Daimler und Benz Foundation


The Ladenburg Research Networks

"The Aggressor: Self-Perception and External Perception of an Actor Between Nations"


Upcoming conference
“Aggressors: The Construction of National Enemy Images in Europe”
Date: 26–28 February 2024.
Place: Ladenburg,  Baden-Württemberg, Germany.

Project "The Aggressor: Self-Perception and External Perception of an Actor Between Nations"

Deutsch / English


Napoleon op een troon van mensenschedels, 1813 - 1813 - Rijksmuseum, Netherlands - Public Domain.


Project Description

The international research project "The Aggressor: Self-Perception and External Perception of an Actor Between Nations" examines images of the aggressor in European historical narratives and memory cultures. Representations of individual historical figures will be analysed in bi-national and multinational comparative studies including both victim and perpetrator perspectives. Multidisciplinary research on forms of collective identification with or against the aggressor and instrumentalizations of memory will cover three areas: academic historiography, popular media, and current political discourses. Sub-projects aim to stimulate reflection on the conflict potential of one's own national historical narrative and to promote agonistic forms of memory culture. Special attention is paid to social and digital media tools, such as computer games providing new ways of engagement with the past.



Prof. Dr. Thomas Maissen (Heidelberg University)

Other members in the scientific consortium

Research project management and coordination 

PD Dr. Ivan Sablin (Heidelberg University);

Senior Scholars

Partner institutions

  • Democracy Institute, Central European University, Budapest (Prof. Renata Uitz) 
  • House of European History, Brussels (Dr. Constanze Itzel) 
  • International Council of Museums (ICOM) (Prof. Dr. Emma Nardi)
  • Leibniz Centre for Contemporary History, Potsdam (Prof. Dr. Frank Bösch), in cooperation with Leibniz Research Alliance "Value of the Past“ 
  • Max Weber Foundation, Bonn (Dr. Harald Rosenbach)
  • Research Training Group “Ambivalent Enmity: Dynamics of Antagonism in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East”, funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), Heidelberg University (Prof. Dr. Tanja Penter)


Call for Applications


At the Department of History of the Heidelberg University or at the Faculty of History at the Ruhr University Bochum four positions (part-time: 65%) are offered from the spring 2024 to

Doctoral students (f/m/d)

in the framework of the international research project “The Aggressor: Self-perception and External Perception of an Actor Between Nations” (sponsored by the Daimler and Benz Foundation).

The interdisciplinary project headed by Prof. Dr. Thomas Maissen is investigating the identity-forming construction of national enemy images across Europe, which are shaped by aggressors from neighboring countries. The project examines the dynamics of personalization of such enemy imagery, with special attention to concrete historical figures. As ideal types or social figures, they represent hostile groups in collective memory. It comparatively researches and systematizes the perception and interpretation of concrete enemies as aggressors based on historical case studies, focusing on their discursive construction and changing significance in the politics of memory.

Your tasks:

  • Conceptualization and execution of a German- or English-language doctoral project over three years, with successful evaluation after one year

  • Active participation in the further development of the project concept and in its events such as graduate seminars and workshops

Your profile:

  • Above-average degree (Master's or equivalent) at the time of taking the position

  • Scientifically excellent doctoral project

  • Good knowledge of German or English, other language skills are welcome

​​​​​​​We offer:

  • A three-year (1+2) fixed-term contract at the university of Heidelberg or Bochum

  • Coordinated promotion and supervision of the doctoral projects by several members of the project team

  • Integration into the interdisciplinary and international network of leading scholars from numerous established European research institutions

  • Highly motivating research environment in a strong academic team 

  • Participation in international conferences and opportunities for international publication of own research results

  • The chance to design exciting sub-projects in the field of Public History

  • Salary based on the collective bargaining agreement of the German federal states (TV-L E13, 65%)


The doctoral project can be freely formulated within the framework of the above-mentioned description. For dissertations with a relevant topic that have already progressed, final funding with a shorter duration is conceivable. For questions regarding the content of the job profile, please contact Prof. Dr. Thomas Maissen (

Applications with the usual documents in German or English (cover letter, curriculum vitae, certificates, proof of language skills and professional experience, two short academic letters of reference) as well as an outline of the doctoral project (max. 20,000 characters including spaces and bibliography; details of the   desired   supervision   and   university) must   be   sent   in   full   as   a   PDF   file   to: . The deadline is 18 February 2024.

The selection interviews are expected to take place on 1 March 2024 via video conference.

The participating institutions stand for equal opportunities and diversity. Qualified female candidates are especially invited to apply. Persons with severe disabilities will be given preference if they are equally qualified. Information on job advertisements and the collection of personal data is available at


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Letzte Änderung: 20.11.2023
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