ANN: PhD Candidate Position on Nazi Looted Art (Maastricht University)

Maastricht University is offering one paid full-time PhD position to research Nazi looted art, for a fixed-term 4 year contract. The PhD researcher will perform research and write a thesis on the theme of reclaiming artwork looted by Nazis and their collaborators.

Application deadline: 22 Feb 2021

Especially since the 1990s there is renewed attention to the question of artwork looted during the Nazi-period from countries with Nazi-governments. Many of the victims were Jews. In some countries a system of restitution was set up directly after World War II under which victims and their heirs could seek restitution of the artwork or claim financial compensation for the loss. These systems did not always work well. Some countries even refused or frustrated restitution. When in the 1990s it was appreciated that, due to various causes, the first post-war restitution systems did not always lead to the desired result, a number of countries set up restitution committees to hear restitution requests. Governments and museums should also collaborate in this endeavour by engaging in provenance research to see whether they possess looted art in their collections. At the same time many heirs start proceedings before US courts because in a growing number of cases US courts have jurisdiction to hear these cases. Under US law it is often easier than in European jurisdictions to reclaim looted art, unhindered by limitation periods and bona fide purchaser protection. Despite a growing body of literature in the field there is still a lot of research to be done. The research field is an intricate mix of private law, private international law, public international law, modern history and ethics. Interested candidates will be asked to suggest a theme within this large field of research, which should include a private law dimension.

The project

You will perform the research with the support of experts from the Maastricht Law Faculty, the Maastricht Centre for Arts and Culture, Conservation and Heritage, and with the support of experts from our art law network in which other universities and groups participate. You will be offered the opportunity to collaborate with researchers from different disciplines, including art laywers from various jurisdictions, historians and art market specialists. You will be part of an exciting and vibrant community where researchers from different disciplines meet and form interdisciplinary teams that conduct academically and societally relevant research. You will be offered the opportunity to expand your horizon and gain insights on other fields of law and ethics. For this, you will be encouraged, coached, and allowed to attend courses and workshops that will add social and legal knowledge to your skillset.


Tasks are:

  • Perform scientific research by studying legal systems, their applications by courts and restitution committees in the past and present, and doing archival research;
  • Present the research results to a variety of stakeholders and target groups;
  • Write scientific papers for international peer-reviewed conferences and journals;
  • Present your work at international conferences;
  • Finalize the work in the form of a PhD thesis.

Supervision will be provided by individually assigned senior researchers. A small proportion (20%) of the appointment may be devoted to teaching activities. The majority of the work (80%) concerns conducting the research.

Matching Skills and Competencies

  • Master’s degree in Law.
  • Excellent oral and written English communication.
  • Fluency in other European languages than English, especially Dutch and/or German, is preferred.


Fixed-term contract: We offer a 4 year (depending on the teaching activities) full-time appointment as PhD candidate.

  • Start of employment: between 1 March 2021 and 1 June 2021.
  • 38 hours per week;
  • Remuneration will be according to standard salary levels for PhD candidates starting with a salary of €2.395, based on a full-time appointment (38 hours/week). An 8% holiday and an 8.3% year-end allowance is also provided;
  • We offer a 4 year (depending on the teaching activities) full-time appointment as PhD candidate. The first year will be a probation period, after a positive assessment the position will be extended for another 3 years, which happens in the vast majority of cases;
  • We offer an attractive package of fringe benefits such as, reduction on collective health insurance, substantial leave arrangements, selection model for designing a personalised benefits package, use of UM Sport facilities against reduced rate, and application for attractive fiscal arrangements for employees from abroad;
  • The terms of employment of Maastricht University are set out in the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities (CAO). Furthermore, local UM provisions also apply. For more information look at the website: > Support > UM employees.
  • We offer a rewarding career at a young university in the heart of Europe, with a distinct global perspective and a strong focus on innovative research and education;
  • We provide a stimulating, collaborative and interdisciplinary work environment with excellent opportunities for professional and personal development;
  • Maastricht University has an excellent international reputation, and Maastricht itself is a beautiful, open-minded city located in the center of Western Europe.
  • The appointment will be at the Maastricht Law Faculty.

Fixed-term contract: 4 years.