Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

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Centres for Advanced Studies with participation of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Centres for Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences with participation of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

KFOR 1627: Evidence of Images: History and Aesthetics

The Centre for Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences 1627 takes up one of the oldest and most fundamental questions concerning images, namely those pertaining to pictorial evidence and to the structures and procedures through which it is generated. Our point of departure is the premise that the generation of pictorial evidence as a basic aesthetic category involves the representation of an objective external reality, but at the same time engenders forms of genuine visual presence, which exists nowhere outside of the picture. This double definition of the image - as representation and as presence - is fundamental, for the central significance and function of images can only be adequately characterised through the dialectical mediation of these two modalities. It is our aim to investigate the various historic and systematic forms assumed by such processes of mediation. Such an undertaking is both challenging and exigent, in view of the current situation in which cultural, visual and image studies seek to define the significance of images through apparently antagonistic approaches. Prevailing, on the one hand, is a wide-ranging scepticism concerning the status of evidence, which is provided by images in regard to nature and society, politics and history; according to this model, images are regarded as a kind of language, as analogous to legible systems of signs, which lack any inherent dynamism and which are exhausted, so to speak, once their messages have been decoded. On the other hand, it is claimed that images generate autonomous and purely self-referential meanings, which, as a consequence, are wholly detached from any external reality, presumably achieving their aesthetic effectiveness solely by virtue of such isolation and distinctiveness. In contrast to these current trends, in the framework of our project it is precisely the referential valence of images to which particular attention shall be turned, repositioning categorically the aesthetic issue inherent to the generation of pictorial evidence. The assumption that images precisely through aesthetic means embody reflexive potencies and thereby equal a discursive status is essential to the question of how they generate evidence. For this assumption opens up the possibility of deriving the binding criteria governing aesthetic forms from the images themselves - criteria, which are in turn bound up with their own histories. In this way, the project of restoring historic depth to the category of evidence aims at a conflation of historical interpretation and aesthetic approach, of concept and percept, and consequently at a conceptual reintegration of the image¿s reference to reality and its own reality as a physical object. Only such a dynamic conception of image and evidence is able to overcome the virulent tendency toward an antagonistic confrontation between image and text and between visual and textual competence, thereby opening up new fields of research in transdisciplinary perspectives.

Host university:
Freie Universität Berlin

Prof. Dr. Klaus Krüger

Participating Faculty/Participating Department of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin:
Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Department of Philosophy

Duration: 2011-



KFOR 1927: Media Cultures of Computer Simulation (MECS)

The Centre for Advanced Study of Media cultures of computer simulation (MECS) assumes that for half a century computer simulations (CS) changed the knowledge and practice of science and society fundamentally. These changes in both the structure of scientific knowledge and the way in which it is understood, however, have not always been accompanied by a critical approach within the humanities; in the sense of reflection upon the theoretical, substantive, historical and epistemological conditions of the possibilities afforded by simulation. In its work therefore, the Institute will not only make a fundamental contribution to the understanding of the epistemologic-technical upheaval of CS, but also establish a site for the exploration of CS as a new humanities research field. In the first phase, the Institute has proposed the idea of CS as a humanities research subject. As an inherently transdisciplinary and from the perspective of humanitieslargely unexplored field. CS poses challenges that allow new concepts, methods, forms of argumentation and gestures of thinking to take effect. With this, an epistemology of digital sciences can be developed to help inform the socio-political relevance of media and cultural studies. The Institute‘s applicants come from the fields of physics and computer science as well as the media studies and humanities. With the help of an interdisciplinary team of staff and an international fellow program, case studies for comparative research and systematization of CS in different fields of knowledge and scientific domains were developed via the study of selected issues, range of events and initial publications.After the development of the field and the development of a network of researchers, the second funding phase is dedicated to comparison, consolidation and systematization of the Institute¿s findings, as well as reconnection to other discussions in the humanities. The aim is to develop methodological and conceptual principles to develop a technically informed cultural theory of CS. The key concepts ofbpolicies, temporalities and materiality support this aim. Our research will be situated at the cutting edge of developments within these key concepts and their interdependencies. Working with these concepts our work will develop a cultural theory of CS in a two-fold way, simultaneously problematizing the possible conditions of current media studies and cultural theory on the subject of CS. The aim of MECS is therefore to continue the development of the topic within the humanities research community as part of a wider reflection on the basis of cultural theory.

