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Two studentships for starting in September 2018. Supervised by colleagues at CISRUL and CGD

The Centre for Citizenship, Civil Society and Rule of Law (CISRUL) at the University of Aberdeen is delighted to offer two 3-year PhD studentships to start in September 2017. The studentships will include home/overseas fees and a full stipend of £14,539 per annum.

**Of special interest for those in Global Development: Project 5 'Democracy' as a demand of global social movements - Arab Spring, Indignados and beyond.  See description at end**

We welcome applicants from anthropology, cultural and literary studies, education, history, legal theory and socio-legal studies, philosophy, politics, religious studies, sociology and theology.

The CISRUL programme is centred on the application of political ideas globally. The objective is to inform debate about how political concepts are used in the world, and to what effect. Political principles such as citizenship, democracy, civil society and constitutionalism are used as often by policy makers, media commentators and social movements as they are by scholars. Yet insufficient attention is paid to, for example, how ‘citizenship education’ is understood by education ministries across the world, what concepts of ‘democratisation’ are embedded in foreign policy, what ‘building civil society’ means to strategists in Europe and beyond, and how ‘constitutionalism’ is understood globally when even authoritarian states have constitutions. Without reflecting on how such concepts are being invoked and deployed, scholars, policy analysts and political actors risk reproducing the misunderstandings and repeating the failures of the past.

CISRUL brings together an inter-disciplinary group of PhDs students and researchers, from across the humanities and social sciences, to consider how political principles have been fostered historically, debated philosophically and politically, fought over by social movements, codified in law, transmitted through education and the media, and lived out in everyday life. Our aim is to understand how, for example, ‘democracy’ was understood by the Arab protestors who called for it, what ‘nation’ is coming to mean in Central and Eastern Europe, in what sense ‘civil society’ can serve as a bulwark against extremism, and what ‘secularism’ means and has meant in Europe and the world beyond. We will also learn from how those concepts are deployed in the world, and from the consequences, with a view to refreshing the vocabulary of social and political theory, as well as enriching public debate and designing better policy. As the Arab Springs founder, high-level corruption is exposed in Brazil, India steers toward Hindu majoritarianism, authoritarianism returns to Hungary and Poland, and immigrants and Islam are stigmatised across Europe, it is time to attune a new generation of researchers to the ongoing global development of political concepts.

Note that applicants must hold or be close to completing a postgraduate Masters degree in a relevant field. The holders will reside in Aberdeen during the studentship period, except for periods of research and conference travel.

Please view for further details. For enquiries, please contact Lisa Baxter ( in the first instance.

The deadline is 31 March 2017.


Project 5 Description:

 The Arab Uprisings challenged preconceptions about socio-political systems in the Middle East and the conceptual toolkit used to analyse them. Along with other new social and political movements such as Occupy, 15M, etc., they invite a re-examination of the key concepts, such as democracy and social justice, which were invoked by these movements. Faced with these movements’ pressing and popular demands, the inadequacy of scholar and policy frameworks was all too apparent. What was meant by ‘democracy’ and how is this reflect in the course of events since then? What indeed can scholars learn from protestors’ way of articulating their demands? The ESR may choose one or more contemporary political movements, focusing on the key concepts deployed by protestors, as well as how these were taken up by existing or new political regimes. It is hoped the ESR will also reflect in turn on how scholars and policy makers should adapt their analytical framework.

Sample publications by supervisors:

1.     Abbott, P., Sapsford, R, and Teti, A. (2016) After the Arab Uprisings: Political, Social and Economic Attitudes in the MENA Region in 2016. Aberdeen: University of Aberdeen.

2.     Flesher Fominaya, C. (2015) Redefining the Crisis/Redefining Democracy: Mobilising for the Right to Housing in Spain's PAH Movement, South European Society and Politics 20 (4), 465-485

3.     Teti, A. (2015) Democracy Without Social Justice: Marginalisation of Social and Economic Rights in EU Democracy Assistance Policy after the Arab Uprisings. Middle East Critique, 24(1), 9–25

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