Two Ph.D. Positions as part of an ERC-funded project in critical logistics and racial capitalism (2 x 1fte)

Two Ph.D. Positions as part of an ERC-funded project in critical logistics and racial capitalism (2 x 1fte)

Published Deadline Location
16 Mar 4 Jun Rotterdam

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The Department of Public Administration and Sociology is currently recruiting for two Ph.D. positions as part of an ERC-funded DIGIPORTS project Digitalized Ports, Racialized Labor: Shifting Infrastructures for Work in Container Shipping, led by principal investigator Dr. Jess Bier.

Job description

Shipping is the backbone of the global economy. 90% of the world’s goods travel by ship. The industry has a global reach and a highly diverse workforce. It is also highly unjust, structured by workers’ nationalities and backgrounds, and shaped by ongoing legacies of racial, colonial, and gendered injustice. Shipping is currently undergoing rapid change as it digitalizes its workflows, and workers may soon face conditions similar to those of other highly digitized industries, including in firms like Uber and Amazon. Digitalization does have the potential to make work safer and more efficient, but the benefits may only extend to some, and it risks streamlining existing extraction and racial capitalism. Because pay and working conditions are structured by nationality, digitalization will likely also affect maritime labor’s racialization, or how practices and ideas about race are constructed and employed.

DIGIPORTS is the first ethnographic study of the digitalization of shipping. It aims to understand how and to what extent digitalization is reconfiguring the racialization of shipping labor, including the displacement, classification, potential for criminalization, and related precarity of work.

As a PhD in DIGIPORTS you will conduct one of two subprojects that aim to understand how digitalization is reshaping racialization in maritime logistics, and investigate related shifts in racial capitalism. In your application, please clearly indicate your preference for either Subproject 1 or Subproject 2:

  • Subproject 1: Focuses on cybsecurity efforts and related forms of criminalization of e.g. open source data and labor unions. This subproject involves ethnograhpic fieldwork in North America, especially the port of Long Beach, California.
  • Subproject 2: Focuses on worker safety and working conditions, including how digitalization reshapes the distribution of precarity and vulnerability in efforts to regulate labor internationally and encourage sustainability in light of climate change. This subproject involves conducting ethnographic fieldwork and analysis in the EU and UK, particularly Brussels and London.

Tasks and Responsibilities

  • Conduct independent research leading to a finalized dissertation
  • Work with the PI to develop the direction of the research moving forward
  • Participate in other activities of the project, such as colloquia, public debates, and organizing outreach activities of the DIGIPORTS project
  • Collaborate with other researchers related to the project


Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR)



  • Master’s degree in Sociology, Human Geography, Science and Technology Studies (STS), Anthropology, or another related discipline.
  • Strong academic record and explicit interest in conducting research
  • Ability to work both independently and as part of a team
  • Candidates are selected on the basis of their CVs, motivation, and interview(s) with potential supervisors. During the procedure, you may be asked to provide the names, phone, and email addresses of two references.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Experience conducting ethnographic research and analyzing related data, including interviews, participant-observation
  • Experience with one or more of these fields: Black Studies, Black Feminism, Decolonial Studies, Feminist Studies of Science, Queer Theory, Transgender Studies, and/or Science and Technology Studies (STS)
  • Proficient command of English. Speaking one or more additional languages is not required, but is preferable, including e.g. Spanish, Tagalog, Mandarin, Cantonese, and/or Dutch
  • We encourage diverse candidates to apply.
  • You are welcome to inquire via email to the PI ( if you have questions regarding visa and residency, but note the PI will be on parental leave in April/May, so please be aware you may only receive a response in June.

Conditions of employment

All candidates will be provided with an training and development budget, a budget to cover publication fees, conference fees, and to cover the costs of travel to one international conference or workshop. The Ph.D. program is designed to prepare individuals for a successful career in science and will provide the necessary training, networking, and development support to achieve this.

Further we offer an internationally oriented and varied job in an enthusiastic team, with good working conditions in accordance with the Collective Labor Agreement for Dutch Universities (CAO NU).

