Political Concepts in the World – The “nation” resurgent? 

Marie Skłodowska-Curie PhD positions at the University of Aberdeen 

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 The nation resurgent?  

Political movements in Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Russia and Germany, to give just some examples, are tending to exalt an imagined, often nationally or religiously defined vision of community as absolute common good above the rights and interests of citizens. This eclipses the notions of citizenship and nation inherited from the Enlightenment and 19th-century liberalism. Other examples are Turkey under Erdogan and India under Modi, who similarly emphasise the duties of the individual towards the common good over individual liberties. These movements call, moreover, for new responsible elites to replace old ‘corrupted’ ones. In a reversal of the rhetoric of progressive modernisation, they oppose Western concepts such as liberal democracy, the individual rights discourse of citizenship, and globalisation. They offer a counter- history of national glorification, which – when these movements gain power – becomes the backbone of national education. The PhD may choose to develop one or more case studies. An alternative is to compare contemporary nationalism with its historical varieties: what if anything is new in the nationalisms of today? 

Other indicative topics listed in the Further Particulars are  

  • “We the people” beyond the nation-state 
  • 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
  • Horizons of the ‘political’ 

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 20th January 2019. 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. 

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