Vanuatu/Pacific Islands Ethnographers postdoc in Finland

There is an opening for a five-year postdoc in Helsinki, Finland, primarily for a Vanuatu specialist but Ethnographers specialising on other Pacific Islands may also be considered.


The Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Helsinki invites applications for the position of


POSTDOCTORAL RESEARCHER (anthropology) specialising in Vanuatu


for a fixed term period starting as agreed for the duration of 54-60 months.


The ERC-funded project “Properties of Units and Standards” is looking to employ a full-time postdoctoral researcher to complete a small team of socio-cultural anthropologists. The research team is led by Dr Matti Eräsaari, an economic anthropologist who has carried out ethnographic research in Fiji and Finland on topics such as time, exchange, food, and value.




PROPERTIES OF UNITS AND STANDARDS (UNITS) studies value quantification through an emphasis on the material and conceptual linkages between measuring units and the worlds they measure. What can we learn by studying the qualities and attributes of different units, measures, and scales? The project has a primary focus in Oceania (Fiji, Papua New Guinea, and Vanuatu), but gradually expands its focus to global indicators.


The successful applicant will be expected to contribute to three work packages:
1) Local quantification traditions: what kinds of base units and number bases are used in the various vernacular, informal, and parallel scales, measures, or numeracy systems in Oceania. What are their material properties, and what kinds of numbers do they afford?
2) The establishment of regional quantification regimes: what are the diverse effects that large-scale modes of appraisal or evaluation can have on the social constellations and physical environments upon which they are brought to bear?
3) Composite indicators and data: how far can a conceptual approach grounded on material properties be extended? Can it be applied to the global indicators that connect the South Pacific with North Europe?


The project seeks to develop a unit-focused ethnographic approach to the study of quantification, and to provide a framework for the study of value quantification that has the capacity to bridge vernacular measures with complex global indicators. The project focuses on Oceania to provide a broad, lateral view based on the region’s varied, often uncoordinated quantification systems and their effects. But it also aims to generalise the theoretical insights developed over the course of the project through comparison with the composite indicators that play a crucial part in political and economic decision making more generally.




We are looking for a researcher with a PhD in socio-cultural anthropology and the expertise necessary to conduct independent fieldwork in Vanuatu. Previous work in economic anthropology, valuation studies, STS, or other relevant specializations will be considered an advantage but not a requirement. Primarily, we are looking for a capable fieldworker. Ethnographers who specialise on other Pacific Islands may also be considered for the post, but priority will be given to Vanuatu specialists.


In addition to conducting research in their field site, the appointed researcher is expected to contribute to the project’s theoretical aims on the basis of their ethnographic findings. Other main tasks include writing publications, actively participating in other research activities of the group, and contributing to teaching in Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Helsinki (up to 5% time commitment annually).




The appointee must hold a doctoral degree in Anthropology or a related discipline; have the ability to work independently and collaboratively in a research team; and have good communication skills in English. The default assumption is that the degree requirement must be met by the beginning of the employment. The chosen applicant is expected to reside in Finland while employed by the University of Helsinki.




We are an equal opportunity employer and offer an attractive and diverse workplace in an inspiring environment with a variety of development opportunities and benefits. The annual gross salary range will be approx. €42,000 – €47,000, depending on the appointee’s qualifications and experience. In addition, University of Helsinki offers comprehensive services to its employees, including occupational health care and opportunities for professional development. The employment contract will include a probationary period of six months. The Faculty of Social Sciences provides assistance in relocation.




Please submit your application, together with the required attachments, through the University of Helsinki Recruitment System via the link "Apply now" below. Applicants who are currently employed by the University of Helsinki are requested to submit their application via the SAP Fiori portal at The closing date for applications is 1 May 2023.

Applicants are requested to enclose with their applications the following documents in English:
1) A curriculum vitae, 2) A statement (max 1 page) outlining how the applicant would contribute to the project, highlighting particular phenomena or interests you might be interested in pursuing during fieldwork, 3) A numbered list of publications on which the applicant has marked in bold their three key publications to be considered during the review.


Detailed information on the CV and list of publications can be obtained online.

Applicants of any gender, linguistic and cultural background or from members of minority groups are welcomed.



Further information about the position and the research project may be obtained from Dr Matti Eräsaari (


Link to the POSTDOCTORAL RESEARCHER (anthropology) specialising in Vanuatu -


Closing Date: