Gepubliceerd op 19-02-2019

PhD candidate ‘Convention Conventions. Routines and Rituals in International Scientific Conferences, 1910-1960’

The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASoS) is looking for a PhD candidate “Convention Conventions. Routines and Rituals in International Scientific Conferences, 1910-1960” at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Department of History & STS Programme, Maastricht University (1,0 fte, 3 years)
PhD candidate “Convention Conventions. Routines and Rituals in International Scientific Conferences, 1910-1960” at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Department of History & STS Programme, Maastricht University (1,0 fte, 3 years)


The research project consists of four partners, located at Uppsala University, Sweden, Birkbeck University, London, the Centre Alexandre Koyré in Paris, and Maastricht University, the Netherlands. Each partner consists of one principal investigator and one other reseacher, and examines one dimension of conferences in history: social stratification, geopolitics, setting, and ritual, respectively. The partners will stay in close touch, meet twice a year, and produce individual as well as joint publications. Five Associate Partners (museums and academic institutions) offer support and societal embedding. The project also runs an outreach programme.

The Maastricht leg consists of Geert Somsen (PI) and the PhD candidate. The latter will examine the development of conference culture from early to mid-twentieth century, especially the role of rituals and routines (such as toasts, keynotes, excursions, and lady programmes) in academic community formation and knowledge production. The focus will be on conferences in chemistry. Relevant archival materials are kept at the Science History Institute in Philadelphia, USA (one of the Associate Partners), where the candidate will spend a few months’ time. Within these various parameters, the candidate gets to carve out a more specific project.

Because the PhD candidate partakes a larger research project, team work is essential. In addition to their individual work on their dissertation, the PhD candidate will contribute to regular project team meetings and joint academic publications. The PhD candidate will receive extensive training, including regular supervision, training by the Graduate School of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, and the Netherlands Graduate Research School for Science, Technology and Modern Culture (WTMC) or the Huizinga Institute for Cultural History. Interaction with the international and associate partners provides a rich and stimulating environment allowing for a broad orientation in this field of inquiry.


You hold a MA/MSc degree in history of science, science and technology studies, (historical) sociology or anthropology or a related discipline (or are expected to obtain such a degree by 31 August 2019). You have received excellent grades and you have an obvious interest in academic research, particularly historical or (micro)sociological approaches. You are capable of autonomously conducting original research as well as working in a team. You are fluent in English; knowledge of other languages such as French, German or Russian is an asset.


We offer a dynamic and challenging job in an internationally-oriented organisation where young people receive an advanced education and scholars conduct exciting research. She / he will be part of an international network of top universities and renowned scholars within the field.

We offer a 3 year full-time appointment as PhD student. The first year will be a probation period, after a positive assessment the position will be extended with another 2 years.

Remuneration will be according to standard salary levels for PhD students starting with a salary of € 2.325,00 with a yearly growth to € 2.835,00 gross a month (based on a full-time appointment). Each year the standard salary is supplemented with a holiday allowance of 8% and an end-of-year bonus of 8.3%.

You have to be willing to move to (the vicinity of) Maastricht. If you do not already live in Maastricht (or its direct surroundings) you will be eligible for an allowance for moving costs. You may also be eligible for an allowance for alternative housing. Other secondary conditions include e.g. a pension scheme and partially paid parental leave.

You will be provided with shared office space and a PC.

The terms of employment of Maastricht University are set out in the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities (CAO). Furthermore, local UM provisions also apply. For more information look at the website: www.maastrichtuniversity.nl > Support > UM employees.

Preferred starting date: 31 May 2019.


Maastricht University

Maastricht University is renowned for its unique, innovative, problem-based learning system, which is characterized by a small-scale and student-oriented approach. Research at UM is characterized by a multidisciplinary and thematic approach, and is concentrated in research institutes and schools. Maastricht University has around 16,300 students and 4,300 employees. Reflecting the university’s strong international profile, a fair amount of both students and staff are from abroad. The university hosts 6 faculties: Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Faculty of Law, School of Business and Economics, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience.



Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASoS) has about 250 staff members, and about 1,600 students. More than 76% of the students are non-Dutch (64 different nationalities). All programmes are offered in English and some are also offered in Dutch. FASoS offers two 3-year bachelor’s programmes: Arts and Culture and European Studies. It also offers eight different 1-year Master’s programmes and two 2-year research master’s programmes.

Research is organised around four programmes: Politics and Culture in Europe; Science, Technology and Society Studies; Arts, Media and Culture; and Globalisation, Transnationalism and Development. The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences is housed in the historic city centre of Maastricht.

Graduate School

Our Graduate School of Arts and Social Sciences offers the opportunity to pursue a PhD in the interdisciplinary field of arts and social sciences. You receive a coherent program of introductory courses, intensive supervision and frequent discussion with the senior researchers inside and outside the Faculty. The Programme can be characterized by its international and interdisciplinary nature and the emphasis on cultural and societal issues of the modern world.

The School focuses on four themes:

  1. Politics and Culture in Europe.
  2. Maastricht University Science, Technology and Society Studies.
  3. Globalisation, Transnationalism and Development.
  4. Arts, Media and Culture.

Further information on the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and its Graduate School may be accessed on: www.maastrichtuniversity.nl/fasos .


Additionele informatie

Research project

Today international conferences are standard features of scientific life. Since their emergence in the second half of the nineteenth century some 170 000 of them are estimated to have taken place. Still the reasons for this rise and the functions that conferences have fulfilled in scientific practice are unclear and have rarely been studied.

In a joint research project, funded by HERA (Humanities in the European Research Area), a European team of scholars will investigate the history of the scientific conference, seeing it not as a background for other, ‘real’ action, but as a phenomenon to be grasped in itself. What happened at international scientific conferences? How have they exchanged knowledge and shaped expertise? What forms of sociability have developed in these meetings, what rituals have been performed? How have conferences embodied social hierarchies and international relations? How have they informed policies on relevant subjects? The project will look at scientific conferences as ‘public spaces’ and address these questions through that lens. It will start in 2019 and take three years.

Applicants are invited for a PhD position in the joint project “The Scientific Conference: A Social, Cultural, and Political History”, a collaboration of four European research institutes. The project is funded by Humanities in the European Research Area. The principal investigator at Maastricht University is dr. Geert Somsen.

Any inquiries about the position or the project may be addressed to the principal investigator: dr. Geert Somsen (g.somsen@maastrichtuniversity.nl ).

Further information on the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciencesis available on our website: http://www.maastrichtuniversity.nl/fasos .

Het KNHG is de grootste organisatie van professionele historici in Nederland. Het biedt een platform aan de ruim 1100 leden en aan de historische gemeenschap als geheel. Word lid van het KNHG.
Het Huygens Instituut beoogt de Nederlandse geschiedenis en cultuur inclusiever maken. Het ontsluit historische bronnen en literaire teksten en ontwikkelt innovatieve methoden, tools en duurzame digitale infrastructuur.