Vacancy: Governing the water-labour-land nexus in agriculture and long-term regional development in the Sagalassos/Ağlasun region

An interdisciplinary consortium of the KU Leuven is opening a vacancy for a doctoral researcher for the C1 research project on ‘The role of change in understanding long-term regional development in the Sagalassos/Ağlasun region in Turkey’.

Governing the water-labour-land nexus in agriculture and long-term regional development in the Sagalassos/Ağlasun region

This is a joint project between research groups of archaeology, ecology, geography, planning studies and data analysis/visualization. The candidate will be supervised by Profs Loopmans (Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Division of Geography and Tourism) and Van den Broeck (Department of Architecture, Research Unit Planning & Development), in close collaboration with the other partners in the project.

The Political Ecology Research Group of the Division of Geography and Tourism is a young but well-developed international research group working at the intersection of environmental studies and human geography. Initiated by profs. Chris Kesteloot, Constanza Parra and Maarten Loopmans, our research focuses on agriculture in rural and urban development, the political ecology of fluida (water, air) and nature conservation. Working both in Europe and the Global South, our research pays particular attention to power relations, marginalization and social exclusion in socionatural relations. We experiment with a wide range of qualitative and quantitative methods for research and participation, including (photo)graphics and citizen science.

The Research Unit Planning & Development is a long standing multidisciplinary research group that carries out applied and policy-oriented as well as fundamental research in the field of spatial planning, territorial development and social innovation. Led by Prof. Pieter Van den Broeck, the research team consists of a dynamic group of post-doctoral and doctoral researchers as well as several research associates. Emeritus Professors Frank Moulaert, Jan Schreurs, Louis Albrechts and Han Verschure also actively contribute to the research group. The Research Unit is specialized in the strategic and institutional aspects of spatial planning, social innovation in territorial development, issues of environmental justice, European territorial development and planning debates, with a specific attention to new methodologies and concepts for action and implementation-oriented planning and development processes. It also has a wide experience in the role of participation in spatial development planning.

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Theoverall C1 project seeks to unravel the interdisciplinary understanding ofchange and its space/time dimensions within already existing and future datasources of the KU Leuven Sagalassos project (running since 1986), whichinvestigates the Sagalassos archaeological site in Turkey and studies itsuninterrupted occupation over nearly 2,000 years in all its aspects, from dailylife, diet, religious beliefs, to architecture, production, trade and itsmechanisms, as well as natural resources and environmental conditions of thepast.

Taking on a historical perspective, the PhD research project will analyse the dynamicsand stability of agricultural regional development in the Sagalassos/Ağlasun region.It will address the region as a sociometabolic system and specifically focus on thegovernance and regulation of the combination of land, water and labour in agriculture.Even though not directly implicated in metabolic processes themselves, the meta-materialand immaterial dimensions of societal organization are important factors in theregulation and stabilization of a particular regime of organizing production.They may include knowledge systems, governance arrangements, culture, discourseand ideology. The research will thus develop a narrative on the governance andregulatory aspects of agricultural regional development in theSagalassos/Ağlasun region.

The analysis of this regulated labour process is divided into three workpackages. First, existing data will be mobilized to reconstruct the productionof livelihoods through agricultural production. Secondly, the materialdimensions of collective labor (water-labour-land nexus) in agriculturalprocesses are investigated. Thirdly, the immaterial dimensions of itsorganization are studied. The focus of the PhD is on the combination of labourwith water and land. Whereas we investigate the late modern period in the firstplace, links will be made with the archeological researchers in the project to analyze the longue durée change of the organization of production andlabor.

The PhD will interact with a postdoc project, in which a long durée narrative of agricultural regional development will be created.


Thecandidate is interested in the geographical, social and historical analysis ofspatial development, has excellent theoretical capacities and a strong sensefor (interdisciplinary) research. He/she has an appropriate master diploma of geography, political science, sociology, spatial planning, environmental engineering. An additional diploma in one of these disciplines is highly recommended. The candidate has excellent writing and communication skills inEnglish and masters the Turkish language. Practical experience with GIS, remotesensing and land use modelling is required. Knowledge of historical analysis, and a background in political ecology and institutional analysis are additional valuable strengths.


We offer a four year full time PhD scholarship. KU Leuven wages for PhD researchers are applicable.

Internationaland interdisciplinary research environment, access to national andinternational research and practice networks, dynamic research teams.


For more information please contact Prof. dr. Maarten Loopmans, tel.: +32 16 32 24 33, mail:, Prof. dr. Pieter Van den Broeck, tel.: +32 16 32 86 79, mail:, or or dra. Ebru Torun (
Candidates can apply by uploading a motivation letter and CV. Selected candidates will be invited for an interview and assignment testing their analytical skills.

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