PhD Candidate: Migrant Experiences of Space and Time in the Roman Empire

0.8 - 1.0 FTE
Gross monthly salary
€ 2,770 - € 3,539
Required background
Research University Degree
Organizational unit
Faculty of Arts
Application deadline

How did migrant workers experience their lives in the mines and stone quarries of the Roman Empire? Their lives are documented in finds from the settlements and graveyards surrounding their workplaces. You will use these finds to construct/reconstruct the everyday practices and experiences of time and/or space of these migrant workers, including both their journeys and their sense of belonging in their new as well as their home societies.

In this project, you will formulate your own research project within the broader subject of everyday practices and experiences of time and/or space, with a focus on migrant workers in the Roman Empire. The Romans extracted resources in large-scale mines and quarries across the provinces of the empire, until well into the fifth century. This induced a pressing need for labourers. These included free workers, enslaved people and convicted criminals, both female and male, from skilled engineers to unskilled work hands. Many of these must have been migrant workers, settling near the mining site. How did they experience their journey? What hopes or expectations drove their permanent or temporary migration? 'Did they maintain existing home practices or keep in touch with their place of origin? And if so, how? Did their settlement lead to the development of a distinct mining culture with its own spatial and temporal habits? To address these or related questions, you are invited to juxtapose case studies from different provinces or time periods in the Roman Empire.

Your research will be based on the existing literature on ancient evidence, such as material remains of settlements; finds such as ostraca, inscriptions, papyri, ingots, writing tablets, or plant remains; or existing isotope analyses. The position offers time to develop the skills needed to interpret this evidence: you are not expected to start with a full skill set. Because you are asked to construct/reconstruct a history of a group of people whose voices have been lost to us, you could use, for example, critical fabulation (Saidiya Hartman), an evidence-based way to formulate the narrative that best connects the available source material. You may build on complementary knowledge from other times or places, including autobiographical knowledge, which is why your proposal should also explain where you mean to look for such complementary information.

Your research will be embedded in the Radboud Institute for Culture & History (RICH), and you will be part of the Graduate School for the Humanities (GSH). You will devote 75% of your time to the research for and writing of your PhD thesis. The remaining 25% will be spent on training and academic service to the Faculty of Arts, including teaching.

We offer you the opportunity to develop and carry out your own PhD project within the areas of expertise of your supervisors, Dr Miriam Groen-Vallinga and Dr Anna Geurts. Your PhD supervisor will be Prof Olivier Hekster. The project will be funded by a Starter Grant from the Faculty of Arts awarded to Dr Miriam Groen-Vallinga and Dr Anna Geurts.


  • You have a Master's degree (or equivalent) in history, archaeology, classics, literary studies, regional studies, religious studies or another discipline related to the project (or will complete such a degree before February 2024). If you have not yet graduated, your thesis must have been graded before the date of the first interview round.
  • You have demonstrable experience in formulating and conducting research independently, for instance in the form of a Master's thesis or research internship.
  • You have an excellent command of written and spoken English.
  • You have excellent academic communication skills.
  • You embrace teamwork in teaching and organising events.
  • Depending on the chosen region of study, ancient and local language skills will be an advantage.
  • We believe that research and education at Dutch universities can benefit from a wider variety of situated knowledges and that Radboud University has an ethical duty to be accessible to a wider variety of employees than has so far been the case. We therefore explicitly invite candidates from all backgrounds, and welcome direct questions and suggestions about the position and the application process on this matter.

We are

The Faculty of Arts is committed to knowledge production with a significant scientific and social impact. With over 500 academic and support staff, we teach and conduct research in the fields of history and art, languages and cultures, and linguistics and communication, using innovative methodologies and working in close collaboration with each other. Our research is embedded in two research institutes: the Centre for Language Studies (CLS) and the Radboud Institute for Culture & History (RICH). We currently have approximatively 2,500 students, enrolled 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 aim to contribute to a more sustainable and inclusive world, which is why we especially seek applications from candidates who bring diverse perspectives, backgrounds, and skills that will be assets to our study programmes and research profiles, and welcome direct questions and suggestions about the position in question and the application process involved.

Radboud University

We are keen to meet critical thinkers who want to look closer at what really matters. People who, from their expertise, wish to contribute to a healthy, free world with equal opportunities for all. This ambition unites more than 24,000 students and 5,600 employees at Radboud University and requires even more talent, collaboration and lifelong learning. You have a part to play!

We offer

  • It concerns an employment for 0.8 (5 year contract) - 1.0 FTE (4 year contract).
  • The gross starting salary amounts to €2,770 per month based on a 38-hour working week, and will increase to €3,539 from the fourth year onwards (salary scale P).
  • You will receive 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus.
  • It concerns a temporary employment for 18 months, after which your performance will be evaluated. If the evaluation is positive, the contract will be extended by 2.5 years (4 year contract) or 3.5 years (5 year contract).
  • You will be able to use our Dual Career and Family Care Services. Our Dual Career and Family Care Officer can assist you with family-related support, help your partner or spouse prepare for the local labour market, provide customized support in their search for employment and help your family settle in Nijmegen.
  • Working for us means getting extra days off. In case of full-time employment, you can choose between 30 or 41 days of annual leave instead of the legally allotted 20.

Additional employment conditions

Work and science require good employment practices. This is reflected in Radboud University's primary and secondary employment conditions. You can make arrangements for the best possible work-life balance with flexible working hours, various leave arrangements and working from home. You are also able to compose part of your employment conditions yourself, for example, exchange income for extra leave days and receive a reimbursement for your sports subscription. And of course, we offer a good pension plan. You are given plenty of room and responsibility to develop your talents and realise your ambitions. Therefore, we provide various training and development schemes.

Would you like more information?

For questions about the position, please contact Prof. Olivier Hekster, Professor in Ancient History at olivier.hekster [at] (olivier[dot]hekster[at]ru[dot]nl). Alternatively, you can contact Suzanne van de Liefvoort, Coordinator of the Graduate School for the Humanities (GSH) at gshcoordinator [at] (gshcoordinator[at]let[dot]ru[dot]nl).

Practical information and applying

You can apply until 31 October 2023, exclusively using the button below. Kindly address your application to Prof. Olivier Hekster. Please fill in the application form and attach the following documents:
  • Your own proposal for a PhD project: title, research question, scholarly background, aims, sources and method (maximum 500 words, excluding bibliographical references).
  • A letter of motivation, explaining why you are interested in this opportunity and how it fits in with your short- and long-term plans (maximum one page).
  • Your CV, including the names, affiliations and email addresses of two referees (no need to send letters at this stage).
  • A list of courses taken and grades obtained (BA and MA).

The first round of interviews will take place between 22 November and 1 December (online). The second round of interviews will take place between 11 and 15 December. You would preferably begin employment on 1 April 2024.

We can imagine you're curious about our application procedure. It offers a rough outline of what you can expect during the application process, how we handle your personal data and how we deal with internal and external candidates.
Apply now Application deadline

We would like to recruit our new colleague ourselves. Acquisition in response to this vacancy will not be appreciated.

Prof. Hekster, O.J. (Olivier)

Professor in Ancient History

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