Political Ecology PhD supervision

We welcome applications from PhD candidates interested in conducting research in line with the subject areas covered by the Political Ecology research group.

Take a look at the type of research conducted by our faculty and the PhD supervisions they are interested in. More information about the ISS PhD programme and how to apply can be found on the ISS PhD Programme page.

  • prof.dr. (Jun) SM Borras

    Saturnino ('Jun') M. Borras Jr. is Professor of Agrarian Studies at the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) in The Hague, and was the Editor-in…
    prof.dr. (Jun) SM Borras

I work in the field of critical agrarian studies, and within a scholar-activist tradition. My thematic areas of work include:

  • agrarian politics and capitalism;
  • land politics (including contemporary 'global resource rush'); 
  • (trans)national agrarian movements; 
  • (migrant) farm workers; 
  • resource conflict; 
  • climate change politics; food politics/food sovereignty;
  • right-wing populism.

My geographic areas of research interest are: Southeast Asia, China, Africa, and South America.

  • dr. (Luisa) L Cortesi

    Luisa Cortesi is an environmental anthropologist who studies water disasters and climate change, environmental knowledge and technologies, environmental justice…
    dr. (Luisa) L Cortesi

I am interested in supervising a range of topics. While I do not expect everyone to do ethnography, I believe in extensive fieldwork that centres people and their concerns. However, I am an interdisciplinary researcher and I would be happy to support students from a range of disciplines.

My themes of work include:

  • environmental knowledge, local/traditional knowledge, epistemic concerns
  • disasters and risk in intersection with inequalities and discrimination
  • resilience, adaptation, preparedness
  • water, including technologies of water management or purification, environmental justice, pollution, toxicity
  • rivers, any form of wet geographies, geomorphology, fisher people
  • the philosophy and practice of concepts such as ecology, nature/culture, place/space
  • ideas and practices of community, in particular in relation to conservation and the more-than-human
  • disability studies

I have worked extensively in India and would be happy to support researchers focusing on the region but I am also interested in any other contexts. 

Most importantly, I favour critical and creative work of analytical enquiry that matters for those whose life is harder than it should be.

  • prof.dr. (Andrew) AM Fischer

    Andrew Martin Fischer is Professor of Inequality, Social Protection and Development at the Institute of Social Studies in The Hague, part of Erasmus University…
    prof.dr. (Andrew) AM Fischer

Given that my own work and interests span a range of topics, I am also open to supervising on an equally wide range of topics, although all centrally located in the field of development studies – understood in a classical sense as processes of structural and societal transformation. I have a strong predilection for structuralist development economics, political economy, and demography, although I am thoroughly interdisciplinary, have dabbled in ethnography, and am a firm believer in the necessity of extensive fieldwork. I am fundamentally interested in the role of inequality and redistribution in development at local, regional and global scales, through a variety of angles such as financial and fiscal processes, social policy, and productive development policy. I have done a lot of work on western China and am always happy to supervise research on this country, but I have also worked on and supervised PhDs on Latin America, Africa and South East Asia.

  • dr. (Julien-Francois) JF Gerber

    Julien-François Gerber is Associate Professor of Environment and Development at the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) in The Hague. I’m broadly…
    dr. (Julien-Francois) JF Gerber

I am keen to hear from potential PhD students interested in alternative economies and especially degrowth/post-growth, environmental justice movements, plantation studies, agrarian change in South Asia and the Himalayas, ethnographies of credit and indebtedness, anti-debt movements, ownership systems, decommodification, and theories of needs, values and the 'good life'. Anyone interested in radical social theory and psychoanalysis is most welcome.

  • prof.dr. (Wendy) W Harcourt

    **Wendy Harcourt is Professor of Gender, Diversity and Sustainable Development at the International Institute of Social Studies of the Erasmus University in The…
    prof.dr. (Wendy) W Harcourt

I welcome proposals on issues concerning feminist political ecology, particularly case studies looking at how communities respond to economic and ecological changes in everyday social struggles;  studies on practices of care, well-being and commoning in community economic and ecological processes and analysis of the interdependence of bodies, ecologies and technologies in studies of body politics and political ecology. 

