PhD scholarship in South Asian History/Studies

Axel Michaels axel.michaels at YAHOO.DE
Wed Oct 22 16:27:24 UTC 2008

1 PhD scholarship (University of Heidelberg, Germany)
“South Asian Studies” 

The Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Context. Shifting Asymmetries in Cultural Flows” at the University of Heidelberg is offering 

1 PhD scholarships (2 + 1 years)

within the Junior Research Group (JRG) “Cultures of Disaster. Shifting Asymmetries between Societies, Cultures, and Nature from a Comparative Historical and Transcultural Perspective“, Research Area “Governance and Administration”. 

The PhD student is expected to develop a PhD project within the JRG’s research focus: Cultural constellations make extreme natural events like earthquakes, storms and floods a historically unique and socially-oriented disaster. Comparing different vulnerabilities and resilience of cultures in time and space highlights the differences of these “cultures of disaster” and what they share. The ability to cope with disasters and to protect societies from disasters is considered one of the key tasks of political-administrative practice in modern western traditions, as an indicator for good governance and administration. Demonstrating this idea as a historical development with many preconditions, pointing out different ways of dealing with disasters and following reciprocal cultural flows between different cultures from the Middle Ages to the present is a crucial topic of the JRG. Further informations on the Cluster and the JRG can be found at It is recommended to contact the JRG leader, Gerrit Jasper Schenk, for details about the research design of the JRG.

The dissertation should be situated in the field of South Asian history (16th to 19th century). Its primary focus is meant to be on ways of dealing with earthquakes, but depending on the choice of area and time frame by the candidate, the analysis could extend to including ways of dealing with natural hazards relating to water. The dissertation could e.g. discuss questions relating to the formation of conceptual categories, as well as to the reception of culturally shaped interpretative models, perception and interpretation of disasters, disaster-management and religio-judicial, political and administrative reactions.

The PhD candidate is invited to use the research environment of the Heidelberg Cluster of Excellence and is entitled and encouraged to participate in the Graduate Program of the Cluster and in the JRG activities. The PhD projects will be supervised by the JRG leader and the responsible cluster members. There will be offered institutional support, for example from the New Delhi Branch Office of the Heidelberg South Asian Institute. Every PhD candidate will have a tax-free scholarship of 1000 Euro monthly (with supplements for children) and access to travel funds and equipment. The scholarship will be awarded for two years with a possible renewal for another year after successful evaluation. It will start on 1 December 2008 or as soon as possible thereafter.

Applicants are expected to have an excellent academic standing and to be interested in completing a doctoral degree at the University of Heidelberg. They are required to hold a Masters degree or equivalent by 1 October 2008 or at latest by March 2009. The positions available are open to both EU and overseas students. Applications from women, ethnic minorities and individuals with disabilities are encouraged.

The successful candidate is expected to hold an university degree in South Asian Studies in History/ Cultural Studies, Indology/ Indian Studies and similar studies. Fluency in English is required, she/ he must be equipped to handle primary sources in the relevant languages of the research area and period under consideration. Knowledge of methods and theories in Transcultural Studies and Cultural History is advisable.

Applicants are asked to submit a CV, copies of university degrees, two letters of recommendation (one of them should be from the Masters supervisor), and a short PhD project outline of no more than 1000 words in English. Electronic applications are welcome. Applications should arrive as soon as possible, interviews will begin at the latest on 1 December 2008 and continue until the position is filled. Unfortunately, applications cannot be returned.

Please send your application to: Dr. Gerrit Jasper Schenk, Karl Jaspers Centre for Advanced Transcultural Studies, University of Heidelberg, Vossstr. 2, D-69115 Heidelberg; email: gerrit.schenk at

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