(Hazardous) Sanitation Labour: Historical Legacies and Shifting Realities - PhD via FindAPhD

Lancaster University

Lancaster, UK 🇬🇧

About the Project

Project Description:

Around the world, sanitary workers continue to manually handle human faeces on streets, in drains, latrines, sewers and septic tanks. Whilst such ‘dirty work’ provides essential income, it also frequently leads to illness, injury and death. Hazardous labour practices persist despite the introduction of machines, and the histories and priorities of sanitation workers, many of whom hail from low-caste, class, tribal or religious minorities, remain overlooked in academia, policy and practice. To date, little is known about how this work is changing in line with shifting livelihood opportunities, technological ‘innovations’ (including the introduction of robots and trucks), legal and policy interventions. This studentship will help address this oversight, with attention given to how workers themselves respond to shifting realities. Whilst the supervisory team have particular interest and expertise in Bangladesh, India, Ghana and Tanzania, we welcome applicants focusing on hazardous sanitation labour anywhere in the world.

General eligibility criteria

Enthusiasm, independence, self-motivation, curiosity and the ability to communicate to a range of audiences are all distinctly advantageous qualities for a PhD. Applicants would normally be expected to hold a minimum of a UK Honours degree at 2:1 level or equivalent in a relevant degree course. However, applicants who have gained experience in relevant fields through non-traditional routes are strongly encouraged to apply. We particularly welcome applications from Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic (BAME) candidates, candidates who are in the first generation of their family to go to university, candidates who have been in care or who have been a young carer, and candidates from a low-income background.

English language requirements for overseas students can be found here.

Project specific criteria

Applications are encouraged from candidates with a background in social science/ humanities (Geography, Urban Studies, Development Studies, History) and/or Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Engineering, with experience working across disciplines. The prospective student will be expected to engage with key interdisciplinary debates on waste, cleanliness, infrastructure, technology, coloniality, livelihoods and marginality, including intersections of class, caste, gender and race. A qualitative or mixed methods approach will be encouraged, to ensure that the histories and lived experiences of workers are at the centre of analysis.

While there is a small annual budget for fieldwork, this is limited. Prospective applicants should therefore consider feasibility of any extended fieldwork or costly methods, when applying. Additional fieldwork could be completed, subject to the successful acquisition of further funds.

For informal queries, please email Dr Sally Cawood at: [email protected]

Studentship funding

Full studentships (UK tuition fees and stipend (£16,062 2022/23 [tax free])) for UK students for 3.5 years or full studentships (International tuition fees and stipend (£16,062 2022/23 [tax free])) for International students for 3 years.

Selection information

Candidates should note that there are a total of six studentships available for this call, which means that not every project will be assigned a student. Applications will first be shortlisted by the project supervisor with a final interview and shortlisting conducted by a departmental panel. 

One studentship is specifically reserved for a candidate from a global south country. If this applies to you, please make this clear on your application form.


Deadline for applications: 20th May 2022

Provisional Interview Date: to be confirmed     

Start Date: October 2022

To apply, please visit https://www.lancaster.ac.uk/lec/graduate-school/phd/phd-opportunities/#hazardous-sanitation-labour-historical-legacies-and-shifting-realities-371066-14

1 days remaining

Apply by 20 May, 2022