Universiteit Leiden

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2 PhD Positions (1.0 FTE)

Vacature nummer
Wetenschappelijke functies, PhD-posities
Intern , Extern
Publicatie datum
28 maart 2023
7 mei 2023 Vacature gesloten

The Institute for History at the University of Leiden invites applications for:

2 PhD Positions (1.0 FTE)

The PhD candidates will become part of the ERC-funded project “Human Subject Research and Medical Ethics in Colonial Southeast Asia”, led by dr. Fenneke Sysling. The PhD positions are fully funded. The expected starting date is 1 September 2023.

Project description:

This project looks at ethical practices in the history of medicine in colonial Southeast Asia, with the Dutch East Indies, British Malaya and the American Philippines as comparatives cases. Physicians in this period (1890-1962) pursued research on all sorts of diseases, from leprosy to beriberi. Local people took part in this research as research subjects. This meant that they provided blood or urine, were examined, and received drugs of which the effects and side-effects were not yet fully known. This project analyses these practices to understand the moral world of doctors at the time, including the complicated relationship between dangerous experimentation and best treatment for the patient.

We are looking for candidates to focus on one of these 2 themes:

1. The History of Vaccine Testing, Administering and Resistance. The focus in this PhD project will be on the testing and administering of vaccines as well as on local responses to western medical practices. The candidate will look at the Dutch East Indies, British Malaya and/or the American Philippines.

2. Testing, administering and discussing new drugs in the colonies (20th century). The focus in this PhD project will be on the transfer of medical knowledge and ethical practices from Europe to Southeast Asia, in particular to the Dutch East Indies, British Malaya and the American Philippines.

We are also open for other suggestions and directions within the larger theme of the project.

Key responsibilities:

  • Completion of a PhD thesis within four years;

  • Participation in meetings of the project research group;

  • Presentations of intermediate research results at workshops and conferences;

  • Participation in the training programme of the Graduate School;

  • Co-organizing workshops and conferences.

Requirements for PhD candidates:

  • An RMA or MA in history or Southeast Asian studies or a related field, held by time of appointment, with an MA thesis of high quality. If the degree is not yet obtained at the time of application, a statement by the applicant’s supervisor should confirm that it will be obtained by time of appointment;

  • Knowledge of Southeast Asian history and/or the history of medicine/history of science;

  • Well-developed archival and research skills;

  • Ability to work both independently and as part of an (international) team;

  • Excellent command of English. Ability to speak or willingness to learn Dutch. Knowledge of Malay/Indonesian/Tagalog or willingness to learn it will be an asset.

  • Good writing skills


For more information, including a full description of the project, contact dr. Fenneke Sysling, f.h.sysling@hum.leidenuniv.nl

About our organisation

Since its founding in 1575, Leiden University has acquired an international reputation for excellent teaching and research.With its staff of over 800, the Faculty of Humanities provides 26 Bachelors and 27 Masters programmes for over 7,200 students based at locations in Leiden and The Hague.

The Institute for History is the home of a vibrant community of researchers and lecturers with outstanding track records and successful in attracting national and international research grants.

Under the label ‘Global Questions, Local Sources’ scholars affiliated to the Institute combine a deep knowledge of global interactions and of specific localities, regions and states in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas. They use comparative, connective and entangled approaches and resort to qualitative and quantitative research methodologies.

All researchers of the Institute for History are connected to one of the six research specializations: The Unification of the Mediterranean World (400 BC – 400 AD), Collective Identities and Transnational Networks in Medieval and Early Modern Europe, 1000-1800, Political Culture and National Identities, Colonial and Global History, Cities, Migration and Global Interdependence, and History and International Relations. For more information on the Institute for History: https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/en/humanities/institute-for-history/phd-programme.

Diversity and Inclusion
Leiden University’s Institute for History embraces diversity and seeks candidates who will contribute to a climate that supports students and staff of all identities and backgrounds. We strongly encourage individuals from underrepresented and/or marginalized backgrounds to apply.

Terms and Conditions

We offer a full-time position for initially one year. After a positive evaluation of the progress of the thesis, personal capabilities and compatibility the appointment will be extended by a further three years. Salary rangefrom € 2,541. - to € 3,247. -gross per month (pay scale P,in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities).

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


Applications should be submitted in English and include a:

  • Cover letter;
  • Research proposal (maximum 400 words) which states how you would approach the themes of the project and how your experience will help you to do research in this direction.
  • Curriculum vitae, including publications (if applicable);
  • Copy of MA thesis;

Applications should be submitted no later than 7 May 2023 via the blue button in our application system. Please quote the vacancy number in your application. All requested documents should be sent in PDF format.

An interview with the search committee is part of the procedure. A list of two referees (with email addresses and phone numbers) will be required at a later stage of the application. You do not need to enter details about referees at this stage.

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