Three Pre-doctoral research fellows

Available at Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient (ZMO) @ZMO_Berlin, project “In Pursuit of ‘Legality’ and ‘Justice’: Minority Struggles in the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union” (JUSTIMINO) (TVöD Bund, salary group E13, 65%); deadline: 15 June 2023


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Three Pre-doctoral research fellows (m/f/div)

Three positions as junior (pre-doctoral) research fellows (m/f/div) are available at Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient (ZMO) in Berlin, with a start date of 1 January 2024, or as soon as possible after that date. Each position comes with a fixed contract duration of four years. The positions are part of the collaborative project
“In Pursuit of ‘Legality’ and ‘Justice’: Minority Struggles in the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union” (JUSTIMINO), funded by a European Research Council (ERC) Consolidator Grant and headed by PD Dr. Stefan B. Kirmse. All applicants are advised to read the JUSTIMINO project outline carefully (see the link above). The three junior research positions will give the successful applicants the opportunity to complete doctoral dissertations in a relevant discipline (history, legal anthropology, or socio-legal studies). To this end, they will enrol as PhD candidates at a suitable university, ideally in Berlin. The salary grade corresponds to the German scheme of employment in the public sector (TVöD Bund, salary group E13, FTE 65% = 25.35 h/w). Additional funds for research and conference travel, visa fees (if required), and publications are available.
As part of the broader JUSTIMINO frame, the junior researchers will each work on specific cases of ethnic and religious minorities in the Russian Empire or Soviet Union calling for legality and justice. One of them will address the small but vocal Muslim parliamentary group in the Russian imperial Duma (1906-1916) [project 1]. The candidate will examine the ways in which these deputies used the language of legality and past in-justices in key parliamentary issues in early twentieth-century Russia. The second PhD candidate will focus on the legal activism of Karaite Jews in the Black Sea region in the nineteenth century [project 2]. The researcher will explore the importance of ‘legality’ and ‘justice’ in their campaigns for recognition. The third PhD candidate will focus on the Crimean Tatars and their struggle for rehabilitation after the death of Stalin [project 3], tracking legal strategies, complaints and publications, as well as street pickets and demonstrations. The JUSTIMINO project will be part of the ZMO research unit
“Representations of the Past”

The post will be filled upon the release of funds.

Your responsibilities:

Development of a pre-doctoral research project within the JUSTIMINO framework, in close cooperation with the project leader PD Dr. Stefan B. Kirmse

Autonomous research in suitable Eurasian archives, on published sources and scholarly literature under the supervision of the project leader

Oral history research (esp. for the Crimean Tatar project)

Submission of a doctoral dissertation
Publication of one article in a high-impact journal, contribution to collective volumes produced by the JUSTIMINO project
Participation in activities of the JUSTIMINO programme (internal meetings, lecture series, workshops, and conferences), both in Germany and abroad

Participation in key academic formats of the host institute (such as project presentations and colloquia)
Help with the documentation of project results, database development and academic reports

Further administrative tasks in the JUSTIMINO programme

Contributions to project blogs, social media, podcasts, etc.

Candidate profile:
Above average academic performance and Master’s degree in history or a related discipline (legal anthropology, socio-legal studies, human rights studies or other), ideally with a focus on the modern history of Russia and/or Central Eurasia

All three positions: excellent command of the Russian and English languages is required; German is desirable but not mandatory

Project 3 only: intermediate to advanced reading and conversational skills in Crimean Tatar or Turkish (such skills will have to be documented at the end of the first year)

Reading skills of further languages (such skills will have to be documented at the end of the first year)

o For project 1: languages used by Muslim duma deputies, for example Old Tatar

o For project 2: Hebrew and/or Yiddish; Tatar would be an additional asset

o For project 3: Uzbek and/or Ukrainian

Excellent communication and team skills

Ability to work independently

Good knowledge of MS Office

About ZMO:

ZMO, located in the Nikolassee area of Berlin, is the only research institute in Germany with an interdisciplinary and comparative historical approach to research on the Middle East, Eurasia, Africa, South and Southeast Asia. The focus of its research is the interaction within majority Muslim societies and their relationships with their non-Muslim neighbouring regions. ZMO is part of the
Leibniz Association, which connects 97 independent research institutions in Germany. Their focus ranges from natural, engineering and environmental sciences to economics, social sciences and the humanities. We offer a vibrant and interdisciplinary work environment and a collegial atmosphere. The institute is committed to achieving a good work-life balance.


When filling positions in areas of employment in which one gender is underrepresented or diversity is low, applicants with the same qualifications and suitability who belong to underrepresented groups are given priority. Search committees represent gender equality and diversity while looking for high standards of academic rigour in the candidates.

Make sure to include the following application materials:

• Cover letter outlining motivation for applying

• A short research outline (1-2 pages) focusing on ONE of the three topics outlined above, explaining which more specific research questions the candidate would like to address, along with the methodology.

• CV

• Language and academic certificates

• Writing sample (this could be an academic article, or a research essay submitted as part of your studies)

• A list of 2-3 potential referees and their contact details (reference letters are not required).

Please combine all application materials in one PDF file and, using the reference code JUSTIMINO-DOC, send them to Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient, Dr. Silke Nagel ( by 15 June 2023. For further information on the projects and structure of the positions, please contact PD Dr. Stefan B. Kirmse (


Nähere Informationen

PD Dr. Stefan B. Kirmse

stefan.kirmse[ at ]

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Dr. Silke Nagel