Post-doctoral positions – Campaign 2016: Profile n° 2

Ville africaine
“The International Circulation of Urban Policies and the Making of Contemporary Cities: Safety and “Sustainable” Urban Planning in Southern Cities”

Work-Package: “Circulation of Models and Heterogeneity of Development”

The deadline for the submission of applications is 4 May 2016 (inclusive).
Recruitment procedure and schedule

Position description

Research Proposal: The study of the international circulation of “models”, standards, practices and urban policies has in recent years led to a far-reaching theoretical and methodological renewal at the crossroads of several disciplines (geography, urban planning, architecture, urban studies, political science and international relations). Recent research calls for an open and relational approach to cities, which takes into account a wide diversity of stakeholders (states, local governments, NGOs, the private sector, international organizations, epistemic communities, transnational networks and alliances of cities, global governance networks), and is sensitive to relational and territorial geographies, movements, flows and fixity, and to the role of global, local and territorial contexts in shaping contemporary cities. Few cases studies have, however, been developed using these new approaches, particularly in Southern countries.

This post-doctoral position is part of the Seminar on “Circulation of Urban References and Local Assemblages” and aims at strengthening the emerging field of “Urban Policy Mobility” by studying the circulation and local anchorage of urban policy “models” in South Africa, where the research will benefit from a partnership with the African Centre for Cities at the University of Cape Town and its ties with socio-economic stakeholders. The topic of urban safety has been selected in light of the nature of urban challenges facing South Africa, notably the high prevalence of violence and everyday insecurity. Indeed, South African cities have served as favoured places for the implementation of “safer cities” strategies, notably promoted by UN-Habitat since the mid-1990s and by many foreign and international donors. The gradual integration of security approaches into interventions combining social and situational prevention, urban planning, quality of life and “wellbeing” exemplifies the integration of major international references associated with “sustainable” urbanization.

The postdoctoral research will explore the political and institutional dynamics that underlie the production of cities through the study of urban safety projects implemented in several neighborhoods. The research objective is to explore how public action is currently built through interactions between different types of stakeholders (public, private and community-based) at different scales (local, national and international) and the circulation, borrowing, adaptation or hybridization of practices or standards. Some key questions that might be addressed include:

  • What are the theoretical approaches, concepts and methodological tools that enable researchers to grasp the ways in which international policies and standards circulate, are adapted, are taken up, and mutate?
  • How to account from the various influences that intersect and fertilize each other through the analysis of the genesis and implementation of the projects?
  • What are the power relationships between stakeholders and how does that shape the implementation of the projects? To what extent are these relationships representative of the shifts in the balance of power between stakeholders and between cities in Southern and Northern countries?
  • How to provide an account of local contexts effects (city-wide, neighborhood-wide) in these processes, be it the nature of urban challenges, the modes of governance, or territorial, social and community dynamics?
  • What do these processes tell us about the production of contemporary cities in terms of homogenization, standardization or differentiation of practices, urban forms and local territories? To what extent do they take into account the reproduction of dominant models or the production of alternative models?

Based on qualitative research methods (interviews, group meetings), the post-doctoral research will be organized around a four-month field work in Cape Town, with the objective to select and compare the projects to be studied (projects cofinanced by international organizations, implemented by the Municipality, NGOs and/or community-based associations, public-private partnerships, etc.) around key elements: their genesis, their implementation steps and modalities, the international references they use, their circulation channels, how they are mobilized, adapted and transformed, the underlying interplay between stakeholders at different scales, and their implications for the (material, social and political) production of urban spaces and territories. This research could be conducted in collaboration with South African researchers and the socioeconomic stakeholders implementing these projects. The post-doctoral fellow will also participate in the Working Group’s activities in Paris, notably in regular seminars and in a round table organized by this Work-Package. The work must lead to the preparation of a publication in an international journal.

Planned collaborations

One of the objectives of this post-doctoral research is to strengthen the cooperation between the research units involved in the Work-Package (PRODIG and CESSMA) and with the Work-Package on “Producing the “ordinary” city”, including current research on the Right to the City in South Africa. The objective is also to help internationalize the Work-Package’s research by developing collaborative networks with South African researchers.

Required skills and abilities
  • PhD, preferably in geography or urban studies or other social sciences (anthropology, sociology, political science);
  • knowledge in urban planning, urban policy, urban safety policies, circulation of policy models, urban territories and urban development in cities in Southern countries, preferably in Africa;
  • command of qualitative research methods;
  • excellent command of both written and spoken English.

Additional information

Contract start date: Between 01/09/2016 and 01/12/2016 (as desired)

Length of contract: 1 year

Host laboratories: PRODIG (Pôle de Recherche pour l’Organisation et la Diffusion de l’Information Géographique – UMR 8586) (2 rue Valette – 75005 Paris)

Supervisors: Élisabeth PEYROUX, Senior researcher, and Thierry SANJUAN, Professor of geography, Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne University

Net monthly remuneration: Approximately € 2324

Contact :

Recruitment procedure and schedule

The application must be submitted electronically by application form ( It must demonstrate that the candidate fulfils the requirements indicated in the position profile (specified tasks and skills).
The application will include:

  • a description of the proposed research project (2 to 5 pages) indicating the theoretical basis of the research, the tests to be carried out on empirical materials, the methodology to be used, a feasibility report and project schedule;
  • a covering letter;
  • curriculum vitae;
  • list of publications with internet links (if available);
  • doctoral thesis defence report (not required for candidates having defended their thesis in a foreign country);
  • copy of doctoral degree (or certificate). The thesis must have been defended fewer than five years ago.

The deadline for the submission of applications is 4 May 2016 (inclusive).

For your information: When the deadline for applications has passed, the LabEx DynamiTe will contact the potential director(s) of the potential host unit(s) and will add one letter of invitation to the application.

The candidate(s) appointed following the assessment of the applications and interviews (which will take place during the week of 13 June 2016) will be informed of the results of the application process from 20 June 2016.

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