PostDoc Position ‘Multi-modal approach to European security politics (DATAUNION ERC project)’

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Vrije Universiteit Brussel

The Faculty of Law and Criminology, Department Metajuridica, is looking for a postdoctoral researcher with a grant

More concretely your work package contains: 

Your work will be part of the European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant project ‘The European Data Union: European Security Integration through Database Interoperability’ (DATAUNION, project number 101043213), led by Prof. Rocco Bellanova.

The DATAUNION project explores the ongoing implementation of several EU database interoperability initiatives, and studies how the construction of a “European Data Union” shapes European integration in the field of security. More specifically, the DATAUNION project aims at providing a better understanding of the role of digital technologies in three dimensions of European integration:

  • security practices;
  • institutional governance;
  • fundamental rights.

Empirically, the project focuses on the ongoing implementation of EU-wide initiatives such as:

  • the interoperability of large-scale EU databases for example:
    • the Schengen Information System-SISII;
    • EURODAC;
    • the Visa Information System;
    • etc.
  • the integration of Europol’s information systems; 
  • the networking of passenger information databases.

The project develops an innovative multi-modal approach bringing Critical Making to the study of security practices to retrace how database interoperability is implemented on the ground. This approach combines more traditional humanities and social sciences’ methods such as semi-structured interviews, documentary and discourse analysis, with the use of digital technologies as a research tool (“Critical Making” and digital methods). As such, the DATAUNION project brings together approaches from Critical Security Studies, Science and Technology Studies and Critical Data Studies.

More concretely, as a postdoctoral researcher, you are expected to contribute to the development of the multi-modal approach of the DATAUNION project, and to develop your original research in the framework of the project scope. This implies to:

  • work with the Principal Investigator (PI) in crafting a multi-modal methodology at the intersection of qualitative, digital humanities, and critical making approach;
  • carry out empirical research focusing on interoperability initiatives concerning EU-centralised databases in the field of security and border policy;
  • test and fine-tune the multi-modal approach on a pilot case study;
  • train the interdisciplinary DATAUNION team in their adoption and use of the multi-modal approach;
  • submit the findings of the methodological and empirical research to scientific journals (2 articles);
  • edit, together with the PI, an handbook on Critical Making Practices for Critical Security Studies and co-author the introduction;
  • regularly attend scholarly conferences to present the results of the project and to foster interdisciplinary conversations.

This position presupposes the ability to bring your expertise into a conversation with a multidisciplinary team, involving researchers coming from disciplinary backgrounds as diverse as Law, International Relations or STS. It also implies to actively participate in the team activities and to support the PI in those administrative tasks that are most related to your contributon to the project.

For this function, our Brussels Humanities, Sciences & Engineering Campus (Elsene) will serve as your home base. 

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