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PhD / Postdoc on Infrastructural Emperialism

Posted 8 Jul 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)
23 Aug 2024 00:00

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Are you interested in how people perceive foreign-funded megaprojects that change the spaces where they live and their everyday lives? Are you particularly interested in how such projects shape politics and influence geopolitics? Do you have a background in cultural anthropology or a related discipline and ethnographic research experience in the Balkans, Caucasus, or Central Asia? If you would like to be part of a dynamic team carrying out research on the politics of foreign infrastructural projects in Eurasia, one of these positions may be perfect for you!

Your job

INFRAEMPIRE is a five-year project supported by a European Research Council Advanced Grant. The project explores the ways that rising economic powers such as Turkey, China, and Brazil rely on building the infrastructure of other states to drive reconstruction in their own capitals and create ‘soft power’ empires. INFRAEMPIRE turns an ethnographic lens on the infrastructural imperialism of the Turkish state, a growing power whose construction sector is reshaping the Global South and for almost two decades drove a domestic economic boom. INFRAEMPIRE will examine theinfra-imaginaries,infra-power, andinfra-subjectivitiesthat such projects create.Infra-imaginaries are those new visions of global futures and new conceptions of the global distribution of power that emerge around such projects. INFRAEMPIRE posits that in contrast to the hierarchical relations of European colonialism, infrastructural imperialism relies upon a global “big brother” phenomenon, or infra-power, in which relations of domination are cast as “equal” and “fraternal.” Infra-subjectivities are those new forms of political subjectivity that require a language beyond that of neoliberal globalisation, with its teleological assumptions of increasing political and economic liberalisation.

INFRAEMPIRE will examine foreign-funded megaprojects as geopolitical sites in which these new forms of imaginary, power, and subjectivity can be studied. The six case studies will take place at a crucial geopolitical juncture: the seam of Eurasia, where former and aspiring empires intersect, compete, and build new worlds through infrastructure. The aim of INFRAEMPIRE is to theorise the relationship between infrastructure and empire and to offer a fundamentally new understanding of power relations in a globalised world.

We seek one PhD candidate and three postdoctoral researchers who have the necessary research experience and language skills to conduct one of the subprojects in Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, or Turkey. (The positions for a further subproject on the Sandžak region of Montenegro and Serbia have already been filled.)

Throughout this project, you will be well guided and supported by your supervisor. As a PhD candidate, you will also become part of an active group of PhD researchers who organise regular feedback sessions as well as a number of social events within the department of Cultural Anthropology’s Sovereignty and Social Contestation (SoSCo) research programme.

Your qualities

We are looking for enthusiastic colleagues who meet all of the following requirements:

  • For PhD candidates, you have completed a Master’s degree in anthropology or a related discipline.
  • For postdoc candidates, you have completed your PhD by the time of application.
  • You have demonstrable field research experience and affinity with research in political anthropology, particularly that concerned with infrastructure, materiality, and everyday geopolitics.
  • You have well-developed analytical skills.
  • You are a motivated and collaborative team member who is also able to work independently.
  • You have excellent verbal and written communication skills in English and one of the languages necessary to conduct the case study.

Our offer

We offer:

  • a position for one year, which will be extended to a total of 33 months (postdoc) or four years (PhD) after positive evaluation;
  • for the PhD position, a gross monthly salary between €2,770 and €3,539 in the case of full-time employment (salary scale P under the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities (CAO NU));
  • for the postdoc positions, a gross monthly salary between €3,877 and €4,185 in the case of full-time employment (salary scale 10 under the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities (CAO NU));
  • 8% holiday pay and 8.3% year-end bonus;
  • a pension scheme, partially paid parental leave and flexible terms of employment based on the CAO NU.

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