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Politics of Small Places

  • Funded PhD Programme (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Programme (Students Worldwide)

Profile Description

Applications are invited from prospective candidates for an AHRC-funded PhD project titled Politics of Small Places.

This is a new collaboration between the University of Dundee and Deveron Projects, a Creative Scotland - funded community arts group with a 20 year history of Geddes-inspired activism in and around the rural Scottish market town of Huntly, Aberdeenshire. Deveron Projects believes in the creative power of art and design to effect positive change in the world. Deveron Projects connects artists, communities and places through creative research and engagement. The town is the venue describes the framework in which we work and contribute to the social wellbeing of our town.


The research will be based on the thinking of the polymathic botanist-planner Patrick Geddes, who argued that engagement with our urban and rural environments was the basis for strong communities, lasting local identities, and thoughtful political action. Geddes is regarded as one of the key British urbanists and thinkers on the relation of people to places. The aim of Politics of Small Places is to investigate the application of Geddes' thought to contemporary rural environments within an increasingly globalised world. It aims to do this through the development of a program of practice‐based research projects with Deveron Projects, that explores rural communities, and their architectures, landscapes, economies, resources, and aspirations. We are looking for enthusiastic candidates from a range of disciplines (anthropology, art, sociology, architecture, etc) that can bring a passion to making the workings of Huntly, our rural market town, visible. Candidates should be interested in the visual representation of information and the exhibition format as a means of research, exploration, and debate.

We expect that the research thesis will involve a close reading of Geddes' texts and the texts of relevant social, environmental, and political thinkers in order to situate Geddesian activism within a wider study of individual and collective, social and spatial formations, rural economies, and local resource networks. One of the longer term objectives of this doctoral project will be to frame an extended Research Council-funded post-doctoral project that demonstrates the continuing relevance of Geddes' thought for community activism, and that puts it into practice through community arts projects. 

This is a fantastic opportunity for someone interested in working with a thriving community arts organisation. The candidate selection is conditional on successful application to the University of Dundee PhD programme https://www.dundee.ac.uk/architecture-urban-planning/. More information can be found on the Scottish Graduate School website; where you can also download the guidance documents. Available to UK residents (some restrictions apply). Interested candidates should contact either of the three supervisors: Claudia Zeiske at or Lorens Holm at or Jo Vergunst at , as soon as possible to discuss the project informally. Please send a CV with your email.
Candidates going forward should be prepared to submit an outline 1000 word research proposal by Monday 10 December 2018.

The project will be supervised by Dr. Lorens Holm (Reader in Architecture, University of Dundee) and Dr. Jo Vergunst (Senior Lecturer in Anthropology, University of Aberdeen) and Claudia Zeiske (Director, Deveron Projects).

Please note that the successfully nominated candidate will not be automatically funded. The selected candidate will liaise with the supervisory team and complete a full CDA PhD studentship application form by 13th February 2019, for consideration and final evaluation by SGSAH.

Funding Notes

The successful applicant will work with the supervisory team to prepare an application to the Scottish Graduate School of Arts and Humanities (SGSAH) in February 2019 as part of the SGSAH Collaborative Doctoral Award competition. If successful, the 3.5 year studentship will commence in October 2019.

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