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Scales of Knowledge: Zooming In and Zooming Out

7th Annual Conference of the Cluster "Asia and Europe in a Global Context"
October 7-9, 2015

The concept of 'scales' in cultural, historical and transcultural studies was the topic of this year's annual conference. It addressed how, on the one hand, different research objects require different scales of investigation, and on the other, how the various scales of human activity produce disparate effects. The conference with the title "Scales of Knowledge: Zooming In and Zooming Out" took place from October 7-9 in Heidelberg. In some 50 presentations, scientists from a variety of disciplines such as ethnology, geography and intellectual history discussed their spatial, temporal and analytical focal points and how these determine the kinds of methodologies used.

The anthropologist Prof. George Marcus (University of California, Irvine) opened the conference with a keynote lecture. It took place in the Alte Aula on Wednesday, October 7. Under the title “‘Scale’ As a Problem of Contemporary Ethnographic Practice”, Prof. Marcus tackled questions such as "What sort of challenge does multi-sited ethnographic research pose today as compared to conventional methodologies of anthropological research?" "Has the rise of informatics really changed everything as often claimed?" And, "Has it changed the ways in which ethnographic research is conducted today?" The lecture was accompanied by a musical performance by the Taiwanese ensemble 3peoplemusic, who presented more traditional and more experimental musical scales on their instruments.

The programme on Thursday and Friday took place at the Karl Jaspers Centre. During the conference, the participants discussed different aspects of scales including political, environmental and philosophical dimensions. Using case examples, the presentations addressed local and global networks in East Asia, the introduction of new technologies in South Asia or political elections in Central Asia.

The annual conference 2015 was organised by Prof. Dr. William Sax, Prof. Dr. Joachim Kurtz, and Shupin Lang on behalf of Research Area C "Knowledge Systems".

→ Visit the conference website

→ Visit the regular Cluster website

Interview with George Marcus

Watch Prof. George Marcus introducing himself and his research. Check out our YouTube channel for further videos.

Keynote Lecture

Prof. George Marcus gave the keynote lecture on “‘Scale’ As a Problem of Contemporary Ethnographic Practice”. George Marcus is Chancellor’s Professor and Chair of Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Irvine.

Musical Scales

The opening ceremony was framed by music from the ensemble 3peoplemusic, a group of young musicians from Taiwan. They introduced traditional and experimental compositions and scales for Chinese string and wind instruments.

Book Publication

William Sax, Harish Naraindas, and Johannes Quack edited the volume "Asymmetrical Conversations. Contestations, Circumventions, and the Blurring of Therapeutic Boundaries" (Berghahn). Profs. Sax and Naraindas talked about their research on Thursday.

Film on Intellectual History

Watch a film on the Chair of Intellectual History held by Prof. Joachim Kurtz. The researchers held a panel on Friday.


    Organisers: Research Area C "Knowledge Systems"

    The Annual Conference was organised by the research area C "Knowledge Systems".

    This research area is interested in multiple forms of knowledge production. Nearly all of the projects are concerned with the relationship between knowledge and practice, and many of them make overt reference to recent studies on science and technology as well as on historical epistemology.

    The research area C "Knowledge Systems" is coordinated by Prof. Dr. William Sax, Prof. Dr. Joachim Kurtz, and Prof. Dr. Joachim Friedrich Quack.

     Read more about research area...