2 PhD positions in Geneva on Indonesia

The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies is recruiting two PhD Students.

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PERIOD OF CONTRACT: 1 September 2020, for 4 years.



The Swiss National Foundation’s (SNF) Scientific Project: "Images, (In)visibilities, and Work on Appearances" investigates how image-makers in three Indonesian cities (Ambon, Ternate, Makassar) address and redress a crucial dimension of sociopolitical change by making and deploying images: the (partial) invisibility and lack of recognition corresponding to asymmetries of, among others, religion, ethnicity, and race. Understood as part of the work on appearances inherent to sociopolitical transformation, these visual images circulate on social media as photographs, comics, memes, graphic journalism and art, in (digital) archives or as interventions in urban space like street art and graffiti. They are deployed to make marginalized histories visible, eliminate (in)visibilities that foster exclusion, and intervene in the visual environment to enable more equitable and sustainable life worlds.

General description of the position

The appointed PhD students will work closely with the project's Principal Investigator, Patricia Spyer, Professor at the Department of Anthropology and Sociology and Faculty Affiliate of the Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy. They will complete a dissertation and be fully integrated in the life of the Department of Anthropology and Sociology at the Graduate Institute (https://graduateinstitute.ch/anso). Committed to theoretical innovation, robust empirical research, and fine-grained ethnographic fieldwork, the department and its doctoral program foster the study of contemporary issues in global and transnational terms. The appointed PhD students will also be affiliated with the Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy (www.graduateinstitute.ch/democracy<http://www.graduateinstitute.ch/democracy>) which gathers scholars conducting research on the everyday practices of democratic politics.

Mission and activities

PhD position (Makassar, South Sulawesi)

This project focuses on the new, often ambivalent claims to the city and to a visible public presence as Chinese among Makassar's ethnic Chinese population. Field research will investigate the perceptions and negotiations of (in)visibility among the city's diverse Chinese-Indonesian inhabitants, paying special attention to intergenerational differences in the experience of 'being Chinese.' Image-making includes digital sites and online performances of Chineseness by young image-makers, projects linked to contested space (historic cemeteries), and the interiorized spaces of (family) temples, gated communities, and homes. The candidate should have some working knowledge of Indonesian and, ideally, some knowledge of locally relevant Chinese dialects.

 PhD position (Ternate, North Maluku)

This project focuses on image-making projects pertaining to the development of Ternate City where different visions of identity, preferred forms of Islam, past and future are fiercely debated and contested. Conflicting initiatives and views of the city include those promoted by a Sketch-walking collective, a Photographers community, the Ternate Heritage Society, and those of the Ternatan sultanate versus modernist Muslims. Competing visions of Ternate are multiple and provoke controversies that have been played out, for example, around the renovation of the city's old Dutch fort Orange, mosque styles, and the construction of a Waterfront City. This diversity of visions and the controversies they give rise to will be central to this research project. The candidate should have some working knowledge of Indonesian.

Candidate's profile

  • MA in Anthropology or relevant sub-disciplines/fields (e.g. visual anthropology, cultural studies)
  • Demonstrated ability to carry out ethnographic research
  • Highly organized and capable of working independently
  • Knowledge and experience with visual and digital technologies is an asset.
  • Excellent written and oral communication in English, some familiarity with Indonesian is necessary
  • Excellent interpersonal skills and ability to work with others

Application procedure

We look forward to receiving your application including

1) a CV

2) letter of motivation

3) two letters of recommendation

4) a writing sample (MA Thesis or article published or preparation)

5) transcripts of BA and MA education


Informal inquiries are to be sent to: patricia.spyer@graduateinstitute.ch<mailto:patricia.spyer@graduateinstitute.ch> Please cc all messages to Ms. Daniela Renggli: daniela.rengglikaba@graduateinstitute.ch<mailto:daniela.rengglikaba@graduateinstitute.ch>

The position is dependent on acceptance to the Graduate Institute's Department of Anthropology and Sociology's PhD program. Acceptance to the program requires a separate application procedure (deadline March 1st). Details on the procedure will be provided at the interview stage (week of January 27-31).

We are an equal opportunity employer and value diversity at our company. We do not discriminate on the basis of age, marital status, disability status, race, national origin, color, gender, sexual orientation or religion.

Please note that offers received by post will not be considered.