  • dr. (Roy) RBC Huijsmans

    Research agenda: My research is concerned with how children and young people are affected by and contribute to societal development and change. For this I have…
    dr. (Roy) RBC Huijsmans

I welcome proposals focusing on issues concerning children and youth (e.g. education, work, migration) that take seriously young people’s own, but situated, perspectives and experiences.

In addition, I also welcome proposals seeking to study development through the lens of the arts (especially (popular) music and dance) and ethnographies of platform-mediated work (e.g. ride-sharing, food delivery, etc).

Further, if you have an idea about an original ethnographic research project that will also make methodological contributions (e.g. mobile ethnography, digital ethnography, etc) do get in touch too!

  • dr. (Auma) LA Okwany

    I am Associate Professor of Social Policy at The International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam. My scholarship centers on the…
    dr. (Auma) LA Okwany

My research interests centre on foregrounding marginalized perspectives in social policy with a specific focus on the relationship between policy, practice, discourse and theory for children, youth and their families in contexts of risk and marginality from a critical standpoint. This spans diverse aspects from education, including care and development in the early years, child and youth poverty and vulnerability, child-sensitive social protection, and (youth) sexuality and reproductive health. My scholarship building privileges research that is attentive to epistemic diversity, highlighting the need to foreground-situated accounts in pursuit of epistemic justice. In these endeavours, I have built alliances with scholars in Africa but I have also worked with and supervised post-graduate students from South Asia, Eastern Europe and Latin America. 

  • dr. (Helena) LH Perez Nino

    Dr. Helena Pérez Niño, Assistant Professor, ISS Erasmus University Rotterdam, conducts research on the political economy of development with special emphasis on…
    dr. (Helena) LH Perez Nino

I work at the intersection of the political economy of development, agrarian change and global poverty. I welcome proposals in these areas. I also welcome enquiries on:

  • Critical commodity studies, contract farming, agricultural value chains, agricultural booms and crises
  • Labour migration, labour processes, rural labour markets, class dynamics and class conflict
  • Agrarian roots of armed conflict, agricultural reconstruction in post-conflict transitions
  • Gender and kinship relations in agricultural production and exchange

I am open to proposals broadly in critical political economy involving qualitative and mixed methods.

  • dr. (Tsegaye Moreda) TM Shegro

    Tsegaye Moreda is Assistant Professor of Agrarian and Rural Studies at the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS, The Hague) of Erasmus University…
    dr. (Tsegaye Moreda) TM Shegro

My research interests are in the politics of agrarian transformation and natural resources governance (land, water, forests, sub-soil minerals) – examined in the era of the global resource rush (land grabbing, the rise of extractivism, agro-extractivism, large-scale development interventions) and climate change (focusing on the politics of narratives around mitigation and adaptation).

I also have an interest in the various forms of political reactions by poor people towards dynamic changes in the political economy (land/property, labour, income, reproduction) of natural resources, including studying social movements.

Transversal themes in my interest in and treatment of all these issues are conflict, power and political contestations across social class and identity politics, mediated by and through the state.

My regional focus is on Sub-Saharan Africa. Enquires from potential PhD researchers interested in topics related to my area of research are welcome.

  • dr. (Oane) A Visser

    Oane Visser is Associate Professor in Agrarian Studies. His research interests revolve around: 1) new (digital) technologies in agriculture and development more…
    dr. (Oane) A Visser

I welcome projects focusing on the digitalization of agriculture and the environment (such as (climate) smart farming, big data in agriculture, automatization, and the rise of apps for agriculture), and in the field of technology and development more broadly (such as new platform economies).

I am also keen to supervise proposals on land transformations, large-scale farming, land acquisitions, and the financialization of agriculture.

Further I am very interested in proposals on agrarian and environmental movements (incl. food sovereignty, data movements) smallholder farming, urban gardening and land issues.

I have done supervisions in countries varying from Cuba, to Vietnam, Tajikistan and Myanmar. I am especially interested in research that is holistic, critical, qualitative and/or mixed method.

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