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

Poverty & the MDGs

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were widely touted as having broad positive impact, and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) continue the general, expanded, trajectory. With these high level, long-term agendas it is important to, on occasion, take ten steps back and reflect. Critical reflection may identify design challenges and structural flaws that can better inform, or entirely change, what is done in international development. Cimadamore, Koehler and Pogge (2016) offer such a space in their edited volume "Poverty and the Millennium Development Goals: A Critical Look Forward." This is not a typical critique of all that is 'development,' and the contributing authors include some engaged and widely respected individuals. As an edited volume, it is hard to review, but in particular I recommend Chapters 1, 2 and 6. Quotes from these chapters are included below, and identified as such.

The editors argue that a "critical assessment of the MGDs is necessary and we could have reached a moment in history conducive to producing the meaningful changes required to fulfil the commitment to eradicating extreme poverty and achieving human development and a better life for all. This volume intends to provide that kind of assessment, combined with a look ahead at the new development agenda" (p. 4, Chapter 1). However, the "trends suggest that, at the country level, income redistribution policies need to accompany poverty alleviation or eradication strategies. This has not been the case; neither in neoliberally oriented economies nor in the developmental states" (p. 12, Chapter 1). Furthermore, good intentions, and even good programs, only go so far. It "must be recognized that poverty, as well as its eradication and prevention, is a manifestly political issue… Policies that do not analyse the impact of power relations on the creation and re-creation of poverty can have only limited and superficial success" (p. 13, Chapter 1). Some of the explicit, political recommendations are repeated by others: "Promotion of participation, inclusion and voice of poor people is crucial to overcoming some of the political and structural determinants of poverty and its perpetuation" (p. 42, Chapter 2).

Chapter 2, a unique contribution from Sundaram, makes a compelling case for the flawed methodological system that determines "success" in the MDGs. Consider: "If one starts from the original poverty definition of $1/day (in 1985 dollars) used for drafting MDG1, and then corrects for US inflation in the 1985-2005 period, one gets an equivalent poverty line of $1.815/day (in 2005 dollars), or $55.18/month, which is clearly much higher than the $1.25/day for 2005 used by the World Bank. The number of poor would then be 2,698.42 million in 1990 and 2,146.68 million in 2010 – for a mere 20.5 percent reduction over twenty years, nowhere near the enough to halve the proportion, let alone the number, of poor in developing countries" (p. 32, Chapter 2).

There are also important reflections from the MDGs on the potential of reaching the SGDs: "Available evidence on poverty trends and our policy analyses suggest that continuing with the same set of policies and measures will not suffice to eradicate extreme poverty, or even to achieve a substantial reduction in acute and other forms of poverty by 2030" (p. 14, Chapter 1). Chapter 3 continues "People feel they have been bypassed by new economic opportunities. Access to markets and/or links to higher levels of society are hindered by their powerlessness and lack of resources for fair participation" (p. 48, Chapter 3). Chapter 6 attempts to re-focus the failures away from domestic decision making to "the treacherous features of the international system whose structure serves mainly the economic and political interests of powerful factions in donor countries" (p. 127) whose power is reinforced by voting weights in global governance structures.

Post-doc Fellowship: Canada

Multiple Disciplines - 2017 Izaak Walton Killam Postdoctoral Fellowships, Dalhousie University

Izaak Walton Killam Postdoctoral Fellowships (KPDF) in most fields of study are tenable for up to two years at Dalhousie University, located in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. KPDFs are valued up to $55,000 CDN per year including travel allowance, a one-time $3,000 research grant, a $1,000 conference travel grant and benefits. Applicants must have recently completed a PhD (Jan 2015 or later) at a recognized university and have no current affiliation with Dalhousie University. Applications must be submitted no later than 15-Dec-16. Full details available at:

Post-doc: International Studies

University of Denver Post-Doctoral Fellow - Korbel School of International Studies: The Sié Center is a center of excellence within the Josef Korbel School that leads research, education and policy programs focused on global peace and security. Eight faculty, visiting and post-doctoral scholars, and over 40 Korbel MA and PhD students contribute to the Center's activities. While at the Sié Center, post-doctoral fellows have opportunities to work with Center faculty and graduate students, engage with relevant policy practitioners, and receive clerical and research/travel support sufficient to allow the completion of a major research product. Fellows will be expected to attend and contribute to a seminar series and engage with other program initiatives including conferences, commentary, and publications.

