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Winter Term 2018/19


Joachim Kurtz

Toward a Global History of Concepts: Translation, Appropriation, Transformation

The conceptual lexicon in which political, social and academic discourses are articulated across the world is with few exceptions of Euro-American origin. Beginning in the 17th century, the concepts that were seen as fueling the European expansion have been adapted around the globe in virtually all languages spoken and written by sizeable communities. As a result, native vocabularies have been enriched, but more often replaced, by representations of globalized notions that have become the ineluctable currency of international exchange and debate.

This seminar probes the processes of translation and appropriation that have made these massive conceptual transformations possible. Tracing the migrations of key words of modernity, such as progress, liberty, rights, nation, or objectivity, through diverse localities, it hopes to develop adequate ways to account for both the globality of many of our most basic concepts and their ongoing competition with local or regional inflections.

Joachim Kurtz

Introduction to Transcultural Studies

The concept of transculturality can be conceptualized both as a heuristic device and a  focus of study. It is embedded in a heterogeneous landscape of theoretical and methodological approaches drawing on many disciplines and covering diverse thematic, historical and geographic areas. Jointly conducted by researchers in the three study foci of the MA Transcultural Studies, this lecture class will explore the contributions and limitations of inherited and current approaches to cultural interactions. Theories and methods will be tested, e.g., in explorations of global art and exhibition practices, appropriations of philosophical and religious ideas, and the relationship between patterns of consumption and exchanges of commodities. The goal of the course is to introduce students to diverse disciplinary perspectives enabling them to frame their own studies of transcultural phenomena.

Martin Hofmann

Mapping the World

Maps are not self-explanatory, objective, and neutral. They reflect their authors’ ideas about spatial relations, cultural, political, and religious orders, and historical developments. In different cultures and at different times, spatial discourses have generated maps with a broad range of applications. Their functions and the ways in which they represent spatial notions are subject to specific conventions and usages. When cartographic depictions are used in different epistemic contexts, map-makers often adjust, redraw, and comment on them so that they become comprehensible for particular audiences. This seminar will explore what different functions maps have; how and why seemingly similar cartographic representations have different aims; and how they are “translated” in order to fit particular cultural conceptions.