Postdoctoral Position with Project Figleaf

Postdoctoral Research Associate

1 November 2022–30 October 2023

Salary: CAD$70,000

NB: This position has been filled.

We are seeking an experienced social media researcher to join Project Figleaf, an interdisciplinary project funded by and based at the University of Waterloo. The primary responsibilities of this researcher will be filtering search terms, content analysis, and co-authorship of academic papers.

Project Figleaf is an interdisciplinary investigation of the role that a particular linguistic device—the figleaf—plays in racist and conspiracist online speech. Briefly, figleaves are bits of language that serve the function of raising some doubt about whether an important norm has been violated. They are used when a speaker wants to achieve some deniability about speech which might otherwise be seen as, for example, racist or wildly conspiracist. One common figleaf used by both racist and conspiracist speakers is a phrase like “I’m just asking questions”. This project seeks to investigate the role that figleaves play in helping to spread racist and conspiracist messages online.

The principal investigators are:

  • Raymond Drainville (Stratford School of International Design and Business, University of Waterloo): scholar of Social Media and Visual Studies who explores the ways that images spread online. He has worked on racist and sexist imagery, and on visual dogwhistles.
  • Jennifer Saul (Philosophy, University of Waterloo): philosopher who has extensively studied racist and deceptive language. She has published extensively on figleaves and related devices.


  1. Content Analysis, search term filtering.
  2. Co-author papers for submission to conferences and journals.
  3. Oversee project management and administrative tasks such as documentation and data management.

Qualifications & Skills

  • PhD or near-PhD in a relevant field, such as: Media Studies, Communication Studies, Social Media studies
  • Experience using social media data analytics dashboards, MAXQDA, Tableau and other relevant software to manage content analysis and analyse results.
  • Proven ability to efficiently mobilize data to craft peer-reviewed publications.
  • Ability to self-motivate and to work well both semi-independently and collaboratively on a research project through to publication.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills.
  • Excellent organizational skills, including a demonstrated capacity to manage projects.


  • PhD or near-PhD at time of application.
  • We particularly welcome applications from members of equity-seeking groups and encourage members to self-identify within their cover letter in their application.

Job Details

  • Salary: CAD $70,000/year.
  • Duration: 1-year term.
  • Anticipated start date: 1 October 2022.
  • The postdoctoral fellow will be provided with a computer, software, office space, and some funding to attend conferences and events.

How to Apply

We will begin considering applications on 15 August 2022, and continue until the post is filled. Applications should include:

  • Cover letter (maximum 750 words): explain your interest in the position and how you meet the qualifications listed above.
  • Current CV.
  • One paper, published or unpublished, that you think best represents your work.
  • Name & email for 2-3 academic references (to be contacted for short-listed candidates).

Please email your application [please do not! The position has been filled] to Jennifer Saul and include the subject line “Postdoctoral Application – [Your First & Last Name].”