PhD studentship What Constitutes Violence? Victims, Survivors and Trauma

Supervisors:  Professor Bob Brecher, Dr Mark Devenney, and Dr Michael Neu

Application deadline: 4pm, 27 June 2013

Recent scholarship has reconceptualised violence taking in to account two aspects unrecognised in the liberal/empiricist paradigm. First, scholars have extended analysis to the different forms of violence – psychological, structural and physical (in for example Zizek’s work). Second, scholars have investigated how the different ‘experiences’ of violence might find adequate forms of representation, without doing to damage to these traumatic experiences. And what might be the implications of this for an understanding of violence more generally? You will engage with this body of critical theoretical scholarship, seeking to refine both the conceptualisation of violence, and the relationships between this conceptualisation and an ethics of violence.

This is one of three doctoral scholarships available within the University of Brighton’s newly established interdisciplinary research cluster, Understanding Conflict: Forms and Legacies of Violence. Based jointly in the Centre for Applied Philosophy, Politics and Ethics and the Centre for Research in Memory, Narrative and Histories, the cluster builds a usable understanding of violent conflict and its human legacies, developing two areas of interdisciplinary investigation rooted in the recent work of the two research centres. One area is concerned with ethical and political justifications of violence, based on the principle that the philosophical study and practical implementation of an ethics of suffering have to take on board people’s experiences of living with, through and after violent conflict. The other area investigates cultural and historical constructions of past, present and future as experienced, understood and negotiated in cultures and societies undergoing violent conflict or dealing with ‘post-conflict’ legacies, with a particular interest in the intersection between temporal dynamics and spatial locations. By developing dialogue between historically and geographically situated studies and more abstract philosophical approaches, and through collaboration with external partners from outside the academy with lived experience and/or practical knowledge of conflict and its transformation, the cluster aims to develop over a number of years a valuable interdisciplinary synthesis for understanding and engaging with the forms and legacies of recent and contemporary violent conflict.   

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Led by Professor Bob Brecher (applied philosophy) and Professor Graham Dawson (historical cultural studies), the cluster brings together established expertise in humanities and social sciences from across the university. Contributing disciplines and areas include: applied philosophy, critical theory, cultural geography, cultural and social history, literature, material culture, politics, psycho-social studies and social anthropology. With a commitment to developing interdisciplinary understandings, you will be part of a wider group (currently nine) of PhD students working on related topics and helping to further both the cluster’s scholarly reputation and its public impact. This will include contributing to our wider activities, including conferences, workshops, public participation and dissemination.

Funding notes: Each studentship is valued at £58,500 over three years and includes funding to cover annual tuition fees and a contribution towards living costs. It is available to students worldwide.

Eligibility and how to apply: Please visit our website

Further Information: Contact the office of Professor David Arnold, dean of the Doctoral College on: +44 (0)1273 761432 or

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