JOB: PhD position, Freigeist Research Group “Conquering (with) Concrete. Global Construction Companies as Global Players in Local Contexts”. Erkner, Leibniz Institute for Research on Society and Space

The research group “Conquering (with) Concrete. Global Construction Companies as Global Players in Local Contexts” is inviting applications for one doctoral position (TV-L E13, 65%). Starting date: 1 April 2020, duration of contract: three years. The research project is funded by the VolkswagenStiftung as part of the Freigeist Fellowship programme.

Research topic. Global construction companies impact our futures. Beyond the edifices and infrastructures they construct, they also fundamentally influence governmental development aid policies, or dislocate people to build a new dam, for example. Yet the role of these major global players and their persistent presence in different world regions has barely been reflected upon.

This project uses German construction companies as a prism to address a wide spectrum of economic, political, environmental or cultural impacts in specific local contexts through case studies. The choice to investigate such entrenched power structures through German firms is triggered by an interest in the label ‘Made in Germany’ which was established in the late colonial period and remains an unquestioned marker of quality. The main research question is: how have architecture and infrastructure projects built by German companies conquered the world? The project not only seeks to critically analyse success stories, but also to interrogate moments of failure.

Focusing on production cycles, a research team of the PI and three PhD candidates, each with a different disciplinary profile, and a student assistant will scrutinise global flows of capital, labour, know-how and construction materials such as concrete in three different representative regions in the climate zone of the humid tropics: Brazil, Nigeria and Cameroon, (South) India and Sri Lanka.

Research group. The research group is integrated in the Department for Historical Research at the Leibniz Institute for Research on Society and Space (IRS), Erkner (near Berlin) and closely affiliated with the Faculty for Architecture and Urbanism at the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar. Further collaboration exists with Prof. Dr. Johan Lagae and his research unit at the Ghent University. The project is embedded in a broad academic network. The doctoral position is offered for the duration of three years. Budget for archival/fieldwork travels, conferences etc. is available. The candidates will have the opportunity to gain teaching experience at the Bauhaus-University. Two subsequent doctoral positions will be filled until 2021. The team is supported by a student assistant.

Requirements. A master’s degree (M.A.) or equivalent in Architecture, Architectural/Art History, Urban Planning, Urban History or related discipline in the humanities and social sciences with a prominent focus on the built environment and its history is required by the time of appointment. Readiness to conduct fieldwork in the “Global South” (research stays of two-three months), specifically in India and Sri Lanka is a necessary precondition. Therefore preference will be given to applicants with a previous training in global and/or extra-European architectural and urban history. Language proficiency in both English and German is required. Knowledge of Hindi, Tamil, Sinhala or other languages relevant to the doctoral thesis is a further benefit. Moreover, applicants should demonstrate ability in both archival research and fieldwork, showing sensitivity towards diverse local actors and circumstances. Furthermore, the candidates should be able to conduct challenging research in an independent manner, while also committing to teamwork. Previous international academic experience (study, research, publications, conferences etc.) as well as expertise in digital humanities are an asset. Resourcefulness in logistic and administrative matters is expected.

Applications must include:

  • 1) cover letter (max. 500 words),
  • 2) CV,
  • 3) position piece demonstrating how your previous research expertise and personal interests are related to the project “Conquering (with) Concrete” (max. 1,500 words, including references),
  • 4) two writing samples (in English and in German; max. 5,000 words each),
  • 5) officially confirmed diplomas/certificates,
  • 6) names and contact information of two academic referees.

Please submit all documents in a single PDF (max. 2 MB) with the reference number 5619 to bewerbungen@leibniz-irs.de by 10 January 2020, 23:59 CET.

The IRS is committed to the principle of equality of opportunities. Female applicants are especially encouraged to apply. Applicants with disabilities with equivalent qualifications and aptitude will be given preferential consideration. The IRS supports the compatibility of career and family and was certified as a family-oriented employer in 2015.

For further information and questions regarding the positions and the research project please contact the principal investigator Dr. Monika Motylinska: monika.motylinska@leibniz-irs.de

Interviews are scheduled for 9 March 2020 and will be conducted either in person in Erkner or via Skype

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