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Job Opening: Postdoctoral Fellow

The Democracy in History Workgroup of the CEU Democracy Institute (DI) invites applications for a Postdoctoral Fellow position in the newly launched multi-disciplinary research project “Democracy in East Central European Utopianism.” The project is funded by the Gerda Henkel Foundation. The research team will be based at the DI in Budapest.

Details of the project

The research group consists of the lead scholar Dr Zsolt Czigányik, a PhD student whose recruitment is in process, and a post-doctoral fellow whose position is the subject of the current call.

The project aims to analyze 19th and 20th century East Central European utopian texts, focusing on the problems and conflicts utopianism highlights concerning the ideals of democracy. We shall contrast such ideals with historical movements to trace the intellectual history of democracy within utopianism. Political concepts originating in Western Europe often become adapted and reinterpreted in Central Europe, this is why most Central European texts, unlike the ones produced in Western Europe, treat democracy as a utopian concept, something to be achieved. The research focus is not on individual texts or their authors, but how the texts reflect the historical context and conflicts concerning ideas of good government in East Central Europe. Further, how these conflicts reflect attitudes towards democracy in the region, particularly in comparison and contrast to Western Europe, will be central to the study.

Based on Sargent (1994) the project considers utopias as ideas of a better society, not necessarily perfect, but intended to be ideal, at least significantly better than the current society of the author. Although the investigation focuses on texts and their relationship to historical and political movements and conflicts, all three faces of utopianism will be reflected, that is, literary texts, the utopian elements of political ideologies, and to some extent intentional communities as well. Dystopias will also be considered as parts of the utopian discourse.

There are great variations in the definition of Central Europe, the research will consider it not only as physical space but also a virtual (quasi-utopian) area marked by an awareness of and a longing for “democracy,” as a liminal territory in between East and West, showing signs of both Eastern and Western patterns of power relationship, a hybrid between democracy and dictatorship. It is assumed that the investigation of Central European texts and attitudes sheds light not only on the political thought of Central Europe, but also on the ideas concerning democracy both in Western and Eastern European political thought.


Candidates must have a PhD in hand in one of the relevant disciplines (preferably history or political science, but other disciplines, such as literature will also be considered, especially if the dissertation is related to utopianism), an outstanding research agenda, and a record of relevant and internationally recognized publications in the field, preferably with a focus on Eastern or Central Europe. Experience in working in an international, collaborative, multidisciplinary environment is an advantage.

Applicants must have excellent written and oral proficiency in English. Proficiency in an East Central European language is essential; advanced working knowledge of further project languages, including Latin, is an advantage.

Duties and responsibilities:

Working from Budapest, the post-doctoral research fellow is expected to contribute to collaborative research activities and joint publications, as well as be actively involved in dissemination and outreach activities in English and in other project languages, and to develop and deliver high-quality, innovative research outcomes on the subject of the research described above, including, but not limited to, the following activities:

  • Conduct research in full compliance of the ethics, data and best-practice research guidelines valid at Central European University and the Gerda Henkel Foundation, and will be supported in doing so
  • Prepare his/her first book for publication
  • Produce research publications for leading international and/or peer reviewed journals (minimum requirement: at least one paper per year accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed academic journal)
  • Active participation in the regular meetings of the research group to discuss individual and collective results
  • Collaborate effectively within the research group to assist in research and outcome delivery
  • As part of your research process, to participate in and convene workshops, seminars, conferences, training sessions and other collaborative events with a range of participants
  • Participation in the organization of workshops of the research team
  • Produce book chapters for project-specific publications, including edited volumes
  • Participate in conferences of appropriate learned societies and associations
  • Produce research dissemination materials (blog, podcast, etc.) for the project’s public facing website and social media, as well as other channels
  • Perform editorial and critique tasks as appropriate to support other team members and the publications of the research team
  • Work with the lead scholar to ensure that he has the information and materials he needs to ensure the smooth running of project
  • Other tasks as agreed with the lead scholar
  • Travel, including international travel, where necessary and appropriate

Application deadline: The review of applications will begin on April 30, 2022, but the call will remain open until the position is filled

Starting date: September 1, 2022

Term of engagement: 3 years (12 months at first, with a possibility of extension of a further 2x12 months pending the donor organization’s review)

For more details about the application process and to apply, please click here.

Research areas: