Political Concepts in the World – Horizons of the ‘Political’

The University of Aberdeen, in collaboration with the Horizon 2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie programme, is delighted to offer 6 Early Stage Researcher (PhD) positions, lasting 3 years starting in September 2019, for ground-breaking research on how political concepts, such as nation, citizenship, civil society and rule of law, are used in the world.

ESRs will complete a PhD with an inter-disciplinary supervisory team and benefit from a world-class training programme, including placements with one or more of our 23 international partners.  They will also actively participate in the activities of the Centre for Citizenship, Civil Society and the Rule of Law (CISRUL). We welcome applicants from across the social sciences and humanities, including anthropology, cultural and literary studies, education, history, legal theory and socio-legal studies, philosophy, politics, religious studies, sociology, and theology.

ESRs will be employed by the University on a salary of £26,489.40 per annum, and will be eligible for a range of additional benefits including ample travel and research funding.

One of the topics that we invite applicants to consider is Horizons of the ‘Political’

The final indicative field builds on debates of recent years in social and political theory by considering the concept of the ‘political’ itself. On the one hand, a range of scholars have drawn on Carl Schmitt’s conceptions of the ‘political’ and ‘sovereignty’. This trend includes numerous theoretical re-evaluations of Schmitt’s thought, but also contemporary adaptations of his basic approach to politics by thinkers such as Giorgio Agamben, Leo Strauss, William Cavanaugh and Adam Kotsko. The PhD may choose to explore the reasons for the renewed interest in this tradition, as well as particular ways in which it is deployed to support policy and constitutional agendas. An alternative is to focus on critics of this tradition, who argue that Schmitt’s paradigm equates politics with power- struggle, encouraging a zero-sum competition to assert a sovereign power that overcomes every other power, and worry that the propensity to collapse politics into sovereign power erases the category of the ‘social’ in discussions of the state. In recent debates within critical theory, this tension is expressed between those who advocate egalitarian emancipation in terms of a horizontal ‘multitude’ (Hardt and Negri), and those who advocate a new counter-hegemonic strategy to challenge the dominant sovereign forces (Laclau, Mouffe, Žižek). The PhD may choose to explore these positions by taking  them to empirical context by considering how resistance and oppositions are dealt with in different policy fields (like security or migration).

Other indicative topics listed in the Further Particulars are

  • “We the people” beyond the nation-state
  • The “nation” resurgent?
  • Traditions of “citizenship” within and beyond Europe
  • Rule of law and constitutionalism
  • Sovereignty and the state
  • Teaching political concepts in post-truth times
  • The ‘democracy Phoenix’ – are young people changing the meaning of democracy
  • Protest, populism and social movements
  • Digitalising ‘democracy’ – transforming the concept?
  • Civility and understanding the political
  • ‘Radicalisation’, ‘extremism’ and the role of ‘civil society’
  • Conceptualizing secularism, post-secularism and religion itself
  • The politics of ‘religious pluralism

These are indicative topics – applicants are free to propose their own projects on how political concepts are used in the world.

Candidates are required to meet the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Early Stage Researcher eligibility criteria. In particular, at the time of the appointment candidates must have had less than 4 years full-time equivalent research experience and must not have already obtained a PhD.

Additionally, they must not have resided in the UK for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before the appointment.

Any appointment will be offered a contract of employment that will be conditional upon satisfactory references, a 12 month probation period, the fulfilment of any conditions specified in the offer of a place on a PhD programme, and confirmation of the right to work in the UK and ability to secure a valid visa, if required, from UK Visas and Immigration.

Deadline is 5th of March 2019. Please click here for Further Particulars and details of how to apply.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research & Innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 754326.