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Lecture Series on Global Concepts

Jan 27, 2011

On Thursday, January 27, the last session of the Cluster's lecture series on “Global Concepts? Keywords and Their Histories in Asia and Europe” was held at the Karl Jaspers Centre. Between 50 and 170 participants followed each of the seven podium discussions on key terms such "Rationality/Emotion".

The lecture series consisted of seven podium discussions with three renowned scholars each. The panels traced the semantic histories of a pair of keywords in more than one cultural context and discussed issues such as semantic shifts and their consequences.

In the first session, held on 28th October 2010, "Culture/Civilization" was the subject of discussion: After a brief introduction by Prof. Joachim Kurtz (Heidelberg University), Prof. Paul Geyer (University of Bonn) spoke "On the Dialectics of Culture and Civilization" (Abstract). He defined Civilization as a society’s specific material organisation of human praxis and the relating dispositives of knowledge and representation. Prof. Andrew Sartori (New York University) talked on "Civilization, Custom, Culture: Three Concepts of Freedom in Colonial Bengal" (Abstract). Focusing on conceptions of freedom, he outlined sequential elaboration of discourses of civilization, custom and culture in 19th century Bengal. The discussant was Prof. Joseph Maran (Heidelberg University).

The second podium discussion was held on 11th November 2011 on the topic "History/Politics". Introduced by Prof. Thomas Maissen (Heidelberg University), Prof. Luise Schorn-Schütte (University of Frankfurt) asked in her lecture: "Is There a Need for a Historiography of 'the Political'?" (Abstract). Thereby, she focused on the understanding of the political in the German-speaking area beginning with the historian Leopold von Ranke. Subsequently, Prof. Koichiro Matsuda (Rikkyo University, Tokyo) talked about the "Conceptualizations of 'History' and the 'Past' in 19th Century Japanese Thought" (Abstract). Illustrating the ideas of "Fate" (kisu/qi shu) and "Momentum" (sei/shi), he explained the roles of the concepts of "Antiquity", "Past" and "History" in Japan's political thought before the arrival of Western theories and styles of historiography. Finally, the discussant Prof. Hans Harder (Heidelberg University) reviewed both lectures.

"Canons/Classics" was the topic of the third session on 25th November 2010 moderated by Prof. Monica Juneja (Heidelberg University): Prof. Sally C. Humphreys (Central European University, Budapest) gave a lecture on "Classics and Canons: Modern Reconfigurations" (Abstract). Prof. Birgit Kellner (Heidelberg University) spoke on "The canon(s) of Buddhism - singularity and multiplicity". She discussed how cultural contacts between Western scholars and traditional Buddhist scholars in Sri Lanka in the 19th century affected the concept of a Buddhist "canon", and highlighted the plurality and diversity of Buddhist canonical collections in South Asia, China and Tibet. Prof. Rudolf G. Wagner (Heidelberg University) then discussed both topics.

At the beginning of the fourth session, held on 9th December 2010, Dr. Susan Richter (Heidelberg University) thanked all persons involved in the realisation of the Cluster's lecture series and gave a brief introduction into this session's topic on "Public/Private". Prof. Dorothy Ko (Barnard College, New York) gave a lecture on "Public/Gong 公 and Private/Si 私 in China" (Abstract). The cultural historian briefly discussed the genealogy of scholarly studies of the public/private in Chinese history from three different perspectives. She then argued that the meanings of public/private in China have to be sought in conjunction with the emic categories of inner/outer, referring to the graduated privacy from Outer to Inner in a Courtyard House in China. Subsequently, Prof. Ulrike Weckel (Ruhr University of Bochum) talked about "The Suggestive Power of the Public-Private Dichotomy in Modern Western European Thinking" (Abstract). Examining Friedrich Schiller’s famous "Song of the Bell", the historian explored how in the late 18th century the polarized model of separate spheres limited educated women’s opportunities but also how some of them made use of it. The discussant was Prof. Monica Juneja.

