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Middaglijnstraat 10, 1210 Brussels


Doctoral fellow Conflict and Development Studies

Job description

The Conflict Research Group (CRG) at the University of Ghent is seeking a PhD candidate to conduct research on the intersection of political ecology and critical conflict studies – focussing on the topic of conservation in violent environments from a postcolonial perspective. The project will be funded by BOF (Bijzonder Onderzoeks Fonds) from the UGent.

Within this broad framework, the candidate is free to indicate her/his own field of interest. Here, a list of possible topics for inspiration:

  • International conservation projects and politics amidst war and in conflict affected areas
  • The influence of colonisation and war upon the environment and nature-society relations
  • Lingering effects of different forms of violence upon the socio-environmental characteristics of landscapes
  • Critically rethinking the connections and interlinkages between forms of environmental degradation (‘slow violence’) and violent conflict
  • Environmental histories of conflict and war – and their contemporary relevance
  • Post-colonial critique of dominant (racist) narratives on the link between war and environment (refugees as environmental destroyers eg.)
  • Theoretical and practical reflection on how the concept of ‘restoration’ can be applied to how colonialism restructured nature-society relations and colonised the environment, and their contemporary mutations
  • And others…

Candidates are free to indicate her/his own field of interest, and in which geographical context they want to conduct their research. Prior experience in the area of research, and the knowledge of local languages is an asset. Yet, while the research design of the project should depart from an empirical grounded approach, this does not entail that what is understood as ‘fieldwork’ is solely restricted to long-term field work in conflict affected areas; ethnographic research in and on international conservation organisations, colonial archives, museums etc.; is for example also possible.

More information and inspiration about the field of research can be found in this recent published Special Issue on “conservation in violent environments” in Political Geography; https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0962629820303164

The fellowship is four years.

The PhD candidate must have residence in Belgium during the fellowship.

UGent offers

  • The opportunity to be part of the leading multidisciplinary conflict research institute in Belgium
  •  A stimulating work environment
  •  A fellowship for four years according to university and Belgian regulations

Profile of the candidate

  • Master in social science which demonstrate familiarity with qualitative research methods. Experience with ethnographic research methodologies is an asset.
  • Good writing and communication skills.
  • Ability to work both independently and in teams.
  • Innovative and creative.

How to apply

  • A short (max 2 pages) letter of motivation explaining why you apply for the PhD. The letter should also describe aspects of your educational background and experience that would be of value for your research project
  • A short (max 3 pages) research proposal where you indicate the main topic of your PhD research, research questions, the literature and conceptual framework you aim to engage with, and the contribution you envision your research can contribute to the debate on conservation in violent environments
  • CV including list of publications
  • Names and contact details of two references
  • An electronic copy of your MA thesis

The application must be sent via email to Dr. Esther Marijnen (Esther.marijnen@ugent.be) as a single PDF file by 4th of January 2021, with the subject mentioning “PhD_application”. Early application is highly recommended. After an initial selection based on the applications, interviews will take place.

For further information on the position please contact: Esther Marijnen