PhD candidate Industrialization and household textile production in the UK and China: a diachronic comparison, 1750-1990 (deadline 15 May 2018)

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The Department of History and Art History seeks to appoint a PhD candidate for the project “Race to the bottom? Family labour, household livelihood and consumption in the relocation of global cotton manufacturing, ca. 1750-1990”, funded by means of an ERC Consolidator Grant awarded to Prof. dr. Elise van Nederveen Meerkerk.

The PhD candidate will be working on the following sub project:

PhD project 1Industrialization and household textile production in the UK and China: a diachronic comparison, 1750-1990 (1.0 Fte)

One of the most intriguing questions in global economic history is why western European industries quickly embarked on a capital-intensive mode of production, whereas in other parts of the world, a more labour-intensive route has been taken. The comparison of England and China regularly features in this debate. Recent research has suggested that to solve this question, “it is necessary first to understand the nature of the household economy and its relationship to commercial markets and merchant capital” (Cliver 2010, 107). This project aims to make such an analysis, by making a comparison between the early stages of textile production in the United Kingdom in the 18th and early 19th centuries, and China in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. During the early stages of British industrialization, household production of textiles remained important next to factory production, but at a certain point in time this disappeared. Conversely, in China small-scale production integrated with large-scale industrialized production and has remained so up to the present. This project aims to make a diachronic (i.e. at different points in time) comparison between both regions of the world.


A successful PhD candidate should preferably have:

  • a (Research) Master’s Degree in History, Economics or another relevant discipline, and a demonstrable affinity with the scope of the project;
  • an outstanding record of undergraduate and master’s degree work;
  • excellent command of English, both written and orally.
  • experience with archival research;
  • strong writing skills;
  • capacity to work both as a creative and independent researcher and as part of a team.


We offer a position (1.0 FTE), start date from 1 October 2018 onwards. The appointment is for an initial period of 18 months which after a satisfactory evaluation will be extended by another 30 months (4 years in total). The gross salary for a full-time employment starts at €2,222  in the first year, ending at €2,840 in the fourth year (P-scale of the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities). Salaries are supplemented with a holiday bonus of 8 % and a year-end bonus of 8.3 % per year. We offer a pension scheme, (partly paid) parental leave, collective insurance schemes and flexible employment conditions (multiple choice model). More information is available at: working at Utrecht University.

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Additional information

A brief project summary is available on the ERC website (click tab “Summary”).
Enquiries can be made to Elise van Nederveen Meerkerk, An extended research description is available upon request.


Written applications should address each of the criteria mentioned under qualifications and include the following documents:

  • cover letter;
  • curriculum vitae;
  • research design proposal (max. 600 words);
  • copy of relevant diplomas and grades;
  • copy of a recent academic publication (max. 30 pages) or a recent paper or thesis;
  • names and contact details of two referees.

Please include “PhD project 1” in the subject line of your cover letter and note that incomplete applications cannot be included in the subsequent selection procedure.

Candidates who make the shortlist will be invited for an interview. These may be conducted in person in Utrecht or via Skype. Interviews are scheduled to take place in the week of 11 June.

Please use the application button on the original vacancy web page. The application deadline is 15 May 2018.

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