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Research Associate for the Project – Taming the European Leviathan – in Historical Studies: Esotericism, Hypnosis and Suggestion in Post-War European Medicine § 28 Subsection 3 HmbHG

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Start date: 01.12.2022, fixed until 30.11.2025 (This is a fixed-term contract in accordance with Section 2 of the academic fixed-term labor contract act [Wissenschaftszeitvertragsgesetz, WissZeitVG]).

Application deadline: 23.08.2022

Scope of work: part-time

Weekly hours: 50% of standard work hours per week


Duties include academic services in the project named above. Research associates may also pursue independent research and further academic qualifications. They may also pursue doctoral studies outside of working duties.

Specific Duties

Taming the European Leviathan: The Legacy of Post-War Medicine and the Common Good

Lead Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Ulf Schmidt

The doctoral student will conduct research as part of 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.

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.

PhD Project Description:

Is it possible to learn a language in only two days? The discipline of suggestology was 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, and claimed to offer innovative methods of medical treatment and the accelerated development of human skills. This project will explore the history of suggestology and also suggestopedia, an experimental aspect of suggestology for use in pedagogy in post-war Europe. It will situate the history of these disciplines in the context of practices associated with esotericism and hypnosis across the continent. Building on the work of Ivanova (2017) on suggestology in Bulgaria and the developing historiography about psychotherapy in Eastern Europe (Savelli and Marks, 2015), this project will analyse how suggestology shaped shared research cultures across Europe. The project will analyse suggestology and suggestopedia’s place among wider post-war European intellectual and scientific endeavours, which aspired to offer non-therapeutic medical interventions that would enhance the abilities and behaviours of individuals, and indeed whole societies, during an era of heightened geopolitical tension. Suggestology and suggestopedia continue to exert influence on neurological research, psychotherapy, and advanced learning techniques today; in order to fully understand these disciplines in their contemporary context, we need to examine how they developed in the post-war period. The case studies of suggestology and suggestopedia can also be used to explore whether a shared pursuit for optimally performing minds existed across the so-called ‘Iron Curtain’, and, therefore, whether mental health and intellectual enhancement constituted a universal ‘common good’ in East and West Europe.

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 Dropbox account
  • 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 archival research
  • experience of writing both for academic and general audiences
  • ability to read Bulgarian
  • 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 data storage platforms such as Dropbox
  • preparedness to contribute to the research outputs and outreach of the Leviathan project

We offer

  • Reliable remuneration based on wage agreements
  • Continuing education opportunities
  • University pensions
  • Attractive location
  • Flexible working hours
  • Work-life balance opportunities
  • Public transport pass (ProfiTicket) and much more
  • Health management
  • Educational leave
  • 30 days of vacation per annum

As a University of Excellence, Universität Hamburg is one of the strongest research universities in Germany. As a flagship university in the greater Hamburg region, it nurtures innovative, cooperative contacts to partners within and outside academia. It also provides and promotes sustainable education, knowledge, and knowledge exchange locally, nationally, and internationally.

The Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg promotes equal opportunity. As women are currently underrepresented in this job category at Universität Hamburg according to the evaluation conducted under the Hamburg act on gender equality (Hamburgisches Gleichstellungsgesetz, HambGleiG), we encourage women to apply for this position. Equally qualified and suitable female applicants will receive preference.

Severely disabled and disabled applicants with the same status will receive preference over equally qualified non-disabled applicants.

Instructions for applying


Norina Haubold

[email protected]

+49 40 42838-9054


Edmund-Siemers-Alle 1
20146 Hamburg
Zu Google Maps

Send us your complete application documents (cover letter [explaining the reason and motivation for your application], curriculum vitae, relevant documents and copies of degree certificate(s) [verified Bachelor’s and Master’s transcripts of record with diploma supplement], master thesis and sample of academic writing (in English), for example, a paper, essay, publication etc. and if necessary ID attesting to your disability or proof of equivalent status) via the online application form only.

Interviews will take place on the 4th of October 2022.

If you experience technical problems, send an email to [email protected].

More information on data protection in selection procedures.

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