Ambiguity and Disambiguation of Belonging - The Regulation of Alienness in the Caribbean during the Revolutionary Era (1780-1820s)

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Postdoctoral researcher (f/m/d) at universities
(Salary equivalent to TV-L 13)


Your responsibilities

Cooperation in the research project “Ambiguity and Disambiguation of Belonging – The Regulation of Alienness in the Caribbean during the Revolutionary Era (1780s–1820s)”.

The project explores the role the regulation of migration played in the reconfiguration of political belonging and membership to states during the age of revolutions around 1800. As a result of revolutionary upheavals and violent conflicts, political refugees became a mass phenomenon during the revolutionary era. In response to these migrations, national and colonial governments created legal regulations, often for the first time, to control the mobility of foreign refugees and, more broadly, regulate the status of strangers. First, based on a systematic survey and context-based case studies of these efforts at migration control, the project reconstructs comparatively the reregulation of alienness and questions its significance in reconceptions of political belonging. In this way, it examines the extent to which the border between citizens/subjects and foreigners was redrawn by redefining the position of those who did not belong. Second, the project focuses on the Caribbean, one of the most important laboratories of migration control at the time. Through this geographic focus, it brings into view complex processes of determining belonging based on distinctions of confessional affiliation, race, and gender - and their interplay - and interrogates their repercussions on European colonial metropoles. At the same time, it uses the examples of the Dutch and British Caribbean to examine the extent to which imperial and geostrategic practices of tolerance for ambiguity persisted.

The project is part of the interdisciplinary Research Unit “Ambiguity and Distinction: Historical and Cultural Dynamics,” funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and hosted by the University of Duisburg-Essen. The Research Unit sets out to study in comparative fashion how individuals, societies and states have coped with ambiguity in a variety of settings ranging from the late Middle Ages through the twentieth century. For more information, visit the Research Unit’s website at The project will also collaborate with the ERC project “Atlantic Exiles” at the University of Duisburg-Essen. For more information about “Atlantic Exiles”, visit

Mission and Activities

  • to contribute to the accomplishment of an ambitious research project by conducting independent and coordinated research in a team
  • to work closely with the project leader, Jan C. Jansen, in the administration of the project and the setup of a comparative survey of alien laws
  • to conduct archival research on the project’s case study of Curaçao and the Dutch Caribbean and on a comparative survey of alien legislation in the Caribbean during the revolutionary era
  • to contribute to collaboration within the interdisciplinary Research Unit “Ambiguity and Distinction”, with the ERC project “Atlantic Exiles” and external project partners
  • to provide guidance for project-associated research assistants
  • to write single-authored scholarly texts, present research outputs at academic conferences, and contribute to the organization of research dissemination events

Your benefits

The successful candidate will receive social security benefits. Budget for archival travels, conferences, etc. is available. The team member will be integrated into a young, dynamic, and internationally well- connected research environment.

Your profile

  • completed (or close to completion) doctorate in history, or related discipline in the humanities and social sciences
  • sufficient knowledge of the languages and areas relevant to the project (Curaçao case study; comparative survey)
  • excellent spoken and written English
  • international academic experience (study, research, conferences etc.) and/or experiences with digital history methods are an asset
  • proven ability in archival research
  • commitment to teamwork, interdisciplinary collaboration, excellent communication skills, and reliability to meet deadlines.

Applications must include

  • letter of motivation, specifying applicant’s qualifications to carry out the
    project, including the case study of Curaçao and the Dutch Caribbean (max. 2 pages)
  • CV (max. 2 pages)
  • outline of how applicant plans to carry out and develop the case study of alien
    regulation in Curaçao and the Dutch Caribbean during the revolutionary era (max. 3,000 words, including references)
  • electronic copy of PhD thesis
  • diplomas/certificates (including official transcripts)
  • names and contact information of two academic referees

For further information and questions regarding the positions and the research project please contact Jan C. Jansen at

Start of position            as soon as possible

Contract period             3 years

  Working time                 100% of a full-time position

  Application deadline    Extended! 22 March 2022

Applications and inquiries with refence code 059-22 should be addressed to:
Prof. Dr. Jan C. Jansen
Historisches Institut
Universität Duisburg-Essen
D-45117 Essen.

Please submit all documents in a single PDF to

The University Duisburg-Essen aims at promoting the diversity of its members (visit

The University Duisburg-Essen has been awarded for its effort to promote gender equality with the "Total-EQuality-Award". It aims at increasing the share of women in the scientific personnel and therefore explicitly encourages women to apply. Women will be preferentially considered when equally qualified according to the state equality law.

Applications from disabled or equivalents according to § 2 Abs. 3 SGB IX are encouraged.

Website University Duisburg-Essen Job offer