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Jour Fixe

WINTER TERM 2016/2017

Thursday, 17 November 2016 4-6 pm

Ivo Smits (Leiden): Emblem as Episteme: Decoding the European Image in Early Modern Japan 

Introduction/Chair: Harald Fuess & Melanie Trede (Heidelberg)


Histories of early modern Japan (1600-1868) that deal with Japan’s contact with the rest of the world will inevitably mention that China and the Netherlands were the two exclusive trade partners of Japan in this period. They will also mention that one result of this contact with the Netherlands was the creation of the Japanese discipline of “Hollandology” (rangaku), and that ‘Holland’ was a heteronym for ‘Europe.’

Studies of rangaku as one manifestation of Japan’s intellectual and cultural interest in ‘Holland’ focus on the transfer of empirical knowledge, in the sciences and in the visual arts. The book that represents this idea of Europe is the eighteenth-century encyclopaedia, a type of publication avidly read (and partially translated) by Japanese scholars and artists.

Yet there is a different type of book that represents a very different ‘Europe’ and that was just as present in early modern Japan: the emblem book. Around 1800, European emblematic images and texts confronted Japanese scholars with a wholly different category of images from the West, images that were not invariably ‘realistic’ and had instead to be understood symbolically.

This presentation will address the emblem book as a major representative of Renaissance and later European worldviews, and its reception in early modern Japan. Specifically it will ask how early modern Japanese intellectuals negotiated their confrontation with two European worldviews at the same time; in other words, how they combined reading the encyclopaedia and the emblem book. Finally, the lecture will introduce a Japanese emblem book from the early nineteenth century as an instance of active application of Japanese interpretations of the concept of the emblem.


Ivo Smits’ field of expertise comprises literature and film in Japan. His research focuses on early medieval classical texts in both classical Japanese and classical Chinese. Bilingualism (or ‘biscriptualism’) poet-patron networks and concepts of imagination and representation are three big themes that occupy him a great deal.

Ivo Smits earned his PhD at Leiden University in 1994, studied at the University of Tokyo, Cambridge University, and was among others research fellow at Waseda University and Visiting Associate Professor at Yale University. He occupies various administrative functions within and outside Leiden University.

Thursday, 26 January 2017, 4-6 pm

Managing  Transculturality

“Managing  Transculturality” aims at an exchange of insights and ideas about the relevance of understanding transcultural processes and agents in such non-academic spheres as science, politics and global business. We are especially interested in the humanities outside the academic orbit and will explore, along with the participants, the career opportunities beyond the university for graduates in Transcultural Studies.

After short presentations by Transcultural Studies graduates about their current work, there will be a round table discussion on the practical applicability of Transculturality with other professionals from various fields.

“Managing Transculturality” will take place in the DAI, one of Heidelberg’s most renowned and vital cultural institutions, and will be chaired by Prof. William S. Sax (Anthropology) and Prof. Diamantis Panagiotopoulos (Archeology).


Cluster Graduates:

Tugce Zipperer graduated from the Cluster in late 2015 with a thesis entitled “Rethinking Transcultural Education. German Education at the Crossroads“ and now works for the Institut für transkulturelle Lösungen in Karlsruhe.

Sima Gatea also graduated in 2015 with a M.A. thesis entitled “Re-imagining Our City - Translations of Migration Inclusion from Toronto to Berlin.”  Afterward she co-founded Singa Deutschland in Berlin, where she presently works.

Hanna Jenne graduated in 2014 with a thesis on "Contesting Identities: The Balancing Act of Spanish-born Chinese Youth in Madrid." Since then she has been working for the International Organization for Migration in Nürnberg.


Outside Experts:

Michael Mwa Allimadi advises migrants interested in starting businesses in Germany.  He is chairperson of the Ausländer- und Migrationsrat of Heidelberg, and Managing Director of the Landesverband der kommunalen Migrantenvertretunger. 

Karin Heyl studied German and Romance Languages in Köln, after which she worked for various foundations, specializing in art and cultural sponsoring, and working for a time as the Business Manager of the Crespo Foundation, before assuming, in October 2012, her present role as Head of the Department of Culture, Sport and Society at BASF.

Dr. Dr. Victor Taratukhin is an expert in Engineering Design & Computing Sciences. He currently works for SAP as Innovation Network Strategic Projects Director and is the Managing Director of the Competence Center ERP at European Research Center for Information Systems (ERCIS), University of Muenster. Victor is also a Visiting Fellow of Heidelberg University and the Stanford Center for Design Research (CDR).



Prof. William S. Sax, Professor and Head of Department of Anthropology at the South Asia Institute at Heidelberg University

Prof. Diamantis Panagiotopoulos, Director of the Institute of Classical Archaeology at Heidelberg University



Deutsch-Amerikanisches Institut Heidelberg

Sofienstraße 12

69115 Heidelberg




General Information

Karl Jaspers Centre
Voßstraße 2, Building 4400
Room 212
69115 Heidelberg

The Jour Fixe is organised by the four Research Areas of the Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Context” at Heidelberg University.


Poster Winter JF I

Poster Winter JF II