1 Dec 2018

3 PhD fellowships

Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI) is an independent development research institute in Bergen, Norway, with around 70 staff members. In cooperation with partners from all over the world, we address key development challenges in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America. We combine high quality research with an engagement to make knowledge accessible and used. The main disciplines are economics, political science, and social anthropology (www.cmi.no)

3 PhD fellowships

Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI) is seeking three PhD candidates to conduct research in the framework of the following NORGLOBAL research projects, funded by the Research Council of Norway (RCN):

Humanitarian Diplomacy: Assessing Policies, Practices and Impact of New Forms of Humanitarian Action and Foreign Policy

Humanitarian negotiations have historically been conducted in situations of extreme insecurity and unstable political conditions, to secure access, assistance and protection for civilians. In the early 2000s, the concept of humanitarian diplomacy was coined, which is generally defined as "persuading decision makers and opinion leaders to act at all times and in all circumstances in the interest of vulnerable people and with full respect for fundamental humanitarian principles". This includes negotiating for the presence of humanitarian organizations in a given country, negotiating access to civilian populations in need of assistance and protection, monitoring assistance programs, promoting respect for international law, and engaging in advocacy at a variety of levels in support of humanitarian objectives.  Against this background, this project studies the policies, practices and impact of humanitarian diplomacy as conducted by select state actors (Qatar, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates) and two major international humanitarian actors (the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross).

The PhD candidate will conduct multi-method research (including ethnography) to study the politics of negotiations and the diplomatic infrastructure of the United Nations. Fieldwork will be conducted at the UN headquarters in Geneva and New York and in other relevant locations.

Project leader: Antonio De Lauri.


Refugees in the City: Displacement, Development and Donor Policies in the Middle East

The Middle East has one of the worlds' highest urbanization levels, the greatest socio-economic inequality and is a premier displacement region. This project studies refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in fragile Middle East host states to provide a comprehensive information base essential for designing humanitarian and development policies that can serve both the displaced and host communities. Refugees and IDPs typically settle in cities and towns among urban poor in inner-city slums and impoverished neighborhoods, areas that can become potential poverty-traps. While cities offer economic opportunities, employment and services, displacement crises often turn protracted and strain local infrastructure, service provision and host communities. These features also apply to the Syrian refugee population. Aiding large number of urban IDPs is therefore a major challenge to humanitarian policy. Unable to address the root causes of displacement, the international community is searching for better polices to address displacement in fragile host countries as this is not only a key development challenge, but also an opportunity: towns and cities offer better prospects for medium-term integration and self-reliance than do the traditional rural and camp-based responses. To this end, there has been a transition from person-centric (rights-based) towards site-centric (place-based) approaches integrated in a comprehensive developmental approach to urban displacement. This project seeks to add to these efforts by investigating the key elements needed for instituting an area-based urban response for Middle East refugees and IDPs. Together with three partner institutes and a multidisciplinary team of researchers the project studies urban refugees in eight cities and towns in four countries (Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey), all of which have a large refugee population.

The PhD candidate will be part of an international research group and conduct mixed-methods research (including ethnography) among Syrian refugees living in Tripoli, North Lebanon. The PhD-fieldwork will be hosted by a partner institute in Lebanon.

Project leader: Are John Knudsen.


The Politics of Youth Interventions in Africa's Authoritarian Regimes

Of all regions, sub-Saharan Africa has the highest proportion of youth. Yet its political regimes are led by aging politicians, many of whom have been in power since the end of the liberation wars of the 1970s to 1990s. This project starts with the conundrum that yesterday's rebels have become elderly power-holders, while the majority of the population was born after these seminal struggles. What happens in the encounters between these regimes and the large youth cohorts? The project makes a contribution to the understanding of the patterns of interaction between regimes and youth populations by studying two youth-focused policies, youth employment and youth representation. When are such policies empowering the youth, when do they bind youth in patronage relationships and when do they reinforce marginalisation? We will study youth and power-holders in Ethiopia, Mozambique, Uganda and Zimbabwe - all authoritarian, and all ruled by dominant parties that have been in power since the end of the liberation wars. Still, they represent significant variation in terms of regime origin, state capacity, economic development, strength of the opposition and level of violence and repression.

The PhD candidate will work on how youth and regimes use social media to structure young people's political activism, representation and discourses. The candidate can use both qualitative and quantitative methodology and focus on two or more of the case study countries.

Project leader: Lovise Aalen.


Qualifications for all positions:

  • MA in a discipline relevant to the projects including, but not limited to, anthropology, political science, development studies, history, geography.
  • Academic or practical experience from relevant fields.
  • Good communication skills.
  • Ability to work both independently and in teams.
  • Innovative and creative.

English is the working language of the projects and at CMI, and candidates must be proficient in English. Knowledge of other languages (e.g. French, Arabic) is an advantage.

Successful candidates must be admitted to relevant doctoral programs within the first six months of the fellowship.

The fellowships are 4 years, including one year of work for CMI as host institution. The PhD candidates must have residence in Bergen during the fellowship.


CMI offers:

  • The opportunity to be part of the leading multidisciplinary development research institute in Scandinavia.
  • A stimulating work environment.
  • Salary according to CMI's pay scale.
  • Excellent pension and insurance schemes.

Bergen is a cosmopolitan city situated between fjords and mountains, with excellent opportunities for cultural experiences and an active lifestyle. Expected starting date is 1 February 2019.


How to apply:

We only accept applications via e-mail to: vacancies@cmi.no.

Please submit the following to the above address, citing "PhD 2019 + project name" in the subject field:

  • A short (1-2 pages) letter of motivation explaining why you apply for a PhD and how you plan to approach the research within the framework of the specific project. The letter should also describe aspects of your educational background and experience that would be of value for the project.
  • CV including list of publications.
  • Names and contact details of two references.
  • Copies of grade certificates.
  • A copy of your MA thesis.

We appreciate if you mention where you found this call.

Deadline for application is 1 December 2018.