Senior Researcher (postdoc), 100%

As an interdisciplinary centre of the University of Bern, the Centre for Development and Environment (CDE) has the mandate to foster research, implementation, and teaching concerned with sustainable development and global change, together with its academic partners in the global North and South.

CDE is seeking to fill the position of a Senior Researcher within the ERC Consolidator Grant funded project 'Indigenous Communities, Land Use and tropical Deforestation' (INCLUDE). Tropical deforestation is an important contributor to climate change, through the release of significant amounts of carbon in the atmosphere. The main proximate cause of deforestation is agricultural expansion, followed by resource extraction. This project looks at the problem of deforestation in the Argentinean dry Chaco in the province of Salta (the Chaco Salteño). The Chaco Salteño, part of the Great American Chaco (the second largest tropical forest in the American continent after the Amazon), experiences one of the fastest deforestation rates in the world (on average about 2 football fields per minute over 1970-2015), represents an important agricultural frontier (with over 6 million ha of forest left) and hosts significant ethnic and cultural diversity, including both 'criollos' (small scale livestock farmers of European descent) and indigenous peoples (IPs).
The team includes applied economists, political scientists and geographers. In the first year of the project, which started in November 2016, the involved researchers have been collecting information to understand the institutional context, with particular attention to the legal framework (both at federal and provincial level) regarding land use, deforestation, agriculture and IPs communal land rights. In the second and third year of the project, the team has a) collected social network data on the governance structure behind the main forest policies in the region; b) has performed household surveys with respect to the adoption of sustainable land management practices among small-scale farmers in the region. The new post-doctoral researcher is expected to bring the work forward, by investigating the impact of on-going agricultural expansion on indigenous peoples and local communities.

The objectives here are a) to record the narratives of indigenous peoples with respect to the process of agricultural expansion, the loss of native forests and its environmental and social consequences; b) characterize the attitudes of the indigenous peoples towards deforestation in the region and environmental degradation more in general; c) to evaluate the attitudes towards the existing land use policies and governance structures; d) to understand the socio-ecological interdependences between local actors (i.e., IPs and criollos) and the natural resources base. In order to characterise attitudes, semi-structured and/or structured qualitative research will be used in appropriately selected communities. Finally, a conceptual framework will be developed in order to facilitate strategic planning pertaining to suggestions put forward by the various stakeholders. The main data collection phase is expected to take place at the beginning of 2020 for a period of about 6 months.
The post holder will work in collaboration with the rest of the team. Their primary responsibility will be for research design and data collection, involving extensive periods of fieldwork in the Chaco Salteño, data analysis and writing of scientific reports and articles. The data collection is envisaged to proceed from less to more structured qualitative research methods, mainly with indigenous peoples, but possibly including also "criollos", NGOs representatives, agricultural producers and political or administrative actors.
• 1 Fluent in Spanish and English
• PhD in anthropology or other relevant discipline awarded by the time of appointment.
• Experience and interest in qualitative and mixed research methods, including interviewing, questionnaires and anthropological research methods.
• Familiarity with working with diverse actors, ideally including indigenous peoples, farmers and agri-business managers.
• Readiness for extended periods of fieldwork in Argentina.
• Desirable: familiarity with the method of Social Network Analysis.
• Desirable: Competence in any of the local languages of the Gran Chaco (e.g., Wichi, Guaraní).
• Employment conditions and remuneration in accordance with the standards of the University of Bern, Switzerland.
• Collaboration in a dynamic, engaged, intercultural and multidisciplinary team
• A stimulating working environment in an international context
Type of appointment: Full-time (100%) fixed term appointment for 1.5 years (18 months). Based at the Centre for Development and Environment of the University of Bern (Switzerland).
Start of employment: 1 January 2020
Application procedure: send a CV (in English), a motivation letter (in English) and the names and contacts of 3 referees (including one from your most recent employment) to by 03.11.2019.
Contact: For further information please contact Prof. Dr. Graziano Ceddia (
CDE values diversity and is committed to equal opportunities; applications are welcome from all suitably qualified candidates who meet the stated criteria.