PhD position in History: «The Microcomputer as a Medium of Communication Within the Eastern Bloc and Across the Iron Curtain»

The University of Lucerne is a modern, personal and dynamic human sciences university at the heart of Switzerland and Europe. In keeping with our guiding principle 'Moving Human Sciences', we focus on people and their institutions with our six faculties and two academies, soon to be joined by two university research centres. Our aim is to develop the University of Lucerne into a pioneering, internationally visible centre for research and teaching in the human sciences.

The Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, with its ten institutes and departments focuses on interdisciplinarity and innovation in research and teaching. The faculty offers its nearly 800 students a range of integrated degree programmes that are unique in Switzerland. We place great emphasis on excellent supervision and on ensuring close links between teaching and research.

As of 1 June 2024 or by agreement, we are advertising a

PhD position in History (100%): «The Microcomputer as a Medium of Communication Within the Eastern Bloc and Across the Iron Curtain»

This position is part of a project funded by a Starting Grant Fellowship of the Swiss National Science Foundation titled «The Microcomputer as a Medium of Transformation, 1980–2000». Project leader is Ass.-Prof. Dr. Gleb J. Albert. The team, consisting of three persons, aims at analysing the role of the microcomputer in the political, economic and social upheaval in the 1980s and 1990s in East and West Europe from the perspective of cultural, economic and media history.

The PhD position constituted the sub-project "The Microcomputer as a Medium of Communication“. Based on archival sources, contemporary publications and oral history interviews, the PhD project should explore the role microcomputers played in practices of communication within the Eastern Bloc or across the bloc divide. Before the internet breakthrough, microcomputers were rather “black boxes" than communication machines. Nevertheless, microcomputers functioned as media of communication and knowledge transmission – either through means such as cassettes, floppy disks or modem networks, or, in a more general way, as machines that brought people in contact with each other over their (mis-)usage. With hundreds of thousands of Western microcomputers being in private possession all over the Warsaw Pact countries (and non-aligned Yugoslavia), and with domestic home computer models being produced in several of these countries, the microcomputer as a means of communication played a crucial, yet massively understudied role in the social and political transformations of the 1980s and 1990s.

The PhD project should constitute a case study on microcomputers as media of – ideally transnational – communication in two or more countries of the Eastern Bloc, or an Eastern Bloc country and the world beyond the Iron Curtain. The nature of the connections formed through such communication can be manifold – hobbyist (hackers, gamers etc.), political (dissident networks), religious, artistic etc. The geographical focus can be chosen by the PhD candidate according to his or her competences and interests in coordination with the supervisor. The project is situated on the crossroads of cultural, political and media history. The PhD thesis can be written and defended either in German or in English.


  • Undertaking research employing literature and archival materials and completing a PhD thesis in the thematic area specified above
  • Taking part in organising and conducting academic events within the overarching project


  • MA, MPhil in history or an equivalent qualification
  • Solid basic expertise in the political and cultural history of Eastern Europe in the 1980s and 1990s
  • Interest in digital history and the history of computerisation
  • Experience in oral history methods or motivation to acquire such experience
  • Experience in working with digital sources, or motivation to acquire such experience
  • Skills in teamwork, enthusiasm for research, and a high degree of self-organisation and capability to work autonomously
  • Residence in Switzerland for the duration of the project and regular presence at the workplace


  • A four-year employment in a PhD position salaried according to SNSF standards (CHF 47'980.00 gross salary in the first year with gradual increases in the following years)
  • A workplace at the university and funding for research expenses (archival trips, conferences)
  • Supervision of the dissertation, career training and regular exchange within the project team and within the research colloquium of the Department of History
  • The opportunity to co-organise two international workshops/conferences and to participate in an international congress
  • The opportunity to enter into interdisciplinary exchange within the Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Lucerne (GSL)

Your application should include:

  • A motivation letter, describing your profile and your interest in the project (max. 2 pages)
  • A preliminary outline with your own ideas on how to develop and concretise the topic of the sub-project (max. 2 pages)
  • A CV, detailing your education and career path, your language skills, your publications (if available) etc. (max. 3 pages)
  • Copy of your MA/MPhil thesis and, if available, a copy of the supervisor's report. In case your thesis is not handed in yet, please provide an extensive research paper written in the course of your MA studies as well as an outline of your thesis project
  • Transcripts of past higher education experiences (BA, MA)
  • Contact details for two academic referees

Please contact Ass.-Prof. Dr. Gleb J. Albert ( for further information.


Applications may be submitted until 11 March 2024 by clicking on the apply button below.

Apply now

University of Lucerne
Employment percentage
Place of work
Application deadline