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PhD candidate 'The Muslim Individual in Imperial and Soviet Russia'

Faculty of Humanities – Amsterdam School for Regional and Transnational and European Studies

PhD candidate 'The Muslim Individual in Imperial and Soviet Russia'
Publicatiedatum 15 juli 2019
Sluitingsdatum 25 augustus 2019
Opleidingsniveau Master's degree
Functieomvang 38 hours per week
Salarisindicatie €2,325 to €2,972 gross per month
Vacaturenummer 19-482

Research at the Faculty of Humanities is carried out by six research schools under the aegis of the Amsterdam Institute of Humanities Research. The Amsterdam School for Regional and Transnational and European Studies, one of the six research schools, currently has a reopened PhD vacancy as part of the ERC-funded project MIND: The Muslim Individual in Imperial and Soviet Russia, led by dr Alfrid Bustanov (University of Amsterdam). Applications are now invited from excellent candidates who wish to conduct research on the history of Muslim subjectivity in the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union. 

Job description

For European historiography, it is self-evident that diaries, correspondences, and other personal documents provide crucial insights not only into how individuals thought about certain issues, but also in how the authors expressed their individuality, and how they saw their active role in history. This holds true both for prominent and ordinary persons, and for a whole variety of genres. In the historiography of Muslim societies, expressions of individuality are rarely ever problematized; the individual is often seen merely as part of a faith community, and the writings of individuals are more often than not just treated as a source for factual information on Islam, politics, or broader social phenomena, not as an effort of personal self-reflection. By analyzing practices of individualization in the personal archives of Muslims in Russia, this program places the Muslim subject at the center. How does a person engage with the Islamic tradition, with the demands of the state and the non-Muslim majority society, but also with other individuals, to design his or her conception of the self (Ar., shakhsiyya)?

The goal of PhD project II in MIND, ‘Languages of Muslim Visuality’, is to reveal Muslim photographers’ strategy of visualizing the self and others; thereby engaging with the subjectivity not only of the photographer but also of his/her objects, as well as of the owners of the photograph collections. The subproject reveals a symbolic language of Muslim visuality. This language directly interacts with the expressions of subjectivity studied in the other SPs of this program. Photos express ideals of morality and personal self-realization as well as accomplishment in family and social life. In photos, particular elements and tropes are recognizable to a given audience just as words in a language; what interests us is the "grammar" represented by individual photos, the 'syntax' of the symbolic language in photo collections, and how 'visual lexicons' from different registers are combined to express Muslim individuality. This subproject is thus aimed at the analysis of rich archival sources present in state and private collections across the Russian Federation (and partly in Central Asia), consisting of family photo albums, official footages of Islamic rituals or of visiting foreign delegations, as well as individual photographs or series of images produced by external observers and Muslims alike. This project builds upon the rich theoretical research that historicizes visual materials and also looks at them from an anthropological point of view.

Tasks of the PhD candidate will include:

  • completion and defense of a PhD thesis within four years;
  • regular presentations of intermediate research results at workshops and conferences;
  • publication of at least one peer-reviewed article;
  • co-organisation of summer schools, expeditions and workshops;
  • participation in the training program of the Graduate School / research school.


The successful applicant must have:

  • a completed MA degree (or equivalent) in a relevant field, i.e. history, anthropology, regional studies, visual studies or philology;
  • a thorough command of English and Russian;
  • outstanding research qualities;
  • keen interest in interdisciplinary research methods and approaches;
  • ability and willingness to work in a team;
  • willingness to travel abroad for research stays, conferences and summer schools.

Further information

For further information, please contact:


The PhD candidate will be appointed full-time (38 hours per week) for a period of 48 months at the Department of History, European Studies & Religious Studies of the Faculty of Humanities. The research will be carried out under the aegis of ARTES. Initially a contract will be given for 16 months, with an extension for the following 32 months on the basis of a positive evaluation. The intended starting date of the contract is 1 November 2019. The gross monthly salary (on full-time basis) will be €2,325 during the first year to €2,972 during the fourth year, in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities.

Job application

The UvA is an equal-opportunity employer. We prioritise diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for everyone. We value a spirit of enquiry and perseverance, provide the space to keep asking questions, and promote a culture of curiosity and creativity.

Applications for the PhD position should include:

  • a project proposal (up to four pages) with tentative research questions, possible sources (or where the applicant wants to look for them), overview of the literature and a short bibliography;
  • a full academic CV;
  • a writing sample (can also be a work-in-progress).

These should be sent electronically in one document, preferably as a pdf-file. Please do not send us additional documentation at this stage.

You may submit your application no later than 25 August 2019 using the link below. Please collect your application into one single pdf file (not zipped) and choose the obliged field ‘CV’. ​#LI-DNP     

No agencies please

Apply now