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EMSW Postdoctoral Research Fellow


EMSW Postdoctoral Research Fellow

  • req1173
  • Richmond, Virginia, United States, 23284
  • History
  • Virginia Commonwealth University
Position Responsibilities:

At VCU, we Make it Real through learning, research, creativity, service and discovery - the hallmarks of the VCU experience. A premier, urban, public research university nationally recognized as one of the best employers for diversity, VCU is a great place to
work. It’s a place of opportunity, where your success is supported and your career can thrive. VCU offers employees a generous leave package, career paths for advancement, competitive pay, and an opportunity to do mission-driven work.

We invite applications for a postdoctoral research fellowship in the humanities, to support the work of the East Marshall Street Well Project and its two implementation committees.

The two-year postdoc will develop and support research that addresses and explores key questions related to Richmond’s African American community during the 19th century and the relationship of this community to medical education and burial practices during this time period.

The East Marshall Street Well Project is a VCU initiative designed to work with the community in addressing the discovery of human bones and artifacts from the 19th century in an abandoned well uncovered during construction on Virginia Commonwealth University’s MCV Campus. The work has involved a community process that encouraged learning about the human remains discovered near East Marshall Street and sought community input in the formation of the Family Representative Council. The Family Representative Council served to represent the “descendant community” and made recommendations on behalf of those individuals whose remains were discovered to support appropriate study, memorialization and reburial with dignity. For additional information on the project, please see: www.emsw.vcu.edu.

In addition to exploring research questions developed by the FRC, the post-doc will have the opportunity to develop and explore questions that intersect with their own primary lines of scholarship and that support their development as scholars and academics.

Within the EMSWP, the Memorialization and Interment Implementation Work Group is focused on ensuring that the EMSW Ancestors receive proper memorialization and reburial. After developing and installing educational placards in the VCU Kontos Medical Sciences Building (Fall 2021) and regularizing historical pedagogy about the project in General Education (Summer 2021), we are working towards other descendant community recommendations such as further institutionalizing an annual EMSW remembrance ceremony to be observed by all VCU medical and pre-health students.This group will also establish guidelines for University policy addressing future discoveries of human remains on campus, and, in collaboration with the EMSW Research Implementation Committee, will develop (via cross-institutional and interdisciplinary RFPs) the first formal studies of the historical legacy of slavery in the University and mechanisms for redressing that legacy. Ultimately, an interment ceremony will be planned and designed with input from funerary experts in West African traditions. This public event will be intentionally inclusive, honoring a variety of faith traditions (including African indigenous practices) and engaging the diverse Richmond community in the longer-term civic project of combatting structural racism and health disparities. The postdoc will have the opportunity to participate in, work with and support the work of the Memorialization and Interment Committee.

Reporting to the co-chair of the Memorialization & Interment Implementation Committee,
the EMSW Postdoctoral Research Fellow will play a critical leadership role in the formation and operations of two transdisciplinary, trans-institutional research teams:
1) Biocultural Ancestry and Health; and
2) Public Humanities and Community, including connecting with the City of Richmond around its Shockoe Bottom Memorialization Park development.

Specific responsibilities will include:
>Devising and completing research on the long-term implications, impacts, and relevance of the East Marshall Street Well site history for contemporary African American medical experiences. Relevant research questions could include (but not be limited to):

• What were the most likely African ethnic and cultural backgrounds of individual EMSW Ancestors?
• What do we know about the material or physical quality of their living circumstances?
• What more is there to be learned through further historical investigation of the EMSW site?
• How does the story of the well fit into a broader investigation of medical exploitation of African Americans?
• How can study of the EMSW site contribute to an even broader understanding of enslaved and free African American life in 19th-century Richmond?
• What are the long-term and contemporary implications of the practices surrounding the well for generations of African American Richmonders, e.g., in terms of medical distrust, health decisions and outcomes? What have been the implications for VCU/MCV?

>Participating in shaping and the formation of a transdisciplinary research team of graduate, undergraduate and faculty researchers;

>Drafting portions of reports for the two implementation committees, the Family Representative Council and VCU senior leadership, at the direction of the Work Group co-chairs and the project administrator;

>Other duties related to EMSW research and programming as assigned. (Fellow willhave opportunities to contribute to the initiative’s public academic and community programming.)

Required Qualifications:

The successful candidate will possess:
•a relevant doctoral degree;
•subject matter expertise in a humanities-relevant discipline, including fields such as African American Studies, Anthropology, History (with an emphasis on the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries), History and/or Sociology of Science and Medicine; Public History; Media Studies (including documentary filmmaking);
•Experience performing archival and/or oral history research and strong English language writing and speaking skills;

Skills, experience or willingness/interest in community engaged scholarship;
•Ability, experience and willingness to work closely, respectfully, and effectively with members of the community as well as internal and external faculty, staff, and students;
•Demonstrated experience working in and fostering a diverse faculty, staff, and student environment or commitment to do so as a staff member at VCU.

To apply, complete the online application and upload a cover letter and resume addressing the specific position responsibilities, experience, related research interests, and qualifications.

For more information, please contact:
Kevin W. Allison, Ph.D., Professor, Psychology, L. Douglas Wilder School of
Government and Public Affairs and Senior Executive for Special Projects, Office of the President kallison@vcu.edu

Candidate applications will be reviewed starting April 18th and continue until the position is filled.


Each agency within the Commonwealth of Virginia is dedicated to recruiting, supporting, and maintaining a competent and diverse work force. Equal Opportunity Employer

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