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PhD position in social sciences or humanities or related fields (geography, anthropology, sociology political science…)

This offer is available in the following languages:
Français - Anglais

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General information

Reference : UMR8171-CECVIN-005
Date of publication : Tuesday, May 19, 2020
Scientific Responsible name : Planel
Type of Contract : PhD Student contract / Thesis offer
Contract Period : 36 months
Start date of the thesis : 1 October 2020
Proportion of work : Full time
Remuneration : 2 135,00 € gross monthly

Description of the thesis topic

The project aims to analyse social and spatial entrenchment of the recent political mobilisation in Ethiopia. By documenting the multifaced and continuously evolving contestation shaking the country, it addresses an unprecedent social and academic need.
Mostly based on top-down analysis, existing works pay less attention to dissent's local and material dimensions. Territories are conceived as institutionally produced by an ethno-federal system that promotes some of them or leads to territorial disputes. On the contrary, rather mundane territorial patterns daily framing lives of millions of Ethiopians remain unknown. This project aims to disclose them, by considering that ordinary life also impacts political mobilisation.
The small urban settlements change; the emerging employment areas and labour transformations as well as spatial and social mobilities rise as the result of a growing market-oriented regulation – even at local level. Youths are primarily concerned. Sons of farmers join new political activists; their motives are diverse and mostly under documented. This project thus seeks to anchor in ordinary spaces working classes politicisation.
It focusses on the 'production' of spaces and of social groups stepping out rurality in the peripheral areas of small urban settlements without yet living there as urban dwellers nor even more so as rural dwellers. In these in-between spaces, daily social life is reinvented, people seem to free themselves from the Elders or regime domination that continuously governs the countryside. Party-State evolution offers new political commitment opportunities and local power relations evolve. Specific social and political dimensions of these small and mundane urban peripheries are still to be analysed.
This project advocates for both material and localised approaches of the political. It seeks to go beyond a sole localisation into space of political phenomena to rather consider their entrenchment. It aims at analysing the production itself of space and the way it is mobilised to exert or to oppose State power. By placing space at the core of society and politics, the project wishes not to target only geographers, but rather to invite social scientists to consider the production of space as a truly political dynamic.
To that end, the selected candidate will develop a fine-grained knowledge of his case study and will mainly resort to qualititative methods. He or she will conduct months-stays fieldworks in and around a small urban settlement. The selection of the study site will be done in collaboration with CFEE social scientists working on contemporary Ethiopia. Any previous knowledge on Ethiopia would be appreciated.

Work Context

The PhD candidate will be attached to IMAF (Institut des Mondes Africains) in Paris. Based in Paris and Aix en Provence, the institute brings together scholars with an interest in Africa who are affiliated with the CNRS, IRD, EHESS, EPHE, the University of Paris 1, and Aix Marseille University ( In Paris, the institute's facilities are located at the Campus Condorcet, Bâtiment de Recherche Sud, 5 cours des Humanités, 93322 Aubervilliers cedex. The selected candidate will join the EHESS Ph. D Program « Territories, Societies and Development » (étés-développement)
Funding will be provided for extensive research in Ethiopia. A double affiliation with the CFEE (Centre Français des Études Ethiopiennes, in Addis-Ababa will be organised. The selected candidate will join the CFEE project “State reforms and entrenchments in Abiy Ahmed's Ethiopia: tensions over land, ethnic mobilisations, administrative practices and economic liberalisation.”

Constraints and risks

The successful candidate will be allowed to write his/her doctoral dissertation either in French or English. He/she will be enrolled at the EHESS Ph. D Program 286. In extraordinary cases, special arrangement may be considered (dual affiliation, other doctoral schools, etc.) – provided that a manageable administrative solution exists.
The successful candidate's residence in Paris or its surroundings areas will be appreciated. However, months-stays are expected in Ethiopia, where the selected candidate will spend approximately half of the year. Fieldwork will be conducted out of the capital city, partially in rural areas.

Additional Information

The candidate must have obtained, or be close to obtaining, a MA or an equivalent degree in a relevant field (geography, sociology, political science, or anthropology).
The candidate is expected to demonstrate sufficient skills in English and in French to a lesser extend so as to adapt quickly to the working and research environment in Paris and in Ethiopia. Additional skills in Ethiopian languages will be appreciated.
Selection will involve a two-stage process, starting with the consideration of submitted application, and followed by interviews with selected candidates (on July 12th 2020).

Applications must include
- A detailed CV
- A one-page cover letter
- A 5-page proposal for a doctoral project
- One or two referees (that may be contacted if needed by the committee)
- Grades for Master 1 and for Master 2 (if already available).
- A PDF copy of the Master 2 dissertation (if already available, and even if not yet defended)
- If the Master 2 dissertation is not yet available, the candidate will sent a PDF copy of the Master 1 dissertation, his/her detailed undergraduate grade sheet and a letter from his Master 2 supervisor including an evaluation of the candidate's performance and an estimate on the expected completion of the candidate's dissertation.
In the case of applicants with academic degrees from outside the French system or with non-standard evaluation, the requested items hereby stipulated may be adapted to equivalent demands within the French system.
The closing date for sending applications is June 29th 2020.

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