PhD Projects Fellowships 2017, Max-Weber-Kolleg Erfurt, Germany

Publish Date: Apr 20, 2017

Deadline: May 21, 2017

International Research Training Group "Resonant Self–World Relations in Ancient and Modern Socio-Religious Practices" in cooperation with the University of Graz

The aim of the joined project between the Max-Weber-Kolleg Erfurt and the University of Graz is to provide an institutional base for studies comparing the self—world relations that are reflected in the polytheistic practices of ancient times, with those that crystalize in practices of the contemporary (late) modern period.

Ritual practices have always been a crucial element of cultural research, for they provided the key to understanding the differences in cultural belief systems. Thus, the differences and changes within antiquity have been reconstructed as the differences between polytheistic and monotheistic rituals and beliefs. However, a closer look shows that many pivotal elements of those practices – ancient as well as modern – cannot be accounted for by reference to belief systems. Thus, ritualistic elements such as anatomical votives or feeding the dead have too easily been interpreted as expressions of specific ‘alien’ belief-system or purely symbolic communication. Yet, questions arise as soon as we notice that in contemporary society there are just as many ‘strange’ practices that are in blatant contradiction even to the actors’ belief systems, such as teddy bears for dead children or atheist weddings in sacred places.

The central assumption of our program is that these rituals have to be taken much more seriously and need to be analyzed and understood as socio-religious practices establishing highly significant and particular relationships between self and world. We claim that in all of these ritual practices, particular persons, objects or places are endwoed with a power that sacralizes these relationships and makes them resonant, i.e. responsive to the embodied subject.

The first phase of the proposed interdisciplinary DK aims to create an inventory of the various forms that relationships to the world can take by developing typologies of religious practice, of relations to objects and of relationships to the transcendent. Meanwhile, the second phase will introduce an analysis of the complex interactions between resonant and non-resonant relationships to the world and to experiences of resonance in particular.

The format of the IGDK allows for the creation of a material basis through historically-focused case studies from the ancient world, as well as through empirico-sociological or theoretically-oriented comparative efforts. Such a foundation will be conducive to collaborative research on typologies, which can serve as historical-heuristic tools for the reconstruction of self—world relations in antiquity and the present era alike. In addition it will be important in continuing the development of a general ‘Theory of self—world relations’. In the field of classical studies these explorations will open up new spaces of contextualization for what have hitherto been considered isolated practices relating to objects, bodies, stories, space and the transcendent realm.

Call for Applications

The Max Weber Center for Advanced Cultural and Social Studies (Max-Weber-Kolleg) at the University of Erfurt invites applications for up to 4 doctoral positions for Ph.D. projects Pay category E 13 TV-L (65 %) in the fields of Religious Studies, Sociology, Philosophy, History, Classics and related subjects within the framework of the International Research Training Group (IGDK) “Resonant Self–World Relations in Ancient and Modern Socio-Religious Practices” directed by Prof. Dr. Jörg Rüpke and Prof. Dr. Hartmut Rosa (Erfurt) and Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Spickermann and Prof. Dr. Irmtraud Fischer (Graz). The positions are to be filled by 1 October 2017 for a period of 36 months. The project is a cooperation between the Max-Weber-Kolleg at the University of Erfurt and the University of Graz. Participants are required to spend one academic year at the cooperating university in the second year of their term. As an International Research Training Group, the programme’s primary language is English.


  • Excellent degree in one of the above named disciplines
  • Knowledge of English, German (at least reading skills, candidates without knowledge of German are requested to take courses), and other relevant languages
  • Willingness to cooperate with colleagues within the interdisciplinary research environment of the Max-Weber-Kolleg, in particular the IGDK, and the University of Graz
  • Willingness to take part in the joint study programme and to move to the University of Graz for one academic year

Core research fields and project suggestions in the framework of the IDGK are outlined on the programme’s website.

Application Deadline

Please submit your application with CV, copies of your final school and university degrees, a copy of your MA or diploma thesis, one letter of recommendation and an outline of the PhD project you would like to pursue (max. 5 pages) with a stringent discussion of your research questions, the state of research on the topic, the methodological approach and the leading hypotheses as well as a working schedule and projected date of completion as pdf-files (maximum of 10 MB) by 21 May 2017 to: University of Erfurt, Max-Weber-Kolleg

For more information please click "Further Official Information" below.

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