Post-doc: State and Disintegration in the Middle East

The CEU Center for Religious Studies and the Institute for Advanced Study at CEU announce the launch of "Striking from the Margins: Religion, State and Disintegration in the Middle East," a two-year research project commencing in September 2016 with a major grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. The research program will host host two post-doctoral fellows and two doctoral scholars in its present, initial 2-year phase. The team will be based at CEU using our human and institutional resources, and embedded in an international consortium of partner institutions in Amman, Beirut, London, New York and Paris.

The Project: The project Striking from the Margins: Religion, State, and Disintegration in the Middle East seeks a nuanced and dynamic understanding of the transformations of religion in relation to those of state and social structures, most specifically in Syria and Iraq over the past three decades. It aims to work towards conceptual and analytical vocabularies which would seem adequate to the situation, eschewing facile recourse to culturalist and post-colonialist explanations and lending keen attention to social dynamics, political economy, conjunctural developments and the global setting of comparable developments elsewhere. The project is concerned centrally with processes and mechanisms whereby once marginal sets of social, cultural, political and geographical margins, including religious margins, have been moving to the political centre. This is occurring under conditions which have witnessed the atrophy of state functions and the rise of neo-patrimonial communalist, including sectarian and tribal, formations. In analytical terms, the project deliberately intends to question assumptions about religious or sectarian 'revivals,' 'returns of the repressed,' and kindered analytical terms and categories. Religion had never been absent, but recent decades have seen that the religious field in the Middle East, as elsewhere, reconfigured and redefined, very visibly and within the lifetime of one generation, in such a way as to appear as an alternative historical and social model to existing social, cultural and political practices.

The main thematicareas of the project involve:

  • The reframing of religion and the devolution of religious authority to new actors.
  • The atrophy and devolution of state functions, including some security functions, to informal patrimonial and private actors.
  • Structural marginalization and socio-economic, cultural and geographical segmentation.
  • Transnational jihadist networks and the fulfilment of the margins
  • The theme of gender practices relations, and their transformations in present circumstances of jihadism and neo-traditionalism, is a transversal one that cuts across all the others listed, and deliberate attention will be paid to it.

Post-doc: Environmental Economics & Sustainable Development

Full-time, 24-month appointment jointly in the Department of Geography and the Institute for Great Lakes Research (IGLR). The initial appointment will be for two years; continuation of the appointment is subject to funding and contingent upon satisfactory performance review. The successful candidate will conduct research mainly at the CMU main campus in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. The position includes some funding for travel and research.


  • To develop an independent research agenda focused on regional sustainable regional development of the Great Lakes region. Examples of this include, but are not limited to, the drivers of changes in mobility within the region, the economic and social impact of policies affecting the regional ecosystems, modelling the economic impact of blue growth initiatives.
  • To work on current research developed by Dr. Marcello Graziano, mainly on blue and green growth policies in the Great Lakes and other coastal regions across the North Atlantic.
  • To work on research developed by or in collaboration with members of IGLR and the Department of Geography.

Required Qualifications

  • An earned Ph.D. granted within the past six years.
  • Demonstrated expertise and experience in an area of Great Lakes Research. Examples include, but are not limited to: economic geography, regional studies, green and/or blue growth, resource economics.
  • Ability to perform the essential functions of the job with or without reasonable accommodations.

Funded MA & PhD: Sociology of Development

​Two graduate student positions (1 PhD; 1 MA) are available beginning in September 2017 to assist with the project Developing Conformity: Foreign Aid and the Diffusion of Global Norms in the Department of Sociology at Memorial University, St. John's, NL, Canada ( 

Funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), this project employs quantitative research methods to examine whether and how the flow of foreign aid and other forms of development finance are associated with the spread of common policies, institutions, and norms in the Global South. For more information, please consult the project website: 

Students should have a broad research interest in development and globalization, with a specific focus on some aspect of foreign aid/development finance. Students experienced in quantitative research methods and familiar with Stata statistical software will be given preference (additional training to be provided). Prior study in Sociology, Development Studies, Political Science or another social science is required.

To express interest in either position, please send a one-page statement outlining your research interests and relevant experience along with a copy of your CV to Dr. Liam Swiss before December 10, 2016. Only selected candidates will be contacted.

