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PhD Candidate position (Scholarship)

We invite applications for a PhD Candidate position (f/m/d) (Scholarship) from 1 November 2023 until 31 October 2026 within the framework of the research project “Cities 'becoming lost': the ruptures of grand narratives of modernity” funded by a scholarship from the Gerda Henkel Foundation.


The IfL conducts basic research on the regional geography of Germany and Europe and communicates its research findings to a wider public. Under the heading “Geographies of the Regional”, the institute develops interdisciplinary perspectives on socio-spatial developments in a globalized society that is increasingly characterized by differences, diversity and complexity. The advertised position will be affiliated with the Institute’s research area on “Multiple Geographies of regional and local development”.

The project "Cities 'becoming lost': the ruptures of grand narratives of modernity" focuses on cities established on the backdrop of modernity's grand narratives such as social harmony, techno-optimism, and military peacekeeping. The research aims to develop an innovative methodological approach to lostness as a dynamic process by drawing on new concepts and wide geography of study. We consider cities becoming lost if they currently operate in the rupture between the identified past and the vague future. The research strives to discover how and by whom the lostness of the city is shaped and how it affects the symbolic and material orders of the cities. Our research methodology is inspired by the idea of 'comparative gesture' (Robinson), which leads to widening the geography of the project and including three sites located in North America (Canada), Western Europe (Germany), and the Caucasus (Armenia). The research is open to methodological experiments and is committed to transdisciplinarity by embracing the resources of Human Geography, Social Anthropology, Cultural, Urban, and Media Studies, as well as artistic reflections. The research prioritizes the participatory approach and acknowledges the role of local communities in shaping everyday life and narratives of the cities.

The PhD candidate is expected to work on the case of a city 'becoming lost' in Germany. The case will exemplify the crisis of the grand narrative of military peacekeeping due to political changes in the late 1990s led to the demilitarization of Europe between the 1990s and 2010s. Lostness is tightly connected to demilitarization that created ruptures and (dis)connections at different spatio-temporal scales from local to global.

The doctoral supervision will be carried out in close cooperation with Leipzig University. The PhD candidate is expected to choose one of the following areas, including History and Theory of Architecture and Urbanism or Visual Studies.

We offer

  • a funded scholarship position (1,600 € monthly stipend) with integration into a highly motivated research group dedicated to innovative and experimental approaches to urban, media, visual and narrative studies within interdisciplinary and comparative research
  • family-friendly working conditions that encourage the compatibility of work and family life
  • the possibility for implementing own ideas and enriching the interdisciplinary methodology within the Cities 'becoming lost' project
  • fieldwork and conference participation coverage grants and publication support

Your Responsibilities

  • development and implementation of an own, interdisciplinary and comparative, research agenda in close cooperation with the research team
  • conduct own research on case of German “lost city” using the methodology collaboratively developed for all the cases of the project
  • presentation and dissemination of preliminary and final results through conference participation and publications, knowledge transfer and outreach activities
  • dissemination of the project’s preliminary and final results through non-academic domains and communities through the media talks and publications, popular science and art-science events and exhibitions

Our Expectations

  • a completed high-quality Master’s degree, thematically connected to urban studies coming from disciplines as Human Geography, Social Anthropology, Media Studies or related fields
  • relevant research experience in urban studies, qualitative discourse analysis of textual and visual materials, and participatory practices;
  • willingness to develop mixed-method approaches to the research;
  • familiarity with relevant literature and theories, such as urban shrinkage, decay, lostness, ruination, emptiness and related topics;
  • interest and/or experience in popular science or art science projects and media coverage
  • proficiency in English and German, knowledge of other languages is an advantage

Your Application

The IfL advocates professional equality for all genders. We value diversity and welcome all applications - regardless of gender, nationality, ethnic or social origin, religion, disability, age and sexual orientation. Severely disabled applicants are given preference in case of equal suitability.

Please send your application package as a single pdf document via e-mail with the keyword: “Lost cities: PhD candidate” to personal(at)

Please include the following documents:

  • a cover letter indicating your motivation to work within the Cities 'becoming lost' research project at the IfL and addressing the above-mentioned responsibilities and expectations of the position (1500 words max.)
  • an up-to-date CV
  • project proposal (1500 words max): preliminary ideas about your future PhD thesis including research question, ideas about methodology and statements on how your research fits the general framework of the “Cities 'becoming lost” project
  • pertinent further documents including university diplomas relevant certificates, writing samples etc.

By submitting the application, you consent to the processing of your personal data for the purpose of the application procedure.

Application deadline: 2 October 2023 (23.59 CEST/Berlin)

Job interviews are expected to take place on 17 and 18 October 2023.


Prof. Dr Sebastian Lentz | s_lentz(at)
Dr Ekaterina Lapina-Kratasiuk | ekaterina.l.kratasyuk(at)

Download job offer here (pdf)