The start date of these positions is 1 September 2023 and will last for four years in total, starting with one year to be followed with three years of contract. You will be based at Erasmus School of Social and Behavioral Sciences in Rotterdam. The position is for 1.0 FTE. The salary starts from € 2.541 monthly gross wage up to €3.247 gross per month in the fourth year, both on a fulltime basis, in accordance with scale PR of the CAO-NU. In addition, we offer an 8% holiday allowance, an end-of-year payment of 8.3%, and a very generous paid leave scheme. Furthermore, EUR is affiliated with ABP for the pension provision, and we offer partially paid parental leave, fully paid extended birth leave for partners, a personal career budget, work-life balance coaches, discounted collective health insurance, and more. As an employee, you can also use EUR facilities such as the University library and receive a discount on subscriptions for the Erasmus sports center.

Erasmus University Rotterdam offers a Dual Career Programme (DCP) to assist the life partners of new academic staff (on payroll) in finding employment in The Netherlands. The programme is offered in close cooperation with the nearby universities of Delft and Leiden.

Erasmus University Rotterdam aspires to be an equitable and inclusive community. We nurture an open culture, where everyone is supported to fulfill their full potential. We see inclusivity of talent as the basis of our successes, and the diversity of perspectives and people as a highly valued outcome. EUR provides equal opportunities to all employees and applicants regardless of gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, age, neurodiversity, functional impairment, citizenship, or any other aspect which makes them unique. We look forward to welcoming you to our community.


Erasmus University Rotterdam

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) is an internationally oriented university with a strong social orientation in its education and research, as expressed in our mission ‘Creating positive societal impact’. EUR is home to 3.700 academics and professionals and almost 33.000 students from more than 140 countries. Everything we do, we do under the credo The Erasmian Way – Making Minds Matter. We’re global citizens, connecting, entrepreneurial, open-minded, and socially involved. These Erasmian Values function as our internal compass and create EUR’s distinctive and recognizable profile. From these values, with a broad perspective and with an eye for diversity, different backgrounds and opinions, our employees work closely together to solve societal challenges from the dynamic and cosmopolitan city of Rotterdam. Thanks to the high quality and positive societal impact of our research and education, EUR can compete with the top European universities.


Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences

The Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences (ESSB) is home to a vast diversity of scientific disciplines: public administration, pedagogical sciences, psychology and sociology. In addition, the Erasmus University College, IHS, and two research institutes RISBO and DRIFT are linked to the faculty. This also reflects in the content of the (international) bachelor's and master's programs and in research.  Our activities are always focused on people and society. At the ESSB fundamental, internationally oriented research is of paramount importance. In addition, social research for professionals, policy makers, and the society is part of our research activities. ESSB offers a stimulating research environment where major national and international research grants are received. Appealing guest researchers and ambitious PhD candidates come along to conduct their research. Our education is small-scale and works with innovative forms of education such as Problem-Based Learning (PBL). Both the Dutch and English programs are highly ranked by students and alumni. ESSB is home to over 4000 students and more than 400 staff-members. The different disciplines are supported by the Faculty Office (for more information, please visit



Department of Public Administration and Sociology (DPAS)

DPAS covers the disciplines of Public Administration and Sociology. Two related scientific fields with different profiles. Public Administration studies governance capacity and policy interventions. It focuses on the institutional power to organize and intervene in the relations between different social, political and economic actors. Public Administration in Rotterdam goes well beyond the public realm itself and pays attention to public-private cooperation and networks of organizations. Sociology investigates the social structure of societies and the way it evolves. Sociologists in Rotterdam focus among other things on processes of globalization and individualization and on the effects of these processes on international social relations, the labor market or family relations. Related social problems that are studied are migration, flexibilization and solidarity. The perspectives of Public Administration and Sociology complement each other. Together they guarantee a highly relevant and scientific approach to topical administrative and social issues. The bachelor- and masterprogrammes of DPAS are build on this profile and educate students to become scientifically schooled professionals.


  • PhD
  • Behaviour and society
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • €2541—€3247 per month
  • ESSB/DPAS/16032023


Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR)

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