Call for applications

The DFG-funded Centre for Advanced Studies (Kollegforschungsgruppe) ‘Alternative Rationalities and Esoteric Practices from a Global Perspective’ at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) is seeking to appoint several

Junior and Senior Fellowships for 3-12 Months

The preferred starting date is October 1, 2024.

Project description

The main goal of the Center for Advanced Studies – Erlangen (CAS-E) is to compare the interpretation, rationalization and legitimization strategies of esoteric practices and their practitioners from a global perspective, and to carve out why and in which ways they are successful, resilient and creative in different cultural and regional contexts. A mid-term goal is the development of a cultural theory of esoteric practices, which seeks to explain their resilience, their typological family resemblances across a large number of cases, and their different culture-bound and politically shaped evaluations. The Center has a decidedly global and contemporary research focus and adopts a broad heuristic working definition of ‘esoteric practices’ which includes a variety of aspects such as contingency management, specialization and the formation of expert systems, secrecy, the reliance on opaque efficacy as well as social dynamics of inclusion and exclusion. Simultaneously, CAS-E also comparatively investigates creative reinventions of traditional ‘esoteric practices’ that acquire new hybridizing forms in fields of tension with competing cultural registers (e.g. science, new technologies/media, political regimes, religious orthodoxies) which may contribute to their (re-)legitimation.

DFG-funded Centres for Advanced Studies are interdisciplinary research groups with exceptional funding conditions and an outstanding international reputation. They have an initial funding period of four years, with the possibility of prolongation for a second funding period, and combine an international fellowship program with local high-profile research, whereby a large number of leading experts have the possibility to convene and explore an innovative research topic over a long period of time.

The Center is seeking to appoint its third cohort of several Junior and Senior Research Fellows for the academic year 2024-2025, i.e., for the period from October 2024 to September 2025. Fellowships are awarded for 3 to 12 months, depending on the scope and duration of the proposed research project. The fellowships should start either in October 2024 or April 2025, aligned to the German semester periods. The remuneration of the fellowship depends on the scholar’s current status. The fellowships are dedicated to individual research on ‘alternative rationalities and esoteric practices from a global perspective’. Applicants are required to engage in the weekly activities of CAS-E (lectures series, colloquia, workshops, etc.) and engage with the research agenda of CAS-E.


  • Applicants should have a degree and a PhD in Cultural or Social Anthropology, Religious Studies, Theology, Sociology of Religion, (cross-)regional /-cultural Studies or in a related interdisciplinary field. We also encourage applications from the field of Natural Sciences.
  • The Center has a decidedly contemporary research focus, hence applicants are required to pursue a project on present-day esoteric practices, based on appropriate research methodologies (e.g., fieldwork, interviews, participant observation).
  • The Center also invites historically oriented projects that touch upon contemporary esoteric practices (e.g., by focusing on transfer or entangled history), yet going back to no more than the 19th century.
  • The Center has a decidedly global research focus, hence fellowship proposals may focus on esoteric practices from all world regions and cultural or religious contexts.

The working language of CAS-E is English, therefore excellent spoken and written English is required. Furthermore, regular presence at the CAS-E is required.

We offer

  • Participation in an interdisciplinary, innovative und prestigious DFG-funded joint research project.
  • Access to extensive international networks of high-profile researchers in the social sciences and humanities.
  • An open-minded, cooperative team.
  • Flexible working hours and family-friendly working time schemes.
  • Professional support with travel, visa, and accommodation arrangements.
  • Travel costs to and from Erlangen at the beginning and end of the stay.
  • Travel costs for trips and conferences that are related to the research within CAS-E.


Applications should include:

  • Cover letter describing the applicant’s career path and current research interests.
  • CV including list of publications.
  • Outline of the planned research project and how it relates to the agenda of CAS-E (max. 5 pages).
  • One related publication.
  • Names and contact details of two potential referees.

The latest submission date for applications is April 15, 2024. The preferred starting date is October 1, 2024.

In its pursuit of academic excellence, FAU is committed to equality of opportunity and to a proactive and inclusive approach, which supports and encourages all under-represented groups, promotes an inclusive culture and values diversity. FAU is a family-friendly employer and is also responsive to the needs of dual career couples.

Please note that costs arising in connection with your application (travel expenses, etc.) cannot be reimbursed.
For further details about the position, please contact one of CAS-E’s Research Coordinators Dr. Lina Aschenbrenner (, Dr. Stefanie Burkhardt ( or Dr. Raquel Romberg (

Applications must be sent in one PDF file to CAS-E’s Adminstrative Manager Sandra Losch (


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