Postdoctoral Associate, 2022-2023, Sawyer Seminar on "Race, Empire, and the Environments of Biomedicine"

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The Department of History at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) invites applications for a one-year postdoctoral scholar appointment to support an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Sawyer Seminar on “Race, Empire, and the Environments of Biomedicine” scheduled for the 2022-23 academic year, under the direction of Associate Professor Jennifer Derr. The seminar working group will be led by Professors Jennifer Derr (History) and Jenny Reardon (Sociology). Through public lectures, scholarly talks, and a regular interdisciplinary reading and discussion group, the seminar will interrogate the intersections among race, empire, and the environment, and their significance in the theory, practice, and structure of American biomedicine. The seminar’s geographic frame is that of the American biomedical empire, a formation that includes the United States as well as those places formed by and encircled in the networks of American (biomedical) imperial influence. Within these geographies, race has functioned as a determinant of environmental exposures with deleterious impacts on human health. It also has been a central component of the environmental imaginaries that undergird the theory and practice of medicine and the provision of care. This seminar will approach the history and study of biomedicine from the vantage point of its racialized environments with an eye towards how these critical engagements might be marshaled to produce a more equitable practice of medicine. It is rooted in the proposition that to fully grasp the significance of race in medicine, we must probe how race is made material through environmental imaginaries, practices, and material entanglements, and how these in turn undergird and shape American biomedicine.

The Mellon Sawyer postdoctoral scholar position is a twelve-month appointment and includes salary, health benefits, moving expenses, and a research budget. The start date of the appointment is flexible but must begin between July 1 and September 1, 2022. The employee will be hosted by the Department of History. They will be expected to be in residence at UC Santa Cruz, to participate in all aspects of the Sawyer Seminar, and to develop their own scholarship through the format of the seminar.

We welcome applications from scholars in the humanities, social sciences, or sciences in any region of the world that falls conceptually within the territories of American biomedical empire, which include but are not limited to the geographies of American Empire. The chronological focus of the postdoctoral scholar employee’s research should be the twentieth and/or twenty-first centuries.

Applications are accepted via email to Jennifer Derr at All documents and materials must be submitted as PDFs.

Required Documents/Materials

  • Letter of application that briefly summarizes your qualifications and interest in the position.
  • Curriculum vitae, which must include the names and contact information for two professional references. The hiring unit will contact the references of those applicants who are under serious consideration.
  • Statement of contributions to diversity, equity, and inclusion (not to exceed two pages): address your understanding of the barriers facing traditionally underrepresented groups and your past and/or future contributions to diversity, equity, and inclusion through research and professional or public service. Candidates are urged to review guidelines on statements (see before preparing their statement.
  • Statement of research (not to exceed two pages) describing how your research relates to the themes raised by the seminar
  • Writing sample (20-25 pages)

Full consideration will be given to applications completed by March 1, 2022. Applications received after this date will be considered only if the position has not been filled.

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