Postdoctoral Fellow - Democracy in East Central European Utopianism, Central European University

  • Central European University
  • Budapest, Hungary
  • Mar 09, 2022
Full time History Languages & Literature Political Science & International Relations

Job Description


Starting date:                                  September 1, 2022

Application deadline:                      The review of applications will begin on April 30, 2022, but the call will remain open until the position is filled

Full- Or Part-Time:                           Full-time

Location:                                          Budapest

Term of engagement:                      3 years (12 months at first, with a possibility of extension of a further 2x12 months pending the donor organization’s review)

Remuneration:                                2.300 EUR gross/month plus a flat-rate travel bonus for those who leave the country of their principal residence


The Democracy in History Workgroup of the Democracy Institute at Central European University invites applications for a Postdoctoral Fellow position in the newly launched multi-disciplinary research project “Democracy in East Central European Utopianism.” The project is funded by the Gerda Henkel Foundation ( The research team will be based at Central European University’s Democracy Institute in Budapest.


Details of the project

The research group consists of the lead scholar Dr Zsolt Czigányik, a PhD student whose recruitment is in process, and a post-doctoral fellow whose position is the subject of the current call.

The project aims to analyze 19th and 20th century East Central European utopian texts, focusing on the problems and conflicts utopianism highlights concerning the ideals of democracy. We shall contrast such ideals with historical movements to trace the intellectual history of democracy within utopianism. Political concepts originating in Western Europe often become adapted and reinterpreted in Central Europe, this is why most Central European texts, unlike the ones produced in Western Europe, treat democracy as a utopian concept, something to be achieved. The research focus is not on individual texts or their authors, but how the texts reflect the historical context and conflicts concerning ideas of good government in East Central Europe. Further, how these conflicts reflect attitudes towards democracy in the region, particularly in comparison and contrast to Western Europe, will be central to the study.

Based on Sargent (1994) the project considers utopias as ideas of a better society, not necessarily perfect, but intended to be ideal, at least significantly better than the current society of the author. Although the investigation focuses on texts and their relationship to historical and political movements and conflicts, all three faces of utopianism will be reflected, that is, literary texts, the utopian elements of political ideologies, and to some extent intentional communities as well. Dystopias will also be considered as parts of the utopian discourse.

There are great variations in the definition of Central Europe, the research will consider it not only as physical space but also a virtual (quasi-utopian) area marked by an awareness of and a longing for “democracy,” as a liminal territory in between East and West, showing signs of both Eastern and Western patterns of power relationship, a hybrid between democracy and dictatorship. It is assumed that the investigation of Central European texts and attitudes sheds light not only on the political thought of Central Europe, but also on the ideas concerning democracy both in Western and Eastern European political thought.


Project website:


Duties and responsibilities:

Working from Budapest, the post-doctoral research fellow is expected to contribute to collaborative research activities and joint publications, as well as be actively involved in dissemination and outreach activities in English and in other project languages, and to develop and deliver high-quality, innovative research outcomes on the subject of the research described above, including, but not limited to, the following activities:


  • Conduct research in full compliance of the ethics, data and best-practice research guidelines valid at Central European University and the Gerda Henkel Foundation, and will be supported in doing so
  • Prepare his/her first book for publication
  • Produce research publications for leading international and/or peer reviewed journals (minimum requirement: at least one paper per year accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed academic journal)
  • Active participation in the regular meetings of the research group to discuss individual and collective results
  • Collaborate effectively within the research group to assist in research and outcome delivery
  • As part of your research process, to participate in and convene workshops, seminars, conferences, training sessions and other collaborative events with a range of participants
  • Participation in the organisation of workshops of the research team
  • Produce book chapters for project-specific publications, including edited volumes
  • Participate in conferences of appropriate learned societies and associations
  • Produce research dissemination materials (blog, podcast, etc.) for the project’s public facing website and social media, as well as other channels
  • Perform editorial and critique tasks as appropriate to support other team members and the publications of the research team
  • Work with the lead scholar to ensure that he has the information and materials he needs to ensure the smooth running of project
  • Other tasks as agreed with the lead scholar
  • Travel, including international travel, where necessary and appropriate



The post-doctoral research fellow position is remunerated with a scholarship of 2,300 EUR gross/month, plus a flat-rate travel bonus for those who leave the country of their principal residence.


