CfA: MSH postdoctoral grant (1 year) related to amulets and devotional medals in Southeast/Northeast Asia (preferably Laos, China, or Taiwan)


EASt, centre for East Asian Studies (, is a research unit within the Maison des sciences humaines of the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Belgium. The key role of EASt is to be a central hub of the ULB to foster Asia related activities and research across the university. EASt offers high quality research on current developments in the East Asian region, and established research projects and networks focusing on Asian studies.

The Maison des Sciences Humaines of the Université libre de Bruxelles (MSH-ULB, is a platform hosting and supporting interdisciplinary research in the Humanities and Social Sciences. It aims to generate new knowledge and research practices by bringing together various disciplines in one place. The MSH-ULB is also an important hub for international exchanges of knowledge. Every year it welcomes several dozen visiting professors and foreign post-doctoral researchers.

This postdoctoral grant has been designed in synergy with the present research of the promoter, Pierre Petit, who analyses devotional medals through an anthropological and numismatic lens. Christian and Buddhist medals, Taoist (and other) coin-like talismans, and lucky charms are part of everyday life in South-East and North-East Asia. They are used in temples and churches, adorning taxis and private cars, piously conserved in the home, or worn around the neck by the faithful. Often despised as a resurgence of superstition, but nevertheless considered as imbued with some kind of power, they fall beyond the radar of research usually concerned with the more institutional and theological aspects of religion. Taking seriously the challenge of understanding materiality and intimacy in religious practice, the present position will contribute to launching comparative studies on this black spot in the Humanities in the concerned area. Fieldwork research will be conducted in one country – based on the applicant’s competences and preferences – and will be completed, if need be, by historical/numismatic research in the relevant archives and coin cabinets of Europe and Asia.

For more information, see the attached call