Post-doc Fellowships (Canada)

University of Alberta Postdoctoral Fellowships​

Izaak Walton Killam Memorial Postdoctoral Fellowships

  • provided annually from the Izaak Walton Killam Memorial Fund for Advanced Studies established through a bequest from the late Dorothy J Killam
  • valued at $46,000 per year for two years
  • number of fellowships awarded varies each year (three for 2016-2017)
  • includes a one-time $4,000 travel/research grant
  • covers the cost of the University Postdoc Supplemental Health Insurance Plan

Grant Notley Memorial Postdoctoral Fellowship

  • provided by donations from friends of Grant Notley, matched by the Province of Alberta
  • valued at $46,000 per year for two years
  • available for research in politics, history, economy or society of Western Canada or related fields
  • one fellowship awarded each year
  • includes a one-time $4,000 travel/research grant
  • covers the cost of the University Postdoc Supplemental Health Insurance Plan

Funded PhDs (3): Anthropology; Islam in Asia

​The Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology is one of the leading centres for research in social anthropology. Common to all research projects at the Max Planck Institute is the comparative analysis of social change; it is primarily in this domain that its researchers contribute to anthropological theory, though many programmes also have applied significance and political topicality. The DFG Emmy Noether Junior Research Group: 'The Bureaucratization of Islam and its Socio-Legal Dimensions in Southeast Asia', led by Dr. Dominik M. Müller, is offering 3 PhD positions starting 1 April 2017.

Following the popular waves of Islamic resurgence, state-sponsored Islamic bureaucracies have become influential societal actors in Southeast Asia, particularly in countries where Muslim populations play a significant political role. The governments of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore have in diverse ways empowered 'administrative' bodies to guide Islamic discourse. Although their approaches, motivations and spheres of influence differ widely, they share the intention to formalize classificatory schemes of Islam and create binding rules for engaging in public communication about it. The Junior Research Group will investigate the bureaucratization of Islam and its socio-legal dimensions from an anthropological perspective, with a particular focus on the state's exercise of 'classificatory power' and its actual workings on the micro-level. The project argues that the bureaucratization of Islam far transcends the boundaries of its institutions. Focusing on diverse empirical contexts, the group will scrutinize how the imposition of formalized schemes of Islam – a transformation of Islam into the codes and procedures of bureaucracy – has socio-legal consequences that penetrate deeply into public discourse and the everyday lives of various affected social actors. The project also asks how the bureaucracies' classificatory practices and micro-politics of power resonate with social realities among the wider population and how social actors actively react to them, always with the intention of going beyond unidirectional 'cause–effect models' that overstate the power of official policies. Conceptually, the project treats the bureaucratization of Islam not just descriptively as an empirical fact, but as a larger analytic phenomenon to be theorized in comparative perspective. Grounded in long-term fieldwork, focusing on actors' perspectives and positioned in anthropological debates, the project intends to generate a new, ethnographically grounded understanding of contemporary Islamic discourse in the context of state power in Southeast Asia, with implications beyond the region.

More details.

David Suzuki Fellowships (3)

The David Suzuki Fellowship program will empower emerging scholars to tackle complex environmental problems. It will reduce financial barriers, provide mentorship and foster leadership and creativity so fellows can conduct research and engage and inform the public and policy-makers.


A total of three fellowships are available, one in Montreal, one in Toronto and one in Vancouver. Each will be for one year (with the potential for renewal) and will consist of:

  • A $50,000 stipend, plus up to $5,000 for travel and other professional expenses
  • Mentorship from David Suzuki and David Suzuki Foundation senior staff
  • Access to office space at the Foundation offices
  1. VANCOUVER - RENEWABLE ENERGY AND/OR CLIMATE CHANGE ECONOMICS: The Vancouver-based fellow will join the Foundation's Science and Policy team and research innovative clean energy solutions and/or the economics of sustainable development. Candidates from all disciplines are encouraged to apply.
  2. TORONTO - INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE AND CLIMATE CHANGE: The Toronto-based fellow will join the Foundation's Ontario and Northern Canada team and work to integrate traditional Indigenous knowledge into climate change solutions. Candidates from all disciplines are encouraged to apply. You must be an Indigenous person (First Nation, Inuit or Métis) to be eligible.
  3. MONTREAL - TRANSPORTATION, ENERGY AND CLIMATE CHANGE: The Montreal-based fellow will join the Foundation's Quebec and Atlantic Canada team and work on regional and/or national transportation, energy and climate change issues. Issues may include (but are not limited to) green transit planning and the development of sustainable cities. Candidates from all disciplines are encouraged to apply and must be bilingual (French and English).

