The Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning focuses on the enhancement of long-term socio-economic developments of cities, how to cope with social inequalities, and how to accelerate sustainability transitions of cities and infrastructures. Research on these topics takes place within our research programme “Urban Futures: Transitions Towards Economic and Social Sustainability for Cities”. In this programme, faculty members from different subdisciplines of human geography and spatial planning – urban and economic geographies, international development studies and spatial planning – work closely together on topics like governance of urban transitions, urban infrastructures, healthy urban living, urban inequalities and diversities, transnational mobilities, economic resilience and networks and flows in and between urban regions.
For our NWO ASPASIA project ‘Inside the investment frontier (inFRONT)’ at the International Development Studies group we are looking for a postdoctoral Researcher.
The project background
In recent years global investments in large-scale development projects – for energy production and transitions, infrastructure and urban development, nature conservation and tourism – have proliferated. These land-based investments are increasingly justified under the banner of sustainable development. Proponents argue that the investments are vital to close the dire infrastructural gap across the globe. Critical scholars contend that investment projects for greater public goods and national development generate few opportunities for local populations. However, the project-associated land acquisitions tend to displace people with little responsible follow-up. In this context, ‘resettlement’ is increasingly framed as a new development opportunity, in order to expand new frontiers of infrastructural development and create new jobs and alternative livelihoods for the displaced people, who are often portrayed as those in need of ‘development’.
Previous studies have focused largely on the problems of resettlement by focusing on inadequate compensation or housing and livelihood vulnerabilities in the new areas where the displaced are forcibly resettled. The cultural practices that are disrupted and therefore leading to social disarticulation are also widely problematized. However, these problems keep on being reproduced across various investment projects even when the projects follow the international guidelines or national legislations that oblige investors to conduct ‘environmental and social impact assessments’. The urgent question is: why? What are the structural and fundamental problems that create persisting problems associated with resettlement? What are the wider implications of resettlement for building more inclusive, sustainable and equitable societies? As resettlement projects are part of discourses of pursuing global sustainable development, development geographers need to explore theoretically as well as empirically what resettlement means for more equitable and sustainable development for all.
We invite postdoctoral Researchers to address these questions in their research. We particularly invite applicants to participate in the inFRONT project
by making a theoretical contribution to studies of resettlement on the basis of concrete cases of resettlement induced by large-scale extractivism or other types of development projects involving land acquisitions and forced displacement.
More specifically the following activities are involved:
- conducting a literature study mainly in, but not limited to, the field of ‘development-induced displacement and resettlement’;
- conducting empirical research on resettlement dynamics and the ‘logic of resettlement’ in the global South, preferably from the perspective of investors, governmental officials responsible and/or development banks and donors;
- writing and publishing the results in scientific and professional journals;
- presenting the findings at international conferences;
- teaching relevant courses in the Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning (max. 10% of the appointment).