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Urban Terrorism in Europe (2004-19): Remembering, Imagining, and Anticipating Violence

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Thursday, April 30, 2020
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

‘Urban Terrorism in Europe (2004-19): Remembering, Imagining, and Anticipating Violence’ (UrbTerr), a major 5-year project funded by the European Research Council, is investigating collective forms of remembering, forgetting, and anticipating in relation to recent acts of urban terrorism in Europe with a particular focus on Spain, France, Germany, and the UK. Drawing on concepts and methods from memory studies, cultural studies, feminist theory and anthropology, UrbTerr will document and analyse a range of voices in contemporary debates on urban terrorism in Europe and problematise the narrow concept of imagination and creativity underpinning recent counter-terrorism measures and a great part of the academic literature on this subject.

The focus of UrbTerr is on acts of urban terrorism between 2004 and 2019. To offer an in-depth analysis of the material, cultural and political impact of attacks in this period, UrbTerr will adopt a multi-method approach. We will collect and analyse data in the form of media coverage, political statements, police reports and other sources from community and state archives, as well as personal testimonies and field notes, using the following methods: semi-structured interviews, discourse analysis, participant observation and other forms of field work. We combine these methods not simply to maximise the amount of data but to do justice to the complexity of terrorism as a material, cultural, and political phenomenon. The following questions are of particular importance for our project: how do people honour the memory of those who were killed and injured by acts of terrorism? How do people live, work, and travel in public spaces in the aftermath of terrorist attacks? How do they imagine the future of terrorism?

The PI Dr Katharina Karcher is now recruiting two PhD students. The successful candidates will be supervised by Dr Karcher and colleagues from Spanish and French and will be affiliated with the University of Birmingham Graduate Centre for Europe (an interdisciplinary research initiative involving graduate students from the Social Sciences, Humanities, and Life and Environmental Sciences). The research of the UrbTerr PhD students will focus on local and national memory discourses in Spain (PhD student 1) and France (PhD student 2) in relation to recent acts of urban terrorism. Jointly with the PI, the PhD students will organise the conference ‘Remembering/Imagining Terror in Europe’. The co-edited conference proceedings will include case studies from a range of countries, and the co-authored introduction by the editors will situate them in a broader European perspective.

Funding Notes

Students will receive a stipend of £20,500 per year to cover tuition fees and living expenses, over 3.5 years starting in October 2020.

Applicants should have completed a MA in a relevant field and ideally have some experience with the use of semi-structured interviews and/or other qualitative research methods.

PhD student 1 needs to demonstrate fluency in Spanish and English, while PhD student 2 needs to demonstrate fluency in French and English. Both should have an active interest in memory studies, contemporary Spanish or French culture and politics (respectively), and political violence.

Open to full-time, campus-based UK/EU or overseas students.


Applications should include the following documents and be sent to [email protected] by Thursday 30 April 2020.

1. CV
2. a cover letter
3. a writing sample of up to 5,000 words
4. the names and contact details of two referees

How good is research at University of Birmingham in Modern Languages and Linguistics?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 33.10

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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