PhD-scholarship in contemporary history

Vrije Universiteit Brussel
April 01, 2023
Offerd Salary:Negotiation
Working address:N/A
Contract Type:Other
Working Time:Full time
Working type:N/A
Ref info:N/A
PhD-scholarship in contemporary history

Category: Academic Staff & Researchers

1 - Working at the VUB

For already 50 years, the Vrije Universiteit Brussel has stood for freedom, equality and connectedness. These values are strongly present on our campuses, in our students as well as our staff. At the VUB, you'll find a diverse collection of personalities: pure innovators and especially people who are 100% their authentic selves. With about 3.500 employees , we are the largest Dutch-speaking employer in Brussels , an international city with which we are all too happy to be connected, and around which our four campuses are located.

Our education and research are grounded in the principles of free research with an eye on human progress. We disapprove of every purely authoritative argument and guarantee the free formation of judgement that is necessary for this basic principle to be incorporated in the community.

The VUB is autonomous and managed democratically. As such, we guarantee fundamental freedoms within our university, as well as the right of the university community to be involved in making and checking university policy.

The mission of the university includes:

  • the development, the transfer and the application of high-standing academic education and scientific research, free from any prejudice;
  • community integration of this in a spirit of social compassion;
  • critical development of everyone in light of the responsibilities borne in the community.
  • 2 - Position description

    The Faculteit Letteren en Wijsbegeerte , Department History, Archeology, Arts, Philosophy and Ethics , is looking for a PhD-student with a doctoral grant.

    More concretely your work package, for the preparation of a doctorate , contains:

    The Faculty Faculty of Arts and Philosophy, Department HARP, is looking for one PhD-student with doctoral grant for the ERC Starting Grant project “FORAGENCY. Foraging, Fishing and Hunting as Agency in Colonial Central Africa (c. 1885- c. 1960)”.

    You will be joining a team of researchers who will study how communities in the Congo basin managed to counter, alleviate or minimize their encroachment by colonial actors through the maintenance and adaptation of vernacular, non- agricultural uses of the environment.

    The main questions to be addressed are:

    1 Which techniques are mobilised for hunting, fishing and foraging?

    2 Which strategies are used to trade and consume hunted and foraged products against colonial laws and values?

    3 How are economic structures such as marketplaces and money mobilised outside of colonial capitalism?

    4 Which knowledge is necessary to hunt, forage and transform natural products?

    They will be answered through four thematic sub-studies: on intoxicating substances; on hunted and foraged foodstuffs; on curative uses of nature; and on vernacular environmental agency.

    Each sub-study will consider the ecological interactions between four colonial cities and their hinterland: Kinshasa (Léopoldville), Brazzaville, Kisangani (Stanleyville) and Bujumbura (Usumbura).

    The study will combine archival research, the study of material culture, oral history and participatory observation.

    The project will be coordinated by Benoît Henriet at the Department of History at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB).

    Although Brussels is the home base of the project, there will be several months of fieldwork required in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Congo and Burundi.

    More concretely your work package, for the preparation of a doctorate, contains:

  • You are responsible for the project's sub-study on Intoxication in colonial Central Africa (c. 1885-1960)
  • You complete a PhD dissertation under the supervision of the project coordinator
  • You play a role in the development of future research possibilities in the line of the project
  • You contribute to other work packages and sub-studies by assisting with data collection or dissemination
  • You assist the team with logistical and administrative support
  • You contribute to the project's visibility by (co-)authoring scientific publications, by participating to and helping organise scientific events, and by updating the project's website and social media accounts
  • You contribute to the life and activities of the research group Social History of Capitalism (SHOC)
  • For this function, our Brussels Humanities, Sciences & Engineering Campus (Elsene) will serve as your home base.

    3 - Profile

    What do we expect from you?

    You hold a Master's degree with Honours/Magna cum Laude in History and/or African Studies by the time of appointment (at the latest for 1/09/2023)

  • You are a highly motivated by an early career researcher position, and you are seeking to join an international project team
  • You have a background in at least one of the fields of the project: colonial history, history of sub-Saharan Africa, environmental history, historical anthropology
  • Experience in methods such as archival research, oral history, ethnographic fieldwork, material culture research is highly appreciated
  • You can demonstrate your scientific excellence through the quality of your master thesis and of your academic background
  • Ideally, you already have a publication experience (book review, scientific blogpost/vulgarization work, peer-reviewed article)
  • An affinity with one of the four cities studied in the project is appreciated
  • You can provide a writing sample (master thesis, and publication if possible)
  • You are willing to spend a significant time in the fieldwork sites
  • You are willing to engage with new theoretical frameworks and methodologies
  • You can work in a team that consists of the other ERC project members as well as the broader research group and department
  • Proficiency in academic English and good communication skills are required.
  • Passive knowledge of French is considered as an advantage
  • Notions of Lingala, Swahili and/or Kirundi are considered as an advantage
  • You are willing to play an active role in the project management and the development of future research opportunities in the line of the project
  • You have not performed any works in the execution of a mandate as an assistant, paid from operating resources, over a total (cumulated) period of more than 12 months.

  • 4 - Offer

    Are you going to be our new colleague?

    You'll be offered a full-time PhD-scholarship , for 12 months (extendable up to max. 48 months, on condition of the positive evaluation of the PhD activities), with planned starting date 01/10/2023.

    You'll receive a grant linked to one of the scales set by the government.

    IMPORTANT: The effective result of the doctorate scholarship is subject to the condition precedent of your enrolment as a doctorate student at the university.

    At the VUB, you're guaranteed an open, involved and diverse workplace where you are offered opportunities to (further) build on your career.

    As well as this, you'll enjoy various benefits:

  • Full reimbursement for your home-work commute with public transport according to VUB-policy, or compensation if you come by bike;
  • Cost-free hospitalisation insurance ;
  • The space to form your job content and continuously learn via VUB LRN;
  • Excellent facilities for sport and exercise ;
  • Ecocheques ;
  • Delicious meals at attractive prices in our campus restaurants ;
  • An open, family-friendly work environment where attention is paid to work- life balance, and exceptional holiday arrangements with 35 days of leave (based on a fulltime contract).
  • 5 - Interested?

    Is this the job you've been dreaming of?

    Send us ONLINE and at the latest on 31/03/2023 your CV, letter of motivation in which you clearly indicate your preference for one the project's sub-studies (Intoxication in colonial Central Africa/ Hunted, fished and foraged foodstuffs in colonial Central Africa) and the highest degree you've attained (not applicable for VUB alumni).

    Do you have questions about the job content? Contact Benoît Henriet at [email protected] or on 02 629 39 05.

    Would you like to know what it's like to work at the VUB? Go to www. and find all there is to know about our campuses, benefits, strategic goals and your future colleagues.

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