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New Centre for Asian and Transcultural Studies

Jul 01, 2013

A new Centre for Asian and Transcultural Studies (CATS) will be established at Heidelberg University. The complex of buildings will be located next to the Karl Jaspers Centre. On June 28, the Joint Science Conference of the German Federal and State Governments approved the grant application.

The university receives funding of about 20 million euros for the construction of the new research facility. The CATS will house the South Asia Institute, the Centre for East Asian Studies, the Institute of Anthropology, and the newly founded Heidelberg Centre for Transcultural Studies (HCTS). It is set up as an interdisciplinary centre bringing together scholars from the humanities and the social sciences with a focus on the study of South, East, and Southeast Asia in a global context. As a multimedia "collaboratorium", CATS will offer office, teaching, and library space as well as media laboratories. It will provide central access to three departmental libraries: those of the South Asia Institute, the Centre for East Asian Studies and the Department of Anthropology (with a focus on South East Asia). In addition, a Digital Humanities Unit will continue to support the development of digital tools and resources for the humanities and social sciences.

The building complex for CATS will be located on the university’s “Bergheim Campus” in the centre of Heidelberg. It will include the Karl Jaspers Centre and several adjacent buildings of the former dermatological clinic that moved to the Neuenheimer Feld in June 2013. Construction and renovation work will begin in 2014 and the participating institutes will move in after completion in 2018. The Bergheim Campus will thus become a node of communication between the humanities and the social sciences with a focus on Asia in the world. The project will be funded with up to six million euros per year by the German state and the Baden-Württemberg government.

Scholars at the CATS will approach the history and development of Asia more holistically and not solely from a western perspective, but from Asian perspectives as well. They will explore theoretical concepts and research methods developed both in Asia and the West to bridge the borders between the more methodologically oriented disciplines and area studies. Research projects at CATS will focus on socioeconomic and transcultural dynamics of power and the impact of social, demographic, and cultural change with a focus on religion, health and environment, urbanisation and migration. More than 50 scholars from various disciplines will be part of the Centre for Asian and Transcultural Studies.

Prof. Axel Michaels and Prof. Barbara Mittler, directors of the Cluster, have been responsible for the application for the new centre. The CATS will build on work begun by the Cluster "Asia and Europe" and benefit from the expertise of the Collaborative Research Centres "Ritual Dynamics" and "Material Text Cultures".

Read the press release (German)


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  • Map of the area where the Karl Jaspers Centre (KJC) and the planned CATS are situated

  • Planned "Bergheim Campus": KJC and CATS in the back, Dep. of Economics, Politics, and Social Sciences in the front