Host University:
Leuphana Universität Lüneburg

Prof. Dr. Claus Pias

Participating Faculty/Participating Department of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin:
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Department of Cultural History and Theory

Duration: 2012-



KFOR 2235 The International Rule of Law - Rise or Decline? Zur Rolle des Völkerrechts im globalen Wandel

The Centre for Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences 2235 examines the role of international law in a changing global order. Can we, under the current significantly changing conditions, still observe an increasing juridification of international relations based on a universal understanding of values, or are we, to the contrary, rather facing a tendency towards an informalization or a reformalization of international law, or even an erosion of international legal norms? Would it be appropriate to revisit classical elements of international law in order to react to structural changes, which may give rise to a more polycentric or non-polar world order? Or are we simply observing a slump in the development towards an international rule of law based on a universal understanding of values?

Prof. Dr. Georg Nolte

Participating Faculty/Participating Department of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin:
Faculty of Law

Duration: 2015-



KFOR 2770: Beyond Canon: Heterotopias of Religious Authority in Ancient Christianity

The canon of writings of the Jewish and Christian Scriptures is regarded as the fundamental authority in Christianity. Even after its finalization and its widespread recognition in the 4th century, however, there existed (and continue to exist today) traditions claiming authority, which lie beyond the canon and which were partly directed against canonical texts, sometimes selecting from and updating them. In a creative reception of Foucault’s concept, these traditions, generally known as “apocryphal,” as well as their expressive forms and communication contexts, can be understood as heterotopias, i.e. as “effective spaces,” serving as “abutments” in late ancient Christianity.
These traditions and their functions in the many diverse contexts of religious life are the focus of the Beyond Canon Collaborative Research Group (CRG). Specifically, the Beyond Canon CRG will focus on literary traditions beyond the biblical canon, on their diverse, often material forms of expression and starting points in “lived” and “popular” religion, and on their underestimated significance in the ritual life of the churches. The concept of the “intellectual space of late antiquity” is thereby expanded in the sense of a discourse space that also includes things and practices.
This interdisciplinary approach not only promises insights into the rather implicit mechanisms of religious communication and the making of theological knowledge, but it can also make an innovative contribution to general questions of canonical processes and alternative authorities as they are explored in cultural sciences and humanities.

Host university:
Universität Regensburg

Prof. Dr. Tobias Nicklas

Participating Faculty/Participating Department of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin:
Faculty of Theology

Duration: 2018-



KFOR 2932: Polycentricity and Plurality of Premodern Christianities

The purpose of the POLY research group Polycentricity and Plurality of Premodern Christianities (circa 700–1800 CE), housed at Goethe University Frankfurt and funded by the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft), is twofold. First, we aim to facilitate and support comparative interdisciplinary research into preindustrial or premodern Christianities around the globe. Second, we will investigate the ways in which dynamic plurality works as a driving force of change across and within communities of belief. Our primary goal is to decentralise religious history before 1800. We will also historicize and question the unitary and universalist self-images nurtured by institutional churches, as well as the corresponding models of religious culture or transformation found in modern scholarship. This ambitious intellectual agenda is supported by an international and interdisciplinary team of scholars. Together, we hope to more deeply understand the formation of religious communities by local and global forces, as well as the myriad connections among them.

Host university:
Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main

Prof. Dr. Birgit Emich

Participating Faculty/Participating Department of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin:
Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Department of History

Duration: 2020-