Excellence Strategy

Knowledge formations in global context

Colonialism and globalization have led to the hegemony and marginalization of knowledge formations, which are expressed in a North-South divide and have far-reaching consequences for the division of the world, as knowledge formations organize and regulate affiliations, social and cultural practices, and processes of perception. The task of the humanities and social sciences is therefore 1) to investigate the procedures and dynamics of such globalization processes from a contemporary and from a historical perspective and 2) to design and research theory and practice models for alternative global encounter forms in order to enable the pluralization of and the transfer between different knowledge formations. Therefore, processes of mediation and translation and their medializations as well as the cultural and aesthetic codifications of knowledge produced by them are to be examined in particular, with a view to South-South knowledge exchange in the sense of globally communicated 'indigenous knowledges' as well as with a view to the recontextualization of so-called 'Northern' knowledge productions.

Religion in Global Encounters

Religions have been and are being shaped by Global Encounters. At the same time, they are themselves involved in the globalization of knowledge systems, social practices and structures. Therefore, this research field investigates complex dynamics of entanglement in globalized power and / or knowledge processes. On the epistemological level, for example 'Western' concepts of religion (e.g. "world religions") are to be questioned; on the historical level, global religious contacts as well as the resulting transformations are to be considered from a non-European perspective of religious plurality. Religions are to be conceptualized in their entanglement with each other as well as with other knowledge systems, with political and social structures, in order to recognize their relevance for the epistemological, social and political effects of global encounters. This relevance is visible  in religious fundamentalisms and stereotypical attributions, in the role of religions in migration processes, discrimination and national identity politics as well as in movements of cross-border solidarity and for peaceful coexistence in the horizon of different religious and cultural traditions. Future research on religion in global encounters will therefore have to intensify the cooperation of many different disciplines with their religion-related research questions. The contextual differences of European and non-European cultures of knowledge as well as the methodological differences of emic (especially theological) and etic research perspectives should be understood less as limiting barriers, but rather made productive as epistemologically creative contrasts.

Global flows, fractured places: Un/doing difference, un/doing belonging

The thematic field comprises practice-theoretically oriented research on diverse forms of belonging. These are multiple, overlapping, in transition and are understood against the background of the social production of difference. In addition to various forms of social belonging, religious, national, cultural, linguistic, legal and other un/belongings are taken into account. The global encounter context is crucial here, since identities are produced and transmitted precisely in the encounter with and construction of 'the other', for example in migration movements. The innovative turn also consists in the inclusion of economics, which looks at the impact of belonging on the behavior of companies. Furthermore, interesting considerations could arise in the intersection of identity and ownership (belonging to; „zu-gehören [to own]“).

Global transformations and potentials for change in the 21st century

This thematic field takes up the discussions about post-development and the related alternative and pluriverse social utopias for the Good Life. The scholarly and popular movements that have emerged from the concept of post-development seek ways to change local and global structures that appear as alternatives to hegemonic promises of modernity, reject the paradigm of conventional development, and turn instead to pluralistic grassroots movements. Well-being appears in these movements as the product of a consequent turning away from the developmental goal of economic growth and the exploitative economic and ecological structures based on it.

At the center is the right to cultural difference and autonomy against the hegemonic universalism of modernity and development. universalism of modernity and development and every other form of trusteeship and domination. The thematic field will consequently deal with local, regional, national, and global interconnections that can be found in counter-hegemonic concepts and practices all over the world and try to develop ecologically responsible new ways in political and economic new beginnings.