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16.06.2020 13:54 Alter: 19 days

The Concept of Slavery in African History

Call for Applications

Theme: The Concept of Slavery in African History
Type: PhD Position (Research Associate)
Institution: Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies,
Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität
Location: Bonn (Germany)
Date: 2021–2024
Deadline: 31.7.2020

The Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn is an
international research university that offers a wide range of degree
programs. With 200 years’ worth of history, some 38,000 students,
over 6,000 employees, and an excellent domestic and international
reputation, Bonn University is among Germany’s leading universities.

The Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies invites
applications for two PhD Positions (Research Associates, 65%).

Starting date: January 1, 2021.
Contracts will have a fixed duration of three years (ending December
31, 2023), with an option of extending for an additional year after a
positive interim evaluation (3+1 years).

The successful candidates will work in the Research Group “The
concept of slavery in African history”. This Research Group is an
integral part of the Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies,
established in 2017 within the Faculty of Philosophy. The BCDSS was
awarded the status of "Cluster of Excellence: Beyond Slavery and
Freedom. Asymmetric dependencies in pre-modern Societies" by the
German Research Council.

The Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies offers excellent
opportunities for interdisciplinary and comparative study of
different forms of dependencies from Antiquity to the present, across
many regions.


The successful candidates will formulate independent projects within
the Research Group “The concept of slavery in African history”.

The research group investigates the role of the concept of „slavery“
for Sub-Saharan African history and its representation (e.g. the
historiography of Africa, portrayals of African history in the media
etc.). It is interested in uncovering the complex relationship
between concepts and actions, as well as between discourse and
socio-economic realities. The research group asks if and how the
meaning of the concept of “slavery” changed or needed to be modified
to adapt to a given socio-economic context, but also how the existing
conceptual framework guided people’s actions.

Doctoral projects should meet the following three criteria: 1) focus
on asymmetrical dependencies/ “slavery” 2) relate to Sub-Saharan
African history and/or its representation and 3) approach the topic
from the perspective of conceptual history in its broadest sense.

Candidates interested in pushing disciplinary boundaries are
especially welcome to apply. Possible topics include (but are not
limited to) the following:

- Analyses investigating how the connection between „slavery“ and
 “Africa” became (and remains) part of the dominant historical
 narrative (e.g. through academic scholarship, media, schoolbooks)
- Regional case studies of how European concepts of „slavery“
 impacted African concepts and practices of asymmetrical dependencies
 (and/or vice versa)
- Analyses that reveal how concepts of asymmetrical dependencies have
 enabled or hampered (political) actions in or regarding Sub-Saharan
 Africa (e.g. missionary activity, abolitionism; but also rebellion,
 war, diplomacy...)
- Case studies of individual (European or African) authors and their
 conceptualizations in the context of their own time and experiences

The research group itself forms part of the wider research of the
BCDSS and here of the Research Area A “Semantics – Lexical Fields –

The positions are funded for up to four years (3 + 1 years) on a
salary of 65% of the TV-L-E13 salary level, approximately €30,000
pro-rata per annum before tax. The successful candidates will receive
a salary and social security benefits. In addition, access to extra
funding for archive trips and conferences will be available, as well
as institutional support for women and applicants with families. The
successful candidates will participate in the BCDSS’s PhD program
which offers both academic and non-academic training units. PhD
candidates at the University of Bonn are advised to enroll as PhD
students at the bi-annual fee of about €300. This fee covers free
regional public transport within the state of North Rhine-Westphalia
as well as student discounts at museums, cinemas, and other benefits.


Applicants are required to have completed a university degree
(Master, Magister or Staatsexamen) in history, African studies,
cultural studies/Kulturwissenschaft or in a similar area of study
relevant for the research group. We welcome applications from all
over the world. English is the working language within the Research
Group “The concept of slavery in African history” and within the

The English of the applicant must therefore be on an equivalent level

- ETS TOEFL certificate (minimum score of 600 for the paper-based
 test, 250 for the computer-based test, and 100 for the online test);
- Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English, CPE (any grade);
- Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English, CAE (grade A or B);
- IELTS test (level 7.0);
- C1 level according to CEFR native speakers or graduates from an
 English-speaking university are exempt from this verification.

However, we do not require a formal certificate.

How to apply

Applicants are invited to submit:
1. their application, consisting of a) curriculum vitae, b) a list of
publications (if applicable), c) copies of their BA and MA
certificates or equivalents (including official transcripts) 2. an
outline of the research project they would like to develop (max. four
pages), including key research questions and hypotheses, sources and
methodology, connections of the proposed project with, and relevance
for, the topic of the research group. 3. a sample of work of max.
three pages, together with a short description of the context (e.g.
part of BA or MA thesis, term paper, published article etc.) in its
original language. 4. the names and contact details of two referees
(position, professional address, and e-mail).

The University of Bonn is committed to diversity and equal
opportunities. It is certified as a family-friendly university. It
aims to increase the proportion of women in areas where women are
underrepresented and to promote their careers in particular. It
therefore urges women with relevant qualifications to apply.
Applications will be handled in accordance with the
Landesgleichstellungsgesetz (State Equality Act). Applications from
suitable individuals with a certified serious disability or similar
are particularly welcome.

If you are interested in this position, please send your complete
English application documents combined into one single pdf file by
July 31, 2020 to with the
application code 32/20/3.202. For further information please refer to
our website or contact Sarah Dusend at



Sarah Dusend
Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies
University of Bonn
Niebuhrstraße 5
D-53113 Bonn
Phone: +49 228 73 62442