Application Deadline: 10th May 2021
About the Award: The project, led by Dr. Kai Koddenbrock, investigates historically and in comparative fashion how West African societies have attempted to increase their political and economic sovereignty with a particular focus on the interaction between governments, finance and labor. Country case studies will be determined depending on applicants’ knowledge and preference. Ivory Coast and Nigeria are preferred but others are possible!
The questions we ask
The group will attempt to find out historically how most West African countries became exporters of only one or two commodities with the help of foreign capital and military force. In the second step we will focus on how postcolonial, newly independent governments have attempted to move away from this with the help of domestic resources, the creation of public and private banks, foreign debt and, most recently, stronger relations to China since independence. Increasing economic complexity, diversifying the economy and thus to reduce dependencies on the world market have been perennial pursuits but have often failed. The Covid crisis has put this into stark relief, again. How can we explain recurrent debt crises and the difficulties in moving away from raw commodity export dependency? Which role do global and domestic social relations play and what does that mean for the state in West Africa?
To find answers to these questions we work with notions such as legacies of colonialism, the question of imperialism, racial capitalism, the creation and diversification of dependencies, financial subordination and coloniality and we are open to other terms that become productive in the research process. In short, we are looking for researchers interested in understanding social change, persistent intersectional social structures and the organized and everyday attempts by people to transform and overcome them.
- Situated in the emergent field of postcolonial International Political Economy and thus in political science and International Relations, we are open to heterodox economists, economic sociologists, anthropologists or geographers and others. A strong interest in theory and fine-grained, empirical work including archival and interview work is essential. Methodological skills in qualitative research and the handling of numbers, mostly descriptive statistics, are an asset. Previous research or work experience on the African continent and some knowledge about finance and/or labor and/or social movements would be nice. Ideally, candidates should be curious and reflective but also able and willing to put their thoughts into clear and structured prose.
- While your main task will be the completion of your own doctoral thesis including six to eight months of field research, you will also contribute to the project by helping to organize workshops, talks or reading groups. As the working language of the cluster is English, proficiency in English (spoken and written) or the capacity and willingness to learn English is required. French is a plus and a requirement for the Francophone case study. PhD theses can also be written in French.