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Post-Doctoral Researcher in International Political Sociology (Visual Methods)

Vacancy number
Job type
Academic staff
Hours (in fte)
External/ internal
Placed on
28 May 2020
Closing date
15 July 2020 Vacancy closed

The institute of Political Sciences of the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences is looking for a 

Post-Doctoral Researcher in International Political Sociology (Visual Methods)

Project description
The Post-Doctoral Researcher will be part of the interdisciplinary project “The Security Politics of Algorithmic Vision (Security Vision)” hosted at the Institute of Political Science at Leiden University. The project is funded by the European Research Council (ERC) and led by Dr Francesco Ragazzi.

The project investigates how technologies of computer vision work in practice in the field of security (smart CCTV, social media content moderation, border control, etc.), and what their ethical and political implications are. The project addresses these challenges through an innovative theoretical and methodological framework based on digital and visual practices to advance debates in international politics. The project has three interrelated objectives.

  1. To map the current field of computer vision institutions and technologies in the field of security, by constituting a dataset of actors, programs and applications, through multiple correspondence analysis and social network analysis. This first phase will produce, in addition to a textual analysis, several data visualization outputs.
  2. On the basis of this mapping, the project will investigate both the algorithmic and the social logics of these technologies, the professionals who program, train and operate them. Visual ethnographies (filmmaking) will provide an in-depth analysis of the workings of computer vision by focusing on three cases.
  3. Finally, the bureaucratic context, as well as the ethical and political impact of these technologies on fundamental rights will be analysed through expert interviews and focus groups. 

The Post-Doctoral Researcher will work mainly on objectives 2 and 3 of the project. 

Key responsibilities

  • Establish contacts and prepare the fieldwork for the visual ethnographies.
  • Carry out a visual ethnographic study in one of the three case studies of the project  (filmmaking, including camera work, sound and editing).
  • Support (together with the PI) two PhD students in carrying out their visual ethnographies.
  • Conducting interviews and focus groups on the effects of computer vision in the field of security as well as analysing the results of these interviews.

Additional responsibilities 

  • Participate with the PI and a PhD student in the constitution and analysis of a dataset on the current state of computer vision applications in the field of security.
  • Writing and publishing research papers in accordance with the schedule of the project.
  • Collaborating with the PI and in particular assisting the project manager in:
    • monitoring the implementation of the project and the timely reporting and delivery of all project commitments to the EC;
    • conducting the review and quality assurance of project deliverables;
    • keeping the project team on schedule and within budget through regular updates and communication with team members.
  • Contributing to project communications.
  • Contributing to the dissemination strategy of the project, both in academic (conferences) and audio-visual sectors (festivals, broadcasters, other distribution channels).
  • Teaching at least one course in the political science department (thesis seminar).

Selection criteria

  • A PhD in political science / international relations or in a relevant discipline (anthropology, sociology, media studies, data studies) or be near completing one.
  • Strong experience in visual practice such as documentary or ethnographic filmmaking (directing, camera work, editing).
  • Experience in qualitative methods such as participant observation, interview techniques, focus groups.
  • Substantive interest in and knowledge of critical security studies, science and technology studies, data politics, surveillance, discrimination, ethnic and racial politics, human rights.
  • Ability to work collectively and to lead junior colleagues in a research team.
  • Excellent command of English.
  • Experience in supervising Bachelors or Master’s theses, in particular visual theses based on visual practice (filmmaking) works in your advantage.
  • Experience in EU or other collaborative projects is a plus.
  • Skills in computer vision, data visualization and related programming languages is a plus.
  • Any other language than English is a plus.

Our organisation
The Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences comprises five institutes: Education and Child Studies, Political Science, Psychology, Cultural Anthropology & Development Sociology and the Centre for Science and Technology Studies. The Faculty is home to 5,000 students and 600 members of staff. Our teaching and research programmes cover diverse topics varying from adoption to political behaviour. For more information, see our website. 

The Institute of Political Science has a strong research tradition in various areas of comparative, Dutch and international politics, as well as political theory. The Institute has around 80 academic staff, including many non-Dutch scholars, and houses a number of editorships of international refereed journals and book series. Members of the institute are also involved in a number of the university’s multi-disciplinary research centres, including Central and East European Studies, International Relations, Political Parties and Representation, and Political Philosophy. The Institute is based in Leiden but a large and growing part of the teaching is done nearby in The Hague.

Terms and conditions
The position preferably starts on 1 January 2021. We offer a full-time position for initially one year. After a positive evaluation of the progress of the thesis, personal capabilities and compatibility the appointment will be extended by a further three years.  Salary range from 3,637.- to 4,978- gross per month on a full-time basis (pay scale 11, in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities).

Leiden University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses (8.3 %) and training and career development. Our individual choices model gives you some freedom to assemble your own set of terms and conditions. For international spouses we have set up a dual career programme.
 Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break. More information can be found on our website.

Leiden University is strongly committed to diversity within its community and especially welcomes applications from members of underrepresented groups.

If you wish to further inquire about the position, please make direct contact with Francesco Ragazzi, principal investigator and chair of the selection committee, email

Please submit online your application no later than 15 July 2020 via the blue button in our application system. Applicants should submit online:

  • an application letter in English that addresses each of the required qualifications described above, as well as additional qualifications and experience of relevance to the position (1-2 pages);
  • CV (with list of publications and list of visual projects);
  • sample paper or article;
  • sample visual project;
  • provide the names of two people who may be contacted to provide a reference on behalf of the candidate. 

The applicants will hear about the result of the selection process by the end of August. Selected candidates will first be invited for an online pre-interview; some will be invited to Leiden for an in-person interview, depending on the health context. You are kindly requested to be available during this period. 

Enquiries from agencies are not appreciated.

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