PhD Position

Anchoring the Roman Empire

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Anchoring the Roman Empire


Radboud University Nijmegen
Erasmusplein 1
6500 HD Nijmegen

Suzanne van de Liefvoort
+31(0)24 3611276

Anchoring the Roman Empire


Prof. dr. Olivier Hekster (Radboud University), Prof. dr. Onno van Nijf (Groningen) and Dr. Nathalie de Haan (Radboud University)

Job description

Empire is not simply a matter of military power, it is also discourse. For a successful empire, there is not only a need of soldiers, administrators and institutions, but imperial rulers and subjects have to employ a common language (in a broad sense) that allows all parties to share in the imperial enterprise. This discourse needs to be connected—both in the ways it is communicated and perceived, and in terms of content—to what people know, believe, want, value, and can understand. This phenomenon of ‘anchoring’ is central to the new research agenda of the Dutch classicists.

This PhD project will focus on the imperial centre and investigate how the Roman empire was anchored in historical discourses, and how these changed over time to take into account the new political and social realities. There is a range of possible questions to be asked in this project: how did Rome (re)define itself as a territorial Empire? How did it present relationships between centre and periphery ('provinces' and 'friendly kings')? How did the anchors to which the discourse of an 'imperial' Rome relate shift over time? Discourse in this context may refer to the vocabulary and metaphors of empire found in legal, documentary and literary texts, but also to the visual languages and the material culture employed to convey a sense of common imperial destiny. We invite structured PhD proposals (title, research question, scholarly background, aims, method, corpus) on this theme.

This PhD project is part of “Anchoring Empire”, a joint research project between the University of Groningen chair groups of Ancient History and of Old Testament and Ancient Judaism) and the Radboud University, Nijmegen (chair group of Ancient and Medieval History) within the Anchoring Innovation program.

Host institution

Radboud University, Nijmegen, Faculty of Arts, Radboud Institute of History and Culture (RICH). For more information see here and here.

Terms and conditions

PhD project, 4 years (1.0 FTE, 38 hrs per week), starting date to be agreed, with a preference for September 1, 2021. Initially the employee will receive a one-year contract, with extension for the following 36 months on condition of a positive evaluation. It is possible to extend the position over 5 years at 0,8 fte. The appointment must lead to the completion of a PhD thesis.

Salary range from € 2.395 to € 3.061 gross per month for a fulltime appointment (pay scale for PhDs, in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities). Radboud University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses (8.3%), training and career development. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break.

Tasks of the PD will include:
  • Completion of a PhD thesis within four years (1,0 fte) or five years (0,8 fte);
  • Participation in meetings of the project research group(s);
  • Presentations of intermediate research results at workshops and conferences;
  • Participation in the training program of the local Graduate School and the National Research School in Classics (OIKOS);
  • Participation in staff meetings of the Nijmegen Classics team and the intellectual life of the department and the institute;
  • Some teaching in the second and third years of the appointment
  • A Research MA, MA or MPhil degree in Ancient History, Classics, Religious Studies or other relevant field, held by the time of the application, with an MA thesis of high quality with a grade of at least 8.0 on a ten-point scale, or comparable assessment (if the degree is not yet held at the time of application, a statement by the applicant’s supervisor should confirm that it will be held by time of appointment).
  • Well-developed research skills, including the ability to formulate relevant and creative research questions and hypotheses, descriptive and analytical skills, and a clear and persuasive style of writing;
  • Excellent competence English, and relevant ancient languages as well as reading competence in French and German;
  • Independent thinker, team player;
  • Grit.

The Anchoring Innovation program is strongly committed to diversity within its team and especially welcomes applications from members of underrepresented groups.


Enquiries about the position can be addressed to Dr. Nathalie de Haan, Do not hesitate to contact your prospective supervisor about the design of your research proposal. Questions about the procedure can be directed to Dr. Suzanne van de Liefvoort,


In order to be admissible, applications must include the following information (in the same order), in one PDF file (not zipped):

  • Cover letter;
  • CV, including contact information of two referees;
  • Transcript of records;
  • Research proposal of 1500 words. This does not include the bibliography and (if appropriate) an appendix containing a list of sources (together max. two pages A4);
  • Copy of relevant diploma or statement by PhD supervisor confirming that the applicant will hold the required degree at the time of appointment.

Please submit your complete application to Dr. Suzanne van de Liefvoort, the coordinator of the Anchoring-program via before April 24, 2021. Interviews will take place in the week of May 24-28, 2021 and will probably be held online.