Post-doctoral positions – Campaign 2015: Profile n° 2

Contrat Post-doctoral n° 2
“The long-term dynamics of indigenous urban forms in the New World: a comparative approach”.

Work-Package: Settlement systems over long time

The deadline for the submission of applications is 26 April 2015 (inclusive).
Recruitment procedure and schedule

Description of the Position

Research proposal: 

Diachrony is often woven into urban fabrics. Structures erected at different times and separated by several centuries can often be observed standing side by side within the same space in certain locations. When the ‘old’ is conserved, it is often (and sometimes repeatedly) adapted to fulfil the new requirements of a given moment in time and integrated each time into a more recent urban fabric.

While the diachronic approach to the analysis of the urban fabric has been well developed for the cities of the ancient world, the research on the indigenous urban forms of the New World has generally been based on a synchronous perspective.

This situation is due to both the history of research and the status of the available documentation (lack of written or historical cartographic sources relating to the relevant settlements, urbanization processes that follow specific modalities and limit vertical sedimentation processes, abandonment phenomena linked with episodes of ‘collapse’, the preponderance of surface analyses).

Nevertheless, the data collected in several regions of the continent (Andes, Mesoamerica, the south west of the United States) currently provide a more solid documentary basis for tackling questions concerning the transformation and/or resilience of the known urban forms based on archaeology alone.

The proposed research will involve the exploration of the long-term dynamics of the transformation of the urban fabric of these agglomerations, based on concrete examples from the aforementioned American cultural areas, while comparing them with models and concepts developed in the ancient world and, more recently, the Near East. The aim of the research will be to elucidate the logics inherent to the American urban systems studied using specific approaches while contrasting them with known models in the Near East. It will involve the identification of the points of convergence and divergence between the two and the discussion of their significance in functional, socio-political and also symbolic terms, in view of the fact that the spatial organization of the old cities of the New World was strongly influenced by cosmological representations.

Some of the following questions may be explored:

  • how can the degrees of spatio-temporal homogeneity/heterogeneity of the urban fabric be approached from a conceptual and methodological perspective?
  • What forms can the changes in the processes of urban ‘sedimentation’ take (processes of complexification, expansion, contraction, vertical and/or horizontal accumulation, maintenance or disappearance of certain elements)?
  • How resilient are old structures (buildings, traffic networks, plots)? Which ones survive? Why do they persist or, conversely, disappear?
  • What do these processes teach us about the more or less voluntary (directed or spontaneous) nature of the changes observed and the historical transitions that underpin them? Is it possible to model the relationships between these spatio-temporal processes and the forms of social and political action?

Two or three of the concepts that arise in the context of these questions will be selected through consultation between the candidate and the supervisors. The candidate will define an evaluation grid for, first, the comparison of their significance in the context of archaeology and geography and, second, their use in different cultural areas.

The results may be presented in the context of a round table organized in the context of the Work-Package.

Planned Collaboration

In the context of the prescribed comparative approach, the post-doctoral researcher will be set the objective of advancing collaboration between the laboratories involved in the work-package:

  • ArScAn (UMR 7041), whose VEPMO (‘du Village à l’État au Proche et Moyen Orient’) team is interested in ancient urbanization processes of the Near East;
  • Géographie-Cités (UMR 8504) which specializes in spatial analysis and dynamic modelling;
  • ArchAm (UMR 8096) for questions concerning pre-Colombian urbanism;
  • GGH-Terres team at the CRH (UMR 8558) regarding the consideration of historical approaches to geographical subjects.

Required Qualifications, Skills and Aptitudes

The candidate must:

  • hold a doctorate in archeology;
  • have an in-depth knowledge of the issues involved in the archeology of urban agglomerations and a good knowledge of geographical concepts in the same field;
  • be familiar with the tools used for spatial analysis and cartographic representation;
  • be experienced in the acquisition and spatialization of data originating from American terrains;
  • have a good aptitude for collaborative research.

Additional Information

Commencement of the contract: between 01/09/2015 and 01/12/2015 (according to preference)

Duration of the contract: 1 year

Host laboratory: ArScAn – Maison Archéologie et Ethnologie René-Ginouvès, 21, allée de l’Université – 92023 Nanterre


  • Pascal BUTTERLIN (ArScAn)
  • Lena SANDERS & Anne BRETAGNOLLE (Géographie-Cités)
  • Grégory PEREIRA (ArchAm)

Net monthly salary: Approximately EUR 2324

Contact :

Recruitment procedure and schedule

The application must be submitted electronically by application form ( It must demonstrate that the candidate fulfils the requirements indicated in the position profile (specified tasks and skills).
The application will include:

  • a description of the proposed research project (3 to 5 pages) and an abstract (2,000 characters including spaces) indicating the theoretical basis of the research, the tests to be carried out on empirical materials, the methodology to be used, a feasibility report and project schedule;
  • a covering letter;
  • curriculum vitae;
  • list of publications with internet links (if available);
  • doctoral thesis defence report (not required for foreign candidates);
  • copy of doctoral degree (or certificate). The thesis must have been defended fewer than five years ago.

The deadline for the submission of applications is 26 April 2015 (inclusive).

The application summary sheet which will be transmitted automatically by e-mail on completion of the electronic application must be sent by post (date as per postmark) or presented in person to the office of the LabEx DynamiTe (190-198 avenue de France, bureau 008 or 004 Aile A, 75013 Paris) before the applications deadline.

For your information: When the deadline for applications has passed, the LabEx DynamiTe will contact the potential supervisor and the director(s) of the potential host unit(s) and will add two letters of invitation to the application.

The candidate(s) appointed following the assessment of the applications and interviews (which will take place during the week of 15 June 2015) will be informed of the results of the application process from 22 June 2015.

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