The Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI) is seeking a PhD candidate to conduct research related to the project "God, grievance, and greed? Understanding Northern Mozambique's new Islamist war" funded by the Norwegian Research Council (NFR).

The candidate will work at the CMI while being enrolled at the PhD programme at the University of Bergen. The position is contingent on working from Bergen, Norway. Extensive field work in Mozambique is to be expected. The start date is set for the fall of 2021.

The "God, grievance, and greed?" project 

The war in Mozambique’s northern province of Cabo Delgado between jihadist insurgents – locally called “machababos” – and government forces, has raged since 2017. In its scant pronouncements, the insurgents have proclaimed an islamist agenda, while decrying injustices perpetrated by the regime in Maputo. The government response has been bellicose and authoritarian, increasingly militarising the province of Cabo Delgado – while blaming the violence on external aggression. The conflict has recently cast doubt on the viability of the province’s emerging natural gas exploration.

Since the conflict has both global links and roots in local grievances, this project is designed to acquire a more comprehensive understanding of the multiple drivers of the escalating war. The title alludes to a cocktail of motives that may have turned the province into a hotbed for dangerous conflict: Religious extremism connected to a regional and global network; local grievances stemming from a sense of long-term political and economic marginalisation; and the greed and violence associated with illicit transnational trade flows and elite captured extractive industries in Cabo Delgado.

The project consists of a multidisciplinary team of historians, social anthropologists, and political scientists, and includes researchers based in Norway, Mozambique, and in South Africa.

There are four Work Packages (WPs).

  • WP1 will inquire into the role of and changes in the local Islamic ideology and its regional influences.
  • WP2 will analyse the context provided by the politics and history of conflict, war and youth protest in Mozambique.
  • WP3 investigates the political economy of the war, in particular the role of the extractive industries characterising the country and in Cabo Delgado.
  • WP4 is a PhD candidate whose focus is to be determined.
  • WP5 is a post-doc research which will focus on the role of women in the insurgency, and the changing gender roles under the conflict.

 PhD candidate's position at CMI and role in the project

  • The PhD candidate role in the project will depend on the project proposal the PhD-candidate presents for the project team. 
  • The PhD candidate will carry out daily work at Chr. Michelsen Institute. 
  • As a PhD candidate, you will be enrolle in and take part of the PhD training programme at the University of Bergen. Depending on the candidate’s background and project proposal, the candidate will be enrolled at, and receive supervision, by the most appropriate and relevant department at the Faculty of Social Sciences or the Faculty of Humanities.
  • The fellowship is four years, of which 75% will be dedicated to the research project, and the remaining 25% are allocated other projects at CMI.
  • The PhD candidate must reside in Bergen during the fellowship, with periods of fieldwork in Mozambique. The successful PhD candidate will be based at CMI and apply to be enrolled in the PhD program at the Faculty of Social Sciences or Faculty of Humanities, University of Bergen.

Qualifications and personal qualities:

  • The applicant must hold a master's degree or the equivalent in anthropology or history, but candidates from political science, political geography, development studies, African studies, or other related disciplines will also be considered.
  • The master’s degree must be completed by the application deadline.
  • The requirement is generally grade B or better on the master’s thesis and for the master’s degree in total.
  • Ability to work both independently and in teams while also cooperating in a larger research group.
  • Ability to work in multi-national and multi-disciplinary teams.
  • Have considerable work capacity, as well as an enthusiasm for research and the active communication of research results.
  • Proficiency in written and spoken English and Portuguese is preferrable (English is the working language at CMI). Knowledge of one or more of the languages spoken in Northern Mozambique (including Swahili) will be considered an advantage.
  • Commitment to CMI’s values and mission.

Specifically regarding the PhD programme at the University of Bergen (UiB):

To be eligible for admission you must normally have:

  • an educational background corresponding to a master’s degree with a scope of 120 ECTS credits, which builds on a bachelor’s degree with a scope of 180 ECTS credits (normally 2 + 3 years),
  • an integrated master’s degree with a scope of 300 ECTS credits (5 years).

Master’s degrees must normally include an independent work of a minimum of 30 ECTS credits.

The programme corresponds to a 3-year period and leads to the PhD degree.

 CMI can offer you:

  • The opportunity to be part of a leading, multidisciplinary, development research institute in Scandinavia.
  • A stimulating, professional, multi-national work environment.
  • Salary according to CMI’s pay scale; PhD-candidates start at pay grade 55 (NOK 490 600.-) and are further adjusted during the fellowship at set intervals. 
  • Excellent pension, insurance, and welfare schemes (contingent on membership in the Norwegian national insurance scheme).
  • A positive work-life balance, and great outdoor opportunities in Bergen.

How to apply:

Please submit the following:

  • A letter of motivation (cover letter) underscoring your motivations for applying for this position and how your proposed project fits within the broader scope of the project. The letter should also describe aspects of your educational background, research interests, expertise and experience that would be of value for the project. Please address you motivation for working at CMI. 
  • A research proposal (max 5 page cover letter, excluding CV and cover letter). 
    • The project proposal should present the topic, the research problem(s) and choice of theory and methods, according to the specific requirements stated in the research project description. In addition the proposal must include a description of the tentative fieldwork and timeline.   
    • The proposal should also include a progress plan for the different parts of the project, and be complimentary to one or more of the four other Working Groups of the research project
  • CV, including list of academic publications (if any).
  • Academic publications that you want to submit for assessment.
  • An electronic copy of your MA thesis, and a short summary of your thesis (max 3 pages). 
  • Scanned copy of all diplomas acheived in higher education from university/college. 
    • If you have a master's degree from an institution outside of the Nordic countries, you may later in the application process be asked to submit an overview of the syllabus for the degree you have completed.
  • Copies of relevant certiciates. 
  • Names and contact details of two referees. One of these must be the main adviser for the master's thesis or equivalent thesis. 

Key documents must be submitted in English or a Scandinavian language, certified translations in English/Scandinavian language will also be accepted. 

Deadline for application is the 12th September 2021. 

We only accept applications via, these must be submitted in English.

 Contact information


Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI) is an independent development research institute based in Bergen, Norway, with around 85 staff members. In cooperation with partners from all over the world, we address key development and scientific challenges that generate knowledge to promote justice and equality. 

We combine high quality research with an engagement to make knowledge accessible and used. The main disciplines are economics, political science, and social and cultural anthropology.