Position Summary: The Sié Chéou-Kang Center for International Security and Diplomacy at the University of Denver's Josef Korbel School of International Studies has openings in its post-doctoral fellows program, dependent on funding. We will accept applications from candidates who specialize in global peace and security (broadly construed) but are particularly interested in those doing policy relevant research on the effects of inclusion on violence, peace-building, and governance. Fellows will engage in their own research, participate in center activities, and have opportunities to contribute to collaborative research designed to inform (and be informed by) contemporary policy concerns and strategies. The Fellowship will begin September 1, 2017. Post-doctoral fellows will spend one academic year at the Sié Center.

Candidates must apply online through to be considered. Only applications submitted online will be accepted. Once within the job description online, please click New Resume/CV at the bottom of the page to begin application. The fellowship carries an annual stipend of $42,000, access to additional professional development, travel, $3,000 in research support, and a comprehensive benefits package.

Please include the following documents with your application:
  1. Letter of application
  2. Curriculum vitae
  3. Writing sample
  4. Two letters of recommendation 

Send directly to Jill Schmieder Hereau.

Post-doc Fellowship: Literature, Science and the Arts Program

​The College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA) at the University of Michigan is excited to announce the LSA Collegiate Postdoctoral Fellowship Program, a major initiative aimed to promote a diverse scholarly environment, encourage outstanding individuals to enter academia, and support scholars committed to diversity. After reviewing the materials here, if you have questions about this program, please contact Devin Walker.

Fields: Applications for study in any field represented in LSA are welcome. Applicants with interdisciplinary research interests may have joint appointments. Predoctorates are available in the fields of economics and political science.

The purpose of the LSA Collegiate Postdoctoral Fellowship Program is to support promising scholars who are committed to diversity in the academy and to prepare those scholars for possible tenure-track appointments in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts at U-M. U-M will appoint recent recipients of the Ph.D. as postdoctoral fellows for a two-year term beginning July 1, 2017. The Postdoctoral Fellows will receive a starting salary of $55,000 plus benefits, and $7,000 for conference travel and research expenses. The predoctoral fellows will receive a starting salary of $50,000 plus benefits, and $7,000 for conference travel and research expenses. During the two-year term of appointment, the fellow will teach one course a year in the host department. All fellows are expected to be in residence during the academic year and to participate in departmental seminars and related activities. The remainder of the fellow's time will be devoted to pursuing research. Each fellow will receive career advising from a mentor during their fellowship.

The College seeks extraordinarily promising scholars whose research, teaching, and service will contribute to diversity and equal opportunity in higher education. The program is particularly interested in scholars with a demonstrated interest in bringing to their research and undergraduate teaching the critical perspective that comes from their non-traditional educational background and/or understanding of the experiences of groups historically underrepresented in higher education.

More details.

Life After Violence: Burundi

What happens after conflict ends? How are lives changed, perceptions altered and the future envisioned? Peter Uvin held hundreds of interviews in Burundi to find out in his book "Life After Violence: A People's Story of Burundi" (2009). The author presents "a snapshot of life as lived and analyzed by ordinary Burundians" being "based on the voices of the people – primarily young people – throughout Burundi: people who have been refugees, internally displaced, dispersed, ex-combatants; in the city and the collines, Hutu and Tutsi" (p. 1). He starts with the context:

  • "Institutional transformation had to be achieved against a backdrop of unimaginable poverty and the social exclusion of most Burundians. The rural and urban poor, whether Hutu, Tutsi, or Twa, were the ones being killed and abused by all sides. They were the ones whose land was stolen, whose food, credit, and aid were being skimmed off, whose children were dying from preventable diseases at a rate that is one of the world's three highest. Few of those in power or vying for it, regardless of their party affiliation, were deeply connected to the poor or seemed to have their interests at heart." (p. 18).

