Date Posted
28 May 2024

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PhD Project
Central European University

PhD (Junior Visiting Researcher) position focusing on Catholic Missions in Ottoman Southeast Europe, 15th-17th Centuries

28 May 2024

NOTE: this position listing has expired and may no longer be relevant!

Position Description

Starting date: September 01, 2015
Application deadline: June 30, 2015

The Department of Medieval Studies at Central European University invites applications for a PhD (Junior Visiting Researcher) position within the ERC Consolidator Grant entitled The Fashioning of a Sunni Orthodoxy and the Entangled Histories of Confession Building in the Ottoman Empire, 15th-17th Centuries (OTTOCONFESSION). The principal investigator is Dr. Tijana Krstic (Medieval Studies Department/ Center for Eastern Mediterranean Studies).

Description of the ERC project:

How and why did the Ottoman Empire evolve from a fourteenth-century polity where “confessional ambiguity” between Sunnism and Shiism prevailed, into an Islamic state concerned with defining and enforcing a “Sunni orthodoxy” by the early sixteenth century? Recent historiography attributes this new concern with “orthodoxy” in the Ottoman Empire to the rise of the rival Shii Safavid Empire beginning in the first decade of the sixteenth century. However, the OTTOCONFESSION project is based on the premise that the evolution of the Ottoman discourse on Sunni orthodoxy can be understood only in a longer perspective that spans the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries, and that it was shaped by religio-political dynamics not only in the Safavid Empire but also within Christian communities in the Ottoman Empire and in Europe as well.

The project sets out to demonstrate that although the polarization between Sunni and Shii Islam on the one hand, and Catholic and Protestant Christianity on the other, resulted from the dynamics specific to the Turco-Iranian world and Europe, respectively, the subsequent processes of confession- (and in some cases state-) building were related and constitute an entangled history of confessionalization that spanned Europe and the Middle East. This entanglement resulted in particular from: the Ottomans’ inter-imperial competition with the Safavids, Habsburgs, and Venetians; the spread of various Muslim and Christian communities across imperial borders; and the Ottomans’ permissiveness towards Catholic, Lutheran and Calvinist missionary activities among the Empire’s (mostly Orthodox) Christians. The project will investigate the evolution of confessional discourses in the Ottoman Empire in both community-specific and entangled, cross-communal perspectives between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries by focusing on a) the agents and strategies; b) textual genres; and c) sites of confessionalization.

Description of the PhD project:

The ERC project is particularly interested in the activities of the Franciscans (both Bosnian and otherwise) and Jesuits who engaged in missionary activities within territories under the Ottoman rule in Southeast Europe (Rumeli, the Balkans) in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Within this larger topic, a successful applicant for the position can propose to focus on a particular region and time period, as well as on the activities of a particular religious order or of the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith (Sacra Congregatio de Propaganda Fide).

The framework of inquiry includes, but is not limited to the following:

–the missionaries’ proselytizing strategies,
–written and oral genres used in religious proselytization (catechisms, hagiographies, sermons, folk poetry, etc.)
–the trans-imperial nature of the missionaries’ networks
–forms of engagement with Islam, Muslims and Ottoman religious politics, etc.

Duties and responsibilities:

The candidate is supposed to carry out the following tasks:
-complete the first-year requirements for the PhD program in Medieval Studies and advance to PhD candidacy (take the oral exams and defend the thesis prospectus by the end of the first academic year)

Pending on the successful progress to PhD candidacy:
-Write a Ph.D. thesis within 5 years;
-Submit research results for publication in peer-reviewed academic journals;
-Submit research results for incorporation in a synthetic publication to be written by the principal investigator and the senior researcher;
-Present papers at international conferences;
-Co-organize workshops/conferences together with the principal investigator;
-Participate in consultation sessions of the ERC CoG team

Application Requirements:

-The applicant has a master’s degree in history, literature, theology or a related field
-The applicant’s CV illustrates familiarity with and experience in research into the Catholic missions in the Ottoman Empire
-The applicant has a good command of Latin; Italian, Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian, and/or Hungarian is a plus
-The applicant has written and spoken proficiency in English (more information about CEU’s general language requirements: as well as the ability to work with secondary literature in modern European languages
-The applicant has ability to work independently and willingness to work in a research team, with good organizational and social skills
– The applicant needs to meet all CEU’s general admissions requirements (more information:

What we offer
The successful candidate will be a full-time PhD student enrolled in the Medieval Studies Department while at the same time having an employment contract with CEU (as a Junior Visiting Researcher). The successful applicant is initially contracted for a period of 12 months, with the preferred starting date of September 1, 2015. Pending on successful completion of the first-year requirements for the PhD students in Medieval Studies department (see above), the contract will be extended by another 4 years. The contract must lead to the completion of a Ph.D. thesis within five years. PhD program in Medieval Studies is accredited both in the US and in Hungary (for more on the program see

The gross monthly salary is 1200 EUR. Additionally, the candidate will have access to 1000 EUR per year for travel and research costs.

About Central European University:
Central European University (CEU) is a graduate research-intensive university specializing primarily in the social sciences and the humanities, as well as law, business and public policy. It is located in Budapest, and accredited in the United States and Hungary. CEU’s mission is to promote academic excellence, state-of-the-art research, and civic engagement. CEU offers both Master’s and doctoral programs, and enrolls more than 1500 students from nearly 100 countries. The teaching staff consists of more than 180 resident faculty members from over 40 countries, and a large number of prominent visiting scholars from around the world. The language of instruction is English.

How to Apply

Please send your: -application letter containing a research proposal concerning the topic of the PhD (no more than 1000 words) -Curriculum vitae -two letters of recommendation by June 30, 2015 to including job code in subject line: 2015/022. Please add to your application the following appendices: the MA thesis, transcript of the MA degree certificate, and other relevant documentation (such as evidence of ability to do research in a particular language, if applicable). Note that the procedure will include interviews. Informal enquiries can be directed to Dr. Tijana Krstic at . CEU is an equal opportunity employer.

Position Category: Behavioural & Social Sciences. Position Type: PhD Project. Position Tags: theology, history, literature, ottoman, and religious.