Photo: Magne Sandnes/CMI

CMI opens a call for three Post doc. Researchers with a background in socio-cultural anthropology, human geography or related discipline, and with expertise in the following regions: the Pacific, Africa, and China. Working in a research team within the ERC project “Transoceanic Fishers: Multiple Mobilities in and out of the South China Sea (TransOcean)” led by Senior Researcher Edyta Roszko (Principal Investigator), the three successful candidates will have an opportunity to develop their sub-projects, conduct ethnographic field research, contribute to spatial analysis, publications, and seminars, workshops and conferences.

Starting date is 1 February 2021. In case the coronavirus pandemic lasts longer than anticipated and field research needs to be postponed, the latest possible starting date will be 1 September 2021.


Project Description

In recent years, China’s and Vietnam’s militarized and subsidized fishing fleets have begun to shift their radical marine harvesting techniques, and accompanying trade, from the South China Sea to Africa and Oceania.  Scholarly analysis has largely assumed that fishers are instruments of their states’ geopolitical agendas, responding to regulations and incentives. This both obscures the actual motivations and modalities of fishers’ expansion of their fishing grounds and downplays the transoceanic networks connecting different fishers beyond state territories and localized fishing grounds in past and present.

The TransOcean project focuses on the mobilities and encounters taking place in the waters of the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic Oceans and in specific onshore nodal points. Specifically, it conducts ethnographic research on Chinese and African fishers in East and West Africa; and on Vietnamese and Pacific fishers in Oceania, connected by demand for illicit seafood back home.

The project team will divide its work between two distinct but related Supply sides; outside the South China Sea, and between dispersed but connected networks of Chinese, Vietnamese, African and Pacific fishers that circulate through maritime zones of Oceania and Africa. The three Post doc. candidates will propose the research field location based on their regional and language expertise as well as on actual maritime and marine developments happening on the ground. Each of the individual subprojects will pay particular attention to regional histories and local economies in Africa and Oceania in order to understand the dynamics of local mobilities and their interactions with Chinese and Vietnamese mobilities.

Post doc. Researcher 1  will be responsible for ethnographic investigation of fishing community of her/his choice in Oceania to assess how the growing competition for marine goods from Vietnamese fishers shapes and transforms mobilities of Pacific islanders and incites them to forge transoceanic alliances along gendered and ethnic lines to maximize the profitability of their trade. PD 1 will advance knowledge of the marine goods’ flows between Oceania and Asia, providing important clues about the current patterns of legal and illegal fishing, trade and exchanges that are part of fishers’ transoceanic expansions.

Duration: 2 years

Post doc. Researcher 2 will conduct ethnographic fieldwork on Chinese solely-invested fishing ventures (flagged as non-Chinese vessels) and/or Sino-African joint ventures (set up with a local African representative and reflagged to an African coastal state) in a West or East Africa country of her/his choice (e.g. Mauritania, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Guinea-Bissau, Madagascar or other). PD 2 will speak Chinese language and will do a short follow up study of the selected individuals in their home communities in China to provide comprehensive contextualisation of their transoceanic expansions.

Duration: 3 years

Post doc. Researcher 3 will conduct ethnographic fieldwork in a West or East Africa country of her/his choice. PD 3 will map African fishers and their connections and disconnections with Chinese fishers, exploring what kind of opportunities as well as inequalities these interactions create for men and women whose chances for occupational mobility may vary according to class, ethnicity and gender.

Duration: 2 years


Academic qualifications

  • A PhD in socio-cultural anthropology, human geography or related discipline
  • Regional language expertise specific to the advertised position
  • Substantial fieldwork experience and experience in the use of qualitative methods, including interviews, participant observation, collection of oral stories and archive research
  • Demonstrated analytical skills to interpret qualitative data
  • Demonstrate ability to work both in a team and independently
  • Demonstrated ability to write work of publishable quality to specific deadlines
  • Excellent communication and organizational skills


Main duties

  • Develop a research subproject within the TransOcean project in consultation with the PI, according to the project aims
  • Conduct ethnographic fieldwork and contribute to developing new methods according to project aims
  • Collect, analyse, visualise and interpret data through literature review, ethnographic fieldwork, network analysis and other research methods as appropriate to the project
  • Take responsibility of the own data management to prevent data loss and to safeguard privacy of informants
  • Keep up with research literature relevant to the project
  • Collaborate with members of the research team
  • Prepare findings for publication, e.g. by producing visualisations, maps and reports
  • Present research outputs, including drafting 2 peer-review journal articles and 1 chapter for a planned edited volume
  • Disseminate research findings for publication, by giving talks in research seminars, conferences, and writing publications
  • Participate in CMI institutional life and outreach activities to communicate science to the public


CMI offers

  • Salary starting at NOK 563,700 per year
  • The opportunity to be part of the leading multidisciplinary development research institute in Scandinavia
  • Good welfare benefits and insurances
  • Assistance with moving from abroad

Bergen is a cosmopolitan city situated between fjords and mountains, with excellent opportunities for cultural experiences and an active lifestyle.


How to apply

Applications must be sent via, job ID 188003, by 1 September 2020 and include the following documents in English:

  • Cover letter specifying which Post doc. position the prospective candidate wish to apply for (statement of motivation summarizing scientific work and research interest, field experience, versatility, project management, research collaboration and scientific and public dissemination, max. 3 pages)
  • CV and publication list
  • Research proposal (max 2 pages)
  • Writing samples (up to 3 scientific publications relevant for the project position that the applicant wishes to be considered)
  • Names and contact details of three referees
  • Certificate of PhD degree


To explore the call further or if you have any queries, please contact Edyta Roszko (


Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI) is an independent development research institute based 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.