Green Science, Technology and Innovation from the South: an interdisciplinary, ethnographic study of organic pesticide production (pyrethrum) in Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania




For the department of Languages and Cultures (African Studies) at UGhent we are looking for 1 PhD candidate to do ethnographic research within the framework of the project ‘Green Science, Technology and Innovation from the South: an interdisciplinary, ethnographic study of organic pesticide production (pyrethrum) in Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania’.

This project will focus on an interdisciplinary, ethnographic study of organic pesticide production (pyrethrum) in Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania. Pyrethrum is a pesticide component derived from the chrysanthemum plant species. The yellow heart of the so-called ‘killer daisy’ contains a natural toxin called pyrethrin that is used to produce organic pesticides and insecticides. The premise of this project is that an ethnographic exploration of the pyrethrum revival programs in Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania can provide uncharted knowledge about adequate responses from the Global South to the global environmental crisis. This knowledge is crucial to develop a better understanding of African technical and social ingenuity in the wake of the Anthropocene, an era defined as dominated by humanity’s destructive impact on the environment. The research question guiding this project is: what kind of ideologies, expertise and technologies emerge in the Global South as responses to global environmental challenges? This translates into 3 sub-questions: (RQ1) Which political, cultural and environmental ideologies influence local, provincialized notions of ‘the organic’ and the ‘green growth’ the pyrethrum revival program aspires? (RQ2) What kinds of technological innovations emerge because of the pyrethrum revival program and how do these innovation initiatives build upon infrastructural legacies from the (colonial) past? (RQ3) Which kinds of expertise does the pyrethrum revival program generate and how does this expertise compete with other forms of power, knowledge and authority in Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and globally? The project is a unique collaboration between KU Leuven, UGent and Egerton University (Kenya).
More information about the project can be requested by e-mailing one of the supervisors (see below)

• Conducting ethnographic research, including participant observation and interviews, in Tanzania for a period of min 12 months among the communities of practice involved in the pyrethrum industry and the communities living in pyrethrum-producing areas
• Writing and completing a PhD dissertation within four years
• Actively participating in the PhD Program in African Studies at the UGhent.
• Collaborating in research seminars and research activities organized by the department • Participating in conferences, workshops, seminars and other scholarly and educational activities organized by the ‘Green Science’-team.

Applications are invited from candidates with the following qualifications:
• A Master's degree with academic distinction in Social and Cultural Anthropology, African Studies or an equivalent field of study (development studies, human geography, qualitative sociology) obtained latest by October 1, 2023
• Experience with ethnographic research and ability to work both independently and in team. Research experience in Africa is an asset.
• A high standard of spoken and written English is required. proficiency in English is proven either by prior education in English or a sufficient score from an internationally recognized language test: TOEFL iBT test; The Academic IELTS test; The Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) (University of Cambridge examinations) or the Cambridge Advanced Exam (CAE) with an equivalent rate; The ITACE test (Interuniversity Test of Academic English). Knowledge of Kiswahili is an asset.
• Strong analytical and qualitative research skills and the motivation to pursue creative work in anthropology.
• The ability to present research results in a clear and detailed manner and publish them in peer-reviewed journals
• Experience in working with visual media (photo, video) to collect data and produce scientific output is an asset

We offer you a full-time PhD scholarship starting on October 1, 2023. The appointment is initially for one year, but renewable for three years after a positive evaluation, leading to a Doctorate in African Studies. The fellow will receive all regular provisions for PhD fellows at the UGhent. The salary scale is bound to your staff category (See overview of the salary scales and the corresponding gross wage) In addition, s/he/they will be allocated office space and a laptop, and receive funding for research activities and fieldwork. The successful candidate will be a member of the Department of Languages and Cultures (African studies) at the Faculty of Arts and Philosophy of UGhent. The research project will be hosted by the research group CARAM that brings together researchers in the humanities and social sciences who work in the fields of materiality, affect, the body, religion and/or ethnicity. Operating from the perspective of critical area studies and versed in anthropological theory, these researchers rely on historicized ethnographic fieldwork as one of their methods. To overcome classic divides (nature and culture, body and mind, matter and idea, technology and culture, politics and religion) CARAM opts for the complementary pair of materiality and affect as research thematic.
The selected candidate will be part of a research consortium consisting of 3 partner institutions: KU Leuven (Belgium), University of Ghent (Belgium), Egerton University (Kenya) and will be embedded in the research communities at those respective universities through project-based writing seminars, workshops and networking events.
For more information on the application process, working conditions and career opportunities as a PhD fellow at the University of Ghent, please visit
The successful candidate may be asked to provide (limited) assistance with teaching, student supervision and data management.

For more information please contact dr. Nick Rahier mail: or Prof. dr. Koenraad Stroeken, mail:

To apply for this position, please send us:
− a letter of motivation
− a CV
− a PhD project proposal, no longer than 1500 words (3 pages) based on the project’s main research question as formulated above and including an overview of the envisioned theory and methods
− at least one recommendation letter
− Proof of language proficiency: proof of prior education in English or a TOEFL iBT test with minimum total score 100 and a minimum score of 22 on the writing component; The Academic IELTS test with a minimum score in band 7.0-7.5 or higher, with a minimum score of 6.5 on the writing component; The Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) (University of Cambridge examinations) with a minimum overall score of 184 (C1) and a minimum score of 176 on the writing component or the Cambridge Advanced Exam (CAE) with an equivalent rate; The ITACE test (Interuniversity Test of Academic English) with a minimum overall score of C1. In case your earliest appointment for a language proficiency test is booked after the submission deadline, proof of booking should be added. The candidate will only be considered admissible if a valid test result is provided latest before May 2 2023.

Interviews with shortlisted candidates (in person or online) will be scheduled in the week of May 2, 2023. A final decision will be communicated latest by mid-May 2023. You can apply for this job no later than April 15, 2023
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