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Anchoring Empire:

Gender, Emotions, and Language in the Imperial Greek City

Postdoc project (3 years, 1.0 fte), University of Groningen
Anchoring Work Package 10: Roman Empire, esp. Flavian Period

Prof. dr. Onno van Nijf

Salary range
Between € 3.821,- and € 5.230,- gross per month, depending on education and experience

Job description
Empire is not simply a matter of military power enforced by soldiers, administrators, and institutions. Empire is also, if not foremost, a matter of a shared discourse between imperial rulers and subjects which allows all parties to participate in the imperial enterprise and position themselves in the new power structures. In order to be effective, this discourse needs to be connected to pre-existing social structures and cultural orientations, i.e. to what people know, believe, value, and can understand. Such questions are the concern of “Anchoring Empire”, a joint research project between the University of Groningen and the Radboud University, Nijmegen within the OIKOS Anchoring Innovation program. In this project we are looking to appoint a postdoctoral researcher to investigate the role of engendered emotions and (epigraphic) language in the cities of Greece and Asia Minor under Roman rule when the new imperial rule became anchored in pre-existing social divisions, norms and gender norms.

One striking aspect in the imperial Greek city was the increasing visibility of women. Public decrees and honorific or funerary inscriptions praised women alongside male members of their families as priestesses, magistrates, benefactresses as well as loyal wives and good mothers. This development started in the Hellenistic period but was particularly prominent in the imperial period. The same period saw an increase in the use of an emotional vocabulary for both men and women to mark individual status, to signal belonging to the community and to express loyalty to the imperial system. It could be said that public discourse in general employed new emotional frames, e.g., by representing the city as an emotional community that was held together by emotions such as love (philia), and that could be represented by means of kinship metaphors.

We invite proposals for an analysis of engendered language and engendered emotions in public decrees and honorific / funerary inscriptions in the cities of Roman Greece and Asia Minor. Among the possible topics of investigation are the development of a specific emotional vocabulary and emotional formulas for men and women over time. How were such terms anchored in traditional social divisions, cultural values, and gender roles? What was the function of (gendered) emotion language? How did the emotional vocabulary vary between different genres (e.g., honorific inscriptions, [consolation] decrees, epitaphs, epigrams)? How did this compare to the usage in other texts such as private letters, or the Greek novel? How were linguistic strategies anchored in or undermined by other types of representation (e.g visual) or social practices? We would particularly welcome proposals that make use of computational approaches to the semantics of emotion words and their historical usage, but we are open to other approaches as well.

Candidates for this postdoc position are invited to submit a 1500 word project proposal that further explores this theme. The results are to be laid down in at least three substantial articles that employ the concept of anchoring in this context and contribute towards a better understanding of the concept of Anchoring. This project is part of the Anchoring Innovation program. For more information on this project see our website: (, including an article by Ineke Sluiter, entitled “Anchoring Innovation: a Classical Research Agenda”.

Host institution
University of Groningen, Faculty of Arts, the Groningen Research Institute for the Study of Culture (ICOG).

Terms and conditions
Postdoc project, 3 years (1.0 fte, 38 hrs per week), starting date to be agreed upon, with a preference for September 1, 2022. Initially the employee will receive a one-year contract, with extension for the following 2 years on condition of a positive evaluation. Salary range (depending on education and experience) of a minimum of € 3.821,- and a maximum of € 5.230,- (salary scale 11) gross per month for full-time employment, (pay scale for postdoctoral researchers, in accordance with the Collective Labor Agreement for Dutch Universities). This includes medical and pension benefits. If desired, the position may be held part-time and thereby extended in length. Groningen University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday allowance (8%) and end-of-year bonus (8.3%), training and career development. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break.

Tasks of the postdoc will include:

  • Researching, writing, and publishing three research papers;
  • The organization of a workshop and/or a conference;
  • Presenting papers at conferences, both in the Netherlands and internationally;
  • Some teaching (max. 20%)
  • Taking part in the life of the Classics Department at Groningen University and participating in the academic community of the national research school OIKOS and the wider Anchoring Innovation program.


  • A PhD in a relevant field (e.g., Classics, Ancient History, History), held by time of


  • An excellent research and publication record in relation to stage of career;
  • Excellent knowledge of ancient Greek;
  • Experience with Greek epigraphy;
  • Interest in and experience with digital humanities;
  • A willingness to explore new (computational) methods of analysis;
  • Excellent command of English;
  • A strong cooperative attitude;
  • Some organizational experience.

The Anchoring Innovation program is strongly committed to diversity within its team and especially welcomes applications from members of underrepresented groups.

Enquiries about the position can be addressed to Prof. dr. Onno van Nijf ( Questions about the procedure can be directed to Dr. Suzanne van de Liefvoort (

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

  • Cover letter;
  • CV, including contact information of two referees;
  • Transcript of records (i.e. a list of BA and MA courses and grades);
  • Research proposal of 1500 words, including notes but excluding bibliography;
  • Copy of relevant diploma or statement by PhD supervisor confirming that the applicant will hold the required degree at the time of appointment.

Please submit your complete application to Dr. Suzanne van de Liefvoort, the coordinator of the Anchoring-program via before April 24, 2022. Interviews will take place in the week of 30 May – 3 June 2022 and will possibly be held online.