Call for applications PhD position extended: June 20th

Agathe Keller kellera at UNIV-PARIS-DIDEROT.FR
Mon Jun 4 07:13:50 UTC 2012

Dear colleagues,

Toke Knudsen had posted two months back a call for applications for a 
PhD position on "The history of mathematics in ancient and medieval 
Indic sources related to administrative contexts". We are now extending 
the deadline to the 20th of June. Please do encourage your students to 
apply. Do not hesitate to contact me for further information.


Agathe Keller


The European Research Council Project SAW: Mathematical Sciences in the 
Ancient World: New Theoretical Approaches to the Sources and 
Socio-Political Issues of the Present Day is calling for applications 
for a full-time doctoral researcher.

General aims of the project. The SAW project is dedicated to 
mathematical sources that have come down to us from the ancient world, 
specifically, though not exclusively, to the sources produced in 
Mesopotamia, China, and the Indian sub-continent. The ambition of SAW is 
to develop new theoretical approaches to the history of ancient 
mathematics in order to highlight a motley of practices within what at 
the present day too often are presented as homogeneous wholes, that is, 
“Mesopotamian mathematics”, “Chinese mathematics”, and “Indian 
mathematics”. To this end, SAW intends to concentrate systematically on 
the mathematical sources produced in relation to two sectors of activity 
in the ancient world: the practice of the astral sciences and the 
administrations in charge of financial matters. A goal of the project is 
also to shape methods that ground our interpretation of ancient sources 
in the critical awareness that a material and social history of the 
archives, libraries, and collections of sources provides. SAW intends to 
carry out a reflection on the history of historiography of mathematics. 
The main focus of SAW in that direction will be on the key general 
operations which are at play in the making of the historiography of 
ancient sciences, such as the shaping of critical editions.

Description of the topic attached to the present scholarship. The 
primary aim of this doctoral scholarship will be to do research on 
Sanskrit or other Indic language sources. Striking parallels can be made 
between ancient and medieval law treatises (dharmaśāstras), the 
arthaśāstra, and related epigraphical documents on the one hand and 
medieval scholarly mathematical texts, especially those openly concerned 
with worldly practices (lokavyavahāra), on the other. The list of topics 
is large: from the leverage of taxes, to measuring units related to 
grain, from the minting of coins, rates for loans, to the rations with 
which to feed royal elephants! Is it possible to imagine a social 
context which explains such connections? Drawing on the existence of 
given local milieu dealing with temple administrations, merchants 
guilds, village administrations or local governments, can one identify 
specific required mathematical practices? In return, using law and 
administrative texts as a background, is it possible to shed new light 
on the complex classifications of mathematics involving operations, 
reductions of fractions, and numerous applications? Could such 
structures testify to attempts at giving a more global theoretical 
backdrop to the kind of problems administrations and guilds raised? 
Candidates will be expected to explore these questions with specific 
sources and topics.
Applicants must hold an MA degree or equivalent in history, history of 
science, Indian studies, Indology, Mathematics, or a related discipline. 
They should possess relevant knowledge in mathematics and philology 
(Sanskrit, pali, prakrt, or other Indic languages) or be able to 
demonstrate their ability to acquire such knowledge. They must be fluent 
in English and be willing to learn French. Researchers of all 
nationalities are welcome to apply.

Applications should include the following:
a full CV (including a list of publications where appropriate)
an outline (2 pages maximum) of the research project in line with SAW 
one recent sample of academic writing
a copy of the most recent diploma
transcripts of academic grades
names of two referees

The deadline for applications is: *20 June 2012* (for the post to be 
taken up as of 1 September 2012 or as early as possible thereafter). 
Short-listed candidates will be informed at the beginning of July 2012. 
Phone or Skype interviews with top-listed candidates are expected to 
take place during the first week of July 2012.

The scholarship is granted for one year renewable for two additional 
years, pending positive evaluation. The monthly stipend amounts to 1430 
euros. It includes social security benefits and retirement provisions. 
The scholarship recipient will prepare a doctoral dissertation under the 
supervision of Agathe Keller at the Paris Diderot University, France. 
He/she will need to complete all requirements for the doctoral degree at 
the University Paris Diderot.

Applications should be sent to the SAW Project Director Karine Chemla by 
email only: chemla at It is recommended to request 
an email acknowledgement of receipt.

Information on the SAW project is available online at

For informal discussion on the scholarship please contact Agathe Keller, 
kellera at

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