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A9 Cultural Transfer (project completed)

Cultural Transfer as a Factor of State Building

Coordination: Antje Flüchter


While the modern state used to be considered a genuine European phenomenon, the project is based on the assumption that cultural contact is always accompanied by cultural flow and that the creation of the modern European state was part of changing asymmetries. The aim of the project is to construct a multi-layered case study, which selects specifically the Early Modern Asian-European relations and their impact on state building processes as an example for global asymmetries. A starting point is the observation that Early Modern Europeans engaged in Asia dealt with powerful or even superior partners, and encountered elaborate systems of governance and administration.
The JRG studies the impact of this experience on the development of state building processes on several levels: How did cultural contact function within contact zones? How did Europeans and Asians communicate, and how did they perceive and translate cultural differences? How did the ‘receiving’ culture incorporate resulting knowledge into political theory? Can traces of an intended transfer or homologies in the structures of governance and administration be found in European and Asian political practice? As governance and administration are intertwined with many other fields of society and culture, the project wants to shed some light on factors influencing state-building processes. Trade, diplomacy, military, and religion are considered important and promising research areas. The JRG proceeds in several subprojects: One case study analyzes the interrelation between experiences of Asian and European political practices. It explores the attempts to establish transnational trade relations in the Holy Roman Empire, and assesses the impact such transnational networks had for European developments, using the example of Friedrichstadt in Schleswig-Holstein-Gottorf and Surat in the Mogul Empire. Further case studies examine ways and practices of transcultural perception, translation and interaction, and thus provide additional comparative angles. With these case studies the research group is going to provide detailed research results clarifying how and where contact and cultural flows in changing European-Asian asymmetries happened, and when and where cultural borders were constructed, defined and modified.

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