Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions

Beatriu de Pinós Post-doctoral Fellowship

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    15/02/2019 17:00 - Europe/Brussels
    H2020 / Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions COFUND
    Spain, Tarragona
    Universitat Rovira i Virgili
    Medical Anthropology Research Center

The project "Anthropology and Phenomenology of the Locked-in Syndrome" (see below) welcomes applications for a “Beatriu de Pinós” postdoctoral fellowship to pursue research connected to the project.

“Beatriu de Pinós” is a competitive program funded by the Catalan Government and the European Union:


  • The program offers 3-year contracts.
  • Salary: 44,100 Euros/year (gross salary + employer’s social security contributions).
  • Complementary grant: 4,000 Euros/year.
  • Application Deadline: 4 March 2019
  • Because this is a heavy application, potential applicants should get in touch as soon as possible, but at the latest on 15 February 2019

Application conditions:

  • Applicants must have obtained the PhD between 1 January 2011 and 31 December 2016 (date of the defence and approval of the thesis).
  • The PhD may have been obtained between 01/01/2009 and 31/12/2016 if:

- The candidate benefitted from maternity or paternity leave;

- Was responsible for a dependent person;

- Had a medical leave of more than 6 months;

- Has recognised refugee status according to the 1951 Refugee Convention.

  • Applicants must have a minimum of 2 years’ postdoctoral experience outside Spain at the time of joining their host institution.
  • Applicants should not have resided or worked in Spain for more than 12 months in the 3 years prior to the submission date.

Applications are jointly made by the postdoctoral candidate and a senior “researcher in charge” at their host institution, who is officially responsible for the grant and “monitors” the postdoctoral fellow’s activities.

Candidates would typically have training in medical anthropology, disability studies, sociology and phenomenology of illness, neuroethics or biomedical ethics, but other backgrounds are acceptable.

The host institution will be the Medical Anthropology Research Center (MARC) at the Rovira i Virgili University (Tarragona, Spain), http://www.marc.urv.cat/en/.

The “researcher in charge” will be Dr. Fernando Vidal, ICREA Research Professor, icrea.academia.edu/FVidal.

Interested candidates please contact Dr. Vidal, fernando.vidal@icrea.cat

Project abstract: Anthropology and Phenomenology of the Locked-in Syndrome

Locked-in syndrome (LIS), a disorder of profound paralysis with preserved cognition, is a condition of extremely low prevalence resulting from brainstem stroke or neurodegenerative disease (e.g. amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). Persons in LIS are quadriplegic and cannot speak, but have normal visual perception, consciousness, cognitive functions and bodily sensations. They are “locked-in” an almost entirely motionless body, and only very exceptionally do they recover speech or movement. However, persons in LIS can usually communicate via blinking or vertical eye movement; some patients can also communicate via computer, and intensive research is under way on the development of brain-computer interfaces.

Together with dementias, Alzheimer’s disease, and the Disorders of Consciousness, in particular the Unresponsive Wakefulness State (formerly known as Vegetative State) and the Minimally Consciousness State, LIS is one of the modern medical syndromes that seem to threaten an individual’s personhood as understood in the Western tradition since the 17th century. LIS therefore offers a unique opportunity to examine in a phenomenological perspective central questions related to notions and practices of personhood in the realm of values, beliefs and experiences. These questions – concerning the concept of “personhood,” the relationships between mind and body, self and other, autonomy and dependency, the value of life in health and illness – are at the heart of some of the most significant contemporary debates in philosophy, morals, biomedical ethics, and the practice of medicine.

The overall goal of the present project is to better understand how persons in LIS experience and view the self and others, to explore their sense of continuity and discontinuity of personal identity, as well as their views about the conditions and circumstances that make life valuable. This goal is pursued by way of two complementary qualitative research methodologies: the analysis of autobiographical narratives written and published by locked-in persons; questionnaires and interviews with patients, caregivers and family members. Both methodologies will be applied in Europe and in Japan, a country where LIS patients have published numerous first-person narratives, and whose similarities and differences with “Western nations” offer ideal conditions for intercultural comparison.

A third approach within the project involves philosophy, phenomenology, bioethics, and intellectual history.

Since no similar investigation has ever been carried out, the present project contributes to fill a major scientific lacuna, and can be expected to impact on care and public policy. It will advance knowledge of LIS in academic and non-academic settings, as well as benefit patients, throw light on broader legal, ethical and philosophical issues currently debated at the societal level, and contribute to the in-depth analysis of such issues as the assessment of treatment costs, the role of advanced directives, and rights and obligations in the framework of chronic illness and end-of-life decisions.

The project’s funding structure is decentralized. In Spain, it has received support from ICREA, the Víctor Grifols i Lucas Foundation, and the Rovira i Virgili University. “Anthropology and Phenomenology of the Locked-in Syndrome” is a multidisciplinary and international project involving a network of research groups, medical institutions, and associations, currently from Spain, France, Germany and Japan. It brings together scholars from the fields of illness narratives, medical anthropology, disability studies, phenomenology, biomedical ethics and the humanities, as well as professionals in neuropsychology and neurorehabilitation and managers and members of patients’ associations.

For more details, see: F. Vidal, “Phenomenology of the Locked-in Syndrome: Time to Move Forward,” The Neuroethics Blog, 31 October 2018, http://www.theneuroethicsblog.com/2018/10/phenomenology-of-locked-in-syn... “Phenomenology of the Locked-in Syndrome: An Overview and Some Suggestions,” Neuroethics, https://doi.org/10.1007/s12152-018-9388-1.


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