The Emmy Noether Research Group “Hazardous Travels. Ghost Acres and the Global Waste Economy” is  nviting applications for three funded positions for doctoral candidates. The project “Hazardous Travels” is based at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society in Munich. Positions start April 2017 or later.

Successful applicants will be graduates in the humanities or social sciences who wish to research the ecological and economic aspects of the international trade in hazardous waste from a global historical perspective. Doctoral candidates in the project will work on case studies from Germany, India, or Ecuador and should have background knowledge and language skills relevant to the respective area.

Deadline is November 15, 2016.

More details are here.


The research group investigates the structures and dynamics of the international trade in hazardous waste starting in the 1970s. It seeks to understand how this system could be built simultaneously on structures of “voluntary exchange” of toxic materials and on what critics have labeled “garbage imperialism.” The project situates hazardous waste at the core of historical debates on the pitfalls and power inequalities of globalization. Moreover, it uses waste as a tool to understand the forces, structures, and actor networks driving globalization as well as the interlinkage of global structures and specific politico-economic and ecological systems in the late twentieth century. To this end, we will employ two fundamental concepts: (1) hazardous waste mobility, and (2) the emergence of “ghost acres”—i.e., hazardous waste disposal sites across national borders—following the environmental turn in industrialized countries in the 1970s.The project consists of one overarching study conducted by the PI and three individual hazardous waste case studies.

Dissertation projects will focus on the following topics: (1) the inter-German hazardous waste trade during the Cold War and into German reunification, (2) the shipbreaking industry in India, or (3) the history of Texaco’s oil drilling in the Indigenous Amazon region of Ecuador. In addition to one of the three projects, individual project outlines in line with the larger research agenda are also welcome.