Postdoctoral Fellow

Last application date
Apr 30, 2019 11:02
PS05 - Department of Conflict and Development Studies
Limited duration
PhD in Anthropology or related field
Occupancy rate
Vacancy Type
Research staff

Job description

We are seeking to fill a full-time, three-year, fully-funded Postdoctoral Fellowship as part of the ERC-funded research project “Property and Democratic Citizenship” (ERC-CoG-2017 PaDC-771795). You will be based at the department of Conflict and Development Studies, Faculty of Political and Social Sciences at Ghent University, Belgium. The research project is an ethnographic exploration of property relations within contemporary democratic contexts through an analysis of citizen (and non-citizen) experiences of eviction. Specifically, the project looks at how conflicts around specific properties bring together moral discourses, policy regulations and market mechanisms to create, transform and reinforce specific aspects of real landed property (used for housing) and what the consequences are of these “property regimes” on people’s lived experiences of citizenship. This is an ethnographic project based on participant-observation methods and the postdoc is expected to have experience with ethnographic methods and interest in doing long-term fieldwork in a multi-sited project. We are looking for a postdoc with an interest in working in all of the following countries: Spain, Greece, the UK, the US, and the Netherlands. Language skills required are fluency in English and Greek plus a sufficient level of either Spanish or Dutch. The selected postdoc will be based in Ghent but will travel for fieldwork for approximately half of the three-year position (3-4 months months in each of the five case study locations). The focus of this postdoc position is the infrastructure around property regimes and it will involve doing ethnographic research with the financial and political institutions of property (banks, financial institutions, investment groups, landlords, politicians, courts, lawyers, etc). The postdoc will join a dynamic and engaged research team consisting of four PhDs working on property conflicts in Greece, the Netherlands, Spain, and the UK, another Postdoc doing quantitative cross country analysis, and the Principal Investigator, prof. Marianne Maeckelbergh working on the US case study.

Full Research Project Description:

This research explores the impact of property regimes on experiences of citizenship across five democratic countries: Greece, The Netherlands, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. Property rights are a foundational element of democracy, but the right to private property exists in tension with values of equality and a right to shelter. An investigation of property is urgent given the recent normalisation of economic models that have resulted in millions of evictions every year. Through an ethnographic study of eviction this research provides a comparative analysis of the benefits and limitations of contemporary property regimes for democratic citizenship. A property regime is defined as the combination of moral discourses about real landed property with the regulatory policies and market mechanisms that shape the use, sale and purchase of property. The selected countries represent a diverse set of property regimes, but all five are experiencing a housing and eviction crisis that has exacerbated inequalities of race, gender, age and income, and led to social unrest. This research critically examines the concept of property by examining conflicts resulting from the use, sale or purchase of specific properties to answer: how do property regimes shape people's experience of citizenship and what can this tell us about the role of property in contemporary models of democratic governance? The goal of this research is to rethink the role of property within democratic societies based on extensive empirical data about how moral assumptions combine with particular ways of regulating and marketing property to exacerbate, alleviate or create inequalities within contemporary experiences of citizenship.

Profile of the candidate

1. Applicants are expected to hold a PhD degree in anthropology or a related discipline (e.g. qualitative sociology, geography, political science, philosophy). In order to be eligible, applicants must have obtained their degree at the time of application or demonstrate convincingly that they will have that degree in hand by 1 August 2019.

2. Applicants should be fluent in English and Greek and have working knowledge of Spanish or Dutch (knowledge of both Spanish and Dutch is very welcome, but not required).

3. Applicants must have extensive experience with ethnographic methods (participant-observation, interpretive research design), and

4. Applicants should be highly motivated by the topic of property and eviction, be able to work with a wide variety of actors in this sector, and ideally, have pre-existing networks or a demonstrated interest in housing (or related) social movements.

How to apply

Applications should include:

1. A cover letter outlining your background and motivation for the topic,

2. A detailed CV,

3. A one-page research proposal (e.g. a description of how you would go about this research project – where would you start, which methods, etc.),

4. A writing sample (e.g. a published article/chapter or a dissertation chapter),

5. Two letters of recommendation.

Applicants are invited to submit these documents (as a pdf file) via email to with the subject line “ERC Postdoc Application”

The deadline for submission is 30 April 2019. A limited number of applicants will be invited for an interview in Ghent.

The starting date is as soon as possible after selection, but no later than 1 September 2019.

For inquiries, please contact prof. dr. Marianne Maeckelbergh at the above-mentioned e-mail address.