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Postdoctoral Position on Material/Visual Cultures of Southeast Asia

Vacancy number
Job type
Academic staff
Hours (in fte)
External/ internal
Placed on
23 January 2024
Closing date
1 March 2024 Vacancy closed

Postdoctoral Position on Material/Visual Cultures of Southeast Asia

The Faculty of Humanities, Leiden Institute for Area Studies (LIAS) is looking for a postdoctoral researcher on material/visual cultures of Southeast Asia for the ERC Advanced Grant project “PURANA – Mythical Discourse and Religious Agency in the Puranic Ecumene” (grant number 101054849).

Project Description
The Purāṇas constitute the most voluminous and enduring genre of Sanskrit literature. Despite the tradition’s centrality for cultural production in South and Southeast Asia, we know very little about the historical embeddedness of Purāṇas. PURANA makes a critical intervention in the field by tracing the composition, transmission, translation, and agency of the Purāṇas as a transregional and transhistorical process involving multiple actors, audiences, and geographic contexts. Adopting a longue durée perspective, we argue that the Purāṇas’ mythical discourse underlies and unites the religio-political culture of the Sanskrit Cosmopolis—establishing what we call a ‘Puranic Ecumene’: a vast part of the inhabited premodern world united by a distinctive mythical discourse, a hegemonic vision of the integration of society and cosmos, and a remarkable way of anchoring the present in the continuing ancient past.

Key Responsibilities
The postdoctoral researcher will carry out research on the influence, integration, and reception of Purāṇic narratives, cosmologies, and sacred geographies in the material and visual cultures of Southeast Asia. Projects that consider the dynamics of interaction between early South and Southeast Asia are particularly welcome. While Purāṇas have traditionally been approached as discrete texts, the Purāṇic worldview has also been transmitted in material and visual media. Possible areas of research that would fit this position include the study of imagery and iconographic programmes, temple sites and landscapes, museum collections and photographic archives, as well as the contemporary (re)imagining of premodern visual motifs in Southeast Asia. The ideal candidate would make use of the rich collections of South and Southeast Asian archival materials in the Leiden University Library special collections and the museums of the Netherlands. In addition to doing research, the candidate will have the opportunity to teach within the LIAS.

Selection Criteria

  • PhD in a relevant field (South and Southeast Asian Studies, Religious Studies, Art and Architectural History, Archaeology).
  • Prior experience in conducting independent research with primary sources.
  • Excellent command of English as well as competence in relevant research languages.
  • Interest in working collaboratively with a multidisciplinary team exploring primary sources and their broader socio-historical contexts.

Our Organization
Leiden Institute for Area Studies (https://www.hum.leiden.edu/lias/) is comprised of a School of Asian, a School of Middle-Eastern Studies and a School of Religious Studies, with international staff and student populations. The institute is committed to a present-day vision of area studies, integrating disciplinary and regional-historical perspectives on a solid foundation of excellent language skills. Current staff in LIAS has expertise in the fields of Anthropology, Archaeology, Art Studies, Buddhist Studies, Film Studies, History, International Relations, Language Pedagogy, Law, Linguistics, Literary Studies, Material Culture Studies, Performance Studies, Philology, Philosophy, Political Economy, Religious Studies, Sociology, and Visual Culture Studies.

The Faculty of Humanities is rich in expertise in fields such as philosophy, religious studies, history, art history, literature, linguistics and area studies covering nearly every region of the world. With its staff of 995, the faculty provides 27 master’s and 25 bachelor’s programmes for over 7,000 students based at locations in Leiden and in The Hague. For more information: https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/en/humanities.

Terms and Conditions
We offer a fixed term 1 fte position for a period of 3 years, starting as soon as possible.
The starting salary is € 4.332.- gross per month (pay scale 11, step 0), based on fulltime employment,in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities and commensurate with qualifications and experience. Depending on qualifications, you may start at the appropriate step in scale 10 until you fully meet the requirements for scale 11 as specified by the Faculty of Humanities, particularly with regard to the number of years of relevant work experience.

Leiden University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses (8.3 %), training and career development and sabbatical leave. Our individual choices model gives you some freedom to assemble your own set of terms and conditions. For international spouses we have set up a dual career programme. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break. More at https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/en/working-at/job-application-procedure-and-employment-conditions.

Fostering an inclusive community is a central element of the values and vision of Leiden University. Leiden University is committed to becoming an inclusive community which enables all students and staff to feel valued and respected and to develop their full potential. Diversity in experiences and perspectives enriches our teaching and strengthens our research. High quality teaching and research is inclusive.

Enquiries can be made to Prof. Peter Bisschop, e-mail: p.c.bisschop@hum.leidenuniv.nl

Please submit your application online no later than 1 March 2024 via the blue button in our application system. Your application should include:

  • Curriculum Vitae and a list of publications.
  • A cover letter explaining your motivation, background and qualifications for the position (max. 2 pages).
  • A research proposal related to the project (max. 2 pages).
  • Names, positions, and contact details of three referees (letters are not requested at this stage).

Enquiries from agencies are not appreciated.

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