Funded PhDs (10): Muslim Cultures and Societies

10 Fully Funded PhD Programmes 2017 at Berlin Graduate School of Muslim Cultures and Societies

Funded by the Excellence Initiative of the German Federal and State Governments, the Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies will admit up to ten new students to its next doctoral programme, which begins on *1 October 2017*.

The formal prerequisite for application to the programme is a university honours degree reflecting a level of attainment that is above average (typically an M.A., or diploma degree, with a grade of "very good"; with ranking, where applicable). The degree should be in one of the disciplines represented at the Graduate School (see List of PIs with an overview of their specialist fields and areas of research). Candidates are expected to submit an outline of their proposed dissertation project (maximum 6 pages, with a summary of no more than half a page), to include a short description of the topic, the current state of research, and its theoretical and methodological orientation, as well as a preliminary work schedule and an indication of whether the work is to be conducted via archival or field research.

As English will be the primary language of communication, students are expected to have advanced English-language proficiency. In addition, students must demonstrate proficiency in the language(s) relevant to their projects. It is assumed that language skills can be improved over the course of the doctoral programme.

*The deadline for application for commencement of studies in October 2017 is 15 November 2016.*

For more information and to apply follow: OR

Post-doc: National Anthropological Archives

The National Anthropological Archives (NAA) at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), Department of Anthropology is offering a 3-year postdoctoral fellowship that focuses on research with the NAA to establish methods, standards, and criteria for enhancing the discoverability of cultural anthropology data and materials within its holdings.

Candidates should hold (or have plans to defend) a Ph.D. in anthropology, information or archival studies, or other relevant field. The successful candidate will have a strong research background, proven information and project management skills, demonstrated excellence in communication skills, a record of publication and public presentation, and strong interest in advancing archival practice and research through education, engagement, and collaboration. The successful candidate will have an understanding and demonstrated competency in any of the following areas of research in anthropological archives: ethnographic research methods, the history of anthropology, visual anthropology, archival theory and practice, historical and ethno-historical research methods.

More details.

Funded PhD: Place-based knowledge

Place is not just the surface upon which life happens, but an ongoing state created by process and relations (Massey 1994, 2005; Rose 1993); places are practices (Dehyle 2009). In Indigenous studies, Land refers not only to soil, but to water, air, animals, and most importantly, the relations between them, as Land constitutes the life of the collective (Bang 2014). Land refers not only to the material aspects of Landscape, but also "to its spiritual, emotional, and intellectual aspects" (Cajete 2000; Styres & Zinga 2012; Tuck 2015 and many others). As such, knowledge is situated in place and Land, and extricable from it.

Dr. Max Liboiron invites applications to an open PhD position in place-based knowledge. There is no predetermined project for this position other than that it should use a place or Land-based lens to consider knowledge and/or the creation of knowledge. As this is an interdisciplinary project, applicants can be housed in a range of departments: Geography, Environmental Studies, Sociology, or the Interdisciplinary Program (each has a different application deadline and requirements; applicants should familiarize themselves with the application requirements of their target department). While not required, applicants are encouraged to work within the Civic Laboratory for Environmental Action Research (CLEAR), a feminist marine science and technology lab run by Dr. Liboiron that includes students from both natural and social sciences.

Funding is $19.2k/year (4 years), and additional research or teaching assistant positions may be available in addition to the stipend. Students must pay tuition out of their stipend. Applicants are encouraged to contact Dr. Liboiron (mliboiron [at] and include: a statement of intent outlining the type of project they would like to undertake, including a statement on the politics of that project (feminist or otherwise) and which department they would apply to; a previous research paper; and a CV.

Resources on Seasonality

Robert Chambers states that "As a dimension of poverty, seasonality is as glaringly obvious as it is still grossly neglected. Attempts to embed its recognition in professional mindsets, policy and practices have still a long way to go" (Chambers, 2012: xv; in the Forward of Devereux, Sabates-Wheeler and Longhurst, 2012). This quote comes from an edited volume on seasonality, which brings together a range of interrelated topics revolving around the topic. The book itself draws upon works presented at a conference, and is a sort of follow-on to a similar conference (1978) and book (1981) – highlighting the research gap that has emerged since an interest in seasonality in the 1980s and early 1990s. Drawing upon the 2012 book, below are some of the key resources identified by the authors, as a means to further research on seasonality and support the identification of research taking seasonality as a focal point of study (in chronological order):

Chambers, R., Longhurst, R. and Pacey, A. 1981. Seasonal Dimensions to Rural Poverty. Frances Pinter: London.

Longhurst, R. (Ed) 1986. Seasonality and Poverty. IDS Bulletin 17(3).

Sahn, D. 1989. Seasonal Variability in Third World Agriculture: The Consequences for Food Security. Johns Hopkins University Press: London.

Chen, M. A. 1991. Coping with Seasonality and Drought. Sage: New Delhi.

Gill, G. 1991. Seasonality and Agriculture in the Developing World: A Problem of the Poor and Powerless. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge.

Ulijaszek, S. and Strickland, S. 1993. Seasonality and Human Ecology. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge.

Devereux, S. Vaitla, B. and Hauenstein-Swan, S. 2008. Seasons of Hunger. Pluto Press: London.

Devereux, S., Sabates-Wheeler, R. and Longhurst, R. 2012. Seasonality, Rural Livelihoods and Development. Earthscan: New York.

For those interested in more reading, I suggest the 2012 edited volume Seasonality, Rural Livelihoods and Development as a key resource from which many more references can be obtained.

Post-doc: Bioenergy

Michigan Technological University / NSF PIRE Supported Post-Doctoral Position in Bioenergy Development and Sustainability

Position Summary: The Department of Social Sciences at Michigan Technological University invites applications for a one-and-a-half year Post–Doctoral Fellowship, beginning on or about January 1, 2017, focused on the socioecological impacts of sustainable bioenergy development across the Americas. The position is funded through the ongoing National Science Foundation Partnerships in International Research and Education (NSF PIRE) grant Sustainability, Ecosystem Services, and Forest-related Bioenergy Development across the Americas. The five year PIRE grant is structured on an interdisciplinary framework that brings together an international team of social, natural, and engineering scientists to examine the socioecological impacts of forest-related bioenergy projects across the Americas and uses policy and sustainability metrics analysis to recommend strategies for increasing bioenergy benefits and minimizing negative impacts.

Project researchers representing the Socioeconomic and Policy teams have collected qualitative and quantitative data related to the perceptions, impacts, and policy dimensions of sustainable biofuel development programs in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, and the USA. We now seek a post-doctoral researcher who can contribute to the analysis and synthesis of this material across the varied socioeconomic contexts of the five country projects, as well as work with natural and engineering scientists to more fully understand the broader hemispherical and global implications of sustainable bioenergy production in the Americas. The post-doctoral researcher will work directly with Drs. Sam Sweitz and Kathleen Halvorsen to further the goals of the PIRE project, including data analysis and manuscript preparation (see responsibilities, required/preferred qualifications, and application requirements below). Please see the following for more information on the project:

Review of applications will begin on October 31, 2016 and will continue until the position is filled. The one-and-a-half year position includes a competitive salary of $47,500.00 per year, and includes full benefits and health insurance. All application materials should be sent to Dr. Sam Sweitz at, with the subject line PIRE Post-Doctoral Position. Please request that letters of recommendation be sent directly to Dr. Sweitz under the same subject line.

Post-Doctoral Responsibilities Include:

- Analysis and synthesis of collected qualitative and quantitative data;

- Working with national and international researchers from across the social, natural and engineering sciences on dimensions of sustainable bioenergy development;

- Preparation of multiple country and cross-country comparison manuscripts, as well as interdisciplinary manuscripts for peer-reviewed publication;

- Preparation and delivery of project findings at national and international conferences.

- Assistance to the project director in team management activities.

