Department of Indian Studies - Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies (IAOS)

PhD Position SNF-Project "Caste, Religion and Social Mobility in India" 80 %

Start of employment per 1st July 2024 or as soon as possible thereafter

The Department of Indian Studies at IAOS focuses on the study of social, cultural, and politico-economic developments in the Indian subcontinent from ancient times to present. Our ethnographically oriented research sheds light on contemporary India and South Asia, exploring social inequalities as they intersect with poverty, migration, violence, and populism. Specialized interests include caste, kinship, gender, political and civil society, bureaucracy, religion, environmental concerns, labor, and state welfare provisions.

Your responsibilities

We are seeking a doctoral candidate to work under the supervision of Professor Nicolas Martin and Dr. Mukesh Kumar on the SNSF-funded project "Caste, Religion, and Social Mobility in India". The project aims to investigate how religious institutions like Dera Sachkhand Ballan may contribute to social mobility within lower caste Ravidassia communities. The candidate will research the historical context, doctrines, and philanthropic efforts of these institutions to assess their role in enabling either individual or community level social mobility. Additionally, the candidate will research the impact of the Ravidassia diaspora's educational and non-educational philanthropic works around Ravidas deras (temples).
Scholars working in the fields of Anthropology/Sociology, History, South Asian Religions, Political Science, and other closely related disciplines are encouraged to apply.
  • Develop an independent research project on the Ravidassia community.
  • Conduct extensive fieldwork in South Asia (10-12 months) and Vienna and London (2-3 months).
  • Produce a PhD dissertation.
  • Assist with the organization of workshops, conferences, and administrative tasks as needed.
  • Actively participate in research colloquiums and departmental activities at IAOS.

Your profile

  • Master's degree in Indian/South Asian Studies or related discipline with a South Asian regional focus.
  • Knowledge in qualitative/ethnographic research methods, quantitative methods considered a plus.
  • Interdisciplinary research highly valued.
  • Proficient in conducting archival research and field-work.
  • Adequate language skills in a South Asian language, preferably in Hindi and Punjabi or willing to learn Punjabi, proficiency in German is an asset.
  • Ability to engage critically with social theory, comparative thinking, independent research, and strong commitment to the field.
  • Ability to grasp major theoretical trends on social mobility in India, migration, and guru-religiosity.

What we offer

Work-Life Balance
  • Flexible working models (such as part-time positions, mobile working, job-sharing)
  • Childcare at the kihz foundation of UZH and ETH

Learning and Development
  • Wide range of continuing education courses of UZH and the Canton of Zurich
  • Language Center run jointly with ETH Zurich

  • Food and drinks at reduced prices in the UZH cafeterias
  • Lunch-Check-card with UZH contribution

  • Special conditions on the Academic Sports Association ASVZ
  • Free seasonal flu vaccinations
  • Rest and relaxation at the quiet room in the university tower

  • Private traffic: Carsharing, rent a vehicle, parking space
  • Digitalization: Hardware, software, mobile phone subscriptions
  • Special conditions on hotel reservations

Conditions of Employment
  • Policies of the UZH
  • Most UZH staff are employed according to public law

International Services
  • Support for people from outside Switzerland

  • Campuses Zurich City, Zurich Irchel, Oerlikon and Schlieren
  • Sites Zurich West, Old Botanical Garden, Botanical Garden and Lengg



Information on your application

Applications will be accepted until the 15th of June 2024.
Please send your application in a single PDF containing:
  • Cover letter with possible start date, background, motivation, and skills.
  • CV.
  • Research proposal outlining how the candidate proposes to study social mobility and religious institutions (2-3 pages).
  • Sample writing, either a master dissertation or a published article/chapter.

Further information

Questions about the job

Prof. Dr. Nicolas Martin
Contact Form

Contact question to: Prof. Dr. Nicolas Martin

Thank you for your message. We will get back to you shortly.

Working at UZH

The University of Zurich, Switzerland's largest university, offers a range of attractive positions in various subject areas and professional fields. With around 10,000 employees and currently 12 professional apprenticeship streams the University offers an inspiring working environment on cutting-edge research and top-class education. Put your talent and skills to work with us. Find out more about UZH as an employer! More