Job Properties
  • Job Type
    Full-time Position
  • Category
    Research & Science
  • Languages
    English Dutch
  • Experience Required
  • Degree Required
    • Province
    • Date Posted
      January 21,2022
    • Entrusting Package
    • JSS
    • VISA
    • IMG_6430
    • Career Consultation

    PhD position Reimagining Religion, Security and Social Transformation

    The successful candidate will work on the research project "Reimagining Religion, Security and Social Transformation". The project is part of the "Joint Initiative for Strategic Religious Action" (JISRA) which aims to co-create a strategy to advance the Right to Freedom of Religion or Belief in seven countries. JISRA is an international interfaith consortium consisting of Mensen met een Missie, Faith to Action Network, Tearfund (UK and the Netherlands), and Search for Common Ground. JISRA is funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (within the policy framework "Power of Voices").

    As part of the JISRA Knowledge Agenda, this research project aims to provide input for the study of religion, security and social transformation. Furthermore, it aims to provide input for policy and practitioners’ efforts to more comprehensively address the complex, nuanced role of religion in conflict, violence and (post-conflict) social transformation processes. The overall research question of the project is: What discourses, practices and behaviours do religious communities narrate and perform in relation to violent conflict and (post-conflict) social transformation processes?

    Working in collaboration with the JISRA Consortium members and local partner organizations in the country, the project will be carried out utilizing an intersectional, interdisciplinary framework, drawing on theoretical and methodological insights from history, international relations, religious studies, social-psychology, sociology and anthropology, and on practical insights from practitioners within the JISRA programme. The project aims to identify and analyse the different ways religious actors of various kinds engage within, across and outside their communities, focusing specifically on the role of women and youth.

    Two interrelated sub-projects operationalize this research focus. The research team will be based at Utrecht University and University of Groningen and will consist of two PhDs (UU and RuG), a Postdoc (UU) and and two PI’s (UU and RUG).

    For this PhD position you will be based at Utrecht University at the Department of History and Art History, Section of International Relations. The PhD project focuses on the (religious) narratives employed by diverse religious actors related to the phenomenon of violent extremism - including the perpetrators, but also the governmental factions, the victim communities and within the broader society. The PhD will, second, concentrate on CVE-processes, and will identify, map and analyse the strategies utilised by religious leaders for intra and interreligious engagement to navigate the consequences of violent extremism and exclusion in their communities.

    A series of narrative strategies compounding the use of violence will be studied and categorised, as well as the corresponding attempts and processes by which these narratives will be ‘contaminated’, undermined, and turned towards a more constructive, non-violent approach. The project will be carried out in Kenya, Nigeria and possibly Indonesia. The PhD candidate will undertake long-term (10 months) in-country fieldwork, including interview, ethnography and archival research in the countries. The project will be supervised by Prof. Beatrice de Graaf.

    Besides research articles (as part of a dissertation) the candidate is expected to disseminate the research results beyond the academic public, which includes addressing wide audiences and policy makers via for instance, blogs/vlogs, newspaper articles and a policy paper on the topic.


    A successful PhD candidate should preferably have:

    • a (Research) Master’s degree in history, religious studies or other relevant discipline and demonstrable affinity with the project’s central themes (religion, diversity, human rights, extremism);
    • extensive research or work experience (minimum of one year) in (one of) the research countries;
    • an excellent command of English, both written and orally. A (passive) knowledge of local languages, necessary for working with the archival sources and beneficial for ethnographic fieldwork, is a strong asset;
    • training in and/or sensitivity to conflict dynamics is a strong asset;
    • experience with archival research;
    • the ability to work both as a creative and independent researcher and as part of an academic-civil society team;
    • excellent communication and writing skills;
    • an outstanding record of undergraduate and Master's degree work;
    • experience working with diverse stakeholders and communicating with non-academic audiences is a strong asset;
    • experience or affinity with women/gender and/or youth.

    Candidates originating from the research countries are strongly encouraged to apply.


    We offer a position (1.0 FTE) for a period of 18 months. After a satisfactory 15 months, the appointment will be extended by another 33 months (four years in total). The gross salary ranges between €2,395 in the first year and €3,061 in the fourth year (scale P according to the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities) per month for a full-time employment. Salaries are supplemented with a holiday bonus of 8% and a year-end bonus of 8.3% per year. In addition, Utrecht University offers excellent secondary conditions, including an attractive retirement scheme, (partly paid) parental leave and flexible employment conditions (multiple choice model). More information about working at Utrecht University can be found here.

    Over de organisatie

    A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University, the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major societal themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Sustainability.

    The Faculty of Humanities has around 6,000 students and 900 staff members. It comprises four knowledge domains: Philosophy and Religious Studies, History and Art History, Media and Culture Studies, and Languages, Literature and Communication. With its research and education in these fields, the faculty aims to contribute to a better understanding of the Netherlands and Europe in a rapidly changing social and cultural context. The enthusiastic and committed colleagues and the excellent amenities in the historical city center of Utrecht, where the faculty is housed, contribute to an inspiring working environment.

    The History of International Relations (HIR) division at the Department of History and Art History studies the history of international relations and transnational configurations of power and politics from an empirically grounded perspective, and with a keen interest in theoretical innovation. The section is organized in three thematic clusters, i.e. 'Global and Imperial Relations', 'Europe in the World' and 'Conflict and Security'. Increasingly, we are working and teaching at the cross-sections of these fields, on issues such as decolonization, militarization, peace and diplomacy, but also environmental governance, war and technology. In both our teaching and our research we share a focus on how power and influence are (re)institutionalized and contested globally, but also how these dynamics play out differently across geographical instantiations and transmute over time. HIR connects the past with present-day issues. We value team science, research-informed teaching and we jointly run a series of ambitious educational programmes. We intend to be outspoken as well as nuanced in our public engagement activities.

    Aanvullende informatie

    For more information about this position, please contact:
    Myrthe van Groningen (Project Manager), via

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