME SEA.


To be eligible for the position, the candidate should demonstrate a thorough working knowledge of French Caribbean history and/or French-British/North American history, including working experiences with French archival holdings concerning the Caribbean and/or the Americas. In addition, the candidates must have research qualifications at least corresponding to those achieved through a successfully completed PhD.

Deadline : January 10, 2021

For further information about the position, please contact PI of the research project Associate professor Gunvor Simonsen,

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