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PhD in the Political Geography of Meat and Dairy

Posted 17 Jun 2024
Work experience
1 to 3 years
Full-time / part-time
Job function
€2,770 - €3,539 per month
Degree level
Required languages
English (Fluent)
Dutch (Fluent)
30 Jun 2024 00:00

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The Department of Geography, Planning and International Development Studies of the University of Amsterdam is looking for four PhD-candidates, to work on the political geographies of meat and dairy consumption/production in the ERC-project PROTEINSCAPES led by Dr. Willem Boterman.

Meat and dairy production is one of the largest contributors to climate change and biodiversity loss. The UN, EU and other political actors therefore increasingly see the transition away from consumption of animal based proteins, meat and dairy, as crucial for reaching several sustainability development goals (SDG’s). Changing diets towards more plant-based would not only spare millions of animal lives, it also reduces greenhouse gas emissions, reduces the risk of the outbreak of zoonosis and is better for human health. This ‘protein transition’ appears however to become stalled by paralysing political polarization. Meat seems to become part of culture wars and identity politics, pitching liberal urban elites against rural conservative groups.

The aim of this project is to investigate political and spatial polarization of meat and dairy in four European countries: Czech republic, Denmark, Portugal and the Netherlands. Through qualitative fieldwork with consumers, producers and politicians and policy makers it wants to understand how meat and dairy become political. For that purpose, PROTEINSCAPES will consist of a team of four PhD-candidates and one postdoc, embedded in the interdisciplinary research institute AISSR within the programme group urban geographies.

What are you going to do

  • you perform empirical qualitative research (e.g. in-depth interviews; ethnography, content analysis) in one of the country cases: Czech Republic, Denmark, Portugal or the Netherlands;
  • you will participate in a project that consists of four PhD-researchers, a post-doc and a PI, embedded in a department of scholars working on several related issues;
  • you will complete at least four scientific articles, to be submitted to leading academic journals. Some of these articles will be in collaboration with other team members (including the PI, postdoctoral research fellow);
  • you will complete a dissertation based on these articles;
  • you will actively contribute to the (national and international) activities and outreach of PROTEINSCAPES, such as scientific conferences and networks as well as expert meetings with policy makers and stakeholders;
  • you will contribute to collective academic publications, as appropriate;
  • you will assist with administrative responsibilities related to the project, such as organization of workshops or other project events;
  • you will be affiliated with the AISSR and will participate in its organized PhD-training.
  • you will contribute to the teaching program of the department.
  • you will take active part in seminars of the program group and the department;
  • your primary residence will be within commuting distance of the University of Amsterdam for the duration of the PhD project.

What do you have to offer

We are looking for candidates with passion for doing qualitative empirical fieldwork and who are primarily driven by curiosity. Successful applicants are capable of working independently but also underscore the collaborative nature of good scientific research. Engagement with the politics of meat and dairy and place-based identity is at the heart of the research you will do, but experience with research on food and politics and more specifically meat and dairy, and affinity with comparative research are not necessary. Because the project as a whole will employ mixed methods and encompass analysis of primary and secondary survey data experience with quantitative and mixed research methods are a bonus.

You have

  • a completed MA or Research MA in human geography, political science, anthropology, sociology or one of the related social sciences;
  • interest in food and identity, political polarization, urban-rural dynamics;
  • training in qualitative research methods (ethnography, in-depth interviews), and a willingness to develop additional methodological expertise in interpretative policy analysis;
  • good research skills, as demonstrated by your MA thesis or other publications/assignments;
  • a commitment to academic integrity and transparency;
  • independent thinking and critical analytical skills;
  • excellent command of English in word and writing;
  • good command of one of the languages of the country case you will be working on: either Dutch, Portuguese, Danish or Czech;
  • ambition to conduct academic research with societal impact;
  • the ability to work independently as well as part of a team;
  • good communication, social and organizational skills.

In addition, you are an enthusiastic colleague who likes to share knowledge, embraces open (team) science, is curious, critical and eager to learn, i.e. one with an academic attitude.

What can we offer you

The position concerns temporary employment of 38 hours per week for a maximum term of four years.

The initial employment is for one year and will preferably start on 1 September 2024. Following a positive assessment and barring altered circumstances, this term will be extended by a maximum of three years, which should result in the conferral of a doctorate in four years. We will put together a curriculum which will also include the opportunity to attend training courses and both national and international events.

For this position the University Job Classification profile “Promovendus” applies. Your salary will be €2,770 gross per month in the first year and will increase to €3,539 in the final year, based on full-time employment of 38 hours per week and in keeping with the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities. We additionally offer an extensive package of secondary benefits, including 8% holiday allowance and a year-end bonus of 8.3%. The UvA offers excellent possibilities for further professional development and education.

We offer an open academic environment with varied tasks and plenty of room for personal initiative and development in an inspiring organization. You will be embedded in the collaborative research group ‘Urban Geographies’ of the Department of Geography, Planning and International Development Studies. The Faculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences plays a leading role in addressing the major societal challenges facing the world, the Netherlands and Amsterdam, now and in the future.

Working at the UvA means working in a critical, independent, innovative and international climate, with an open atmosphere and a strong commitment to Amsterdam and its (international) society.

The University of Amsterdam is one of the largest comprehensive universities in Europe. With some 40,000 students, 6,000 staff, 3,000 PhD candidates, and an annual budget of more than 850 million euros, it is also one of Amsterdam’s biggest employers.
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