Soft EU borders in Africa. How migration campaigns and social media affect young Senegalese men’s migration aspirations and sense of social justice (1 fte)

Cluster 1: Mobility of persons

The EU, UN and individual member states dedicate many resources to migration campaigns in Africa to discourage people from coming into Europe without proper documentation. These campaigns have been described as the EU’s soft borders. At the same time, there are very few possibilities for young Africans to migrate through official channels, leaving many African youth in a state of ‘waithood’. Waithood is a concept coined by scholar Alcinda Honwana to describe the predicament of African youth in which they are not allowed to leave, but their own countries offer them very little prospects for entering adulthood as workers, heads of family and to fulfil their dreams. This project proposes a two-part ethnographic investigation into the production and reception of migration campaigns in Senegal, where EU and UN campaigns have been particularly strong. The first part focuses on the production of the campaigns and the second part on how campaigns are perceived by would-be migrants, focusing on youth (16-25 years old). Social media and more generally the Internet is a way for would-be migrants to receive migration campaigns but they also bring images and information about other populations for whom international mobility is much easier and even encouraged. How does social media and the Internet more broadly affect young Senegalese’s sense of social justice and what effects does this have on their migration aspirations, and how they perceive, interpret and react upon migration campaigns? This research combines theoretical perspectives from migration and science and technology studies to gain a better understanding of the relationships between ICTs, youth and migration. Fluency in French is required and in Wolof, preferable.

The researcher will be based at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and be part of the research program called Globalisation, Transnationalism and Development, and undertake a 6-month secondment at the Research and Documentation Centre (WODC) in The Hague.

Supervision team:
Supervisor: Prof. Valentina Mazzucato, Professor of Globalisation & Development, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Maastricht University
Co-supervisor: Prof. Dr. Sally Wyatt, Professor of Digital Cultures, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Maastricht University
External supervisor: dr. Djamila Schans, senior research, WODC (Research and Documentation Centre)

Any inquiries about the position or the project may be addressed to the supervisor.

Requirements

You are invited to apply for a 4 year PhD position in the project “LIMES – the hardening and softening of borders”. This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 847596.

Because the PhD candidates work in a larger research project, team work is essential. In addition to individual work on their dissertations, the PhD candidates will contribute to regular project team meetings and joint academic publications. The PhD candidates will receive extensive training, including regular supervision, training by the Graduate Schools of the relevant faculties, and the partner organisations, where they can benefit from a secondment.

Requirements

Candidates will be judged on the basis of the requirements outlined below. Candidates should make sure that their application letter demonstrates how they meet these requirements:

  • Knowledge and interest on the topics covered by the relevant PhD project;
  • Advanced skills in research design and relevant qualitative methodologies such as ethnography and in-depth interviewing, as demonstrated in education and/or work so far;
  • Strong analytical skills;
  • Outstanding writing skills;
  • Show an obvious interest in academic research, particularly qualitative research methods;
  • Have the capability of autonomously conducting original research as well as working in a team;
  • Fluency in English; knowledge of other languages such as the official UN languages is an asset;
  • Experience in conducting ethnographic field work in a Global South country, preferably in Senegal or another African country
  • Fluency in Dutch and preferably also French and/or a Senegalese language

Application (eligibility criteria and application requirements)

Applicants submit an application package for one of the PhD projects. The full application must be submitted by email and in English, by means of the application form, and consist of:

  • The application form containing: personal details (including language proficiencies), the LIMES project targeted, and a research proposal and a time plan which responds to the relevant project description (max. 1.000 words) (cf. template).
  • Annex I: A letter of motivation stating the candidate’s qualifications and reasons for interest in the position.
  • Annex II: Curriculum vitae, outlining relevant work experiences and research output (where applicable). Applicants who have taken a break in their career should indicate this in their application (and in their CV), so it can be taken into account during the selection process.
  • Annex III: Ethics self-assessment, based on the standard ethical research principles and the ethical principles of H2020 (cf. template).
  • Annex IV: Copy of Bachelor (BA) and (Research) Master (MA) degree and transcript (including GPA).
  • Annex V: Proof of proficiency in English (for applicants who neither are native speakers of English nor followed an English taught BA/BSc and MA/MSc); see below for the expected level.
  • Annex VI: One academic paper (e.g. course paper; (draft) thesis; academic publication).
  • Annex VII: contact information of two references (including e-mail; phone number, mailing address, and relationship to the applicant).

