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Introduction

The Cluster "Asia and Europe in a Global Context" explores a complex historical relationship of great relevance for the global transformations of our time. It is characterized by competition and conflict as well as cultural interactions ranging from migration and trade to the formation of concepts and institutions.

The research design strengthens the links between the rich expertise in Asian studies developed within Heidelberg’s "comprehensive university" framework and the broad disciplinary scope of humanities and social sciences. It focuses on case studies of the cultural interactions between and within Asia and Europe to develop an encompassing transcultural research approach. This will play a central part in the University’s planned Field of Focus "Cultural Dynamics in Globalised Worlds".

The study of asymmetrical relations of power and exchange and of the energies released by their perception has resulted in the formulation of the more comprehensive research approach "Dynamics of Transculturality". It is focused on the paradoxical duality of culture as both a marker of identity and a fluid moment in the continuous process of global interaction. We will fully explore this new approach in research and methodology in close cooperation with the relevant disciplines.

The institutional framework is in place: an inter-faculty Committee for Transcultural Studies; five tenured professorships with a transcultural focus; a Centre for Transcultural Studies as a sustainable research platform; an international Graduate Programme and a new MA in Transcultural Studies that will facilitate research-based learning; and the routine of cooperation with students and scholars from Asian countries.

The Cluster has sketched and will fully develop a research environment that fits the particular conditions of transcultural research crossing linguistic, source, media and political borders. Interdisciplinary Research Groups will be promoted to set new benchmarks for the productivity of collaborative scholarship.

The Cluster’s goal is to make the dynamics of transcultural interaction into a field of research with strong institutional grounding and high international impact.

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