4 PhD Positions at University of Ghent

Applicants are invited to apply for a PhD scholarship in social psychology at University of Ghent. Applications are welcome before January 14, 2019.

We are seeking to fill four full-time, 40-months, fully-funded PhD fellowships as part of the ERC-funded research project “Righting Victim Participation in Transitional Justice” (ERC-2018-STG- 804154). You will primarily be based at the Human Rights Center at the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences.

The research project is a multi-disciplinary and multi-method study of the effects of victim participation in transitional justice processes. It studies the long-term (and often unforeseen) effects of this participation on victims and victim communities by analyzing how their perceptions of justice and of what their rights are change in response to their participation in transitional justice processes. The cases under consideration are Cambodia, the DRC, Tunisia and Guatemala. The aim is to map best practices that allow for more victim-oriented approaches to and understandings of transitional justice processes.

The project methodology requires that the PhD candidates spend about three months per year in the – post-conflict- country they are studying, to engage in participant observation, carry out interviews, collect documents, do focus groups and set up experimental designs.

We are looking for mature PhD candidates, ideally speaking with a research degree; and/or experience of doing fieldwork in one of these countries or in other post-conflict settings; and/or who speak one or more of the local languages of the case studies.

The question of how to serve justice, facilitate peaceful transitions and empower victims of past large-scale abuses is about as old as the field of transitional justice itself. Increasingly, academics and practitioners are turning to participatory approaches as a promising way to make advances regarding each of these issues. An oft-cited benefit of victim participation in transitional justice processes is that it allegedly increases the legitimacy of these processes by rendering them more locally relevant, and that it empowers participants and turns them into ambassadors of the justice process.

However, little is known about how to organize this participation in practice or under which conditions alleged benefits (for individual victims-participants or for society at large) are likely to materialize. As a result, participation is often organized in an ‘add-victims-and-stir’ way with little critical reflection about potential unforeseen or long-term effects.

Because formal and informal transitional justice processes often face significant practical, financial and political constraints, it is crucial to better understand how participatory approaches can be developed in ways that contribute to a positive and lasting legacy, especially in a world where a vast number of societies is emerging from violent conflict, and where failure to engender durable justice and peace may lead to more instability and ultimately violence.

The main objective of this project is therefore threefold,

A multi-disciplinary approach, rooted in legal studies, social psychology, political science, public administration and anthropology is proposed, which allows for a multi-dimensional understanding of these issues, both in academic and in practical terms. The research findings from this project will have the potential to enhance the stability of the global society by creating scientific results and turning them into measurable impact. They will provide policy-makers with empirically supported expertise on pressing policy issues, and, because of the project’s attention to international institutions as well as local contexts, findings will enrich our scholarly understanding of the interaction between these policy levels and apply to many post-conflict settings worldwide.

In order to be eligible, applicants must

Furthermore, applicants who meet the following conditions will be ranked higher during the assessment procedure

In addition to these project specific elements, we expect candidates to

Applicants are invited to submit these documents (as one pdf file) via email to with the subject line “ERC PhD Application – name of the case study”.

The deadline for submission is January 14, 2019.

The foreseen starting date is September 1, 2019, or soon after.

For inquiries, please contact prof. dr. Tine Destrooper at


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