Postdoctoral Researcher as part of an ERC-funded project in critical logistics and racial capitalism (1,0fte)

Postdoctoral Researcher as part of an ERC-funded project in critical logistics and racial capitalism (1,0fte)

Published Deadline Location
16 Mar 4 Jun Rotterdam

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The Department of Public Administration and Sociology is currently recruiting a postdoctoral researcher 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 Postdoc in DIGIPORTS you will conduct ethnographic research to understand how digitalization is reshaping racialization in maritime logistics, and investigate related shifts in racial capitalism. As the postdoctoral researcher, you will head a subproject focused on how new digital infrastructures for the real-time tracking and analysis of container flows (e.g. track-and-trace and AIS satellite positioning for shipping containers) are reshaping how workers are classified and the related content of their work.

You will study how the re-classification of workers (including their assignment, distribution, and remuneration) and related configurations of work are affected by abilities to identify and analyze cargo and smart containers. Implementing this new technology has closed long-existing loopholes that had allowed for the informal rerouting of cargo to address shortages or congestion. It also impacts practices like smuggling and, relatedly, value-laden conceptions of labor, such as ‘highly skilled’ or ‘low skilled’ labor, and how these affect worker practices and infrastructures.

The specific focus of this postdoc will be developed jointly with the PI, and taking into account the practical realities in the research site. As proposed it focuses on containers passing through Yangshan Port in Shanghai, China, the largest automated cargo terminal in the world (HSNW 2019), and linking with Rotterdam, the Netherlands, the largest port in Europe.

This subproject requires greater independence and specialized regional expertise. As such it is appropriate for a postdoctoral researcher with relevant language and area skills, but this can be discussed beforehand via email to the PI (see below).

Tasks and Responsibilities

  • Conduct innovative research at a postdoctoral level, leading to joint and/or independent publications in international journals
  • Participate in advanced methods courses and training
  • 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)


  • An accepted Ph.D. in Sociology, Human Geography, Science and Technology Studies (STS), Anthropology, or another related discipline. The PhD should either already be awarded, or accepted with a defense date set during the 2023-2024 academic year
  • Strong academic record and experience with academic writing
  • 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, especially Mandarin Chinese (Shanghai)
  • 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

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 this position is 1 September 2023 and will last for three years in total, starting with one year, to be followed with a two years contract. You will be based at Erasmus School of Social and Behavioral Sciences in Rotterdam. The position is for 1.0 FTE. The salary is dependent on your experience and knowledge and ranges from a minimum of € 3.974 to a maximum of € 5.439 gross per month on a fulltime basis, in accordance with scale 11 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.


  • Postdoc
  • Behaviour and society
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • €3974—€5439 per month
  • ESSB/DPAS/16032023-1


Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR)

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