The awardee will be directly funded by the Gerda Henkel Stiftung. As a research affiliate of the CEU Democracy Institute, they will work in the Gerda Henkel-funded research project "Democracy in East Central European Utopianism" alongside CEU faculty and the project’s Principal Investigator, Professor Zsolt Czigányik. As a recipient of the Gerda Henkel Stiftung Postdoctoral Scholarship, the awardee will not be employed by Central European University and thus will be responsible for their own health insurance in Hungary and any mandatory social security/taxation payments in their country of fiscal residence. CEU will assist with obtaining a visa and/or residency paperwork in Hungary. This position requires full-time work, and no other parallel employment is possible. Detailed information on the requirements of the Gerda Henkel Foundation is available here:


About CEU

Central European University (CEU) is a research-intensive university specializing in the social sciences, humanities, law, public policy and management. It is accredited in the United States, Austria and Hungary. CEU’s mission is to promote academic excellence, state-of-the-art research, research-based teaching and learning and civic engagement, in order to contribute to the development of open societies. CEU offers bachelor's, master’s and doctoral programs and enrolls more than 1,400 students from over 100 countries. The teaching staff consists of resident faculty from over 50 countries and prominent visiting scholars from around the world. The language of instruction is English. For more information, please visit


About the Democracy Institute

The Democracy Institute, based in Budapest, strives to enable the renewal and strengthening of democratic and open societies through world-class research, collaboration across academic and professional disciplines, teaching and the free exchange of ideas, and public engagement on a local, regional, and global scale. For more information, please visit: .


Preferred and Required Qualifications


Candidates must have a PhD in hand in one of the relevant disciplines (preferably history or political science, but other disciplines, such as literature will also be considered, especially if the dissertation is related to utopianism), an outstanding research agenda, and a record of relevant and internationally recognized publications in the field, preferably with a focus on Eastern or Central Europe. Experience in working in an international, collaborative, multidisciplinary environment is an advantage.


Applicants must have excellent written and oral proficiency in English. Proficiency in an East Central European language is essential; advanced working knowledge of further project languages, including Latin, is an advantage.

Application Details

How to apply:

Applicants need to submit:

  • Cover letter / Letter of intent (max 2 pages)
  • CV (max 5 pages), including details on relevant experiences and a selection of publications
  • Research plan in view of the research agenda of the project. Ideally, the applicant shall be responsible for the investigation of the utopian phenomena of a particular East Central European nation or language community.
  • One recent English-language article, book chapter, paper or manuscript that best represents the applicant’s recent research
  • Names and contact details of three referees who could be contacted for a recommendation letter in case of being shortlisted for the job. Please include at least one academic referee who was not involved with the supervision of the dissertation.


Please send your complete application package to as one single pdf file to: - including job code in subject line: 2022/010.


The review of applications will begin on April 30, 2022 but the call will remain open until the position is filled.


Informal inquiries can be addressed to the lead scholar of the research team, Professor Zsolt Czigányik,   



CEU recognizes that personal and family circumstances shape the trajectory of one’s career and working patterns. As such, and in line with CEU’s promotion of Equal Opportunities, we encourage applicants to detail periods of leave, part-time work or other such situations in their applications so that the Search Committee is able to assess an applicant’s academic record fairly in the context of their circumstances. Any declaration of personal and family circumstances is voluntary and will be handled confidentially and only considered in so far as it impacts on the academic career of an applicant. Applications from female applicants are particularly welcome, given equal qualifications, they will be prioritized.

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CEU is an equal opportunity employer.


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