Areas and Disciplines:

Lessons from Internationalization Initiatives in the Humanities and Social Sciences in Germany

During two conference days five panels made an inquiry into the current relationship between the social sciences and humanities on the one hand and global and area studies on the other.Three panels addressed the opening up of specific fields of knowledge (art, law, philology) to transregional perspectives. These discussions were framed by two panels that considered conceptual and institutional aspects with respect to transregional studies.


18 October 2013

Welcoming Addresses

Heinz Duchhardt, Max Weber Stiftung -Deutsche Geisteswissenschaftliche Institute im Ausland

Andreas Eckert, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin / Forum Transregionale Studien

Panel 1: Thinking Transregional Studies

Chair: Sebastian Conrad, Freie Universität Berlin / Forum Transregionale Studien

This panel stresses the need for reconfigurations in the systematic disciplines with a view to contemporary knowledge production. It problematizes the relationship between systematic disciplines and area studies. Furthermore, it suggests that we reconsider different conceptualizations of transregional or global studies by asking such questions as: How can the intellectual potential of global comparison and area-based knowledge be fruitfully integrated into disciplinary frameworks? Has the incorporation of such perspectives into humanities and social-science departments been sustainable? Which research topics and formats have proven particularly suited for international collaboration?

It is in this way that we will also try to trace how different conceptions of transregional or global studies have been institutionalized in the form of, for example, professorships, degree programs and research funding.

Panel Members:

  • Engseng Ho, Duke University, Durham
  • Dhruv Raina, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
  • Dominic Sachsenmaier, Jacobs University Bremen
  • Birgit Schäbler, Universität Erfurt


Panel 2: Law as an Area and a Discipline

Chair: Alexandra Kemmerer, Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin / Rechtskulturen

Processes of internationalization in the practice of law have prompted demands for corresponding developments in the academic field. Due to the nature of the discipline’s history and purpose, law departments are often attached to national perspectives in studying and teaching their subject.

This panel aims to address strategies for internationalizing the discipline at the level of research(ers) and teaching. It asks how legal scholars can participate in debates beyond national borders in a more visible manner. Furthermore, we would like to discuss in which way and to which extent an opening of the discipline to insights from neighboring fields such as history, anthropology, sociology, and area studies could beneficially contextualize disciplinary notions of law.

Panel Members:

  • Thomas Duve, Max Planck Institut für europäische Rechtsgeschichte, Frankfurt a.M.
  • Morag Goodwin, Tilburg University
  • Christoph Möllers, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin / Rechtskulturen
  • Sundhya Pahuja, University of Melbourne


Panel 3: Philology and Textual Practices

Chair: Friederike Pannewick, Philipps-Universität Marburg / Forum Transregionale Studien

This panel addresses the challenges for and the potential of philological traditions in the 21st century: How can we redefine the role of philology and other text-centered forms of scholarship whilst maintaining their specific character and long accumulated knowledge? How do potential rearrangements relate to the framework in which texts are studied, understood and taught?

This panel reflects on whether and how concepts such as “comparative literature,” “world” or “global philology” can mediate between established academic traditions and present-day exigencies of knowledge production. Moreover, we would like to discuss how to reconcile the necessity of in-depth foreign-language training with the acquisition of comparative methodological skills.

Panel Members:

  • Shamil Jeppie, University of Cape Town
  • Stefan Leder, Orient-Institut Beirut
  • Lydia Liu, Columbia University, New York
  • Sheldon Pollock, Columbia University, New York


Preliminary Conclusions

Birgit Meyer, Universiteit Utrecht / Forum Transregionale Studien


19 October 2013

Panel 4: Art between History and Practice

Chair: Andreas Beyer, Deutsches Forum für Kunstgeschichte Paris

Art history as a discipline has developed within a particular European context, yet with a claim for universality.

This panel will be treating the conceptual and methodological re-framings that art history must undertake so as to free itself from the confines of traditional perspectives. It asks how art practices and concepts of the aesthetic from different areas of the world are interrelated; and, how such a pluralized vision of art history can be re-connected to the university and the museum.

Panel Memebers:

  • Hannah Baader, Kunsthistorisches Institut Florenz / Art Histories and Aesthetic Practices
  • Mohamed Kamal Elshahed, New York University / EUME Fellow 2013-14
  • Monica Juneja, Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg
  • Viola König, Ethnologisches Museum Berlin


Panel 5: Doing Transregional Studies

Chair: Andreas Eckert, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin / Forum Transregionale Studien

In this panel we would like to approach the lessons learned with a view to internationalizing curricula and faculties. It asks to which extent we have been successful in intertwining area studies and disciplines. This question also applies to the composition of research projects. Which future avenues for cross-border research and academic exchange appear promising? What lessons can be learned from incentives such as the Exzellenz Initiative or the area-study funding in Germany and other countries?

Panel Members:

  • Ulrike Freitag, Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin
  • Andreas Gestrich, Deutsches Historisches Institut London
  • Bert Hoffmann, GIGA German Institute of Global and Area Studies, Hamburg
  • Matthias Middell, Universität Leipzig