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Postdoctoral Researcher Political Trees Bangladesh

Posted 16 Jun 2024
Work experience
0 to 1 years
Full-time / part-time
Job function
Degree level
Required language
English (Fluent)
21 Jun 2024 22:00

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Are you interested in the study of nationalism and inequality and the role of the natural environment in narratives and practices around nationalist politics? Would you like to work on roles of trees in Bangladesh through an anthropological approach?

The Department of Anthropology at the University of Amsterdam is looking for a postdoctoral researcher who will work within the research project Political Trees: Arboreal Nationalism around the World initiated and led by Dr Erella Grassiani.

This study looks at trees as political tools in the world today. Trees are “the lungs of the world” and need urgent protection in view of widespread overexploitation for food, building material and many other human needs. Their cultural and spiritual meanings are manifold, and the use and protection of trees is never a simple process. This project analyses how humans turn trees into political tools and harness ecological concerns to political goals. One form of tree-based politics is planting or uprooting trees to facilitate—practically and symbolically—the occupation and settling of land. Another is resistance to deforestation, which affects indigenous people. I call such practices arboreal nationalism.

Understanding arboreal nationalism requires asking:

  • How do states, civil society organizations and marginalized groups mobilize the symbolic, material, and environmental significance of trees?
  • How is nationalism “greenwashed”?
  • Which colonial legacies are evident in current national projects involving trees?
  • And how might we understand the agency of trees in these processes?

This postdoctoral project as part of this study will contribute to a new understanding of the role of trees in nationalist endeavours. It will seek to uncover the entanglement of nationalist politics and the natural environment. The project will compare the political drivers and consequences of arboreal nationalism from the perspective of local actors in Bangladesh. Studying this case closely will allow us to further theorize arboreal nationalism and establish urgently needed new links between the anthropology of the state, environmental studies and histories of nationalism.

What are you going to do

The postdoctoral researcher we are looking for will work on the sub-project ‘Political Trees in Bangladesh’ and will complement work already done by the principal researcher in Israel-Palestine. Within this project the prospective researcher will study the multiple ways in which trees ‘matter’ for different actors, such as indigenous groups, whether this is in terms of modes of belonging, manners of protection, or resistance. And/or how trees and forests are being instrumentally used by (state) actors, to influence power dynamics. The researcher will explore the way trees are at the heart of political acts, such as resistance and/or other forms of land grabbing.

What do you have to offer

You have

  • a PhD degree in anthropology or related discipline (human geography, sociology, etc.). The degree must have been obtained before the employment starting date;
  • a record (appropriate to career stage) of publications that demonstrates the ability to conduct research which is internationally recognized as contributing to the field;
  • expertise/interest in doing ethnographic work in Bangladesh
  • advanced knowledge of Bangladesh in a historical, critical context
  • good organizational and communication skills;
  • proficiency in spoken and written English.

Proficiency in spoken Bengali will be considered as a plus.

You are

  • creative and innovative in your work;
  • intellectually curious and eager to learn;
  • able and willing to work both independently and collaboratively.

What can we offer you

The position concerns temporary employment of 38 hours per week (1 fte). The contract will start on 1 August 2024, or shortly thereafter, and will be for a maximum term of 17 months, including a probationary period of two months. For this position the University Job Classification profile ‘Researcher’ applies.

The gross monthly salary based on full-time employment of 38 hours per week ranges from €4,332 to €5,929 gross per month, in keeping with salary scale 11, as per the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities. The starting salary will be based on qualifications, expertise and relevant work experience.

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.

The postdoctoral researcher will be embedded in the programme group ‘Moving Matters’ at the department of anthropology. We offer an inspiring academic and international working environment in the heart of Amsterdam.

About us

The University of Amsterdam is the largest university in the Netherlands, with the broadest spectrum of degree programmes. It is an intellectual hub with 39,000 students, 6,000 employees and 3,000 doctoral students who are all committed to a culture of inquiring minds.

A challenging work environment with a variety of duties and ample scope for individual initiative and development within an inspiring organization. The social and behavioral sciences play a leading role in addressing the major societal challenges faced by the world, the Netherlands and Amsterdam, now and in the future.

Want to know more about our organisation? Read more about working at the University of Amsterdam.


Do you have any questions or do you require additional information? Please contact:

Dr Erella Grassiani,

Job Application

If this vacancy speaks to you, but you are uncertain whether you meet all requirements, please do get in touch with us or apply. In light of our department’s commitment to a diverse and inclusive working environment, we strongly encourage applications from candidates who come from groups historically disenfranchised by and underrepresented in Dutch academia.

Do you recognize yourself in the job profile? Then we look forward to receiving your application consisting in the following documents bundled in one single .pdf by 21 June 2024:

  • your application letter describing your qualifications and motivation for the position and including an initial proposal for the research project (2 pages max.);
  • your Curriculum Vitae (with a list of education, positions, research and teaching experiences, and other qualifying activities, including a list of publications/conference presentations);
  • a scan of your PhD certificate;
  • contact information for two academic references (no letters of recommendation at this stage).

Shortlisted candidates will be contacted for an interview.

The UvA is an equal-opportunity employer. We prioritise diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for everyone. We value a spirit of enquiry and perseverance, provide the space to keep asking questions, and promote a culture of curiosity and creativity.

No agencies please.

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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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