This PhD position is funded by a ‘Research Concerted Action’ (ARC) Consolidation Grant of the
Federation Wallonia-Brussels, and will be based at the Laboratory of Anthropology in
Contemporary Worlds (LAMC) of the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB). Part of the Institute
of Sociology of ULB, LAMC focuses on issues related to religion, migrations and
transnationalism, art, aesthetics and cultural heritage, development, civil society and social
movements, gender and sexuality.
Contextual mobility in Europe-Southeast Asia social spaces:
Belgian-Vietnamese and Belgian- Laotian couples in focus
With the general aim of providing scientific insights into human contextual mobility in the
present age of global migration, this project proposes a case study of ‘mixed’ couples in which
the partners possess different nationalities and/or ethnicities, a configuration that has been
attracting many states’ controlling gaze. These couples are an interesting micro laboratory
through which larger social phenomena such as the increasing transnationalisation of individuals’
social spaces can be studied.
Since international marriages abound in Europe-Southeast Asia social spaces, heterosexual and
homosexual Belgian-Vietnamese and Belgian-Laotian couples residing ‘here’ (Belgium) or
‘there’ (Vietnam or Laos) will be the focus of this project. The diplomatic and trade relations
between Belgium and Vietnam as well as between Belgium and Laos trigger dynamic spatial
movements of their citizens that facilitate meetings between prospective couples. Given the
tightening of migration policies in Belgium and the social challenges that Vietnam and Laos are
presently encountering, investigating the mobility of Belgian-Vietnamese and Belgian-Laotian
couples is expected to yield interesting insights about present-day conjugal mixedness and
Through this case study, the project will bring to the fore ‘unusual’ and socially ‘invisible’
configurations as well as counter-paradigmatic voices and non-heteronormative accounts of
mixed couples’ family life. The objective here is three-fold: to conceptualise conjugal mixedness
through the starting analytical lens of ‘contextual mobility’; to highlight the marginal voices and
the lived experiences of cross-border social spaces of non-numerically dominant mixed couples;
and to illuminate the scholarly value of interdisciplinary perspectives and mixed methods
approach in the study of mixed couples.
To attain its objective, the project welcomes PhD research proposals addressing two or more of
the following questions:
1) Causes - why and how do some Belgian-Vietnamese or Belgian-Laotian couples decide to
reside in Belgium while others settle in the country of their partners? What characterise the
contexts in which they find themselves?
2) Processes - how do these mixed couples construct their translocal and transnational social
spaces? How do they position themselves in their respective contexts and social spaces on everyday basis? In what way do these couples’ representations in political discourses, historical
accounts and in the media affect the partners’ individual and collective self-identification?
3) Consequences - how does their contextual mobility affect their lives? In what way does their
couple’s embeddedness in translocal and/or transnational social spaces influence the self-
(re)making of the partners in legal, gender, class, ethnic or national terms?
Description of the PhD position
Duration: Funding is currently available for 2-3 years for a total PhD duration of four years. The
successful candidate is expected to start his/her PhD on or before January 2019, and to
subsequently apply for a Belgian National Research Council (FRS-FNRS) PhD grant (e.g.
FRESH, Research Fellow/ASP) to complete his/her PhD.
Amount: The PhD grant will be paid at a gross income of about 2900€ which corresponds to an
average net income of about 1900€ (the exact amount will depend on the PhD fellow’s
nationality, family status and previous positions).
Degree: A Master’s degree or equivalent in the Social Sciences is preferred.
Nationality: There is no nationality requirement. The successful candidate is expected to move to
Belgium at the start of his/her PhD.
Language: Very good proficiency in written and spoken English and/or French is required, as
well as proficiency in Lao (or willingness to learn it).
Interested candidates must send the following documents (in English or in French) as a single
PDF file to the PhD supervisor (Asuncion.Fresnoza@ulb.ac.be) before 15 September 2018
- a motivation letter;
- a five-page research proposal including the following parts: introduction, research
questions and objectives, state of the art, methodology and conclusion;
- a complete CV with a list of publications (if applicable);
- the contact details of three academic referees;
- a writing sample in English or in French; and
- copies of BA and MA diplomas as well as transcripts of grades.
Application deadline: 15 September 2018
Interviews of short-listed candidates (in person or using Skype): during the week of 24
Information on the result: 1 October 2018