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Medical Ideas and Practices in Post-War Central and Eastern Europe | Scholarship

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Universität Hamburg


Cultural studies History


The doctoral student will produce a doctoral thesis relevant to the Taming the European Leviathan project

Taming the European Leviathan, programme description:

What is Europe? When studying post-war Europe, the focus is on ideological divisions, competing economic models and on the different political systems separating Western and Eastern Europe. The LEVIATHAN project, funded by the European Research Council, challenges existing East-West interpretations of European identity. Rather than studying post-war Europe as a divided continent shaped by Cold War hostilities, we aim to understand Europe as one. European history, we argue, is characterised by a preoccupation with health as an embodiment of the common good. By taking medicine as an analytical lens, we will develop a common history of Europe that transcends ideas of an East-West dichotomy. LEVIATHAN takes a multidisciplinary approach: neither economics nor politics nor ideology nor everyday life, but an integration of these perspectives makes it possible to understand the pursuit of a European common good.

PhD Project Description:

We invite proposals for a PhD project on medical practices and scientific ideas in post-war Central and Eastern Europe. We especially welcome projects focused on unorthodox or experimental practices. Possible examples may include Suggestology, created by the Bulgarian psychiatrist and educationalist Georgi Lozanov in the 1960s as an experimental combination of parapsychology, games, and education through suggestion and creative work. A related potential field of study may be Psychotronics, the parapsychological research into how consciousness affects material objects, as promoted by Zdeněk Rejdák in Czechoslovakia. Pharmaceutical innovations such as the development of psychotropic drugs, for example by the Academy of Medical Sciences in the USSR and the Czechoslovak company SPOFA, may also be explored. In keeping with the broader remit of the Leviathan project, we especially welcome proposals that address international and transsystemic contacts and/or cooperation between doctors and scientists in various fields. The thesis is to be written in English, but competence in one or more thematically relevant foreign languages will be considered advantageous to the application. 

The doctoral student will be a member of the Centre for the Study of Health, Ethics and Society at the University of Hamburg, an international centre dedicated to high-quality academic research and teaching in twentieth century European history. Our shared research interests cross disciplinary borders and varying historical traditions. We believe in making historical research accessible to all; as such, we regularly collaborate with not only academic institutions but also non-academic organisations across the globe through publications, public exhibitions, symposia, and conferences in order to disseminate cutting-edge research to broad audiences.

Key Duties:

  • conduct thorough independent archival and library research on the PhD project in different archives located across Europe, while actively discussing research findings with other members of the Leviathan team in regular meetings
  • document research thoroughly and organise research findings in a clear way, regularly uploading work to the Leviathan team’s shared storage space
  • regularly write up research findings, in the form of both thesis chapters and publications (journal articles, book chapters)
  • present at workshops organised by the Leviathan team, and also at national/international conferences relevant to the research
  • engage in outreach activities and public dissemination of knowledge; for example, organise public lectures, curate an exhibition aimed at a general audience, write blog posts
  • participation in media communication (Twitter account, the Centre’s blog and website) as a form of research-reflexivity and communicating project information


A university degree in a relevant field.

  • master’s degree or equivalent in History, or a related discipline
  • excellent English language skills
  • strong motivation to work in a co-operative, friendly and flexible team environment
  • experience of writing for academic audiences
  • proficiency in one or more relevant foreign language is advantageous
  • strong time management skills, with the ability to plan work in advance and meet deadlines
  • ability to work independently and be self-motivated
  • excellent IT skills with the ability to use online data storage platforms
  • preparedness to contribute to the research outputs and outreach of the Leviathan project
Pol-Int team

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