Postdoc in ERC project 'Politics of the Periphery in Urban Latin America' - Medellín

Updated: about 1 month ago
Deadline: 20 May 2024

Your job

Providing affordable and decent housing to the population is a fundamental responsibility of states around the globe. In practice, however, states often fail to meet the housing needs of the population, especially in the urban peripheries. How does this affect the relations between residents of the urban margins and the state? This question is the starting point of the anthropological ERC funded research project ‘Politics of the Periphery in Urban Latin America: Reconceptualising Politics from the Margins’ (POPULAR).

The Sociology of Development and Change (SDC) Group welcomes applicants for the position of a postdoctoral researcher (3 years; 0.9 fte) in POPULAR. POPULAR is a comparative ethnographic research project led by Dr Martijn Koster . It investigates the relationships between residents of low-income neighbourhoods and the state around issues of housing and urban development in three domains: governance, electoral politics, and activism. It compares three cities in Latin America where housing is an urgent issue: Medellín (Colombia), Santiago de Cuba (Cuba), and Recife (Brazil). The research is carried out by a team of 3 PhDs, 2 Postdocs and Dr Koster.

You will be based at Wageningen University, carry out two three-month periods of ethnographic fieldwork in Medellín, and conduct desk research. The focus of your research will be on the city’s housing regime: the configuration of actors, institutions, and resources through which housing is organized. It includes urban development programs, and other public(-private) interventions on housing shortages and tenure legalisation. The housing regime is also affected by electoral politics, and forms of activism. You will carry out interviews and participate in meetings with key figures in the housing regime, and activists, to study how they perceive of the low-income populations and the need for housing, and how they envision the role of the state.

You will closely collaborate with the PhD researcher who focuses on the residents of Medellín’s low-income neighbourhoods.

You will contribute to the synthesis of the work packages. You will identify and analyse the similarities and differences between the different housing regimes and the associated resident-state relationships. You will visit at least one of the other two research sites.

POPULAR aims at conceptualizing the resident-state relationship beyond the prevalent frameworks of citizenship, resistance, and informal politics. With the PI, you will contribute to advancing current debates on politics in the margins, decoloniality, postcolonial studies, and other literature that helps to decenter and pluralize our understanding of politics, and contribute to a fairer city.

You will work here
You will be part of the POPULAR research team, led by the PI Dr Martijn Koster . This team is embedded in the Chairgroup of Sociology of Development and Change led by Prof. Bram Büscher, and the Section Space, Place and Society . Dr Elisabet Rasch is part of the recruitment committee.

Start date
The preferred start date is 1 October 2024.


Your qualities

Your duties and responsibilities include:

  • setting up and carrying out ethnographic fieldwork in Medellín;
  • contribute to the synthesis of the different work packages;
  • deepening the project’s theoretical dimension;
  • (co-)authoring publications with other team members;
  • supporting the PhD during fieldwork;
  • organizing conferences and workshops;
  • contributing to the overall work and strategy of the team;
  • being an active member of the SDC Group and the Section Space, Place and Society (participating in group activities, meetings, and seminars).

You are:

  • a dedicated researcher who wishes to build a deeper understanding of issues of development, social injustice and inequality, while generating knowledge that may help bring about a fairer, more sustainable world;
  • a team player who contributes to making a collaborative research project a success, but you also have the creativity, aptitude and qualities needed to do individual work when needed, especially when it comes to 6 months of ethnographic fieldwork;
  • willing to nurture these qualities further over the course of the project, including how these could serve you in a further career in academia.

You also possess:

  • completed PhD in anthropology, development studies or a related field;
  • proven experience with ethnographic and other qualitative research methods, ideally in urban Latin America and/or on topics related to POPULAR;
  • excellent command of written and spoken English and Spanish;
  • good skills in academic writing, planning, taking initiatives, organizing events, presenting your work to a wider audience;
  • interest in being part of and contributing to a lively, caring and engaging academic environment.

Since you are to become an active member of the department’s intellectual community and work closely together with the project team, you are expected to live in the Netherlands, preferably in the vicinity of Wageningen.

