Postdoc position in ASPASIA project: ‘Inside the investment frontier (inFRONT)’ (1.0 FTE)

Postdoc position in ASPASIA project: ‘Inside the investment frontier (inFRONT)’ (1.0 FTE)

Published Deadline Location
19 Jul 15 Aug Utrecht

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We are looking for an enthusiastic postdoctoral Researcher in the field of ‘development-induced displacement and resettlement’

Job description

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).


Utrecht University


You are an enthusiastic and motivated Researcher who has:
  • a PhD degree in relevant social science disciplines such as development studies, human geography and planning, social/cultural anthropology, development sociology or related disciplines;
  • experience in international field research: In particular, an experience in the field of development-induced displacement and resettlement is a plus;
  • strong qualitative research skills including interviewing, observation and writing;
  • strong academic English writing skills and a publication track record;
  • the ability to work both independently and as part of a team.

Conditions of employment

We offer a temporary position (1.0 FTE) for a period of two years. The gross salary - depending on previous qualifications and experience  - ranges between €2,790 and €3,746 (scale 10.0-10.7 according to the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities) per month for a full-time employment. Salaries are supplemented with a holiday bonus of 8% and a year-end bonus of 8.3% per year. In addition, Utrecht University offers excellent secondary conditions, including an attractive retirement scheme, (partly paid) parental leave and flexible employment conditions (multiple choice model). More information about working at Utrecht University can be found here.


A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University, the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major societal themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Sustainability.

The Faculty of Geosciences conducts education and research regarding the geosphere, biosphere, atmosphere and anthroposphere. With a complement of 2,600 students (BSc and MSc) and 600 staff, the faculty is a strong and challenging organisation. The faculty is organised in four Departments: Innovation, Environmental & Energy Sciences, Earth Sciences, Physical Geography, and Human Geography & Urban/Regional Planning.

The Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning has its focus on the enhancement of long-term economic developments of cities, how to cope with social inequalities and how to ensure a healthy urban living. Research on these topics takes place within our research programme “Urban Futures: Transitions Towards Economic and Social Sustainability for Cities”. Our research programme is the basis for our Research Master's Human Geography and Geographical Information Management and Applications and professional Master's in Human Geography, International Development Studies and Spatial Planning. The department also runs a large and highly appreciated Bachelor's programme and is part of the Netherlands Graduate School of Urban and Regional Research for PhD candidates. Unique characteristics of the department are a special team focusing on innovations within teaching methods and a center of expertise which brings out knowledge from fundamental research from our university through educational programmes for high school teachers and professional consultancy for public partners.

Within the Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning the International Development Studies Group puts a clear focus on the challenge to reconcile the need to preserve natural resources and mitigate and adapt to climate change with the need to improve living conditions for relatively deprived populations around the world, including Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Anchored in the field of Development Studies, the Researchers and students bring into focus that the different groups of people, cultures and localities around the world face different challenges in achieving sustainable development in the midst of translocal and transnational flows of people, capital, policy and ideas. By bringing out diversity of community responses to sustainable transitions and development, the Group pays solid attention to how the benefits of sustainable development are unevenly distributed and emphasizes the importance of social equality and inclusion in the process of building a sustainable and resilient society for all.   


  • Postdoc; Research, development, innovation
  • Economics; Behaviour and society; Natural sciences
  • 36—40 hours per week
  • €2790—€3746 per month
  • University graduate
  • 1161628



Domplein 29, 3512 JE, Utrecht

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