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PhD Positions in Anthropology for NWO Eco-Imagining Project in South Africa

Application deadline: 20-01-2022

Are you interested in doing ethnographic research on issues of urban ecology and climate change in South Africa? Is your ambition to contribute to co-creating real-world solutions for complex socio-ecological problems? Do you want to learn how to do participatory qualitative research and be part of an international, interdisciplinary team?

The Department of Anthropology is one of the departments at the University of Amsterdam’s Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences. The Department is currently seeking two PhD candidates for the NWO project, Ecological Community Engagements: Imagining sustainability and the water-energy-food nexus in urban South African environments (Eco-Imagining), led by Professor Eileen Moyer.

Eco-Imagining studies community understandings, responses and actions to regenerate damaged urban ecologies. Working in three sites in South Africa (Johannesburg, Makweng, and Alice), we will engage with current projects on urban farming, local gardening, water and soil pollution, flash flood mitigation and the supply of potable water to co-create models for socially innovative and community-driven urban responses to water, energy and food (WEF Nexus) precarities.

Many promising ideas to address insecurities of food, water and energy fail at the design stage due to limited institutional support, challenges of scale-up and active actor engagement. Lack of compelling evidence for innovation reflects limited support for bottom-up approaches, hence our commitment to learn from community members, support them to identify local innovations, and to support citizen scientists to generate evidence for policy and programme uptake.

The WEF Nexus framing is an example of systems thinking designed to conceptualise and address the complex interconnection of these related socio-ecological challenges. To date, the WEF Nexus has been primarily utilised to explore the relationship between these vital resources and sustainability of the (global) economy. Efforts to securitise these resources for the future have often been top-down and technocratic, without attention to community priorities, social justice, inclusivity, livelihoods, or environmental issues.

How might the WEF Nexus framing be used to promote inclusive and sustainable urban ecologies through a transdisciplinary, engaged grassroots approach? How can inclusive societal engagement build local participation and action, and contribute to culturally driven and locally sustainable urban ecologies?

Click the here for more information about the position and application