Postdoctoral Research Assistant

Royal Holloway, University of London – Department of Politics and International Relations

Full time, Fixed term (1 September 2018 – 31 August 2021)

We are looking for a Postdoctoral Research Assistant to work on the project Understanding Statehood through Architecture: a comparative study of Africa’s state buildings (ASA). The project is funded by the European Research Council and run from the Department of Politics and International Relations, Royal Holloway, University of London.

This is an exciting opportunity for ambitious and talented early career researchers to establish their careers. They will be given considerable scope to create and pursue their own sub-projects as part of a talented team working together on a major new research project. Along the way, they will develop innovative fieldwork skills, publish articles and books in high-ranking journals and academic presses, independently and in collaboration with other members of the team, and establish wide-ranging networks with scholars working on Africa across a range of disciplines.

The project

ASA is a five-year multi-disciplinary project led by Dr Julia Gallagher, exploring African statehood through the architecture of state buildings. It will involve a team of six: the principal investigator (PI), two post-doctoral researchers, two PhD students and a project administrator.

The role

The two research assistants will each carry out an independent sub-project under the direction of the PI, involving substantial periods of fieldwork in Africa. They will be responsible for organising workshops, conferences and exhibitions in the UK and in Africa. They will be expected to attend conferences within their discipline to present their work, and to write, publish and edit articles, books and special issues independently and in collaboration with other members of the team.

A generous research, travel and training budget is attached to each post.

Applicants are encouraged to develop further and new ideas within the broader remit of the project.

Postdoctoral Research Assistant 2 (international politics)
The project focuses on international politics, exploring how African countries project themselves through their airport buildings, often important prestige projects, symbolic as well as substantive gates to the wider world. Examples could include Nairobi (Kenya), the very cramped interchange hub of the continent, Mogadishu (Somalia), the only part of the Somali capital safe enough to conduct international state business, and Cape Town’s state of the art airport built at controversially high cost to show South Africa off to the world during the World Cup. The project will ask questions around how airports are designed and built to impress visitors with a sense of the country they are entering. Working within these broad parameters, the RA will be encouraged, in consultation with the PI, to refashion and push the project in their own direction.

The person

The research assistants will have a PhD in a relevant discipline, and a track record of research in Africa, including fieldwork experience. They will have begun to establish an academic career through activities such as publishing, organising workshops/conferences, and be able to show a clear potential for academic excellence. Language skills (French, Portuguese and African languages) are desirable.

The project aims to be multi-disciplinary, drawing on theory and methodology from politics, art and architectural history. We welcome applicants with backgrounds in politics, art and architectural history, anthropology, sociology, geography or urban studies.

We particularly welcome applications from candidates based in or from Africa.

This is a full time post, with a start date of 1 September 2018, for a period of 36 months. Based in Egham, Surrey where the College is situated in a beautiful, leafy campus near to Windsor Great Park and within commuting distance from London.

For more details about the project, see our website:

If you have any queries regarding this role please contact

To view further details of this post and to apply please visit The Human Resources Department can be contacted with queries by email at:

Please include your CV, a covering letter describing how you meet the person specification and the names and contact details of two academic referees, two writing samples and a three-page proposal outline on one of the projects described above, showing how you would tackle and develop it.

Please quote the reference:  0318-085

Closing Date: Midnight, 23rd April 2016

Interview Date:  16th May 2016

The College is committed to equality and diversity, and encourages applications from all sections of the community.