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PhD candidate for ERC project ‘Worlds of Lithium’

Are you interested in doing research in Norway, and specifically in the field of the anthropology of natural resources, energy transitions and lithium-ion …

3 maanden geleden


Nieuwe Achtergracht, Amsterdam, Noord-Holland
Vast contract
Uren per week:
38 - 38 uur
€ 2325 - € 2972 per maand


Are you interested in doing research in Norway, and specifically in the field of the anthropology of natural resources, energy transitions and lithium-ion batteries recycling? Is it your ambition to become a top-tier researcher?

The Department of Anthropology is seeking a PhD candidate for the for the ERC Starting Grant project ‘Worlds of Lithium: a multi-sited and transnational study of transitions towards post-fossil fuel societies’, led by Dr Cristóbal Bonelli (Anthropology, University of Amsterdam). The PhD track is part of the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR) programme group Health Care and the Body.

Project description

Worlds of Lithium is a multi-sited and transnational study that examines how the strategic replacement of fossil fuels with electric transport powered by lithium-ion batteries is taking place in Chile, the largest lithium producer worldwide, China, the world leader in lithium-ion battery production, and Norway, likely to become the world’s first ‘zero emission’ electric vehicle country. The overall research questions of the project are: How do planetary strategies to decarbonize transport act upon the landscapes and societies where a) lithium is extracted, b) turned into technology and c) used and potentially reused and recycled? How can the different ways in which these strategies take place inform non-destructive approaches to collaborative responsible actions to phase out fossil fuels—or decrease their utilization?

As a PhD candidate of the ‘Worlds of Lithium’ team, you will be responsible for studying and documenting the different interrelated knowledges and practices though which different actors - scientists, grassroots communities, policy makers, lithium-ion battery recyclers- engage with and make sense of sustainable transitions towards post-fossil fuel societies in Norway. You will study how the processes through which lithium-ion batteries are being transformed into recycled material are currently acting upon markets and fostering scientific experimentation in Norway, a country that faces the formidable challenge of trying to recycle massive volumes of spent lithium batteries by the year 2025.

The person appointed will be affiliated with the AISSR’s organized PhD training. The academic work is to result in a doctoral thesis that will be defended at the Faculty of Social Sciences with a view to obtaining the degree of PhD.

What will you be doing?

  • You will be a PhD candidate at the ‘Worlds of Lithium’ research team, which will also include scholars studying lithium-ion battery production in China and lithium extraction in Chile;
  • you are expected to conduct 16 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Norway;
  • for the remainder of the employment period, you are expected to live in Amsterdam and take active part in the research environment at the AISSR;
  • teaching (up to 10% of your time) and organizational support for the project leader will be part of your job responsibilities.


You have:

  • a Master’s degree or equivalent with a relevant specialization within the social sciences, preferably with a focus on sustainability. The degree must have been obtained by the time of application;
  • previous training in ethnographic research methods;
  • independent thinking and critical analytical skills;
  • good collaboration skills and an ability to join interdisciplinary academic communities;
  • excellent oral and written communication skills in English;
  • good sense of humor.

You preferably have:

  • expertise or familiarity with anthropology of natural resources, energy transitions and sustainability studies;
  • previous working experiences in Norway; communication skills in Norwegian will be an asset.


The position concerns a temporary employment contractof 38 hours per week for a maximum term of four years. The initial contract is for one year, preferably starting on 31 August 2020. Following a positive assessment and barring altered circumstances, this term will be extended by a maximum of 36 months, which should result in the conferral of a doctorate. We will put together a curriculum which will also include the opportunity to attend training courses and both national and international events.

Your salary will be €2,325 gross per month in the first year and will increase to €2,972 in the final year, based on full-time employment and in keeping with the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities. We additionally offer an extensive package of secondary employee benefits, including a generous holiday scheme and year-end bonus.

What else can we offer you?

A challenging work environment with a variety of duties and ample scope for individual initiative and development within an inspiring organisation. The social and behavioural sciences play a leading role in addressing the major societal challenges faced by the world, the Netherlands and Amsterdam, now and in the future.

To work at the University of Amsterdam is to work in a discerning, independent, creative, innovative and international climate characterised by an open atmosphere and a genuine engagement with the city of Amsterdam and society.

Additional information

Do you have any questions or do you require additional information? Please contact:

Would you like to learn more about working at the University of Amsterdam? Visit our website.