PhD Candidate| History of Middle Eastern Water Management subproject 2

As a PhD candidate you will be responsible for one of the five subprojects of the NWO-funded VICI project entitled ‘Source of Life: Water Management in the Premodern Middle East (7th-15th Century)’. This project studies the interrelationship between water installations, governance, and legal and cultural frameworks in five Middle Eastern cities (Basra, Baghdad, Mosul, Damascus and Cairo) from the first Arab conquests to Ottoman rule (7th-15th c.). By integrating both written and material sources and employing a comparative approach, it seeks to: 1) map the institutional fabric of premodern Middle Eastern cities by taking water as a key service; and 2) identify incentives for institutional innovation in premodern urban water governance. A more detailed description of the project can be found here.

Subproject 2 Damascus and the transformations during the first centuries of Islam
Your PhD research, which is to result in a dissertation, will map, analyse and compare the diverse water supply institutions in Damascus. The literary sources to be analysed include histories, geographies, legal manuals, and travelogues. Since Damascus is a city with a long pre-Islamic history whose ingenious water supply systems have been described by archaeologists, this subproject specifically focuses on the transformations from the pre-Islamic era to the first centuries after the Arab conquest of the city and investigates the influence of Islamic laws and values on water provision.

You will contribute research results to the project’s database. Your findings will be presented in a dissertation and, as well as in several (co-authored) conference papers and book chapters. You are also expected to contribute to wider communication of the project’s results. Furthermore, you will cooperate closely with all other subprojects and participate in the project’s programme of meetings as a speaker and organiser.


  • A completed Research Master’s degree in Arabic Languages and Cultures, History or a relevant field.
  • Command of (classical) Arabic and demonstrable expertise in historical research on the premodern Middle East.
  • Demonstrable strong affinity with scientific research.
  • Excellent command of spoken and written English.
  • A strong willingness to work collaboratively in an international research team.
  • Willingness to travel regularly for research and attend conferences.

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: You will be appointed for an initial period of 18 months, after which your performance will be evaluated. If the evaluation is positive, the contract will be extended by 2.5 years.

  • Employment: 40 hours per week.
  • The gross starting salary amounts to €2,325 per month, and will increase to €2,972 in the fourth year (p scale).
  • In addition to the salary: an 8% holiday allowance and an 8.3% end-of-year bonus.
  • Duration of the contract: You will be appointed for an initial period of 18 months, after which your performance will be evaluated. If the evaluation is positive, the contract will be extended by 2.5 years.
  • The intended start date is 1 May 2020.
  • You will be able to make use of our Dual Career Service: our Dual Career Officer will assist with family-related support, such as child care, and help your partner prepare for the local labour market and with finding an occupation.
  • Are you interested in our excellent employment conditions?


Radboud University
We want to get the best out of science, others and ourselves. Why? Because this is what the world around us desperately needs. Leading research and education make an indispensable contribution to a healthy, free world with equal opportunities for all. This is what unites the more than 22,000 students and 5,000 employees at Radboud University. And this requires even more talent and collaboration. You have a part to play!

The Faculty of Arts employs over 500 academic and support staff in the fields of history and art, languages and cultures, linguistics and communication. Research is embedded in one of the two faculty research institutes: the Centre for Language Studies (CLS) or Historical, Literary and Cultural Studies (HLCS). The faculty currently enrolls some 2,400 students, in three departments: the department of History, Art History and Classics, the department of Modern Languages and Cultures, and the department of Language and Communication. We want to be a diverse and inclusive organisation, which is why we endeavour to create a culturally diverse staff.

Additional information
For more information about this vacancy, please contact:
Prof. Dr. Maaike van Berkel, Full Professor of Medieval History
Tel.: +3124 361 57 14


© KNHG 2023 Website: Code Clear