Post-doc: Policy perspectives on ecological chemical risk management

Posting: Two Postdoctoral Fellow Positions at McGill University

Location: Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Start Date: January 2017 or as soon as possible

Salary: $45,000 per annum

Duration: 2 years, with possibility of 1 year extension

We are seeking candidates for two fully-funded Postdoctoral Research Associate positions. One position will be primarily supervised by Steve Maguire, Professor of Strategy & Organization in the Desautels Faculty of Management and Director of the Marcel Desautels Institute for Integrated Management. The other position will be primarily supervised by Gordon Hickey, Associate Professor in the Department of Natural Resource Sciences, Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

The successful candidates will conduct individual and team-based research on ecological chemical risk management, policy and regulation, with a particular focus on the role of institutional entrepreneurship in complex innovation systems. Both postdoctoral fellows will have substantial freedom to define their research focus as long as it aligns with the general focus on understanding (1) the organizational challenges posed by ecological chemical risk management, policy and governance; and (2) the process of deinstitutionalizing prevailing practices of ecological chemical risk management and institutionalizing new ones based on toxicogenomics. Initial areas of focus include:

  • How do institutional entrepreneurs transform the field of ecological chemical risk assessment by catalyzing the abandonment of prevailing practices and adoption of new ones based on toxicogenomics?
  • How can new practices based on toxicogenomics have the most significant – and beneficial, from the perspectives of diverse stakeholders – impact on ecological chemical risk assessment, policy and governance networks in terms of the outcomes they achieve?

Essential Duties: The primary responsibilities of the post-doctoral fellows (PDFs) will be to conduct innovative research and outreach in collaboration with a diverse group of university scientists as well as their industry and government partners. The specific duties will include literature reviews; stakeholder liaison activities; project management; data collection, analysis and interpretation (via ethnographic, qualitative and/or quantitative methods, depending upon each PDF's interest and experience); report writing; and the preparation of manuscripts in cooperation with the supervisors. The successful candidates will also be responsible for training graduate students and contributing to the development of competitive research grants as needed.

Application deadline: 31 October 2016. Only short-listed candidates will be notified.

People of the Plow

James McCann's People of the Plow (1995) presents the agricultural history of Ethiopia from 1800 to 1990. While historical, it is also in many ways anthropological, particularly in the parts wherein the author draws on years of fieldwork. What I found particularly interesting in the book is the broader discourse within which the book is written, more or less in response to concerns of a failing smallholder agricultural system. For example, McCann opens the book in stating: "The subject of this book is the modern history of Ethiopia's agriculture and the paradox of how the land and farming system which has sustained Africa's historically most productive agricultural system can have fallen into deep fundamental crisis" (p. 4). While Ethiopian agriculture remains framed as being in crisis, it is currently discussed within the context of fertile lands being bought by foreign investors and how farmers can maintain the rights to their land. Arguably the smallholder crisis is greater, due to continued land fragmentation since the writing of the book, but the contemporary discourse is framed quite differently.

The book is not doom and gloom. In many instances, McCann argues that the discourse of the 1990s offered too simplistic a narrative, and that "…the agricultural system and the farmers whose ideas and strategies put it into practice have, over the past millennium, evolved a distinctive technologies, social institutions, and effective solutions to environmental problems" that require far more careful study (p. 4). What this book does remarkably well is to show that while some facets of the agricultural system have remained the same, it demonstrates how dynamic the agricultural system has been and how farmers have engaged with change over time. This feeds nicely into the discourse about farmers being unwilling or resistant to change; history attests to the fact that farmers do change, what this book offers is insight into why those changes take place. For example:

  • "…the kingdom of Kaffa shifted to plow agriculture in the seventeenth century not as a producer-based response to increase overall food production, but as a result of the royal court's preference for the prestige value of teff and cereals over qocho (ensete), yams, and taro, spurring elites to require tributes in cereals. Cereals were better for tax collectors since they could be stored, divided, and moved." (p. 47)
  • "The transformation of the coffee-maize complex to a full-blown maize monoculture resulted partly from an environmental factor (CBD) but more from policies in the political arena – fixed coffee prices, land reform, and villagization – which projected state power and urban priorities onto the rural landscape." (p. 190).

For those interested in Ethiopian agriculture, this book provides an important historical context. Yet, as McCann notes throughout the book, historical references are scarce and in many instances the author extrapolates from what exists, which is sparse. While this has limitations, it is a valuable resource nonetheless. For those less interested in Ethiopian history, the book offers unique into rural development processes, particularly on how agricultural change happens (and does not happen, for example mechanization).

Logan Cochrane

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