Following receipt of an application, the Programme Office (PO) carries out an eligibility check. In addition to the completeness of the application file, the PO also checks compliance with the Marie Skłodowska Curie Action (MSCA) requirements (1), minimum standards of academic performance (2), and language skills (3).

(1) Early-Stage Researchers (ESR) must on 26 August 2019 be in the first four years (full-time equivalent research experience) of their research careers and not yet have been awarded a doctoral degree. 

Full-Time Equivalent Research Experience is measured from the date when a researcher obtained the degree entitling him or her to embark on a doctorate, either in the country in which the degree was obtained or in the country in which the researcher is recruited, even if a doctorate was never started or envisaged.

Mobility Rule: Researchers may not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the Netherlands for more than 12 months in the three years immediately before 26 August 2019.

Time spent as part of a procedure for obtaining refugee status under the Geneva Convention[1], compulsory national service and/or short stays such as holidays are not taken into account.

(2) LIMES will only consider applicants who have reached an overall average Grade Point Average (GPA) of the completed Bachelor of at least 3.4 and/or completed their Master study with a GPA of at least 3.5 (MA).[2] 

(3) For applicants who neither are native speakers of English nor followed an English taught BA/BSc and MA/MSc, the PO accepts certificates from:

  • IELTS test: minimum score overall 7.0 and writing minimum score 6.5
  • TOEFL test: overall, internet-based minimum score 100 and writing minimum score 25
  • TOEFL test: overall, paper-based minimum score 600
  • TOEFL test: overall, computer-based minimum score 250
  • A Cambridge certificate: C or higher for the CAE (Certificate in Advanced English)

In case of ineligibility, the PO notifies the applicant by e-mail within ten working days after the receipt of the application.

Maastricht University is committed to nurturing an inclusive culture and a welcoming atmosphere. This inclusiveness strategy has resulted in a very diverse representation of nationalities and cultures. We strongly believe that diversity (including, but not limited to ethnicity, gender, age, and (dis)ability) is to our advantage. Creating an inclusive working climate in which students and staff feel a valued member of the UM community is therefore a top strategic priority. UM values diversity within its community and encourages you to apply if you are qualified for this position.

The deadline for submitting your application is 26 August 2019.

Please send your application electronically to limes@maastrichtuniversity.nl.

Selection process

All applicants will be notified by 7 October at the latest as to whether or not they have been selected for an interview with the LIMES Cluster Committees. The interviews will take place in Maastricht between 4 November – 2 December 2019. Please see the application procedure on the website for more information.

What we offer

We offer a dynamic and challenging job in an internationally-oriented organisation where people receive an advanced education and scholars conduct exciting research. You will be part of an international network of top universities and renowned scholars within the field.

We offer a 4-year full-time appointment as PhD candidate in one of the research projects under the umbrella of LIMES.

The first year will be a probation period, after a positive assessment the position will be extended with another 3 years.

Remuneration will be according to standard salary levels for PhD students starting with a salary of € 2.325,- with a yearly growth to € 2.972,- gross a month in year 4 (based on a full-time appointment).

Each year the standard salary is supplemented with a holiday allowance of 8% and an end-of-year bonus of 8.3%.

You have to be willing to move to (the vicinity of) Maastricht. You will be eligible for an allowance for moving costs. You may also be eligible for an allowance for alternative housing. Other secondary conditions include e.g. a pension scheme and partially paid parental leave.

You will be provided with shared office space and a PC.

Maastricht University’s Terms of Employment are laid down in the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities (CAO). Furthermore, local university provisions apply as well. For more information please see the website: www.maastrichtuniversity.nl/support/UM-employees.

Starting date: 1 December 2019 – mid-January 2020 (or as soon as possible thereafter).

Further information is available on the website:

  • Selection process, application form and instructions
  • Host institution, partners involved, employment conditions
  • Set-up of the Programme, staff and contact points
  • Training and secondment programme
  • Information on the ethical and legal standards
  • FAQs

[1] 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1967 Protocol.

[2] GPAs are represented on a 1-4 scale, with 4 being the maximum score. The minimum thresholds are in line with the requirements of the major Dutch PhD funding schemes in the SSH sector (Research Talent / PhD in the Humanities). NUFFIC is referred to for any translations of grades between countries.

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