Some parts of this book read like a report (which may have been its original intention as a World Bank supported project), and neglects to include some important contextual and methodological information. The greatest weakness appears to be that while almost four hundred interviews were conducted, we do not know how the volumes and volumes of content were analyzed and how the few selected quotes were chosen. Unless the result of systematic analysis (e.g. coding in NVivo or another software), one wonders if the quotes reflect those that seemed most interesting to the author, or are representative of the norm. Uvin offers some statistical breakdowns of how many interviewees answered in which ways, but these too leave the reader wondering how categorizations were done, as certainly there are instances wherein multiple experiences and positions are expressed about an issue. Quotes and analyses inform narrative and it is therefore important for authors writing narrative as authority on behalf of others to offer details and be reflexive about the processes involved.

Uvin offers some interesting criticisms of societal discourse, such as the following on perceptions of corruption: "Corruption has become a short-cut accusation, a term used by those who are angry at the system to express dissatisfaction and cast aspersions. It is a (rhetorical) weapon of the weak – all the more credible as there indeed is a lot of corruption in Burundi" (p. 68). And Uvin provides examples of how these claims are not always actual cases of corruption, such as a the relatively wealthy complaining about lack of support by emergency aid (excluded due to targeting) or the demobilized soldier refused aid (due to a policy). In another instance he criticizes the international discourse: "even in countries at war, there is more going on than war. War may capture the attention, dominate the political discourse, and its resolution may be a sine quo non for meaningful change, but it is not the full story of life, and people know it." (p. 82-84). In yet another part he takes aim at academics: "It seems to me that the way Burundian society defines peace is well represented in the post-conflict agenda – thus contradicting the academically popular but simplistic notion that this is all a mere neocolonial agenda. The first three categories – accounting for 80 percent of all answers – are the exact categories that the international community privileges: security, development, and the restoration of social relations. This is good news: even though peace-building experts and ordinary Burundians use different terms, they seem to talk about the same things." (p. 51) As Robert Chambers wrote in 1983 (in Rural Development: Putting the Last First, p. 30), "Academics are trained to criticize and are rewarded for it. Social scientists in particular are taught to argue and to find fault." At least in this book, it appears that Uvin has worn his critical fault-finding social scientist hat.

In reflecting on recent economic development, Uvin offers two, somewhat contradictory opinions. First, a strong promotion of job creation by any means: "job creation is the only key to development. Nothing else matters. Any way to promote job creation must be pursued" (p. 119). But, then, in reflecting upon the impact of capitalism, writes: "By calling it a capitalist ethos, I make it sound wholly positive and desirable, especially to Americans, who have been told that there is no more beautiful way of organizing life than unbridled capitalism and individual competition. But the spread of this cutthroat capitalism constitutes a profound loss for Burundi as well. Burundi's capitalist ethos feeds on fear and desperation – the knowledge that destitution and death lurk around every corner, that nobody is there to help you, and that you can only count on your own actions to survive, day by day, month by month." (p. 120). Putting these comments together, one could reasonably assume that the recommendation for job creation is not actually by any means, but directed and regulated so as to ensure the jobs do not increase vulnerability and inequality, and that they do not displace the poor and marginalized further by the relatively wealthy and investors (as the large-scale land grabs have shown can be the outcome) of job creation and economic transformation schemes.

The author also wrote a highly recommended book about international aid and violence. And, those familiar with this earlier work, will anticipate that Uvin is not pleased with the international community nor the system of international aid. His passion for justice comes out less forcefully in this book, but he offers clear reminders of his position: "the lives of most of the people we interviewed lead are an affront to human dignity and totally deny any notion that there is an international community that stands for any values of equity or justice… They die from easily preventable or curable diseases – tetanus, malaria – at scandalous rates… The poverty of Burundi, and the stinginess of the international community when dealing with it, is revolting in our world of over-consumption." (p. 2). Later in the work Uvin continues, "donors, in Burundi and elsewhere, seem incapable of understanding politics or acting politically. There are important processes that can lead to peace, the expression of citizenship, and the learning of democracy in Burundian society. But donors fail to understand them or to act on them. They simply copy products, but do not support processes. This worked reasonably well when it came to the transition, which consisted of a set of clearly defined products: demobilization of soldiers, creation of a transitional government – any government – for a number of months, organization of elections by a specific deadline, etc. But it works less well once this easy phase is out of the way, and sustainable, locally owned institutions need to take root" (p. 79-80). The passion is also found in works by Paul Farmer, wherein academic interests and practical experience are infused with deep rooted desire to advocate for justice. 

Logan Cochrane

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