PhD Research Fellow in Critical Security Studies (Media Aesthetics and Conflict)

The position

The Doctoral Research Fellowship in Critical Security Studies (focus: media aesthetics and conflict) is located at the Faculty of Humanities, Social Sciences and Education (HSL)Centre for Peace Studies (CPS) at the University of Tromsø – The Arctic University of Norway (UiT). The position is affiliated to the UiT research group The Grey Zone.

Critical Peace and Conflict Studies, including Critical Security Studies is concerned with interdisciplinary and critical theoretical and empirical understandings of peace and conflict dynamics. It promotes critique of the conventional debates about the nature of conflict and peace formation. To understand how local structures and actors can contribute to trajectories of peace or conflict, it interrogates concepts such as security (critical and classical), geopolitics (critical and classical), hybrid threats and warfare, post-liberal peace, critical localism, hybrid peace, local peace infrastructures, and alternative, bottom-up and grassroots peacebuilding. 

Working hours are reserved for research, research-related activities and research administration.

The successful candidate must reside in Tromsø and have their daily workplace at the UiT Centre for Peace Studies (CPS). The candidate must be able to start in the position within a reasonable time after receiving the offer. The successful candidate must also be willing to engage themselves in the ongoing development of Critical Peace and Conflict Studies, the Centre for Peace Studies, and UiT as a whole.

The objective of the position is to complete research training to the level of a doctoral degree. Admission to the PhD programme is a prerequisite for employment, and the programme period starts on commencement of the position. The PhD fellow position is for a period of three years and full time studies with the possibility of an extension of the appointment period. If the doctoral dissertation is submitted for appraisal within 3 years or within 3.5 years, the PhD candidate is qualified for a completion grant for either 12 or 6 months. The completion grant should be used to further qualification measures such as courses in teaching in higher education, lecturing and other relevant work at the faculty. More information about the completion grant scheme can be found here.

The position’s field of research

Trust and resilience are cornerstones of democracy (EPD 2017). The linkage between “the spirit of the people,” democracy (trust and resilience), and security warrants increased attention. The relationship between media, technology and people’s engagement influences trust and resilience.

Disinformation has increasingly played a role in destabilising societies by targeting general populations and eroding societal trust. Disinformation is designed to increase doubt and mistrust between people and their governments as well as between groups of people within a society. Innovations in digital technology and the ways in which disinformation is able to intrude and influence people’s lives are often one step ahead of people’s or society’s resilience, or ability to resist or adapt to crisis and the consequences of crisis.

This PhD contributes to the NFR financed, research project FAKENEWS, which further contributes to the research portfolio of “The Grey Zone” research group. Due to its focus and methodological framework, the project might also benefit from and/or contribute to the NFR-project FUTURES4Fishcurrently coordinated at NFH.

The FAKENEWS project examines the ways in which people are either influenced or able to resist the power of disinformation, and further examines what role people have in contributing to societal resilience and overall security.

The PhD project will focus on how phenomena such as fake news and disinformation and their potential effects and implications are collectively imagined and envisioned. Based on the insight that disinformation matters not only due to its inherent qualities and actual influence, but also due to how people believe it operates and affects both individuals and societies, the position will address the social imaginaries of research communities, policy circles, and the general public. What are generally held beliefs and ideas about Fake News, disinformation and their effects? What are the implications of these beliefs and assumptions? If we believe fake news are the problem, what important other factors might we overlook or de-emphasize? Does a general fear of media influence lead to measures that decrease trust in decision makers and authorities rather than increasing it? Is our problem description structured by imaginaries without adequate grounding in factual conditions and how do both research and policy relate to this possibility? Is there a particular aesthetics of fake news and disinformation that predisposes both perception of and responses to this phenomenon? And, finally, how do new technologies (e.g. various machine learning applications) factor into the formation and negotiation of imaginaries of fake news and disinformation?

The position can investigate social imaginaries of disinformation and media influence by analyzing 1) popular cultural representations of the phenomena, by 2) conducting interviews with policy makers and researchers, and / or by 3) conducting ananlyses of key documents pertaining to the phenomenon. In all cases, what disinformation actually is will be secondary to the question of how the phenomenon is imagined, perceived, and understood by different communities and stakeholders.  

This project will draw upon a combination of methods such as interviews, observation, document analysis, and cultural analysis.  It will map and systematize the imaginaries of disinformation of key research and policy communities as well as of mainstream cultural production.  Intersectional analysis will determine how gender, race, ethnicity, class, age, ableism, sexual orientation, and other constructions of power-embedded identities factor into the types and qualities of the identified mental constructs.

This PhD will contribute to the FAKENEWS’ primary objective to generate a theoretical resilience framework allowing us to better understand how ideas about disinformation are created and disseminated and how such ideas, once imagined, can either facilitate or undermine the problems posed by disinformation.

The PhD project will address the following gaps in knowledge for the FAKENEWS project.

Gaps in knowledge: 

We lack knowledge about the relationship between media, imagination,  and people with regard to how disinformation, its qualities, and potential implications are understood and enacted. The project will be of decisive importance for collective responses to disinformation as it analyses how (potentially misguided) ideas and imaginaries of the phenomenon emanating from policy, research, and/or popular culture might affect conceptualisations and potentially draw responses into a wrong or even counter-productive direction entailing negative ramification for societal trust;

The applicants must present a description outlining the academic basis of the PhD project. The project description shall not exceed five pages, literature references included. It must include a description of the topic, research question(s) and a reasoning of the choices. It should also indicate the methodologies to be used. The final project description will be developed in cooperation with the supervisor. Template for project description can be found here.


For further information about the position, please contact Professor Gunhild Hoogensen Gjørv:

or Head of Department Marcela Douglas: