Ghent University

Doctoral fellow - Department of Languages and Cultures

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Ghent University is one of the top 100 universities in the Dutch language area, with more than 44,000 students and 15,000 staff members.

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Last application date Apr 30, 2024 00:00

Department LW21 - Department of Languages and Cultures

Contract Limited duration

Degree Master's degree

Occupancy rate 100%

Vacancy type Research staff

Job description

Applications are invited for one full-time PhD research position of 4 years to carry out historical and/or anthropological and religious investigations within the project “The Mosques of Kerala: Artistic Vocabularies in the Identity-Building of Muslim Communities” (FWO Odysseus type II) led by Prof. Dr. Sara Mondini at the Department of Languages and Cultures at Ghent University in Ghent, Belgium (
Within the department, the Pre-doctoral researcher will collaborate both with the South Asia Studies and Arabic and Islamic Studies/Middle East Studies areas.
All nationalities are welcome to apply.

Brief Project Description
[For more information or a full project description contact]
The project “The Mosques of Kerala: Artistic Vocabularies in the Identity-Building of Muslim Communities” aims to study the mosques on the Malabar coast of India, particularly those erected along the coastline of the modern state of Kerala and southern Karnataka, in southern India, from the initial spread of Islam in the 7th century (according to legends) to the presente day, their peculiar style, their recent transformation and their role in the processes of identity building of the local Muslim communities. The structures to be investigated generally display unique formal elements. They seem to be the result of a remarkable combination of artistic vocabularies apparently borrowed from other Muslim regions – the Arabian Peninsula and Central Asia – and fused with elements drawn from local and South East Asian vernacular and temple architecture. The Indian Ocean trade network that brought Islam to these shores also contributed to defining the identity of the first Islamic communities, which seems to be reflected in architectural choices. Both aspects, the models chosen for these mosques and the Indian Ocean network continued to play a key role in the transformation of artistic vocabularies and in the development of structures. Nevertheless, the mosques’ originality and historical value is today jeopardised by increasing renovation, demolition, and reconstruction work. A full understanding of the monuments, from both a formal and contextual point of view, would have a significant impact on our knowledge of both art-historical and socio-religious scenes, in the region and in the Islamic world. The art historical study of these mosques would enable to trace out the transfer of forms and models, travelling along the trade networks, and the dynamics behind the establishment of a new regional artistic vocabulary. At the same time, an investigation of the historical and socio-religious context would enable us to understand later patronage patterns, socio-cultural dynamics and exchanges across the Indian Ocean, shedding light on how the Muslim communities in Kerala have looked through the centuries towards other regions such as the Arabian Peninsula, Central Asia, South East Asia, northern India and indeed vernacular and temple architecture in the region. This study of the Malabar mosques will contribute to change the timeline and perception of the Indo-Islamic artistic works and their role in relation to the rest of the Islamic world and South Asia. Last but not least, only by tracing out the mosques’ development over the centuries it will be possible to understand the redefinition of their patrons’ identities and of the religious communities associated with them, and hence the significance attached to these mosques and their style today.

Job profile

What we are looking for:

  • You hold a thesis-based master’s degree in a relevant field (e.g., Islamic Studies, Religious Studies, South Asia Studies; History);
  • You have completed an outstanding MA dissertation on an aspect of the South Asian and/or Islamic culture and/or history between 8/9th and 21th centuries;
  • You have proficiency in the relevant languages, especially Arabic and/or Persian and Malayalam, sufficient to undertake cutting-edge research in South Asian history (8/9th-21th centuries);
  • You have the ability to develop an original research project;
  • You have an excellent command of written and spoken English;
  • You are a dynamic and enthusiastic team player.

Conditions and benefits:

  • We offer you a full-time position for four years as doctoral fellow, subject to positive evaluation after one year.
  • Your fellowship will start on September 1 2024 at the earliest.
  • The scholarship amount is 100% of the net salary of an AAP (Academic Assistant Personnel) member in equal family circumstances. The individual scholarship amount is determined by the DPO (Department of Personnel and Organization) on the basis of family circumstances and seniority. A grant that meets the conditions and criteria of the regulations for doctoral scholarships is considered free of personal income tax. Click here for more information about our salary scales (
  • You will be allocated office space and receive funding for fieldwork and for attending workshops and conferences.
  • All Ghent University staff members enjoy a number of benefits, such as a wide range of training and education opportunities, 36 days of holiday leave (on an annual basis for a full-time job) supplemented by annual fixed bridge days, bicycle allowance and eco vouchers. Click here for a complete overview of all the staff benefits ( in Dutch).

PhD research description:

  • You will write a PhD dissertation for a degree in South Asian Studies or Middle East Studies;
  • You will participate in the project’s fieldwork missions in South Asia and carry out fieldwork independently;
  • You will closely interact with the research carried out by the Post-doctoral fellows and with the other team members;
  • You will be expected to disseminate research results together with the research team via publications in international peer-reviewed journals, the participation in conferences, etc.;
  • You will submit at least 2 articles for publication with a peer-reviewed journal;
  • You will contribute to the research environment in South Asian and Islamic studies at Ghent University through participation in reading groups, workshops, and other scholarly events.

How to apply

To apply submit the following materials in a single pdf file to Prof. Sara Mondini (

  • your complete CV and an overview of your study results;
  • a transcript of your studies at undergraduate and MA level;
  • a cover letter outlining your experience and interest in undertaking doctoral studies at Ghent University;
  • a research proposal (max. 2000 words plus bibliography) that outlines the dissertation project you will undertake and includes 1) project title, 2) a rationale and positioning of the project in relation to existing scholarship, 3) a statement of the research objectives of the project, 4) research methodology and work plan, and 5) essential bibliography;
  • up to two samples of academic work;
  • names, positions and email address of two referees (do not include reference letters).

Job details

Doctoral fellow - Department of Languages and Cultures
Sint-Pietersnieuwstraat 33 Ghent, Belgium
Application deadline
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Application instructions

Please send your application to Prof. Sara Mondini (

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About the employer

Ghent University is one of the top 100 universities in the Dutch language area, with more than 44,000 students and 15,000 staff members.

Visit the employer page

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