Research Associate – ESRC Project: Hazardous Sanitation Labour

Lancaster Environment Centre
Salary:   £28,756 to £33,309
Closing Date:   Monday 11 July 2022
Interview Date:   To be confirmed
Reference:  0587-22

Are you interested in sanitation and labour rights? Do you have qualitative and archival research experience? Read more about an exciting opportunity at Lancaster University below.

Lancaster Environment Centre (LEC) is pleased to announce a Postdoctoral Research Associate (PDRA) position as part of an ESRC funded project ‘Hazardous Sanitation Labour: Connecting the Past, Present and Future of Manual Scavenging in Bangladesh’.

Reporting to the Principal Investigator (Dr Sally Cawood), you will carry out research on the histories and contemporary realities of those involved in handling human waste in pit latrines, septic tanks, sewers and drains in small towns and large cities. Contributing directly to Work Packages 1 and 2, tasks will include online and in-person archival research into the emergence and persistence of the practice in Bangladesh (with particular attention paid to the role of British colonisers in administering ‘dirty work’), as well as interviews with key stakeholders (including activists, practitioners and policy advocates) to understand the impacts of contemporary technological, legal and infrastructural interventions. You will also undertake an extensive review of existing literature on manual handling of human waste in Bangladesh, across the wider region and globally.

You will possess a completed PhD in a relevant social science or humanities discipline (for example, Human Geography, History, Anthropology, Urban Studies, Law, Development Studies or related fields), experience in qualitative and archival methods, and knowledge of sanitation, labour, Dalit and minority rights in South Asia (or strong interest in learning about these topics in preparation for the role). You must be able to both write and speak fluently in English, have excellent analysis and writing skills, as well as a willingness to work remotely and collaboratively in intercultural settings. We also particularly welcome applications from Bengali and/or Hindi speakers. Experience in working with an array of stakeholders is also desired.

This post is an excellent opportunity to play a central role in ensuring the success of a major research project. There will be opportunities to develop skills and expertise, and you will benefit from working in a vibrant Department at a top-ranked University. You will be part of a wider dynamic team of collaborators in Bangladesh, and an international advisory group including academics, practitioners, activists and policy advocates in Bangladesh, India, Denmark, Switzerland, Pakistan and the UK.

Please see accompanying Job Description and Person Specification for further details on job expectations and skills required. The position is available from the 1st September 2022, and will run (full-time) for a period of 12 months. Please also note that travel to India and Bangladesh from the UK for data collection will be required as part of this role.

We welcome applications from people in all diversity groups. We particularly welcome candidates from Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds, 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. We will also consider part-time work arrangements.

For informal queries about the role, please contact Dr Sally Cawood at