Deadline: 31 December, 2018

PhD Student

PERIOD OF CONTRACT: 4 years from 1 September 2019 (1-year contracts, renewable subject to satisfactory performance and student status). ACTIVITY RATE: Full-time (100%) GROSS SALARY: CHF 46,000 – 50,000 per annum

The positions are being offered in the context of the European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grant-funded project “Gangs, Gangsters, and Ganglands: Towards a Global Comparative Ethnography” (GANGS). Successful candidates will complete a PhD under the supervision of the project’s Principal Investigator, Dennis Rodgers, Research Professor in the Department of Anthropology and Sociology. They will be core members of the GANGS team, associated with the Centre on Conflict, Development and Peacebuilding (CCDP), and will also be fully integrated in the life of the Department of Anthropology and Sociology at the Graduate Institute. Committed to theoretical innovation, robust empirical research, and fine-grained ethnographic fieldwork, the department and its doctoral programme foster the study of contemporary issues in global and transnational terms.

The GANGS project aims to develop a systematic comparative investigation of global gang dynamics, to better understand why they emerge, how they evolve over time, whether they are associated with particular urban configurations, how and why individuals join gangs, and what impact this has on their potential futures. It draws on ethnographic research carried out in Nicaragua, South Africa, and France, adopting an explicitly tripartite focus on “Gangs”, “Gangsters”, and “Ganglands” in order to better explore the interplay between group, individual, and contextual factors. The first will consider the organisational dynamics of gangs, the second will focus on individual gang members and their trajectories before, during, and after their involvement in a gang, while the third will reflect on the contexts within which gangs emerge and evolve.

The advertised positions are associated with the “Ganglands” sub-project. This aims to develop a relational perspective on the way gang-affected urban spaces are situated within broader city political economies. Successful applicants for the positions will be expected to develop research on this issue in one of Managua, Cape Town, or Marseille. The specific focus of their study (e.g. infrastructure, mobility, labour, policing, etc.) will be determined by the candidate, who will be expected to combine traditional neighbourhood ethnography with a mixture of multi-sited network tracing, policy analysis, interviewing, as well as archival research in order to systematically map out who are the key actors, institutions, and practices involved in producing and maintaining distinct types of policies that shape and affect ganglands, whether socially, economically, politically, or morphologically.


Mission and activities

  • Participate in GANGS project activities as determined by the project PI;
  • Conduct 12 months of empirical research, including six months of individual research in one of Managua, Cape Town, and Marseille, as well as six months of joint research in the three cities;
  • Present the findings at conferences and workshops;
  • Prepare publications;
  • Meet GANGS project interim goals and strictly adhere to project timelines;
  • Contribute to research, administrative and coordination duties associated with the GANGS project, including interim reporting to funders and the preparation of project-related events (conference, workshop, roundtable);
  • Complete a PhD thesis.


Candidate profile

  • Have, or be close to obtaining, an MA in Anthropology, Sociology, or a closely related discipline (e.g. geography, international development studies);
  • Demonstrated ability to carry out ethnographic research;
  • Highly organized and capable of working autonomously;
  • Excellent interpersonal skills and ability to work in an international team;
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills in English, as well as a good knowledge of one of Spanish, French, or Afrikaans, depending on the city the candidate wishes to work in (knowledge of several languages is an asset);
  • Expertise in the projects’ main areas of enquiry (i.e. urban anthropology, anthropology of violence) is an asset;
  • Experience of empirical research on gangs/urban insecurity and/or in Managua, Cape Town, or Marseille is an asset.


Application Procedure:

Application process include:

(1) a CV;

(2) a letter of motivation explaining which city you wish to work in, and a statement about what your research might focus on;

(3) two letters of recommendation ;

(4) a writing sample (the MA thesis, or an article in preparation); and

(5) transcripts of past higher education experiences (BA and MA). Applicants who have not completed their MA degree by the time of application should include a statement from their supervisor confirming the expected date for the achievement of their degree. Application must be submitted online by 31 December 2018. Interviews (either in person or via Skype) are scheduled for early February.

The position will need to be validated by the Department of Anthropology and Sociology (ANSO) at the Graduate Institute through an additional procedure. Details will be provided to successful candidates.

Application closes 31 December, 2018

For more information and to apply, click here.





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