Research Fellowships 2021/2022
Postdoctoral and Senior Researchers
The Käte Hamburger Kolleg/Centre for Global Cooperation Research
(KHK/GCR21) invites applications for Research Fellowships with duration
of 12 months starting between February and September 2021. Proposals are
especially welcome regarding: (1) critique, justification and legitimacy
in global cooperation; and (2) global cooperation and competing
conceptions of world order. The fully funded fellowships are available
to both senior and postdoctoral researchers across the humanities and
social sciences. Deadline for applications is 1st June 2020.
We are aware that this call comes at a time of high uncertainty around
COVID-19. We are monitoring closely the evolving situation and hope that
circumstances will allow the advertised fellowships to start as planned
from February 2021 onwards. We therefore urge you to apply if you are
interested but still uncertain about the practicability of the fellowship!
The Centre for Global Cooperation Research at the University of
Duisburg-Essen is one of ten Käte Hamburger Kollegs sponsored by the
German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Established in 2012,
the Centre is an interdisciplinary and international learning community
that seeks to enhance understanding of the possibilities and limits of
global cooperation and to explore new options for global public policy.
The working language at the Centre is English.
In its second funding period (2018-2023), the Centre’s research and
fellowships are organized around four broad themes: pathways and
mechanisms of global cooperation; global cooperation and polycentric
governance; critique, justification and legitimacy in global
cooperation; and global cooperation and competing conceptions of world
order. Empirical research on these themes focuses especially on the
governance of climate change, the internet, migration, and
peacebuilding. The Centre will issue thematic calls for application on
an annual basis.
For next year we invite fellowship applications from across the
humanities and social sciences (including also psychology, law and
economics) in relation to the second two main themes, as detailed below.
We particularly encourage female researchers and scholars from the
Global South to apply. Applications from scholars at risk are welcome.
Benefits to Fellows
An intellectually stimulating and vibrant interdisciplinary learning
Excellent infrastructure with fully equipped offices, library
facilities, and administrative support (also with finding accommodation)
Funds to organize workshops (subject to approval, with preference
especially to workshops that emerge from an interdisciplinary exchange
with other researchers at the Centre)
Either a monthly stipend commensurate with experience or financing of
a teaching replacement at the home institution
Expectations from Fellows
A completed PhD
Personal research and publication in the Centre’s thematic areas
A contribution to the Centre’s own publications
Regular active participation in seminars and other Centre events
Collaboration with other fellows in interdisciplinary exchange
Work in residence at the Centre in Duisburg, Germany
The Centre’s work in the period of 2021-2022 will focus on the themes
‘Critique, Justification and Legitimacy in Global Cooperation’ and
‘Global Cooperation and Competing Conceptions of World Order’. We
especially invite fellowship applications that address these themes, as
described below. In addition, preference will be given to applications
with an empirical focus on the governance of climate change, the
internet, migration, and peacebuilding.
Critique, Justification and Legitimacy in Global Cooperation
Legitimacy – and its contestation – is a vital question for global
cooperation. Legitimacy refers to the belief and perception that a
governing force has rightful authority and exercises it appropriately.
Legitimacy can be both normative (i.e. determined by moral judgement)
and sociological (i.e. observed in political behaviour).
Scholarship from various disciplines has usually examined legitimacy in
relation to the state, but more recent scholarship understands
legitimacy as a fragile, politicized, and contested phenomenon that
involves a wider range of political forces, including multilateral
institutions, private global governance, and transnational social movements.
This processual notion of legitimacy – the interplay between critique
and justification – leads to many conceptual, theoretical, and
methodological challenges. It implies considering politicization
processes and power relations across scales (at local, national and
transnational levels), a broad spectrum of political actors in their
complex relationships, and
new forms of resistance against formal authorities (e.g. by
whistleblowers, young climate activists, right-wing networks). Sites of
resistance include – but are not limited to – civil society
associations, social movements, and everyday practices of ordinary
citizens. De-legitimation can come from ‘left-wing’ and ‘right-wing’
angles, from communitarians as well as cosmopolitans.
If legitimacy is also created by civil society actors, new protest
movements, and ‘ordinary citizens’, research questions emerge on how to
conceptualize and study contested ‘legitimation work’ (Raymond Geuss)
around multiple sites of global cooperation. We welcome projects that
help us gain a better understanding of global cooperation and ‘politics
of (de)legitimation’. Proposals are welcomed across a range of
issue-areas, especially – though not limited to – climate change,
Internet, migration, and peacebuilding.
Questions for this research stream may include, though are not limited to:
Who are the protagonists who cooperate in legitimation and
de-legitimation (or resistance) struggles (e.g. civil society
organizations, social movements, indigenous groups)? How and why do
these struggles emerge and develop? How does the global rise of populism
play into such practices of cooperation?
What forms of trans-scalar cooperation can we distinguish in politics
of (de-)legitimation (e.g. shared textual and visual narratives,
performances, academic schools of thought)? For example, do young
climate activists cooperate differently than right-wing networks?
How can we best study new protagonists and complex new forms of
resistance against formal authorities, for instance as
exercised/practiced by whistleblowers, feminist activists, artists,
sportspeople and critical comedians?
How do certain concerns gain legitimacy as a “global” problem in need
of “cooperation” (e.g. peace, climate change)?
Global Cooperation and Competing Conceptions of World Order
The broad question concerning competing conceptions of world order is a
very traditional issue of global politics, which has operated on the
basis of both systemic assumptions and more actor-focused concepts. Yet,
under current polycentric conditions, these issues have taken many
different forms and can be studied from a variety of perspectives,
particularly with regard to their impact on global cooperation.
Research projects in this stream are invited to explore the
commonalities and differences between various conceptions of world
order, as well as relationships between them in practices of global
cooperation and non-cooperation. We welcome projects that help us to
gain a better understanding of how different and often contested
conceptions of world order shape, change or obstruct global cooperation.
This includes abstract considerations about epistemological and
anthropological foundations of world-order conceptions, as well as a
focus on material conditions and repercussions. Also welcome are
proposals that deepen understanding of populism and anti-global protest,
the fight for global equality or the self-legitimation of organizations.
Themes we are particularly interested in for the coming fellowship
How can we understand geopolitics (i.e. the strategic struggle for
spheres of influence), beyond its form as classic theme of international
politics? Can it result in new constellations of global cooperation? Or
will we see a return of interstate conflict that seemed to have become
obsolete? We invite research on perceptions, narratives and discourses
to explore grand geopolitical/economic schemes in their conception in
different regions or circles and also address new
Can conceptions of world order based on the unity of humankind be
imagined without relying on essentialist and simplifying anthropologies;
and what are the implications of such ‘new cosmopolitanisms’ for global
cooperation? What can be expected of approaches which substitute the
focus on human rationality with the emphasis on other human capacities,
such as empathy or awareness of common vulnerability? What is the role
of different conceptions of time and historical directionality?
How have conflicts between largely irreconcilable conceptions of world
orders (and political agendas) impacted on global cooperation? For
instance, while economic growth is seen as instrumental for improving
the lives of people particularly in the Global South, a contrary
position would hold that sustainable human life is only possible under
conditions of reduced growth and consumption, respect for nature, clean
energies etc. Can such guiding principles or even ideologies also pave
the way for new ways in global cooperation, such as new alliances and
forms or will these competing views generate future conflicts?
How to Apply
Applications (in English only) should include:
concise research proposal (3-5 pages)
list of publications
text of one relevant publication
Please submit applications at
Deadline for receipt of applications is 1st June 2020. Please indicate
in the cover letter your preferred start and end date of the fellowship.
If you have any questions, please contact Matthias Schuler at