Ph.D. position in Urban Studies

Sep 23, 2016
Oct 24, 2016
Organization Type
University and College
Full Time
The University of Basel, Switzerland, invites applications for a Ph.D. position in Urban Studies with a focus on the following research theme:

Territorial Design in the Age of National and International Development, 1945-1990

This research theme concerns the rise of regional, national, and continental scales of development and design in the post-WWII era. During this period of widespread economic growth and international competition, the coordinated development of territories gained unprecedented importance for both national governments and international organizations. The research goal is to examine how architecture, planning, and related design professions helped shape this era of development. Our starting hypothesis is that in the postwar context, territories were not only political and physical realities, but also competitive tools for steering national and international development. Architects, planners, engineers, and a range of other experts in diverse political contexts expanded their ambitions from designing housing, neighborhoods, and cities to reshaping territories at large-whether for tourism, industry, or resource extraction. Turning swaths of land as vast as western Europe, Siberia, and the Sahara into objects of design, they approached the geographical environment first and foremost a facility to exploit and remake. For lack of an existing historical term, we call this tendency «territorial design.» Our central question is how territorial design has unfolded across the capitalist West, the socialist East, and the decolonizing South, and has precipitated today's global environmental crisis. Within this research theme, the doctoral candidate is expected to develop their own research project, focused on post-independence Africa. Of particular interest are plans for transnational infrastructure, such as highways, but the doctoral candidate is welcome to explore other historical cases within the research theme.

Your tasks:

The position provides an adequate platform to pursue a PhD project within the above-mentioned research group. Besides research you will teach two hours per week in the MA program Critical Urbanisms, supervise and support students, and assist in the administration of the program.

Your profile

Candidates should have a Master's degree in architectural or urban history, African studies, history, or a related field. Proficiency in English is required and in German desired. Experience with archival and field research is desired. Upon selection, the candidates will have to fulfill the conditions for admission to PhD studies in the Humanities Faculty of the University of Basel.

We offer you

Your position is part of the Professorship in the History and Theory of Architecture and Urbanism (Prof. Kenny Cupers). What we offer you is a unique, interdisciplinary research environment within the newly established research cluster in Urban Studies, located within the Humanities Faculty (Philosophisch-Historische Fakultät). The studentship offers support for a period of one year with the possibility for an extension of three further years, and is scheduled to begin in February 2017. The funding allows you to cover tuition and living expenses, and to commit yourself fully to your research project.

Application / Contact

Your application should include:

  • a motivation letter, including a description of your research experience to date (maximum two single-spaced pages);
  • a curriculum vitae (maximum two single-spaced pages);
  • a research proposal (maximum two single-spaced pages);
  • copies of undergraduate and graduate diplomas complete with transcripts;
  • an electronic copy of your master's thesis;
  • electronic copies of published articles or other academic contributions

(if applicable);

  • the names and contact information for two academic references

To ensure that your application is given full consideration, all materials should be submitted via email to Gernot Biersack ( by October 24th, 2016. Applications must be sent as a single PDF document in the order listed above. For additional information, please contact Gernot Biersack.

The University of Basel is an equal opportunity employer; women and minority candidates are strongly encouraged to apply.

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