Putting the Last First

In 1983 Robert Chambers published "Rural Development: Putting the Last First." If you have not come across this book, it is well worth finding a copy. As a book written more than three decades ago, it offers some perspective on what lessons have been learned. However, this book is particularly challenging to read as you encounter issues that are almost exactly the same today as they were in 1983.

The book begins exploring biases – a topic everyone needs to critical (re)reflect upon all the time. Specifically, Chambers highlights those related to rural experiences: "The direct rural experience of most urban-based outsiders is limited to the brief and hurried visits, from urban centers, of rural development tourism. These exhibit six biases against contact with and learning from the poorer people. These are spatial – urban, tarmac, and roadside; project – toward places where there are projects; person – toward those who are better off, men rather than women, users of services and adopters of practice rather than non-users and non-adapters, and those who are active, present and living; seasonal , avoiding the bad times of the wet season; diplomatic, not seeking out the poor for fear of giving offence; and professional, confined to the concerns of the outsider's specialisation. As a result, the poorer rural people are little seen and even less is the nature of their poverty understood." (p. 2) In a previous post on Eyben's 2014 book, I posed the question to what extent the biases are unintentional, when in fact choices are being made (specifically those of choosing to live an expat live and entrenching the biases). Chambers also notes this: "There is also an element of choice. Outsiders choose what to do – where to go, what to see, and whom to meet" (p. 4).

Chambers' second topic of concern is that of the "negative academic" and the "positive practitioner" divide: "Outsiders polarise into two cultures: a negative academic culture, mainly of social scientists, engaged in unhurried analysis and criticism; and a more positive culture of practitioners, engaged in time-bounded action. Each culture takes a poor view of the other and the gap between them is often wide" (p. 28). Further: "to some critical and intolerant academics, practitioners are narrow-minded philistines and at best naïve reformists, part of a system of exploitation of which they are largely unaware" (p. 29). Chambers understands these divides as being rooted in training as academics are taught "to criticise and are rewarded for it" but also notes that the "critical attitudes have made an enormous contribution" (p. 29). I can only assume this has moderately improved since the early 1980s, but nonetheless continues (asthis 2016 development studies book highlighted). For the critical academics, Chambers offers some thoughts for their reflection: "It is easy to write about what ought to be. The hard question is how, in the real, messy, corrupting world to encourage and enable more people to move in these directions" (p. 189).

I found it quite interesting that Chambers raised a key challenge to the research and academic community – again, in 1983 – that has still not been addressed in a substantial way: "Supposedly rigorous in research methodology, academics are astonishingly unrigorous in the diffusion of their findings. To impress peers and promotion boards they publish impenetrable prose in prestigious journals… Enormous sums are devoted to research and little to diffusion of research results. Diffusion and impact are often left to take care of themselves" (p. 62-63). To this concern, I add the challenges of people who need access to the research (i.e. government staff, policy makers) do not have access to the journal articles.

One of the practical solutions Chambers offers to challenges the biases is for outsider professionals "to step down off their pedestals, and sit down, listen and learn" (p. 101) and to recognize "small farmers as professionals and colleagues, as fellow experimenters and developers of technology" (p. 206). The final chapter, however, explicitly offers concrete recommendations, and concludes: "These six approaches – sitting; asking and listening; learning from the poorest; learning indigenous technical knowledge; joint R and D [Research and Development]; learning by working; and simulation games – all reverse the learning process. They encourage and enable those being trained or educated to learn from the many below and not just from the few above" (p. 209).

Funded MA: Youth & Farming

​Funding is available for one student to undertake a two-year MA in Sociology or Public Issues in Anthropology (with the option of the collaborative International Development Studies program) and to undertake research on a topic related to young farmers in one or more of the four countries (Canada, China, India and Indonesia) under the aegis of the research project Becoming a young farmer: Young people's pathways into farming, at the University of Guelph.

The global phenomenon of an ageing farming population, poor returns on farming in the current economic paradigm and an apparent lack of interest among youth in agrarian and rural futures have attracted considerable attention among policy makers and researchers. At the same time, what is overlooked is that not all young people leave farming and the countryside, and some urban youth establish themselves as first-generation urban or rural farmers. By studying young people's pathways into farming futures we aim to fill an important void in current work on rural youth and agrarian studies and in policies related to rural poverty reduction and employment generation. First, the research studies will go beyond documenting the various barriers that keep young people from establishing agrarian futures to examining how at least some young people manage to overcome these. Second, they will assess the working of intergenerational dynamics underpinning trajectories into farming, ranging from inheritance to the intergenerational transfer of knowledge. Third, they will shed light on generational innovation in farming practices across the globe. Gender will be treated as a key relation of social differentiation shaping all three areas of inquiry. 

