Doctoral research fellow "Technological time: delay and wait" (Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient Berlin)

Position of a doctoral research fellow ‘technological time: delay and wait’

Geisteswissenschaftliche Zentren Berlin (Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient)
Place of work
Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient
Funded by
European Research Council
Place of work
From - Until
01.01.2021 - 31.12.2023
Nitin Sinha, History, Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient

The Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient (ZMO) in Berlin invites applications for the position of a doctoral research fellow with a 3-year contract, starting 01.01.2021.

Position of a doctoral research fellow ‘technological time: delay and wait’

The Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient (ZMO) in Berlin invites applications for the position of a doctoral research fellow with a 3-year contract, starting 01.01.2021. The successful candidate will work in the European Research Council funded Consolidator Grant project, Timely Histories: A Social History of Time in South Asia, which will run at ZMO for five years. The project, led by Nitin Sinha (principal investigator), will comprise two doctoral, two postdoctoral, and one research assistant positions. The salary grade for the advertised position corresponds to the standard German scheme of employment in the public sector (TVöD E13, 65%). Additional funds for research travel, conference participation, and publications are available. The successful candidate will be required to be based in Berlin.

General outline of the project:
TIMEHIST – Timely Histories: A Social History of Time in South Asia aims to write a history of time and temporal cultures in South Asia between the 1500s and the 1950s on a practice- and process-based understanding of the past. The details of the project can be found here.

Advertised position:
We seek to hire a doctoral researcher working on the unit ‘technological time: delay and wait’. The unit will broadly cover the period from the 1820s to the 1950s. Accelerated mobility, annihilation of time and space, everyday reorganisation of time-sense, and quick dissemination of information has made modern technology-based sensibility of speed a naturalised feature of modern times, both conceptually and empirically. New means of transport and communication of the nineteenth century (railways, steamships, and telegraph) created a new sensibility of speed and time. This unit will take this as a point of departure to think about ‘othered’ and ‘hidden’ histories of technological time in which privilege will be given to experiences and practices related to delay and waiting. What happened when trains did not run on time? When journeys required the use of multiple conveyances ranging from the railways to the palanquin, how did speed and delay interlace together to create a common sense of time? At the social level, what is the history of ways in which delay and the practice of waiting were perceived and how they changed with the coming of the new technologies of transport, movement, and communication. Did the new notion of speed lead to new practices of delay and waiting? In excavating the mundane social practices and forms of everyday sociability through the use of archives and literature around the notions of delay and waiting, a specific focus will be given on gendered notions of time-experience.

- Development and elaboration of a doctoral research project along the key points of this unit;
- M.A. or M.Phil degree in History with a focus on modern history of South Asia;
- Familiarity with historiographical debates on history of technology beyond South Asia;
- Proven ability to innovatively use archival materials (preferably also using diverse sources including literary);
- Great command over English and a South Asian language in which the vernacular sources will be used;
- Proven ability to work both independently and as part of a team;
- Tested disposition to finish work in a time-bound manner;
- To actively interact with other relevant research clusters at ZMO.

Key responsibilities:
- Conducting research on the proposed theme and producing a finished thesis within three years;
- Writing at least 1 peer-review journal article or book chapter;
- Proactively interacting with other units and themes of the project;
- Participation in TIMEHIST programmes (internal meetings, reading sessions, workshops, conferences, and other events);
- Assistance in meeting the publication/outreach plans of the project (special issues and edited books).

What we offer:
The Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient (ZMO) is the only research institution in Germany that deals with the Middle East, Africa, Eurasia, South and Southeast Asia in an interdisciplinary and historically comparative perspective. We offer a vibrant and interdisciplinary work environment in Berlin as well as a motivating and a friendly working atmosphere. Our centre provides opportunities to connect widely with other institutes and networks in Berlin and outside. While being based at ZMO, the successful candidate will be registered with a leading university in Berlin and would be required to work with a carefully chosen team of supervisors. The primary oversight and guidance of their work will be provided by the principal investigator of this project.

Please collate all materials in one single PDF file and send it to Dr Silke Nagel ( by 10 August with the subject ERC-TIMEHIST-DELAY. Please copy your application to
- Cover letter (not exceeding two pages);
- Outline of your proposed research, with direct reference to sources (including vernacular) in alignment with the key features of the unit (maximum three pages);
- Curriculum Vitae with publications (including those under review), if any;
- Copy of certificates (B.A, M.A/M.Phil);
- One sample writing (an M.A. research paper or chapter from your M.Phil thesis) which shows the use and analysis of primary sources;
- List of two referees (names, affiliations, email addresses, and telephone numbers).

ZMO is committed to maintaining diversity, inclusivity, and equality of opportunity within its community and therefore encourages applications from members of all underrepresented groups.
Further information:
Relevant informal enquiries regarding the project and the advertised job can be made to Nitin Sinha,, cc also to

Candidates will be shortlisted for the interview on the basis of the received application. Due to Covid-19 crisis, we will refrain from putting out an interview date right now. We will keep the selected candidates informed and work out a mutually agreeable date. Chosen candidates should be well prepared to appear for the interview using digital/virtual medium.

Contact (announcement)

Nitin Sinha
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