Postdoc project 'Anchoring Roman Power in the Greek World: The Political Culture of Roman Athens'

Institution Name 
Groningen University
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Area of Specialty 
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Roman History
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Application Deadline 
November 1, 2019
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Postdoc project (1.0 fte, 18 mos), University of Groningen

Title: Anchoring Roman Power in the Greek World: The Political Culture of Roman Athens

(Anchoring Work Package 4, Politics, Law, Economics, and Warfare)


Prof. Dr O.M. van Nijf (University of Groningen).

Project description:

The history of the Greek city under Rome is that of a paradox. It used to be thought that the Greek polis died after the battle of Chaironeia, but a new orthodoxy has emerged that emphasises its continuity well into the Roman period. The polis did not simply survive—it actually flourished with the active support of Rome. Traditional politics continued, even though old practices and values had to be integrated into a new imperial framework. Modern historians of Greek political history have not always taken this political activity seriously, dismissing it as an antiquarian façade, or empty gesturing. However, this fails to explain the continuing attraction of the traditional polis model to local élites and Roman authorities alike. Moreover, recent debates on Roman imperial culture have paid little attention to local Greek politics in discussions of how loyalty to the imperial system was created.

This project aims to study the political culture of Roman Athens. Athens is an ideal laboratory to explore the entanglement of Rome with the political and cultural world of the Greek city. It is exceptionally well-documented in terms of events, political and cultural institutions, historical actors, and the built environment. It offers a unique window on long-term political history, as well as on the complex relationships that Roman authorities maintained with Greek political practice. It paired strong local political traditions with high levels of interference by Roman authorities. Moreover, the élite was well-integrated into the imperial aristocracy, which shared its intellectual engagement with Athens’ classical past. A stream of publications over the last few years has elucidated the complex processes of cultural interaction with the classical past. However, the political processes are less well understood. This project will investigate how a new political constellation was anchored in the long-term political culture of the city. How was the political inheritance received? Which ideas, or practices were kept, or re-invented? Which were rejected or reformed? The project will make a special study of the political language and discourse (e.g. honorific inscriptions or surviving decrees). The postdoc will carry out a semantic and rhetorical analysis of the strategies by which these texts engaged with the classical past and anchored contemporary political experiences in local traditions.

Candidates are invited to design a research project to study this theme. The results are to be laid down in at least two substantial articles that employ the concept of anchoring in the context of the long-term political culture of Athens and make a contribution towards the development of a theory of Anchoring. The successful candidate will also contribute to the design of a wider research programme on the Language of Empire that will be carried out under the auspices of the Anchoring initiative.

More information about the Anchoring Innovation research agenda of OIKOS can be found on the OIKOS website (, including an article by Ineke Sluiter, entitled “Anchoring Innovation: a Classical Research Agenda”.

Organisational unit:

University of Groningen, Faculty of Arts.

For more information, see:, and


Postdoc project, 1.5 years (1.0 fte, 38 hrs/week). Part-time constructions are possible, in which case the total length of the appointment will be extended. There may be additional hours of teaching available. Starting date to be agreed, with a preference for 1 March 2020.


€ 3.637,- to € 4.978,- gross per month for a full-time appointment (38 hours) depending on prior education and working experience (pay scale 11, in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities). 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus and participation in a pension scheme for employees; favourable tax agreements may apply to non-Dutch applicants.

Tasks of the postdoc will include:

  • Design and development of personal research project;
  • Preparation and publication of at least two peer-reviewed articles;
  • Active contribution to the design and development of a collective research programme;
  • Presenting papers at conferences, both in the Netherlands and internationally;
  • Active participation in staff meetings of the Groningen team and the intellectual life of the department and the institute;
  • Active participation in the academic community of the national research school OIKOS, and the wider Anchoring Innovation project.


  • A PhD in Ancient History, preferably on a related topic;
  • Excellent research track record, including relevant publications that show promise and potential for the project;
  • Excellent command of ancient Greek and English;
  • Knowledge of Greek epigraphy;
  • Willingness to move to Groningen for the duration of the fellowship.


In order to be admissible, applications must include the following information (in the same order), in one PDF file (not zipped):

  • Cover letter;
  • CV, including a list of publications and distinctions, and the contact information of two academic referees;
  • Transcript of records;
  • Research proposal of 1500 words. This does not include the bibliography and (if appropriate) an appendix containing a list of sources (together max. two pages A4);
  • Copy of relevant diploma or a statement by the supervisor that the applicant will hold the required degree at the time of the appointment.

Please submit your complete application to Aniek van den Eersten, the coordinator of the Anchoring-programme, via before 1 November 2019.

Interviews will take place in the week of 2-6 December 2019. For candidates living abroad interviews may be held via Skype.

More information about this position may be obtained from Prof. Dr O.M. van Nijf, Questions about the procedure can be directed to Aniek van den Eersten,

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