Appel à candidature : 3 PhD positions, University of Zurich

450px-Constellation_d'Orion_église_Saint_PierreApplication deadline: May 31, 2014

Holy Spaces in Modernity.
Transformations and Architectural Manifestations (University of Zurich, 

Job-posting: 2 Ph.D. positions in art history 
Deadline: May 31, 2014

The project “Holy Spaces in Modernity“ is funded by the Swiss National 
Science Foundation in connection with a SNSF-Professorship at the 
Institute of Art History, University of Zurich. It focuses on 
transformations in the understanding of holiness since the late 18th 
century and analyzes the resulting architectural manifestations of holy 
spaces in a global perspective. Holy spaces are sociocultural 
constructions of symbolically densified sites which impart collective 
value systems and shape social action and identity. The project 
concentrates on artistic practices in architecture, town planning, 
heritage preservation, and archaeology in the processes of 
establishing, manifesting, and/or transforming spaces coded as holy 
sites. The project aims at developing spatial typologies and 
ideological patterns of holiness and hereby tries to re-position 
phenomena of the holy from the modern age to the present time. It will 
take up recent discussions on myth and the power of holy spaces and 
their instrumentalization in sociopolitical and cultural-religious 

The project comprises three doctoral positions (SNSF-salary 
scale/Ph.D.) in total. Applicants are expected to be dedicated and 
highly qualified young researchers, who will have the opportunity to 
explore architectural practices for aesthetic and ideological 
formations of holy spaces from the 19th to the 21st century, focusing 
on the three major world religious cultures. The project distinguishes 

I. historically established holy sites whose interpretative patterns 
have been renegotiated in the modern age and which are sometimes 
contested in religious conflicts about space and power: How do 
architectural practices as well as preservation and archaeological 
activities contribute to territorial and religious/political 
appropriations of holy sites?

II. holy-auratic alternative sites that newly create and promote social 
order and identity as a consequence of semantic transformations in the 
understanding of the sacred and the profane: This topic is dedicated to 
the study of the production of auratic spaces in Classicism and 
Romanticism in the context of aesthetic theories and nationalist 

III. typological patterns of collectively created holy spatiality: it 
intends to analyze building typologies like museums, governmental 
architecture, national monuments etc. and asks for their collective 
meaning and social consequences for identity formation in modern and 
contemporary global perspectives.

Dissertation proposals should fit within the overall framework of “Holy 
Spaces in Modernity“ and may address differing cultural contexts, 
geographical regions, and time periods in relation to the three major 
world religions. Comparative studies and interdisciplinary approaches 
are particularly welcome. While candidates should focus on individual 
dissertation projects they are expected to strongly participate in the 
activities of the umbrella research project, too. 
Begin: ca. September 1, 2014, maximum term until May 31, 2018
For further information please contact Anna Minta:

Applications must include:
-    Motivation letter explaining the applicant’s interest und 
qualification for the position 
-    Abstract of intended dissertation project (10.000 characters plus 
footnotes, max. 5  pages)
-    Curriculum vitae and documentation of an academic degree that 
qualifies for a 
doctoral dissertation in art history
-    Name and contact details of two possible academic referees

Please send your application in English or German no later than May 31, 
2014 to:
PD Dr. Anna Minta, SNSF-Professor (from June 1, 2014)
-    as one document in pdf-format to: 
-    per mail to: PD Dr. Anna Minta, Bern University, Dept. of Art 
History, Hodlerstr. 8, CH 3011 Bern, Switzerland

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