30 March 2015

PHD/POSTDOC POSITION: "Discourses of Weakness and Resource Regimes" (July 1, 2015)

WHAT: Discourses of Weakness and Resource Regimes, PHD/POST DOC POSITION in the field of late medieval /early modern history, legal history, or ecclesiastical history

WHEN: starting July 1, 2015 (3-year contracts)

WHERE: MPI, Max-Planck Institut fur europaische Rechtsgeschichte

The Max-Planck-Institute for European Legal History and the Goethe University Frankfurt am Main are partner institutions of the Collaborative Research Centre 1095 ‘Discourses of Weakness and Resource Regimes’. In this framework, the Max-Planck-Institute for European Legal History offers
Two PhD / Post-doctoral Positions in the field of late medieval / early modern history, legal history or ecclesiastical history (starting July 1, 2015, or later; 3-year contracts)

Research project

A Collaborative Research Centre / CRC (‘Sonderforschungsbereich’ / ‘SFB’ in German) is an institution established at German universities for a period of up to twelve years that enables researchers to pursue an outstanding research programme, crossing the boundaries of disciplines, institutes and faculties. Financed by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), it facilitates scientifically ambitious, complex, long-term research by concentrating and coordinating the resources available at a university.
The CRC 1095 ‘Discourses of Weakness and Resource Regimes’ at the Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main, employs a transepochal and comparative approach in order to deal with the question of how discourses of weakness had an impact on the use of resources. These discourses can be observed in the history of all cultures at all times. Changes in the use of both material and immaterial resources constitute a special and important aspect of processes of historical transformation which will be addressed by historians, historians of science, anthropologists, philosophers, sinologists and legal historians within the framework of the new CRC 1095.
CRC sub-project C 01 ‘Knowledge of the pragmatici. Presence and significance of pragmatic normative literature in Ibero-America in the late 16th and early 17th century’, led by Prof. Dr. Thomas Duve, reflects upon the significance of normative texts which addressed themselves primarily to practitioners – especially those who would nowadays be seen as part of moral theology or confessional literature. The respective texts were ‘weak’ insofar as they lacked theoretical complexity compared to erudite treatises; they were ‘strong’, however, in terms of pragmatic usefulness because they offered the reader adaptable bases of normative knowledge. There are some indications that these resources helped to establish, even minimally, conceptions of normative order in early modern empires such as the Spanish one. It is the objective of the sub-project to bring to light not only the practical significance but also the intellectual weight of a literary genre which has received little attention for a long time. Characteristic of this genre are condensation processes which might constitute a considerable achievement in abstraction.

Job description

In this context, the position holders are expected to research on one of the two following subjects:
I. Martín de Azpilcueta’s Manual for Confessors and the phenomenon of epitomization
The subject of the first research project are processes of condensation and, possibly, abstraction of canonistic or moral theological knowledge, which was already available in copious works. These processes of epitomization are to be analyzed with regard to a confession manual written by Martín de Azpilcueta (1492-1586), an important canon lawyer and moral theologian. His manual was published in 1552 in Portuguese, 1553 in Spanish and received, in a brief period, multiple editions and translations (1573 into Latin). It was one of the most influential works of moral theology in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, a ‘bestseller’ in the book trade with the New World – and itself subject to various processes of adaptation. The research project on Azpilcueta’s Manual for Confessors, in sum, should focus on the question how learned knowledge was condensed and transformed into a work of pragmatic literature.
II. The Third Provincial Council of Mexico (1585) and the elaboration of a Manual for Confessors In a second study, a researcher is to investigate how the need for normative action which arose from a concrete historical situation found expression in a Mexican confession manual of the late 16th century. The research will be based on the recent edition of the Directorio de confesores y penitentes elaborated at the Third Provincial Council of Mexico (1585). The conciliar decrees which have also been published, show that the council fathers regarded the confession manual as an essential medium for translating their discussions. In brief, the research project will focus on the question how reflections on moral theology and canon law discussed during the provincial council were incorporated into such a pragmatic work. – In exceptional cases it is possible to answer the questions outlined above on the basis of the Third Provincial Council of Lima (1582-83) and its catechetic literature.


The applicants must hold a university degree, preferably in one of the following disciplines: law, canon law, theology, history or philology. Language skills must include English as well as Latin (project I) or Spanish (project II). Moreover, researchers who do not speak German, are expected to learn it during their stay in Frankfurt. Furthermore, participation in the collective activities of the CRC is mandatory.
Both doctoral and post-doctoral researchers can apply for the above mentioned positions. As regards doctoral students the PhD can be granted by the Goethe University Frankfurt am Main, if the applicants fulfill the necessary requirements. However, candidates who wish to obtain their PhD from another university will also be admitted. Doctoral students will be given the opportunity to familiarize with their research topic.
The selected candidates will be working at the Max-Planck-Institute for European Legal History in Frankfurt am Main and will be integrated into the respective research fields of the Institute.

Application Process

Applications should contain a CV, copies of the relevant university certificates, a letter of motivation, the copy of a short research text written by the candidate (e.g. a seminar paper or a published article), and, if applicable, a list of publications and letters of recommendation.
Candidates who would like to apply for a post-doctoral position, are additionally invited to submit a five-page outline of their research design for project I or project II (incl. a short bibliography).
The applicants must clearly indicate whether the application is for a PhD position or a post-doctoral position, and whether (or not) – in the case of doctoral students – the candidate is already participating in a PhD program.
The postgraduate remuneration is governed by the German Collective Agreement for the Public Sector (TVöD) EG 13 (65 %) and currently amounts to 2.268.25 Euro gross. In case of a postdoc-contract, the remuneration (E13) will be increased to 100% and currently amounts to 3.489,62 Euro gross. In both cases, the working time consists of 39 hours per week.
The Max-Planck Society is committed to increase the number of individuals with disabilities in its workforce and therefore encourages applications from these persons. The Max Planck Society seeks to increase the number of women in those areas where they are underrepresented and therefore explicitly encourages women to apply.
Inquiries about the research program ‘Knowledge of the pragmatici’ can be directed to Otto Danwerth (
We look forward to receiving your comprehensive online application by 15.05.2015 following the below mentioned link:

More information about the research project:
Knowledge of the pragmatici (
Schwächediskurse und Ressourcenregime (

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