PhD position in geography on everyday geopolitics in borderlands

Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
October 22, 2022
Offerd Salary:Negotiation
Working address:N/A
Contract Type:Other
Working Time:Full time
Working type:N/A
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PhD position in geography on everyday geopolitics in borderlands

(ref. BAP-2022-653)

Last modification : Monday, September 12, 2022

Are you interested in geopolitics, borders and local livelihoods? If so, consider applying for a PhD position (fully funded) on everyday borderland geopolitics, at the intersection of political, economic and tourism geographies. You will work with Prof. Arie Stoffelen in the Division of Geography and Tourism, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, at the KU Leuven.

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Geopolitics has become a high-profile research topic again, not in the least related to various territorial conflicts around the world. However, geopolitics deals with more than armed conflicts and international relations between nation states and supra-national collaborative entities. Geopolitics is also the domain of various seemingly uncontested sectors that are used to justify and institutionalize certain worldviews and territorial (development) arrangements. A typical example is tourism, which is increasingly being seen as a geopolitical instrument to imbue people with certain worldviews and to support sovereignty or economic competitiveness claims. The same applies to heritage, with the selective reflection on history in the form of memory politics being at the basis of many latent geopolitical debates. Furthermore, and crucially, geopolitics is not just the domain of formal negotiation on the international level but is also shaped from below, by ‘regular' people in their daily activities.

This PhD project deals with this topic of everyday, bottom-up geopolitics, with particular attention to how this pans out in borderlands and/or in relation to cross-border collaboration. Together with your promotor, you will develop a PhD research project and conduct scientific research that is in line with the thematic focus of the research group, dealing with at least some of the following elements:

  • Tourism geopolitics.
  • The entanglement of everyday actions, life spheres and mobilities with supra-local geopolitical discussions.
  • Geopolitics of memory and heritage geopolitics.
  • The geopolitics behind people's cross-border (im)mobility, using a comparative perspective (e.g. tourism and migration).
  • Profile

    We seek a motivated and skilled candidate with a master's degree in geography, social or political sciences (or a related discipline). The ideal candidate

  • has a strong knowledge of (political) geography and/or geopolitics
  • has an interest in and experience with tourism geographies
  • had good performances on BSc and MSc levels
  • is interested in and experienced with qualitative research methodologies, and is able to apply this to research questions dealing with bottom-up geopolitics and border studies
  • can communicate complex issues effectively in both written and oral form
  • can think and collaborate across academic disciplines
  • Offer

    We offer a full-time doctoral position, initially for one year, which can be prolonged after a positive evaluation by the doctoral committee for up to four years in total. Candidates will be supported to apply for an FWO PhD fellowship. In addition to your research, you will assist in teaching the department's courses on a BSc and/or MSc level (±10% of your time).

    The start date for this position is around 16 January 2023. Minor changes to this start date can be discussed.

    You will work within the Division of Geography and Tourism in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the KU Leuven with Prof. Arie Stoffelen. You will be given support to participate in international academic conferences and publish your work in scientific journals. You will be provided with career guidance and encouraged to develop research-oriented skills through courses via the Arenberg Doctoral School (https: //


    For more information, please contact Prof. Dr. Arie Stoffelen (

    You can apply for this position via the KU Leuven online tool. Please submit a CV (max. 2 pages), the name and contact details of two references, and a cover letter (max. 2 pages) that includes a short discussion of why you are interested in this position, the specific direction of research you would like to pursue and its thematic fit with the work of Prof. Stoffelen.

    The selection for this position will happen in two phases. First, a shortlist of candidates will be created based on the supplied documents. Second, a ranking will be made based on interviews with shortlisted candidates. The interviews will cover the motivation, background knowledge, skills and research vision of the candidates.

    KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at

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