Deadline: November 15, 2019


The Centre for German and European Studies of St Petersburg University is seeking to appoint at the earliest opportunity 3 Research Assistants based in Europe to collect ethnographic and social network data in Europe during 2020 on the project ‘Creation of knowledge on ecological hazards in Russian and European local communities’ (2019-2021), supported by the Russian Science Foundation, PIs Nikita Basov and Kseniia Puzyreva, with contributions by Johan Koskinen, University of Melbourne, Julia Brennecke, University of Liverpool, Iina Hellsten, University of Amsterdam, Camille Roth, Humboldt University Berlin.


The project seeks to understand how flood management knowledge evolves in local communities. The success of struggling with floods depends to a large extent on interaction between local community knowledge and expert knowledge, accumulated by authorities, non-governmental organisations, companies and other stakeholders professionally involved in flood risk management. Today, international and national regulations stress the need to involve local communities into the process of flood risk management. However, the implementation of these regulations is problematic. The way the expert-local dialogue is organized today leaves small room for local communities to contribute to flood management and has unclear effects on local communities’ knowledge. The aim of this project is finding how expert flood risk management knowledge influences local flood-related knowledge of communities that inhabit flood-prone territories, using empirical cases in the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, Russia and England. The gathered data will be analyzed using the techniques of mixed-method socio-semantic network analyses, such as the ones described in (Basov, de Nooy and Nenko, American Journal of Cultural Sociology, 2019 and Basov, Poetics, 2019) and other, currently developed by the project team.

Available positions

We have three case-studies that we are seeking research assistants to support:
1. Qualitative data collection in Germany (Saxony)
2. Qualitative data collection in Italy (North-West Italy)
3. Qualitative data collection in the Netherlands (Central/ South Holland)


For each case study the candidate will collect in-depth data on local and expert flood-management knowledge under the guidance of the fieldwork supervisor.
This includes:
● Doing pre-field research, i.e. collecting necessary data about one of the three cases from the open sources;
● Getting in touch and appointing interviews with local action group members and flood risk management professionals;
● Conducting interviews with local action group members and representatives of flood risk management agencies;
● Collecting textual data produced by the local action groups and flood risk management professionals;
● Conducting visual observations of local action group meetings and public events run by flood risk management professionals;
● Communicating with the fieldwork supervisor on a daily basis and reporting the results on a weekly basis while in the field;
● Consolidation and ordering of collected data;
● Consultation throughout data processing.

Requirements to candidates

– Being based in or in close proximity to Saxony, or North-West Italy or Central/South Holland.
– Excellent German, or Italian, or Dutch language speaking skills (depending on the region).
– Fluent English speaking and writing skills.
– MA or PhD in social science
– Experience in conducting in-person surveys, semi-structured interviews, and observations
– Availability for the period of both of the data collection waves (February-March 2020 and October-November 2020) and for consultations during data processing after the fieldwork.
Knowledge of or interest in environmental (flood) management and/or community engagement in Germany or Italy or the Netherlands would be helpful. Experience in social network data collection and experience in collecting data on sensitive topics are desirable.


Time-frame for data collection: 1 February- 31 March 2020 and 1 October- 31 November 2020.
Prior to fieldwork, successful candidates will be invited to St. Petersburg for a workshop on data collection for the project on January 8-10 (tbc.), 2020. Flight, visa and accommodation costs will be covered.
Time-frame for data processing: April 2020 and December 2020.
Successful and interested RAs will be invited to take part in data analysis and paper writing within the project from 2021 and on.


To apply, send a CV and a cover letter in English to Kseniia Puzyreva to before November 15, 2019. Successful candidates will be interviewed at the end of November.


Depending on the academic level, monthly salary will amount to about 800€ for graduate students and to 1000€ for doctoral students during the 4 months of data collection. In case of further engagement into the project, the conditions will be negotiated individually.
For more information about the Centre for German and European Studies visit:
Feel welcome to disseminate this call broadly.


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