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CATS officially opens with Sheba Chhacchi and Ai Weiwei

24. Jun. 2019

On Tuesday, June 25, the Centre for Asian and Transcultural Studies (CATS) officially opened its doors. The ceremony, which was organised and hosted by the Baden-Württemberg State Office of Property and Construction, was sourrounded by a day of events and discussions associated with Asian and transcultural studies.

The new Centre for Asian and Transcultural Studies (CATS), which has been operating since the beginning of the summer semester, was officially opened on June 25, 2019. It comprises the Heidelberg Centre for Transcultural Studies (HCTS), the Institute of Anthropology (IfE), the South Asia Institute (SAI), and the Centre for East Asian Studies (ZO). CATS is unique among centres researching Asia, as it is committed to conduct Asian and transcultural studies in a global context through interdisciplinary dialogue.

The opening ceremony was hosted by the Baden-Württemberg State Office of Property and Construction and will start with a welcome address by its director, Annette Ipach-Öhmann. It was followed by greetings from Theresia Bauer MDL, the Minister of Science, Research and Culture in Baden-Württemberg, from Prof. Bernhard Eitel, the rector of Heidelberg University, from Dr. Joachim Gerner, mayor of Heidelberg, from Dr. Veit Probst, the director of Heidelberg's university library, and by Prof. Barbara Mittler and Prof. Axel Michaels, the founding directors of the Centre for Asian and Transcultural Studies.

Edith Sitzmann MdL, the Minister of Finanace of the county of Baden-Württemberg gave a speech that was followed by the official handover of the key. The opening ceremony also saw the artist interventions "Winged Pilgrims: A Chronicle from Asia" by Sheba Chhachhi and Ai Weiwei in an interview with Prof. Perry Link under the heading "The Artist as an Engaged Intellectual." There were also musical performances by Chen Peyee and Marc J. Reichow from the KlangForum Heidelberg and the Nepalese Band The Triplets.

A day of events and discussions associated with Asian and transcultural studies framed the opening ceremony, and the institutes that make up CATS presented themselve in their respective buildings. The programme started with an exhibition at the Völkerkundemuseum Heidelberg, showing favourite objects of 17 scientists from Heidelberg who are particularly close to CATS. It continued in and around the CATS buildings with Asian food, an inauguration ritual, a discussion with representatives of various Asian scientific institutes in Europe, a discussion on the art in the CATS architecture with Friedemann von Stockhausen, and a Haiku performance.

After the opening ceremony students and guest had a chance to meet Ai Weiwei; the event was moderated by Prof. Monica Juneja. The Nepalese Band The Triplets played a concert on the CATS Greens to round up the opening day in the evening.

You can find out more about the programme here.

You can also find an article on the opening here.


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  • Opening Ceremony: Prof. Perry Link interviews Ai WeiWei

  • Friedemann von Stockhausen in conversation with Prof. Monica Juneja

  • Ritual for the first entry of a new house (Gṛhapraveśa)

  • Panel "Asia Research in Europe: Prospects and Challenges"