On 13th January 2011, Prof. Joachim Kurtz welcomed the lecturers and audience to a discussion on "Art/Science": Under the title "'Art': A Modern European Invention", Prof. Raphael Rosenberg (University of Vienna) reviewed the history of the idea of art. Deriving the term from the Greek "techne" and the Latin "ars", he argued that the dominating concept of art is an European invention (Abstract, more information on Moodle). Prof. Dhruv Raina (Heidelberg University) talked about "Exact and Positive: Conceptions of the Past of the Sciences in India" (Abstract). Comparing John Stuart Mill's "Systems of Logic" (1843) with Brajendranath Seal's "The Positive Sciences of the Ancient Hindus" (1915) and other philosophical attempts, Prof. Raina discussed the conceptions of the past of the sciences starting in England in the 1830. Subsequently, Prof. Melanie Trede (Heidelberg University) discussed both papers presented.

The next podium discussion was held on 20th January 2011 on the key terms "Law/Liberty"; it was moderated by Dr. Susan Richter. Under the title "Liberté/Liberty/Freiheit: A Key Concept for (Early) Modern Western Cultures between Universality and Cultural Specificity", Prof. Hans-Jürgen Lüsebrink (Saarland University) reviewed the history of the terms 'Liberty', 'Freedom', Liberté', and 'Freiheit' in Western Cultures since the 18th century (Abstract). He pointed out the dimensions of individual freedom on the one hand and of collective rights on the other hand. Then, Prof. Monika Kirloskar-Steinbach (Kontanz University) talked about "Moral and Political Freedom: Inter-/Transcultural Explorations". She gave a description of moral and political freedom, which are fundamental concepts in contemporary political thought, and explored methodological difficulties in cross-cultural inquiry with a special focus on the Indian context (Abstract). The discussant was Prof. Harald Fuess (Heidelberg University).

The last session of the Cluster lecture series, held on 27th January 2011, discussed the key terms "Rationality/Emotion": After an introduction by Prof. Monica Juneja, Prof. Dr. Martina Kessel (University of Bielefeld) spoke on "The Violent Ideal. Representations of Rationality/Emotion in the Modern German Imaginary" (Abstract). Analysing identity constructions among German elites in the first half of the twentieth century, the historian argued that the most prominent identity ideal in the German modern imaginary projected a subject able to combine rationality and emotion in a very specific way, thereby justifying its claim to leadership and a moral right to order society in a violent way. Next, Dr. habil. Angelika C. Messner (University of Kiel, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin) talked about "Emotions (qing) and 'what?' in Chinese history" (Abstract). Cutting across the fields of history, literature, religion and medicine in Late Imperial China, the sinologist explained the indigenous conceptualizations of terms such as "you" (friendship) and "qing" (love, passion, feeling, matters, condition) in China prior to the encounter with the West. Finally, Dr. Iris Clemens (Free University Berlin) discussed both lectures.

The Cluster's lecture series 2010/11 on “Global Concepts? Keywords and Their Histories in Asia and Europe” was organised by Prof. Monica Juneja, Cluster Professor of Global Art History, Prof. Joachim Kurtz, Cluster Professor of Intellectual History, and Dr. Susan Richter, Junior Research Group Leader at the Cluster.

Visit the Photo Gallery for further impressions of the lecture series.

Further links:

Calender Entry
Photo Gallery

Press Release (German)
Press Release at Heidelberg University (German)

Profile Prof. Dr. Monica Juneja
Profile Prof. Dr. Joachim Kurtz
Profile Dr. Susan Richter  


  • Panel discussion on "Rationality/Emotion" (27.01.2011)

  • Panel discussion on "Law/Liberty" (20.01.2011)

  • Panel discussion on "Art/Science" (13.01.2011)

  • Panel discussion on "Public/Private" (9.12.2010)

  • Panel discussion on "Canons/Classics" (25.11.2010)

  • Panel discussion on "History/Politics" (11.11.2010)

  • Panel discussion on "Culture/Civilization" (28.10.2010)

  • Key Visual of the Lecture Series and Art Work by Franziska Koch