Dear colleagues, I am advertising for two PhD positions in my project “The Evolution of Islamic Societies (c.600-1600 CE): Algorithmic Analysis into Social History” (EIS1600). Each position is 2+2 years. The deadline for applications is March 31, 2022. Successful applicants will work on one of the case studies of the project and will write and defend a PhD thesis on the topic of their choice, within a selected case study. Descriptions of both positions and detailed information on the application process can be found at the following links: https://tinyurl.com/PhD01; https://tinyurl.com/PhD02. Feel free to email me, if you have any questions (firstname.lastname@example.org). The project is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) within the framework of the Emmy Noether Program (https://tinyurl.com/EIS1600). It is hosted at the Institute of Asian and African Studies (Islamic Studies Division) of the University of Hamburg.
Description of the EIS1600 project: Arabic chronicles and biographical collections preserve a plethora of information on long-term environmental and societal processes that shaped and molded Islamic society. Numerous and extensive, these written sources are the richest “mine” of information and are particularly valuable for the period before the 15th century, for which exceptionally few documents and archives are available. The EIS1600 project undertakes a study of “The Evolution of Islamic Societies (c. 600-1600 CE)” through the computational analysis of these historical texts, which will be treated holistically as a unified corpus of historical information (c.300 titles; 100 million tokens; c.500,000 biographical records). The project’s team will work on identifying and analyzing long-term historical trends through three closely connected case studies: 1) of major ethnic, religious, and professional groups—and how they shaped the development of local communities and fused them into what we call the Islamic world; 2) of dynastic cycles through the patterns of the rise and fall of regional powers, their conflicts with rivals, and interactions with local communities; 3) of environmental factors—plagues, famines, droughts, pest infestations, earthquakes, and climate change—and their effect on the life of local communities. These case studies will be the foundation for a robust synthesis of the evolution of the Islamic world over the period under study. In order to overcome the complexity and sheer volume of medieval Arabic historical sources, as well as to analyze them in an effective and reproducible manner, the EIS1600 project employs a series of advanced computational methods of text analysis and data modeling that are the key to discovering, evaluating, and modeling all relevant textual evidence at an unprecedented scale. Among other deliverables, the EIS1600 project will produce an open and expandable online research ecosystem, MasterChronicle, which will allow scholars in the field to engage in various modes of close and distant reading of the Arabic historical corpus.