Two PhD candidates in Anthropology – Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences – Department of Anthropology, University of Amsterdam

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The Department of Anthropology is one of the departments in the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG). Research and education are carried out by special institutes. The College of Social Sciences (CSS) and the Graduate School for the Social Sciences (GSSS) are responsible for the undergraduate and graduate teaching programmes in the social sciences. Research takes place under the aegis of the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR), a multidisciplinary research institute, the biggest one of its kind in the Netherlands and possibly in Europe. The broad scope and pluralism of our education and research programmes are inspired by and reflect a strong degree of internationalisation.

The Department of Anthropology and AISSR at the University of Amsterdam are looking for two PhD candidates who will participate in the NWO-funded research project ‘Sexuality and the making of the middle class. A comparative study of desire and status in three African countries’.

Publication date
2 May 2017
Level of education
Master’s degree
Salary indication
€2,191 to €2,801 gross per month
Closing date
2 June 2017
38 hours per week
Vacancy number

Project description

The project will investigate the interface between sexuality and the middle class, examining problematic assumptions behind both terms, and investigate it from a comparative perspective in three countries: Ghana, Kenya and Senegal. A comparison of these three countries is challenging because of similarities and differences in economic profile, colonial legacy and cultural-religious contours. The PhD candidates will conduct a study in Ghana and in Senegal. A four-generation historical perspective will be used to provide a vantage point from which to analyse changing notions of sexuality and of class distinction. Four contentious questions stand central: homosexuality, bride-wealth, female circumcision and polygyny – issues that are often conceptualised as traditional and therefore assumed to be stable. Groups that aspire middle class status play a salient role in the debates about these issues, as ideas and practices of distinction are typically articulated via gender and sexuality. The tension between public debates and privates lives, as well as between customary practices and new forms of personhood, will be investigated through biographies. The study will a) investigate the changing relation between gender and sexuality, b) examine the continuum between same-sex and opposite-sex desires, practices and experiences, among women and men and c) theorise the middle class as a desirable position and thus as a classification in the making, emerging from (shifting) ideas of distinction.

The two PhD candidates will be based in Amsterdam at the AISSR and will conduct up to 12 months of fieldwork in Ghana or in Senegal.


  • Participate in the AISSR PhD programme;
  • conduct ethnographic field research;
  • write and complete a PhD dissertation within four years;
  • 10% teaching (upon availability);
  • participate in conferences, workshops, seminars and other scholarly activities.


​The candidates:

  • have graduated with excellent results on a research-based MA thesis in Anthropology or a closely related discipline such as Cultural Sociology or Human Geography;
  • have relevant (ethnographic) fieldwork experience on ideally on sexuality;
  • have excellent written English, and spoken French for the Senegal study;
  • are able and willing to work in an interdisciplinary team;
  • have the abilities to finish the Ph.D. thesis in four years; i.e., good skills in planning, taking initiatives, academic writing.

The faculty is committed to promote diversity and gender equality; qualified candidates from minority groups are strongly encouraged to apply.

Further information

Additional information about the vacancy may be obtained from:


The full-time appointments will be for a period of four years (12 months plus a further 36 months contingent on a satisfactory performance during the first year), starting September 2017.

The gross monthly salary will range from €2,191 in the first year to €2,801 in the final year, based on a full-time position of 38 hours per week, plus 8% holiday allowance and 8,3% end-of- year allowance, in conformity with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities.

Job application

A complete application consists of the following credentials:

  • curriculum vitae and a sketch of the candidate’s intellectual history (ca. 600 words), indicating the factors that have brought you to the present focus of intellectual and scholarly interests and the choice for Ghana or Senegal;
  • Master’s thesis and one other major academic paper, if any. The paper should demonstrate the candidate’s scholarly capacity, be no longer than 30 pages, in the intended field of specialization, and representative of your best work;
  • a short essay (of no more than 1000 words) where the candidate reflects upon the relation between gender and sexuality across four generations;
  • two contacts of academic recommendation from professors who can speak knowledgeably about the candidate’s personal and academic qualifications and suitability for the chosen field of study. We reserve the right to contact the references for additional information pertinent to your application.
  • if non-native English speaking, a recent TOEFL or equivalent English comprehension test score (TOEFL: a minimum average of 6.5 for the total test and a minimum of 6.0 for each test component);
  • official, that is, certified, transcripts from each college, seminary or graduate school attended. Applicants enrolled in school at the time of application are asked to provide a list of current and projected courses for the academic year, and to send a transcript or informal record of fall term grades as soon as possible.

All of the above credentials are required except as noted. Applications with missing credentials will not be taken into consideration.

Please note that any copies of the required official documents must be authenticated. Diplomas, certificates, transcripts of records, and lists of grades must be submitted in the English or Dutch language. Any translation of originals not in these languages must be authenticated as well.

All correspondence will be in English. Applications must be sent as a single e-mail attachments to before 3 June 2017.

The subject of the Email message and the attachment must consist of the text ‘Sexuality & middle class + applicant’s last name’. #LI-DNP


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