For this position you are expected to have a command of English at C1 level . Sometimes it is necessary to submit an internationally recognised Certificate of Proficiency in the English Language. More information can be found here .


We offer you

Wageningen University & Research offers excellent terms of employment . A few highlights from our Collective Labour Agreement include:

  • sabbatical leave, study leave, and partially paid parental leave;
  • working hours that can be discussed and arranged so that they allow for the best possible work-life balance;
  • the option to accrue additional compensation / holiday hours by working more,  per week;
  • there is a strong focus on vitality and you can make use of the sports facilities available on campus for a small fee;
  • a fixed December bonus of 8.3%;
  • excellent pension scheme.

In addition to these first-rate employee benefits, you will of course receive a good salary. Depending on your experience, we offer a competitive gross salary of between € 4.332,- and € 5.929,- for a full-time working week of 38 hours, in accordance with the

Collective Labour Agreements for Dutch Universities (CAO-NU)

(scale 11). Initially, we offer you a one-year contract, which will then be extended to an open-ended contract if there is mutual enthusiasm. Of course, we would be happy to discuss this with you if you have any questions.

Wageningen University & Research encourages internal advancement opportunities and mobility with an internal recruitment policy. There are plenty of options for personal initiative in a learning environment, and we provide excellent training opportunities. We are offering a unique position in an international environment with a pleasant and open working atmosphere.

You are going to work at the greenest and most innovative campus in Holland, and at a university that has been chosen as the “Best University ” in the Netherlands for the 19th consecutive time.

Coming from abroad
Wageningen University & Research is the university and research centre for life sciences. The themes we deal with are relevant to everyone around the world and Wageningen, therefore, has a large international community and a lot to offer to international employees.

Our team of advisors on Dutch immigration procedures will help you with the visa application procedures for yourself and, if applicable, for your family.

Feeling welcome also has everything to do with being well informed. Wageningen University & Research's International Community page contains practical information about what we can do to support international employees and students coming to Wageningen. Furthermore, we can assist you with any additional advice and information about for example helping your partner to find a job, housing, or schooling.

Finally, certain categories of international staff may be eligible for a tax exemption on a part of their salary during the first five years in the Netherlands.


Do you want more information?

For more information about this position, please contact Dr Martijn Koster, [email protected]

For more information about the procedure, please contact Noorien Abbas, corporate recruiter, [email protected]

Do you want to apply?
You can apply directly using the apply button on the vacancy page on our website which will allow us to process your personal information with your approval.
Your application should include (and be limited to) the following attachments:

  • motivation letter (one page);
  • a statement on the research project and your contribution to it, including your thoughts on the theoretical dimension and reflections on how it is connected to your previous professional and personal experience (max 500 words, excl. references);
  • CV, including names and contact details of two scholars who can provide references.

Please do not send any unsolicited documentation.

This vacancy will be listed up to and including 20 May 2024. We hope to schedule the first job interviews on 27 May 2024.

The intended start date of this position is 1 October 2024. 

Equal opportunities
Wageningen University & Research (WUR) employs a large number of people with very different backgrounds and qualities, who inspire and motivate each other. We want every talent to feel at home in our organisation and be offered the same career opportunities. We therefore especially welcome applications from people who are underrepresented at WUR. A good example of how WUR deals with inclusiveness can be read on the page working at WUR with a functional impairment .


We are

Wageningen University & Research
The mission of Wageningen University & Research is “To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life”. Under the banner Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen University and the specialised research institutes of the Wageningen Research Foundation have joined forces in contributing to finding solutions to important questions in the domain of healthy food and living environment. With its roughly 30 branches, 7,600 employees (6,700 fte) and 13,100 students and over 150,000 participants to WUR’s Life Long Learning, Wageningen University & Research is one of the leading organisations in its domain. The unique Wageningen approach lies in its integrated approach to issues and the collaboration between different disciplines.

Read the 5 reasons why your future colleagues enjoy working at WUR and watch the video below to get an idea of our green campus!


We will recruit for the vacancy ourselves, so no employment agencies please. However, sharing in your network is appreciated.



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