An ARC Funded PhD Position in the Philosophy of Indigenous Cognition and the History of Sciences

Updated: Nov 3


Charles Darwin University – Flinders University PhD Opportunity: An Australian Research Council (ARC) Funded PhD Position in the Philosophy of Indigenous Cognition and the History of Sciences

This message is intended for sharing among Indigenous and non-Indigenous philosophy students who could be interested in benefiting from a fully funded PhD position in the Philosophy of Indigenous Cognition and the History of Sciences. We thank you in advance for sharing this opportunity among relevant networks.


The Position

This opportunity is in the context of an ARC Discovery Project titled: Indigenist Archaeology: New Ways of Knowing the Past and Present (https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8479-1724, Charles Darwin University). Indigenist archaeology originates from Indigenous sovereign preferences for ways of making knowledge about the Indigenous past and present in Australia. This research will therefore take the project of decolonising archaeological epistemology, theory, method, practice, and pedagogy in Australia to a new level of insight.

A team of CDU and Flinders University academics is offering a fully funded HDR Excellence Position in the Philosophy of Indigenous Cognition and the History of Sciences. The successful candidate will undertake a publication-based PhD project on the philosophical foundations of the knowledge systems developed by Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the relations between such systems to epistemologies and philosophies developed in Europe during and after the eighteenth century.


A first aim of the project is to learn about the knowledge systems developed by Indigenous Australians and compare such systems with epistemologies developed by prominent European philosophers and scientists. Relevant questions include: Are Indigenous systems of knowledge sciences? What are the best methodologies for assessing the epistemic rigour of Indigenous reasoning capabilities and the contributions of said capabilities to the survival of Australian First Nations over millennia of occupation in challenging environments?

The second aim of the project will be to use recent research in evolutionary studies and Indigenist methodologies to assess the way philosophers of the European and Western traditions have conceptualised Indigenous systems of knowledge using deficit discourses. For example, how have Western philosophers such as Locke, Rousseau, Voltaire, Kant, and contemporary epistemologists described the cognitive capabilities of Indigenous people and their systems of knowledge? How has this contributed to the dominance of Western sciences? Is the hegemony of colonialism in the Humanities the future of archaeology? How could Indigenous systems of knowledge assist other philosophies and sciences in improving methods of inquiry and eliminating biases?


The methodology of the PhD will be robustly interdisciplinary. The candidate will be invited to develop familiarity with aspects of recent research in fields such as Indigenous knowledges, philosophies, and science, the evolutionary sciences of human cognition, ethnoscience, the psychology and cognitive sciences of reasoning and thinking biases, the philosophy and history of science, ethics and the theory of epistemic injustice, the philosophy of racism and colonialism, and the philosophy of Humanities such as archaeology and history.

The ARC project will provide funding of $40,000 per annum over the term of a PhD candidature to the successful candidate. Candidates who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people will be given priority; however, we welcome applications by all domestic students. Do not hesitate to contact us if you are interested in the project but have questions about eligibility.

The ARC project will provide an exceptional cultural environment for the successful candidate. The student will have the opportunity to collaborate closely with a team comprising Aboriginal archaeologists working with philosophers and ethicists, and several Aboriginal communities that are part of the ARC project. The PhD candidate will be expected to develop a respectful, meaningful, and enduring relationship with the Aboriginal communities involved in the work over the term of the candidature and beyond, and to spend time living on Country for extended periods with other members of the team. The candidate will produce, sometimes in collaboration with Aboriginal community-based people, publications that reflect the epistemological, ontological, and axiological preferences and sovereign knowledges, philosophies and worldviews of Aboriginal communities involved in the research.

The candidate will enrol at Charles Darwin University before 31 March 2023. Over the duration of the candidature the candidate will be expected to travel to Charles Darwin University in Darwin (Northern Territory) and to Flinders University in Adelaide (South Australia) to attend workshops and seminars. Flights and accommodation will be supported by the ARC funding.


The Supporting Team

In November 2021, a team led by Dr Kellie Pollard (https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8479-1724, Charles Darwin University) was awarded an Australian Research Council Indigenous Discovery research grant of $1,760, 680 to build, in a collaboration with Flinders University, an Indigenist philosophy of archaeology using Indigenous epistemologies (ways of knowing), ontologies (ways of being), axiologies (ways of doing), and cosmologies. The other members of the project are Professor Claire Smith (Flinders University, https://www.flinders.edu.au/people/claire.smith), Associate Professor Craig Taylor (Flinders University, https://www.flinders.edu.au/people/craig.taylor), Associate Professor Liam Brady (Flinders University, https://www.flinders.edu.au/people/liam.brady), Dr Nicolas Bullot (Charles Darwin University, https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9235-9111), and Professor Ruth Wallace (Charles Darwin University).


Dr Pollard leads the team of internationally experienced academics with specialisations in Indigenous archaeology; historical archaeology; decolonised theory, method and practice; and western philosophy - philosophy of science and philosophy of cognitive science.

The successful candidate for this opportunity will be co-supervised by Dr Pollard (Indigenist archaeology and Indigenous philosophies), Dr Bullot (philosophy of cognition and science, philosophy of history), and Dr Taylor (ethics and political philosophy). The candidate will also have access to support from other members of the team. Students can expect a high-quality experience of supervision and support for every aspect of their candidature and duration of time spent on Country.

A driver’s license and four-wheel driving experience would be welcome, although training can be provided in the latter if needed.


Application and Selection Process

To apply for this opportunity please send a collective message by email message to Drs Pollard, Bullot, and Taylor (sent jointly to kellie.pollard@cdu.edu.au , nicolas.bullot@cdu.edu.au, and craig.taylor@flinders.edu.au) and seek an appointment time to discuss the written application. A preliminary research proposal will be a part of the application. The selection process will be based on an informal interview and yarn* about the candidate’s prior academic achievements and the topics and aims of this project with members of the supervisory team. Prospective students will participate in a Zoom meeting and answer some questions about themselves, their involvement in philosophy and their career aspirations.To ensure full consideration, applicants should submit a brief outline of their research proposal (about 250 to 500 words followed by a bibliography) along with their academic resume by Friday, 18 November 2022. The first yarns will take place in the second half of November. The search will continue until the panel has found a suitable candidate to fill the position.


This opportunity will suit someone who is looking for an unprecedented chance to work in diverse local circumstances with different Aboriginal communities in urban, rural or remote contexts in Australia. Candidates are expected to have an interest in Indigenous ways of knowledge making, worldviews and values and show an aptitude for generous social engagement and they should be prepared to talk about these commitments at the interview.


*In Aboriginal worldview in eastern and south-eastern Australia, a yarn is a type of casual conversation about a topic.


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