PhD Positions in Anthropology: Veterinary Value-scapes and European Farm Animal Care

PhD Positions in Anthropology: Veterinary Value-scapes and European Farm Animal Care

Published Deadline Location
16 Jan 15 Feb Amsterdam

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Job description

Are you curious about relations between people and farm animals? Are you interested in exploring the pressing challenges of European livestock production through studies of veterinary care and its contrasting values? Do you have affinity, interest, or experience with ethnographic research on animal farms? Are you familiar with or curious about Anthropology and Science and Technology Studies (STS), and specifically in multispecies ethnography, material semiotics and/or care and valuation studies? Do you enjoy working in a team of spirited researchers?

The Department of Anthropology is currently seeking three PhD candidates for the project ‘Farm animal value-scapes: Veterinarians and the contrasting values of European livestock production’ (or ‘VetValues’) led by Dr Else Vogel. This project is funded by a European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant.

The Department of Anthropology is one of the departments at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG). The PhD track is part of the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR) programme group Health, Care and the Body.

What are you going to do?
Briefly, VetValues is a comparative ethnographic study of how European livestock farming juggles food security and economic viability with mounting concerns about biodiversity loss and global warming, the development of antimicrobial resistance and zoonotic diseases, and the compromised welfare needs of farm animals. It approaches the wicked problems of livestock production as questions of valuation and valuing—of what to value, when, and how. Specifically, you will explore how the values of economic production, food safety, public health, animal welfare and sustainability come together and are negotiated in animal husbandry, both in assessments and in practices of feeding, housing, and treating animals.

The project focuses on veterinarians, professionals at the heart of the institutional and regulatory arrangements that shape the politics and governance of human and farm animal life. Through the concept of value-scapes, we will explore how values are enacted in care practices and embedded in regulatory frameworks, veterinary knowledge, landscapes, animal bodies, barns and farming traditions.

Ethnographic research will compare veterinary care on farms in the Netherlands, Sweden and Italy. Contrasting different national, industrial and regulatory contexts will allow us to discern variations in the value-scapes of farm animal care in Europe. VetValues will thus advance our understanding of how the broader tensions within European food production are comprised—and sometimes resolved—in situated ways. It will provide a nuanced picture of the industry’s troublesome biopolitical projects that will inform theorizing on contentious multi-species relations in a world facing myriad pressing challenges to the health and well-being of humans, animals and the planet.

Your tasks
  • You will be a PhD candidate conducting ethnographic research in one of the following three countries: The Netherlands, Sweden or Italy;
  • you will be part of a research team consisting of three PhD candidates, a research assistant and the Principal Investigator and based at the University of Amsterdam;
  • your main task will be to develop your own PhD within the framework of the overall project;
  • next to working on organising and managing your own research, you will contribute to collaborative aspects of the project. This will include collecting data for jointly written publication(s) and lending respective (language) expertise to team members;
  • you are expected to conduct ethnographic fieldwork with livestock veterinarians, farmers and animals working in different animal industries (e.g. dairy, poultry, pork; regular, organic, PDO) in one of the three EU countries;
  • you are expected to live in the Amsterdam area and take active part in team meetings and the research environment at the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR);
  • teaching (up to 10% of your time) and organisational support for the project leader will be part of your job responsibilities. These tasks will allow you to gain valuable professional experience next to working towards your PhD.


University of Amsterdam (UvA)


You have
  • a Master’s degree or equivalent with a relevant specialization within the social sciences or (environmental) humanities. Social, Cultural and Medical Anthropology, Human Geography, Sociology and Human-Animal Studies are preferred academic backgrounds. The degree must have been obtained before the employment starting date;
  • excellent oral and written communication skills in English;
  • excellent oral and written communication skills in the country where you will do research (Dutch, Swedish or Italian);
  • familiarity with ethnographic research methods (participant observation, interviews and discourse analysis); and an ability and willingness to conduct challenging fieldwork on a controversial topic;
  • independent thinking and critical analytical skills;
  • good collaboration skills and the ability to join interdisciplinary academic communities;
  • the skills needed to finish the PhD thesis in four years; i.e., independent and pro-active work attitude, good planning and academic writing skills

You preferably have
  • previous practical ethnographic research experiences, ideally with multispecies ethnography and human-animal relations or care and governance practices;
  • affinity with the field of Science and Technology Studies (STS) and material semiotics, care and valuation studies, and biopolitics;
  • affinity with farming and veterinary medicine.

Conditions of employment

The position concerns temporary employment of 38 hours per week for a maximum term of four years. The initial employment is for one year and will start on 1 September 2024. Following a positive assessment and barring altered circumstances, this term will be extended by a maximum of three years, which should result in the conferral of a doctorate. We will put together a curriculum which will also include the opportunity to attend training courses and both national and international events.

For this position the University Job Classification profile “Promovendus” applies. Your salary will be €2,770 gross per month in the first year and will increase to €3,539 in the final year, based on full-time employment of 38 hours per week and in keeping with the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities. We additionally offer an extensive package of secondary benefits, including 8% holiday allowance and a year-end bonus of 8.3%.

The UvA offers excellent possibilities for further professional development and education.

What else do we offer
  • a position in which initiative and input are highly valued
  • an enthusiastic and warm team that is open to new colleagues
  • an inspiring academic and international community in the heart of Amsterdam.

To work at the University of Amsterdam is to work in a discerning, independent, creative, innovative and international climate characterised by an open atmosphere and a genuine engagement with the city of Amsterdam and society.


Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences

The University of Amsterdam is the largest university in the Netherlands, with the broadest spectrum of degree programmes. It is an intellectual hub with 39,000 students, 6,000 employees and 3,000 doctoral students who are all committed to a culture of inquiring minds. A challenging work environment with a variety of duties and ample scope for individual initiative and development within an inspiring organization.

The social and behavioral sciences play a leading role in addressing the major societal challenges faced by the world, the Netherlands and Amsterdam, now and in the future.

Want to know more about our organisation? Read more about working at the University of Amsterdam.


  • PhD
  • Behaviour and society
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • University graduate
  • 12534


University of Amsterdam (UvA)

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