Ph.D. Studentship in Social Anthropology: Causes and Contexts of Human-Orangutan Conflict and Orangutan Killing in Borneo

Brunel University London - College of Business, Arts and the Social Sciences

College of Business, Arts and the Social Sciences

Ph.D. Studentship in Social Anthropology (1+3 years)
Causes and Contexts of Human-Orangutan Conflict and Orangutan Killing in Borneo

[Funded by the Arcus Foundation and Brunel University London]

Full time, fixed term for 4 years (MRes+PhD), to start in September 2017.
UK students, EU students. Funding covers 100% full-time tuition fees at the Home/EU rate and a stipend of £14,296 per annum.

Deadline 28 April 2017. Interviews will be held in mid- to late-May.

Application materials: Please submit a CV, cover letter and writing sample (e.g. an essay) together with two references to .

Applications are invited for a full-time Ph.D. studentship (1+3 years) that explores the causes and contexts of human-orangutan conflict and orangutan killing in Indonesian Borneo. This studentship forms the core of an exciting new collaboration between Dr Liana Chua, a social anthropologist of Borneo (Brunel), and Dr Erik Meijaard, a senior orangutan conservation scientist and strategist (Borneo Futures). The studentship is funded by the Arcus Foundation’s Great Apes Program and Brunel University London, and will be carried out under Dr Chua’s supervision in Anthropology with further guidance from Dr Meijaard. 

This collaborative project combines anthropological methods and insights with conservation strategy, and would be ideal for a candidate looking to straddle academia and conservation or related fields (e.g. sustainability, policy, science communications). Its aims are: 1) to build up an in-depth ethnographic understanding, based on long-term fieldwork, of the wider socio-cultural, political, economic, religious and legal contexts in which human-orangutan conflict and orangutan killing occur; and 2) to draw on this knowledge to formulate new conservation strategies for working with local communities and mitigating the problems of human-orangutan conflict and orangutan killing.

What you will be doing:
The student will conduct long-term anthropological fieldwork (at least 1 year) in Indonesian Borneo, working with both local inhabitants and conservationists. Full training in ethnographic research methods will be provided by Brunel. He/she will also have the opportunity to collaborate with a number of Indonesian MSc students working on similar, shorter-term fieldwork projects under Borneo Futures’ auspices, and participate in a range of strategic and collaborative activities, e.g. discussions with conservationists, contributing to academic and mainstream media articles, and formulating policy recommendations and toolkits.

This is a rare opportunity for an exceptional candidate to undertake advanced academic training in research leading to a PhD, while gaining important experience and a foothold in the field of conservation strategy, outreach and/or science communication.

Candidate requirements:
The successful candidate should hold a good first degree in anthropology or a related discipline. Experience of or an interest in working beyond academia, e.g. in conservation or with NGOs, is desirable. He/she should also be highly motivated, able to work independently and as part of a team, and have excellent written and verbal communication skills.

This studentship will cover a 1-year MRes followed by a 3-year PhD. Any offer will be subject to a successful application to our MRes programme in the first instance.

Potential applicants are welcome to contact Dr Liana Chua ( for an informal discussion about the project.

For further details, please go to

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