A competitive funding package (including a minimum guaranteed stipend, TAships, RAships and field research funding) is available for the right student. Fluency in the local language, prior field experience and familiarity with mixed methods of data collection and analysis are desirable. 

Those interested should please email a CV, a 250 word research design, sample writing, three reference letters, and an unofficial transcript to: Dr. Sharada Srinivasan by 09 December 2016. Short-listed applicants will be interviewed by Skype by the end of December 2016. Admission is subject to the approval of the relevant graduate admissions committee(s).

Funded MA: Decarbonization

Two MA funding opportunity at Memorial University of Newfoundland (Anthropocene and Decarbonization: Mapping the Controversies)

We invite applications for two MA positions on "Anthropocene and Decarbonization: Mapping the Controversies." Decarbonization (through the shift to 'green energies' and the enhancement of 'carbon sinks' in the form of forest conservation) are among the most important strategies being promoted by governments and international bodies to curb climate change. The latter is one of the paradigmatic phenomena of the so-called Anthropocene, a label marking the geological consequentiality of human activity on the planet. Both the notion of the Anthropocene and the strategies of decarbonization are embroiled in controversies with multiple dimensions. We seek applicants who would be interested in 'mapping' these controversies: that is, how different positions in the arguments form clusters (of spokespersons; institutions; groups); what is the relation between different clusters; how positions are translated into policies and concrete interventions, and so on. Under the supervision of a team of researchers that will provide training on the various aspects of the project, applicants will develop their own projects within this general umbrella (for instance they might be interested in how these controversies relate to Indigenous peoples in particular places; or how they are gendered in particular ways; or how science and politics are entangled differently in different places; or how funding flows across the field of controversies; to mention a few possibilities). We will give priority to applicants that have some background on so called material-semiotics versions of Science and Technology Studies (as represented by Actor-Network Theory, or authors such as Donna Haraway). We strongly encourage Indigenous students to apply. Funding is 17K per year (2 years). Students must pay tuition out of their stipend. International students will have the differential fee in their tuition covered by the project. Applicants might join the project through various departments and are thus encouraged to contact Dr. Mario Blaser before applying to the School of Graduate Studies in order to determine the best route to follow. Email: mblaser {at} Applications should include:

  1. A cover letter including: statement on your familiarity with material-semiotics version of STS (i.e., courses you took, or material you have read); some initial idea on what aspect of the controversies would you be interested in researching; disciplines through which you would prefer to join the project.
  2. A CV and a break down/unofficial transcript of grades in the last two years

Check the sites for general information on Memorial University ( and its graduate programs (

Funded MA: Environmental Anthropology

Funding is available for an MA student in environmental anthropology at the University of Saskatchewan, beginning in September, 2017. Prof. Clint Westman is leading a community-engaged research project focusing on the resource extraction sector's impacts and processes with respect to Aboriginal people in northern Alberta. The project provides an opportunity for MA students to undertake ethnographic fieldwork in a northern community. Funding is available to support fieldwork and to provide at least $15,000 to the successful student, who will work as a research assistant in year one of the MA program. Similar funding may be provided in year two of the MA program subject to satisfactory performance and available funds. Students may also be eligible for an admission award. Application deadline is January 15, 2017. For further information see

The Politics of Evidence

Evidence is important. We want to know what we are doing works (or doesn't work). But, what happens when particular types of evidence are required to get funding, and what impact does this have on the types of work that is supported by donors? These questions are engaged with in the edited volume "The Politics of Evidence and Results in International Development: Playing the Game to Change the Rules?" (2015) edited by Rosalind Eyben, Irene Guijt, Chris Roche and Cathy Shutt. The book emerged out of a conference and was supported by an on-going blog conversation (one that has died of recent). For anyone concerned about the how evidence could be political, the experiences presented by a range of authors in this book is well worth reading. Alternatively, it would be useful for advocates who believe that RCTs are the only means by which we can determine what we ought to do in development activity.

