PhD bursary: ethnography of the afterlife of an environmental project (DR Congo) Ref. BAP-2022-768

Updated: 3 months ago
Job Type: FullTime
Deadline: 31 Dec 2022

The Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology at KU Leuven University is a vibrant community of 8 lecturers, 15 postdoctoral scholars, and 12 PhD students. Our research is clustered around three axes: “making”, “moving”, and “living”. We are inviting PhD candidates to join a European doctoral training network (MSCA-DN) that sits at the intersections of “making” and “living” in times of climate change.

The vacancy is one of ten (10) PhD positions available in the doctoral network Anthropology of Global Climate Urgency (C-Urge), funded by the Horizon-MSCA DN- 2021 call. Within a short time, two (2) additional vacancies will be published.

The C-Urge project will train 12 PhD candidates in Social/Cultural Anthropology who will be pioneering innovative and much-needed qualitative climate science. C-Urge scholars will attend to the notion of ‘urgency’ itself, hence shedding light on people’s sense of the entanglements of time, environmental change, and human risk, and their impact on people’s climate change awareness. To that extent, C-Urge will generate new critical anthropological knowledge about global climate urgency that is academic, practical and policy-oriented with combined insights from the fields of human and economic geography, media studies, literature studies, digital humanities, international relations, environmental sciences (human geography, hydrology), STS (science, technology & society), and political sciences.

Core research skills will be acquired by each doctoral candidate through the doctoral-level investigations of the task associated with his/her individual research project. Additional research skills will be delivered in the network-wide workshops, international conferences and training modules. Every doctoral candidate will undertake secondments in non-academic institutions of the consortium to develop their intersectoral and interdisciplinary skills.

C-Urge is a consortium of 5 Principal Investigators (PIs) and 8 collaborating Investigators from 5 leading European universities: KU Leuven (Belgium, lead university), University of Edinburgh (UK), University of Halle-Wittenberg (Germany), Uppsala University (Sweden) and University of Catania (Italy) and one American university (Yale University). They team up with 6 non-academic partners in Belgium (CNDC-11.11.11, and the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences), Germany (Ferropolis GmbH), Sweden (Stockholm Environment Institute), the United Kingdom (Department of Social Responsibility and Sustainability of the University of Edinburgh), Sicily (Impact Hub Syracuse), and Mauritius (the Commission of the Indian Ocean in Mauritius), and 10 experts who are part of an interdisciplinary advisory board in order to ensure excellent training opportunities both in academia and outside of academia.


The afterlife of an environmental UN project in coastal Congo (Bamana and Muanda) Supervisor : Katrien Pype (anthropology, KU Leuven); Co-supervisor: Constanza Parra Novoa (Human Geography, KU Leuven) AIM: To contribute new knowledge about the impact of international interventions regarding climate change, especially trying to understand the sustainability impacts of these projects.

Objective 1: Document the endurance of social and cultural practices and materials that have been introduced by international environmentalist agencies.

Objective 2.: Document attitudes towards and opinions about these international projects once the agents have left the field, and funding has ceased.

Objective 3: Document how such project has generated new forms of knowledge, new relationships towards the environment, and new visions about economic and ecological futures.

Objective 4.: Analyse the emerging forms of sociality and political participation that are emerging in response to environmentalist interventions in the Global South.

Expected Results: Detailed knowledge about the socio-economic and political effects of climate change in the coastal region of central Africa, to be presented in a PhD thesis and in policy brief, to be presented at international environmentalist agencies. Planned secondment:

Host: Programme of 'Capacities for Biodiversity and Sustainable Development' (CEBioS) at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences

Supervisor: Luc Janssesns;

Duration: 3 months:

Purpose: to gain familiarity with stakeholders in developing countries; to learn how to contribute to the daily workings of a Belgian program on capacity building in biodiversity; to gain experience in networking; to gain an understanding of the challenges in the monitoring, conservation, and sustainable use and management of biodiversity; to learn how to negotiate with institutional partners in Africa and at an intergovernmental level regarding set up problem-solving efforts that combine macro-to-micro and micro-to-macro perspectives; to learn efficient ways of knowledge dissemination and public awareness raising in matters of biodiversity; to understand the science-policy interface and contribute to informed decision-making.

The doctoral student will be enrolled in the PhD program at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology at KU Leuven.

Job description: As a PhD student, candidates are expected to:

- comply with the PhD requirements of that PhD program in Social and Cultural Anthropology at KU Leuven;

- move to Leuven (or its vicinity);

- carry out 9 months of ethnographic fieldwork;

- work for a duration of 3 months of non-academic secondment in the indicated organisation.

- commit to the basic premises of ethically sound research in anthropology and to the H2020 Program Guidelines on FAIR Data.

- carry out individual PhD research, but engage in team work in the field (with citizen scientists), and in the network.

- comply with deadlines, and participate in the various training activities the consortium is organizing.

- write a PhD dissertation. - contribute to the various academic and non-academic outputs of the project (research communication and public outreach) Profile

- Applicants do not yet have a PhD degree. Researchers who have finished a PhD degree and are not yet awarded their PhD title, are not eligible either.

- There is no nationality restriction, but applicants need to comply with the following mobility rule: they have not resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in Belgium for more than 12 months in the 36 months immediately before their recruitment date (June 2023 latest), unless a part of a compulsory national service or a procedure for obtaining refugee status under the Geneva Convention. (art. 6.2 of the Grant Agreement).

- Applicants have an MA degree in Anthropology or an adjacent social sciences discipline such as sociology, geography, or liberal arts..

- Apart from being proficient in English, applicants master one of the languages in the field of the PhD project (French, Lingala, kiKongo).

- Applicants have personal or professional experience and/or interest in the DR Congo.

- Candidates are ambitious, well organized, and have excellent communication skills.

- Candidates demonstrate commitment to high quality research and applied science. Required documents in the application – to be submitted online by December 31 2022

- A cover letter (max 2 pages) stating interest in the project. In case the candidate does not have a MA degree in Anthropology, a few paragraphs need to be added in which experience in field research or familiarity with the topic and/or field (as an intern, volunteer, etc.) such as in the higher education sector, government, civil society or the private sector is described;

- CV (max. 3 pages);

- A copy of the MA degree (which will have to be validated if the candidate is shortlisted, or before appointment);

- A research proposal (max. 5 pages, including bibliography) for the subproject stating a research question, justification of the project, field site/s and methods;

- Two names and affiliations of two referees who will be requested to write a letter of recommendation in case the candidate is shortlisted.

- A copy of the MA Thesis A reasonable cross-section of Doctoral Candidates selected from different countries and regions is targeted overall for the whole project, provided there are sufficient qualified candidates.

In case of equally qualified candidates, preference will be given to candidates from vulnerable groups.


The successful candidate will receive an attractive salary in accordance with the MSCA regulations for Recruited Researchers. The exact (net) salary will be confirmed upon appointment and is dependent on tax regulations and on the country correction factor (to allow for the difference in cost of living in different EU Member States). The salary includes a living allowance, a mobility allowance and a family allowance (if applicable). These allowances will be used to cover both the employee's as the employer's mandatory charges. The guaranteed PhD funding is between 3 and 36 months (i.e. EC funding).

Interviews will be held in January 2023. The doctoral candidate is expected to start the project at KU Leuven in September/October 2023. Interested? For more information please contact Prof. dr. Katrien Pype, tel.: +32 16 32 04 82, or Mrs. Renée Overbeek, tel.: +32 16 32 83 15, You can apply for this job no later than December 31, 2022 via the online application tool :

KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at .

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