The Institute of History, Department of Medieval History, of Technische Universität Darmstadt invites applications for a PHD POSITION for a

Research Assistant (all genders) – 65%

being part of the Research Training Group KRITIS "Critical infrastructures: Construction, Functional Failures and Protection in Cities", scheduled to begin October 1st, 2022. The position is limited to 3 years.

“Critical Infrastructure” is to be understood as a descriptive and heuristic concept. In the Middle Ages, it facilitates the analysis of simple socio-technical systems with a character of a basic net, which today can be considered essential for the society of the past, or was considered essential by contemporaries.

The combination of roads with waterways, bridges, stacking areas, port facilities, etc. can, for example, form a network (also for communication purposes). These systems have undergone a process of densification and interconnection in cities. They include, among others: Roads, pathways, bridges; facilities that use water, e.g. water supply and disposal systems (wells, bucket elevators, pipes, ditches); systems for the commercial, agricultural and aquacultural use of water (mills, irrigation and drainage systems, fish ponds); transport and supply systems (roads, waterways/canals/locks, raft ponds and ditches, seaports and river ports, in general port facilities with cranes, dockyards, etc.), defence structures.

A special feature of the historical approach is the possibility to observe not only the 'becoming critical' but also the 'becoming uncritical' of individual systems. This can be a consequence of economic or technical changes, but also of social conflicts or extreme events. Thus, the focus is on the 'construction', 'functional crises' and 'protection' of infrastructures.

The dissertation might focus on the topic of temporality (c. 8th-15th century). This includes time in the sense of historical context, as resilience and vulnerability often are related not only to a technical system, but to the whole society in question. As well, long-term developments might be addressed (f.ex. slow processes of deterioration as a result of material ageing processes vs. critical events as sudden disasters). Infrastructures may be analysed as producing rhythms in everyday life, or as being results of time layers, as they grow over decades, materializing components from different times, changing function and role several times. A particular focus is on the dynamics of infrastructures in a double perspective: the dynamics triggered by infrastructures on or in societies and the dynamics acting from society on infrastructures (circulation, transformation and concept of system of systems).

Of particular importance are the criticality of the infrastructure as well as its material, socio-cultural, religious and political dimensions (e.g. planning, construction and maintenance, prevention of breakdowns, builders as specialists, administration, brotherhoods/cooperatives/foundations as sponsors, safe-conduct, station for charging and storage, guesthouses, conflicting use, representativeness and symbolism of wells and bridges).

Your application should address one or more of the above mentioned aspects and should reflect the “key concepts” of the Research Training Group. For the framework of the Research Training Group see Within the framework of the available financial resources, stays abroad financed over several months are also possible.

The requirement for the position is an excellent academic university degree (master or equivalent). The regular joint activities take place in German and English, so a good command of the English language and (if required) willingness to acquire a good knowledge of German are expected. The place of employment is Darmstadt.

Opportunity for further qualification (doctoral dissertation) is given. The fulfillment of the duties likewise enables the scientific qualifications of the candidate.

The Technische Universität Darmstadt intends to increase the number of female employees and encourages female candidates to apply. In case of equal qualifications applicants with a degree of disability of at least 50 or equal will be given preference. Wages and salaries are according to the collective agreements on salary scales, which apply to the Technische Universität Darmstadt (TV-TU Darmstadt).

Your application: Please submit your application in English or German to and (as one pdf file, max. 6 MB). You must enclose (1) a motivation letter; (2) a CV with information on academic qualifications, language skills and international experience, (3) scanned copies of academic credentials, and (4) a short proposal (2-4 pages) for a PhD project.

Please address, in your short proposal, your conceptual framework, questions, empirical focus, possibly the source material you have in mind, and sketch a preliminary time schedule for your work. For further questions, please contact your potential supervisor Gerrit Jasper Schenk (

The recruitment interviews are expected to take place at the end of August 2022 in Darmstadt or via video conference.

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Code No. 538

Published on

August 03, 2022

Application deadline

August 26, 2022