PhD Offer Geography: On the socioecologial dynamics around black Locust forests in southwestern France.


Doing for, making do?On the socioecologial dynamics around black Locust forests in southwestern France.


Project description PhD Offer
In line with other ‘invasive alien species’ officially defined as such in France or in the European Union, the black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) has been the subject of conflicting views about its origins, behaviour and impacts. Present in Europe for four centuries, valued by a noticeable share of foresters for its wood durability, it is somehow at the crossroads, neither fully considered exotic, nor invasive, nor a pest. However, to
date, the tree has not met an institutional recognition in relation with its potential economic uses. This marginality may not last, insofar as locust forests could become emblematic components of the emerging landscapes of the energy transition.

Geography 2017
This PhD project aims to answer why, in spite of their prominence in west-european landscapes, the wooded spaces dominated by Robinia pseudacacia have remained so underinvestigated – i.e. unproblematised or rendered invisible – by their users. The work will contribute to a broader interdisciplinary programme, aiming at understanding the trajectories of forest spaces in southwestern France. The research
will propose an analysis of current and past struggles over the expectations, desires and legitimacies attributed to various forms of future forests. It will also examine the intertwined identities of those feeling eligible to make these choices. With an intensive fieldwork located in the ‘Nouvelle Aquitaine’ region, the approach will rely on qualitative research enquiries – aimed at owners, managers, technical advisers and dwellers-, combined with a critical engagement of large scale geographical data – both existing and newly created.

Student’s profile
MSc in geography, cognizant of qualitative research methods and cartography /GIScience. An interest for the social/political dimensions of environmental change is a plus, as well as a working proficiency in English. Fluency in spoken French is an absolute prerequisite for the fieldwork.
Society/environment relationships, transitions, assemblages, political ecology, invasive species, socionatures, critical cartography.

Conditions, application process
This is a joint PhD between the Bordeaux-Montaigne (FR) and Lausanne (CH) universities, with a supervision by Laurent Couderchet and Christian Kull. The student will be employed by Irstea in the ‘Environment, stakeholders and regional dynamics’ lab near Bordeaux, with a stay of at least six months at the Institute of Geography and Sustainability in Lausanne.
The duration of the contract is three years, with a net monthly wage of 1 498 € (1863 € gross). Depending on the confirmation of the full funding of the studentship, work could start in October or November 2017. Please contact B. Hautdidier for any additional information on the background and the material conditions of the PhD project. The application process is fully online:


Baptiste Hautdidier
Irstea UR ETBX,
50, Avenue de Verdun
F-33612 Cestas
05 57 89 01 90

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