Netherlands: Postdoctoral researcher in Reading Policy through Historiography at Leiden University

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Job description

Since its founding in 1575, Leiden University has built an internationally recognized record of excellence in teaching and research. Leiden University is a founding member of the League of European Research Universities (LERU). From November 1, 2013, the Institute for Area Studies (LIAS) of the Faculty of Humanities at Leiden University will be appointing a full-time PhD for a four-year period within the ERC-funded ARC Starting Grant project A War of Words: What Ancient Manchurian History Does to Korea and China Today, under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Remco Breuker.

Postdoctoral researcher in Reading Policy through Historiography: North Korea as the Pivot of China’s Manchurian Heritage Politics (1.0 fte)
Vacancy number: 13-285

The PhD students will be based in the Institute for Area Studies. LIAS is committed to the integration of disciplinary and regional-historical perspectives, on a solid foundation of excellent language skills, and compromises a School of Asian Studies and a School of Middle-Eastern Studies.

The Project

Since 2003, South Korea and China have been embroiled in a territorial dispute – over ancient states that ceased to exist as such over a millennium ago, in then Manchuria. The confrontation has appealed to the popular imagination in both countries. Amateur historians, artists, and film makers have voiced their opinions in writing, art, movies, and TV, in traditional and new (online) media. Why does the past cause this intense activity in the present? A WAR OF WORDS will engage this complex of Chinese claims to Manchu-Korean ancient history, South Korean reactions, public discourse and cultural expression in both states, and the role of North Korea; and complement and challenge habitual IR and security studies perspectives on Northeast Asia, particularly North Korea, by bringing in historical and cultural perspectives, and foregrounding ancient Manchurian history and its politico-socio-cultural manifestations in the present.

The postdoctoral researcher will investigate recent Chinese revisionist historiography in light of China’s strategic  interests and policies regarding Northeast Asia, hypothesizing that North Korea is the implied object of the war of words. It will focus on cross-border histories of ethnically Korean, Chinese citizens in the region, and (historical) notions of Northeast Asian integration.

There is strong disagreement in the academic  world over the question of whether Northeast Asia is heading towards more divisive regionalism or more integration. It is clear that historical issues play an important part in determining what is contested and how it is contested. Historical issues are strategically mobilized – but the vox populi, once engaged, is not always easily brought back under control and may gain its own momentum. Whether it is the Japanese actions of the early twentieth century, contested territories such as the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands or Tok-to/Takeshima, or the revisionist historiography of the Chinese Northeast Asian History Project, historical issues are one of the underlying forces that have driven the changing international interactions in Northeast Asia for the last decade. This subproject will delve into the contested historiographies and link these to the Korean-Chinese interactions and future policies and strategies.

Profile: political science, history; China and Korea expertise.


  • PhD degree in Korean Studies, Chinese Studies, Cultural Studies, History or a related field.
  • Fluency in English, near native-fluency in Korean and/or Chinese (additionally, passive command of Japanese and Classical Chinese would be      a great advantage).
  • Demonstrable interest in the history of Northeast Asia and the social function of historiography.
  • Excellent track record as shown in international publications and conference participation.
  • Thorough experience in working with Korean and Chinese language source materials.
  • Willingness to work in an international and highly competitive environment.
  • Willingness to utilize theoretical and comparative frameworks.
  • Ability to work both independently and as part of the team.

Conditions of employment

The position is for three years with a full-time appointment. Initially the employee will receive a one year contract. Salary range from gross € 3,259,- to € 4,462,- per month (pay scale 11) , commensurate with qualifications, with additional holiday and end-of-year bonuses. Depending on qualifications, the postdoctoral researcher may start at the appropriate step in scale 10 until s/he fully meets the requirements for scale 11 as specified by the Faculty of Humanities, particularly with regard to the number of years of relevant work experience. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break.


Leiden University

Leiden is a typical university city, hosting the oldest university in the Netherlands (1575). The University permeates the local surroundings; University premises are scattered throughout the city, and the students who live and study in Leiden give the city its relaxed yet vibrant atmosphere.

Leiden University is one of Europe’s foremost research universities. This prominent position gives our graduates a leading edge in applying for academic posts and for functions outside academia.


Additional information

For more information, please contact Prof. Remco Breuker (
Institute for Area Studies:

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