AUSTRALIA’s RMIT University is calling for expressions of interest for a three-year PhD scholarship looking at mobile phone use across Pacific.

Officially called “The Moral and Cultural Economy of the Mobile Phone in the Pacific” project, it will be undertaken at the Digital Ethnography Research Centre at the university’s School of Media and Communication.

The scholarship will ensure the PhD candidate conducts ethnographic field research for a study of the moral and cultural economy of the mobile phone in Fiji.

The person will spend at least 12 months over the three years of candidature in Fiji documenting and analysing the relationships between consumers, companies and state agents that take shape around mobile phones, digital media and infrastructures.

The candidate will carry out research based on his or her specific expertise and research interests while also contributing a key component to a broader comparative study with Papua New Guinea funded by the Australian Research Council Discovery Grant.

The candidate will also become a Postgraduate Member of the Digital Ethnography Research Centre.

Eligible candidates will need to have a BA with Honours or MA/MSc (Research) in Anthropology, Sociology, Media, Communication, Science and Technology Studies, Informatics/Information or another related discipline.

Candidates must also be willing to undertake ethnographic fieldwork in Fiji and be willing to learn the language of their fieldwork site.

Pending final approval, the scholarship will include a tax-free stipend of A$24,653 per year for three years. All applicants will need to apply for and be accepted to the PhD program in Media and Communication at RMIT University to be eligible for the scholarship. The project, which has three objectives, will be undertaken at a time when almost 5 billion of the world’s 6 billion mobile phone subscriptions are found in the developing world.

The student will be involved in looking at case studies in two countries in the Pacific, but which are experiencing two different mobile industries. While PNG has a single service provider which dominates the market, Fiji’s mobile market has more competition.

There will also be a focus on mobile money in particular as an emergent phenomenon that redefines relations among consumers, companies and states and that facilitates financial and social well-being in the developing world.

Initial expressions of interest, including a CV and 500-word initial project proposal should be sent before 30 March 2014 to Heather Horst at RMIT.

A formal call for scholarship candidates will be issued pending final approval, anticipated in April.