One of the values of edited volumes is that multiple views can be presented in a single book. Some contributors are critical of the ways in which evidence (and specifically shifts such as the emphasis on "value for money") has been politicized and negatively affected international development activity. Others recognize the benefits that the newfound emphasis on evidence offers. For example: "Love it or hate it, engaging with VfM [Value for Money] is encouraging healthy and long-overdue debates that force practitioners to make explicit the reasons why we think we offer value and the values we use to asses that." (p. 74) In addition to seeing where the conversation about evidence adds benefit, it was further argued that such a shift creates opportunities: "Nevertheless, there is room to manoeuver. It can offer power-aware practitioners opportunities to increase accountability to citizens and each other; VfM [Value for Money] also creates possibilities to influence discourse about links between value and money and to debate what kind of development is valued." (p. 58)

Although human rights did not play a key role in the book, I believe that one of the most important conflicts in the debates around cost effectiveness and value for money is that with human rights. At the outset of the book this was alluded to: "The number of agencies, particularly international NGOs, using rights language has continued to increase, but the contradiction between rights-based approaches and their political and process approach to intangible goals such as empowerment and the increasing popularity of results-based management has become very apparent. It is harder to manage support for transformational approaches when one is required to report tangible, easy-to-measure changes" (p. 9) However, the issue of human rights was not taken up in detail by any of the contributors. In fact, one notes the absence of human rights: "focusing on unit cost and things that can be measured misses the importance of politics, relationships and networks in creating exponential value through difficult-to-measure change… linear, results-based management thinking and associated VfM [Value for Money] assessment techniques may have limited use for complex transformational initiatives." (p. 69) To these concerns, I have raised that of human rights and justice. If donors emphasize value for money and impact per dollar, we tend to focus our efforts – by necessity – on the easiest to reach, but not necessarily those most in need, or those most deserving (based upon local or regional inequality).

Accountability is important. But, accountability to whom? Organizations tend to focus on accountability to donors. But, little accountability to those for whom organizations claim to work is done. One of the chapters in this volume presents an interesting example of an organization that grappled with this question, and largely, where those efforts failed: "My central proposition is that, despite some significant efforts by the organization to become more accountable to those is sought to benefit, this agenda never became 'mission critical.' In part this was because of other organizational priorities becoming more pressing – particularly as growth in funding stagnated – and in part because we failed to recognize and align the many different perspectives on accountability that existed in the agency." (p. 80) As this book highlights, I believe we need to be far more critical not only about what evidence is demanded, but for whom evidence is prioritized.

Research Fellows: Makerere Institute of Social Research (Uganda)

Makerere University invites applications for One (1) Senior Research Fellow and Two (2) Research Fellow positions in the fields of:

  • Political Economy: Agrarian studies; Economic Theory and History; Late Industrialization and International Political Economy.
  • History, with a specialization in Pre-Colonial African and Indian Ocean History and/or Historiography and Historical Methods.
  • Political Theory: Modern and pre-modern, Western and non-western comparative.
  • Literary and Cultural Studies: World and African Literature; Social and Cultural Anthropology; Post-colonial studies.

Funded PhD: Northern Food Systems

Lakehead University, in partnership with the Laurier Centre for Sustainable Food Systems and the Food: Locally Embedded, Globally Engaged (FLEdGE) project, is looking for an exceptional candidate to undertake PhD research on issues of northern food systems sustainability. We are offering funding of $10,000/year for four years (providing satisfactory performance). Additional funding may be available through a Graduate Assistant position and/or scholarships, as determined by the admitting program. Given the scope and potential impacts of northern food systems, it is particularly critical to understand their dynamics as they emerge and evolve in response to their surroundings within a context geared primarily toward the dominant agri-industrial system. Issues of focus may include, northern food policy, diverse governance systems, alternative food networks, Indigenous food sovereignty, regional agricultural and land-based identity, and harvesting, forest and freshwater foods. Familiarity with and/or interest in complex adaptive systems theory would be considered an asset. The successful Ph.D. candidate will be expected to actively work toward establishing a strong publication record, assist in seeking external funding, and work effectively in the multi-disciplinary field of northern food systems sustainability including stakeholder/community partners.

To apply for this position, please send a letter of interest, a CV, transcripts and the names of two references via email to Charles Levkoe by no later than December 1, 2016. Candidates will also need to apply (by the appropriate deadline) to undertake their PhD in either Forestry Sciences or Psychological Sciences at Lakehead University. The student will support ongoing research on northern food systems and research from the Food Security Research Network starting in September 2017.

For more information on the potential supervisors:

Charles Z Levkoe

Rebecca Schiff

Connie Nelson

Mirella Stroink

Logan Cochrane

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