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Kultur neu denken—Re-En-Visioning the (Trans)-cultural—C’est quoi, la (trans-)culture?

Starting May 2018 Thinking through and beyond (i.e.: trans) established understandings of culture, this project builds on and at the same time expands and theorizes the transcultural approach that has been developed at Heidelberg University over the past decade. It is the purpose to reconsider the (trans-)cultural in response to and differential diagnosis of new post-culturalisms, neo-naturalisms or neo-materialisms, post-humanisms, and techno-sciences all of which argue against an anthropocentric approach to both culture and nature. Theorizing the transcultural, the project will rethink and revise the (often pejorative) concepts of culture in these new “naturalist” approaches while at the same time reconfiguring the only seemingly irreducible concept of “culture” (cf. Swanson/Bubandt/Tsing 2015). Therefore it is aimed to delineate and analyze (as well as actively “play out”) some of the conflicts around established hegemonies of “nature” and “culture” by inviting scholars who have engaged in very different phenomenologies of these only seemingly delimited entities for many years.

The project comprises lecture series and a workshop and bases on a new collaboration between Prof. Barbara Mittler and Prof. Philipp Stoellger. The aim was to invite some of the key players engaged, from different angles, in re-en-visioning a new phenomenology of (trans-)culture by organizing a lecture series, culminating in a workshop in December and followed by an (openly-peer-reviewed, multilingual) publication of all papers from the lecture series and the workshop (Kultur neu denken: Transkulturelle Perspektiven/Recalibrating Culture: Transcultural Perspectives). Both the lecture series and the workshop bring together well-established scholars with young and upcoming scholars both from the HCTS and beyond. The events engage unconventional formats and require from the speakers a pre-submitted paper so as to engage in joint reading-in-conjunction during the lecturer’s visit.

Prof. Philipp Stoellger

Prof. Philipp Stoellger is a specialist in the philosophy of religion, image science and embodiment and teaching as professor of Systematic Theology: Dogmatics and Philosophy of Religion at the Theological Seminary at Heidelberg University. From 2007 to 2015, Stoellger held the chair for Systematic Theology and Philosophy of Religion at the University of Rostock. In the years 2001 to 2007, Stoellger was managing associate professor of the Institute for Hermeneutics and Philosophy of Religion at Zürich University.

Prof. Barbara Mittler

Prof. Dr. Barbara Mittler holds a Chair in Chinese Studies at the Institute of Chinese Studies at Heidelberg University and is the Co-Director of the Heidelberg Center for Transcultural Studies (HCTS). She is also Deputy Director of the Centre of Asian and Transcultural Studies (CATS) at Heidelberg University.

She began her studies of Sinology at the University of Oxford (MA Oxon 1990), and has spent research periods in Taiwan, the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong and at Harvard and Stanford Universities. Her PhD (1994) and her habilitation (post-doctoral thesis, 1998) are both from Heidelberg. In 2000 she received the Heinz-Maier-Leibnitz-Award for young and outstanding scholars by the German Research Foundation and the German Ministry of Culture. Between 2002-2004 she was a recipient of a Heisenberg Fellowship by the German Research Foundation. In 2008 she was elected member of the National Academy of Sciences LEOPOLDINA and, in 2013, the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences. In 2009 she won the Henry Allen Moe Prize in the Humanities, American Philosophical Society, in 2013, her book-length study of the Chinese Cultural Revolution won the Fairbank Prize awarded by the American Historical Association. 

Her research focuses on cultural production in (greater) China, covering a wide range of topics from music to (visual) and (historical) print media in China’s long modernity. She has published numerous research papers and books: e.g. Dangerous Tunes: The Politics of Chinese Music in Hong Kong, Taiwan and the People’s Republic of China since 1949, Harrassowitz 1997; A Newspaper for China? Power, Identity and Change in China’s News-Media, 1872-1912, Harvard University Press, 2004; A Continuous Revolution: Making Sense of Cultural Revolution Culture, Harvard University Press, 2012. A joint book with historian Thomas Maissen has just come out, it is entitled Why China did not have a Renaissance and why that matters—an interdisciplinary Dialogue, De Gruyter 2018. She is finishing another booklength study on women’s magazines, Portrait(s) of a Trope: Making New Women and New Men in Chinese Women’s Magazines, 1898-2008 and is engaged in two more projects, a collaborative project with prize-winning (visual) historian Sumathi Ramaswamy (Duke): Embodying the Nation—Representations of Gandhi and Mao, and a monograph: "And there is only one Lang Lang…"—Chinese Musicians on the Global Stage: a Transcultural Perspective.