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A job vacancy: fulltime PhD-scholarship (100%) on Ethnic profiling, discrimination and policing of migrants in public space

25 June 2018 , Application deadline: 25 June 2018

Research topic:

Against the background of increasing superdiversity in the Brussels-Capital Region and the tendency of local and national governments to control and discipline migration, the aim of this research project is to examine the interaction between police and security agents on the one hand and migrants and refugees on the other in their use of public space. Firstly, it investigates how the police and security services in Brussels are policing migrants and refugees in (semi-)public spaces such as parks, train stations or shopping malls. Using experimental and ethnographic techniques, the PhD student examines their policing and profiling techniques and patterns. Secondly, this research investigates which strategies migrants and refugees use in navigating public space in Brussels, in order to deal with ethnic discrimination and profiling by police and security agents. In this respect, special attention will be given to the role of local intermediaries, such as local citizens and human rights organizations who assist migrants and refugees. This job call fits in the broader interdisciplinary research program ‘Cities & Newcomers’ at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel.

Job expectations:

  • We expect you to prepare presentations, articles and a doctoral dissertation in which you examine ethnic profiling, discrimination and policing of migrants in the public space of Brussels (under the supervision of both Prof. Pieter-Paul Verhaeghe and Lucas Melgaço). For your PhD you make use of both ethnographic and experimental research methods.
  • You are expected to support the teaching staff in educational tasks (max. 10% of your time).
  • You are expected to apply for external funding.

Job requirements:

  • Master in Sociology, Criminology or other social sciences
  • Good study grades are recommended
  • Good knowledge of quantitative and qualitative research methods for the social sciences and criminology (or willingness to master these skills)
  • Proficiency in English is a must
  • Knowledge of French and/or Dutch is a plus
  • Knowledge of additional (non-European) languages is a plus
  • Women and members of ethnic minority groups are particularly encouraged to apply
  • Last year students in the Master in Criminology or Sociology are encouraged to apply. Students who plan to graduate in September are also welcome to apply

We offer:

  • A 4-years fulltime PhD-scholarship, renewable on a yearly basis
  • A monthly scholarship of about € 1.850
  • Full reimbursement of (public transport) commuting expenses within Belgium
  • A dynamic and stimulating research environment
  • Suggested (but not fixed) starting date: 1 September 2018

Applying for this job:

  • Deadline for application: 25 June 2018
  • Job interviews will take place on Friday 6th of July 2018 at the Etterbeek campus of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Your application must at least include the following attachments:

  • A brief curriculum vitae
  • A concise statement of the reason for applying
  • A copy of your master thesis
  • A copy of your study results (and-if already available- a copy of your master diploma)

Your application should be written in English.

Apply by sending an e-mail to Prof. Pieter-Paul Verhaeghe (, Prof. Lucas Melgaço ( and Dr. Nick Schuermans (

More information?

Have a look at the websites of the Interdisciplinary Resarch Program on Cities & Newcomers (, the research groups Interface Demography ( and CriS ( and the VUB website on PhD trajectories ( Contact Prof. Pieter-Paul Verhaeghe (0473/865375, or Prof. Lucas Melgaço (026292470, with further, informal questions.

Background literature

Cankaya, S. (2015). De politiële surveillance van ras en etniciteit. Cahiers Politiestudies, 2 (35), 13-33.

Melgaço, L. (2013). Security and surveillance in times of globalization: an appraisal of Milton Santos’ Theory, International Journal of E-Planning Research, 2 (4), 1-12.

Verhaeghe, P.P., Van der Bracht, K. (2017). Praktijktests: Van onderzoeksmethode naar beleidsinstrument? Sociologos, 38 (1), 182-200.