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The Cluster of Excellence "Asia and Europe in a Global Context"

The Cluster "Asia and Europe in a Global Context" explored a complex historical relationship of great relevance for the global transformations of our time, 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 strengthened 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 focused on the cultural interactions between and within Asia and Europe to develop an encompassing transcultural research approach. This played a central part in the University’s planned Field of Focus "Cultural Dynamics in Globalised Worlds".

In particular, the study of asymmetrical relations of power and exchange and of the energies released by their perception resulted in the formulation of the more comprehensive research approach "Dynamics of Transculturality." It was focused on the paradoxical duality of culture as both a marker of identity and a fluid moment in the continuous process of global interaction. This new approach was fully explored in research and methodology in close cooperation with the relevant disciplines.

The institutional framework comprehended 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; a new MA in Transcultural Studies aimed at research-based learning; and the routine of cooperation with students and scholars from Asian countries.

The Cluster sketched and fully developed a research environment that fit the particular conditions of transcultural research crossing linguistic, source, media, and political borders. The several interdisciplinary Research Groups within the Cluster set new benchmarks for the productivity of collaborative scholarship.

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