Two PhD positions – Research Group “The political economy of monetary and economic sovereignty in West Africa compared” Cluster Africa Multiple.

Two Doctoral Researchers (m/f/d) in the Junior Research Group ‘The political economy of monetary and economic sovereignty in West Africa compared’. Contract duration: 4 years

To start on July 1, 2021, or at the earliest possible date thereafter. Salary will be 3000-3500 Euro gross/month depending on experience (TV-L 13, 75%). Bayreuth and the Cluster host an ever-growing number of inspiring scholars and it would be great to welcome you here. Next to the project work in the research group you will pursue your doctoral studies within the Bayreuth International Graduate School of African Studies (BIGSAS), the graduate school of the Africa Multiple Cluster of Excellence. A regular presence in Bayreuth is required, yet individual arrangements are possible.

The project

The project, led by Dr. Kai Koddenbrock, investigates historically and in comparative fashion how West African societies have attempted to increase their political and economic sovereignty with a particular focus on the interaction between governments, finance and labor. Country case studies will be determined depending on applicants’ knowledge and preference. Ivory Coast and Nigeria are preferred but others are possible!

The questions we ask

The group will attempt to find out historically how most West African countries became exporters of only one or two commodities with the help of foreign capital and military force. In the second step we will focus on how postcolonial, newly independent governments have attempted to move away from this with the help of domestic resources, the creation of public and private banks, foreign debt and, most recently, stronger relations to China since independence. Increasing economic complexity, diversifying the economy and thus to reduce dependencies on the world market have been perennial pursuits but have often failed. The Covid crisis has put this into stark relief, again. How can we explain recurrent debt crises and the difficulties in moving away from raw commodity export dependency? Which role do global and domestic social relations play and what does that mean for the state in West Africa?

Our approach

To find answers to these questions we work with notions such as legacies of colonialism, the question of imperialism, racial capitalism, the creation and diversification of dependencies, financial subordination and coloniality and we are open to other terms that become productive in the research process. In short, we are looking for researchers interested in understanding social change, persistent intersectional social structures and the organized and everyday attempts by people to transform and overcome them.

Your profile

Situated in the emergent field of postcolonial International Political Economy and thus in political science and International Relations, we are open to heterodox economists, economic sociologists, anthropologists or geographers and others. A strong interest in theory and fine-grained, empirical work including archival and interview work is essential. Methodological skills in qualitative research and the handling of numbers, mostly descriptive statistics, are an asset. Previous research or work experience on the African continent and some knowledge about finance and/or labor and/or social movements would be nice.  Ideally, candidates should be curious and reflective but also able and willing to put their thoughts into clear and structured prose.

While your main task will be the completion of your own doctoral thesis including six to eight months of field research, you will also contribute to the project by helping to organize workshops, talks or reading groups. As the working language of the cluster is English, proficiency in English (spoken and written) or the capacity and willingness to learn English is required. French is a plus and a requirement for the Francophone case study. PhD theses can also be written in French.


Your application should include: 1) Letter of motivation, 2) CV, 3) copy of your Master’s degree (or an official letter certifying the imminent completion of the MA) and 4) a writing sample, i.e. a published academic article, an unpublished seminar paper, your BA/MA thesis, or a blog post.

The University of Bayreuth values the diversity of its employees as an enrichment and is expressly committed to the goal of equal opportunities for the sexes. Women are strongly encouraged to apply. Applicants with children are very welcome. The University of Bayreuth is a member of the Best Practice Club “Familie in der Hochschule e.V.”, and has successfully participated in the HRK audit “Internationalization of the University”. Persons with severe disabilities will be given preferential consideration if equally qualified.

Please apply online at this link: Applicant portal Uni Bayreuth with the required documents indicating “JRG Sovereignty”.

Application Deadline: 10 May 2021. Interviews will be held via Zoom on 20-21 May 2021.

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