Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient / Position of a postdoctoral research fellow


The Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient (ZMO) in Berlin invites applications for the position of a post- doctoral research fellow with a 3-year contract, starting 1 January 2021. The successful candidate will work in the European Research Council funded Consolidator Grant project, Timely Histories: A Social History of Time in South Asia, which will run at ZMO for five years. The project, led by Nitin Sinha (principal investigator), will comprise two doctoral, two postdoctoral, and one research assis- tant positions.

The salary grade for the advertised position corresponds to the German scheme of employment in the public sector (TVöD E13, 100%). Additional funds for research travel, conference participation, and publications are available. The successful candidate will be required to be based in Berlin. We especially encourage senior researchers to apply, in which case the salary will be adequately deter- mined within the prescribed legal framework.

General outline of the project:

TIMEHIST – Timely Histories: A Social History of Time in South Asia aims to write a history of time and temporal cultures in South Asia between the 1500s and the 1950s on a practice- and process- based understanding of the past. The details of the project can be found here.

Advertised position:

We seek to hire a postdoctoral researcher working on the unit ‘time in early modern period’
(16th – 18th century). One of the central premises of the project is that modern temporal cultures cannot be studied in isolation by only looking at a period historically defined as modern, with a de- fining characteristic of an empty and abstract notion of time. For instance, even with alterations, the calendrical time of the early modern period continued to remain important in revenue bureau- cracy of the colonial state. What was the nexus between calendrical time, ritual time, and bureau- cratic time in the early modern period? Similarly, the widespread references to the use of water clocks in the sources of the pre-/early modern period require systematic exploration. The early modern notions of temporality were embedded in narrative forms, which were often dismissed as ‘ahistorical’ in the colonialist understanding.

Wielding a nuanced understanding of literary cultures, the chosen candidate will primarily research on: 1. histories of calendars, clocks, and other time measuring devices and their significance in early modern temporal cultures; 2. ways in which nocturnal times were organised and controlled; 3. Ar- riving at a general picture of ‘temporal cultures’ in early modern period while also using their pe- riod-expertise in providing necessary inputs to other units.


The candidate is expected to develop their project along the key points of this unit, and within the larger focus of the project’s central objective of doing histories of practices. The unit will focus on key themes outlined above. However, the successful candidate will be required to interact and help researchers working in other units using the knowledge-expertise on early modern period and sources.

  • The candidate must have an outstanding and promising career trajectory in terms of having a finished and submitted/awarded PhD thesis in the field of history of South Asia (16th – 18th century);
  • More than one publication (peer-review journal articles, book chapters, also which are under acceptance);
  • In-depth command over early modern history; historiographical debates;
  • Proven ability to use archival-literary sources in innovative and critical ways;
  • Great command over English and a South Asian language in which the early modernsources will be used (preferably Persian or Sanskrit but proposals based upon otherlanguage-expertise are also welcome);
  • Proven ability to work both independently and as part of a team;
  • Proven ability to work in an international and highly competitive environment;
  • Tested disposition to finish work in a time-bound manner;
  • To interact actively with other relevant research clusters at ZMO.Key responsibilities:
    • Conducting research on the proposed theme;
    • Writing at least two peer-review journal articles or book chapters;
    • While conducting their own research, proactively interact with other units and themes;
    • Proactively sharing the responsibility as a senior researcher, in organising workshopsand conferences, reading groups, and other events of the project as well as events inconjunction with other ZMO research clusters;
    • Active assistance in meeting the publication/outreach plans of the project (special is-sues and edited books); active assistance in day to day running and management of the project.What we offer:The Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient (ZMO) is the only research institution in Germany that deals with the Middle East, Africa, Eurasia, South and Southeast Asia in an interdisciplinary and histori- cally comparative perspective. We offer a vibrant and interdisciplinary work environment in Berlin as well as a motivating and friendly working atmosphere. Our centre provides opportunities to con- nect widely with other institutes and networks in Berlin and outside.


Please collate all materials in one single PDF file and send it to Dr Silke Nagel (zmo@zmo.de) by 30 July with the subject ERC-TIMEHIST-EARLYMOD. Please copy your application to timely.histories@gmail.com

  • Cover letter (not exceeding two pages);
  • Outline of your proposed research, with reference to sources, and in alignment withthe key features of the unit as well as the overall project (maximum three pages);
  • Statement of purpose (one page maximum) stating the ways in which your experienceand knowledge (of sources, language, and previous work) would aid the project inachieving its overall goals;
  • Curriculum Vitae with a list of publications (including those under review);
  • Copy of certificates (M.A and PhD);
  • One writing sample (fairly recent journal article, book or thesis chapter);
  • List of two referees (names, affiliations, email addresses, and telephone numbers)Diversity:ZMO is committed to maintaining diversity, inclusivity, and equality of opportunity within its com- munity and therefore encourages applications from members of all underrepresented groups.Further information:Relevant informal enquiries regarding the project and the advertised job can be made to Nitin Sinha, nitin.sinha@zmo.de, cc also to timely.histories@gmail.comSelection:Candidates will be shortlisted for the interview on the basis of the received application. Due to Covid-19 crisis, we will refrain from putting out an interview date right now. We will keep the se- lected candidates informed and work out a mutually agreeable date. Chosen candidates should be well prepared to appear for the interview using digital/virtual medium.
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