Fellow in Focus

Every month, we present here a Fellow of the CoF.

Januar 2022: Juan Rivera (Kopie 1)

1. Why have you applied to the College of Fellows – Center for Interdisciplinary and Intercultural Studies and how have you heard of it?

I applied to itthe CoF certainly because of its international reputation and the cutting-edge scientific event organized here but also because of the great disciplinary openness it promotes. I heard of it through the network of Advanced Studies Institutions across Europe which I had the honor to be part of in the past decade.

2. For whom or what is your scientific work relevant (e.g. for society, for a certain community, for science's sake)?

I think that my scientific work as a social anthropologist specialized in the diverse collectives of the South American highlands could be relevant for Andean societies in their struggles for survival and recognition, for any nation dealing with indigenous peoples in their territories, and finally for the scientific knowledge of human diversity and its multiple possibilities of our relations with non-humans in the times of the Anthropocene.

3. You grew up in France. How do you experience Germany on this background?

I did grow up in Peru but let me add that I come from the most vulnerable and exploited part of its society: son of a single mother with indigenous ancestors raised in the shantytowns where dispossessed peasants looked for refuge from the then on-going political violence in the highlands. I mention this particularity of my background because one of the main features of my particular experience of Germany is almost the perfect opposite either of that background or of its consequences for any society: the peace of mind, the time and the freedom of thought I have been able to receive here.

4. What are your favourite places in Tübingen?

The city center is really amazing and quite unique, along with the rivers and its botanical garden. My most favorite place for my interest in the Americas is obviously the Cotta-Haus. I like pretty much everything actually!

5. How does the university of the future look like?

I am not sure if I would be able to say something relevant about this particular topic, but I would think that it is essential to safeguard in any possible future the freedom of thought, the capacity of analysis and, as suggested in a well-known Argentinian film, the "merciless lucidity" needed for any truly scientific work.

December 2021: Dr. Elise Coquereau-Saouma

1. Why have you applied to the College of Fellows – Center for Interdisciplinary and Intercultural Studies and how have you heard of it?

I have graduated from the University of Vienna in the research program “Philosophy and non-Western traditions – Intercultural Philosophy”, which is, together with the College of Fellows, one of the few Centers researching on Intercultural Philosophy in the German-speaking world. I have been aware of the activities in Tübingen for several years through the Society for Intercultural Philosophy (GIP), for which I edit the Newsletter.

2. For whom or what is your scientific work relevant (e.g. for society, for a certain community, for science's sake)?

I want my work to be relevant for students and researchers who cannot accept that philosophy is just what they have always been taught: German, French or American-British, of a certain colour, privilege, or gender. There are several layers to the problems, but one thing is sure: philosophy ought to be broadened, and I want to point at philosophers who have been excluded of the canon, to reflect on what the margins of philosophy tell us, and how they are constituted, and working on expanding the corpus. I also want my work on contemporary Indian philosophy not only to be usable as comparative introductions for scholars in Europe but engage students and researchers in India and create materials that can be included in their own research and teaching, for not only using their intellectual resources, but serving their own purposes.

3. You grew up in France. How do you experience Germany on this background?

What I enjoy the most about Germany is actually its regionalism – a source of endless jokes! For example, you just need to mention ‘Schwaben’, ‘Maultaschen’, some words of Schwäbisch or some cultural clichés (like your neighbours spying on your garden, which is not only a cliché…) in front of (preferably) listeners from various parts of Germany, for the game to start – something much less present in the Frenchs’ centralised spirit.

4. What are your favourite places in Tübingen?

I came to Tübingen during the Covid-19 crisis and began my stay with 10 days of quarantine; shortly after, all the shops, restaurants and University buildings closed. Hence, first out of necessity, and later maybe out of habit and enjoyment for my normally rather urban self, my favourite Tübingen is ‘outside’ and in the ‘nature’: I started discovering the Österberg, the Käsenbachtal (and after it reopened, the Botanical Garden), and the beautiful and varied path of Schönbuch natural parc – the way through the forest to Bebenhausen (a classical, admittedly) is my favourite long sunny weekend leisure.

5. How does the university of the future look like?

The transition to online conferences, workshops, lectures and so on make it now possible to have truly international and diverse research and reading groups, to discuss and exchange with scholars all over the world. This opens an exciting range of possibilities, in particular for the places that could not afford attracting (and paying for) far-away professors or large-scale global conferences (and its cumulated costs). Yet, I hope this will not only lead to the ‘super-stars’ of the scholarly world to be even more famous, but also for students in less ‘rated’ academic structures to create their own research groups with peers that receive better institutional supports, for learning from professors and students in more secluded parts of the world, and in general to listen to those for whom it was so difficult to get funds to travel to the big academic gatherings in America or Europe. In other terms, I hope the University of the future and its hybrid/online possibilities will create more diversity rather than a more homogenised global world.

November 2021: Dr. Hora Zabarjadi Sar

Why have you applied to the College of Fellows – Center for Interdisciplinary and Intercultural Studies and how have you heard of it?

After finishing my PhD in Australia in May 2020, I was informed about the upcoming opportunity of doing research with a focus on ‘belonging’ at the Center for Interdisciplinary and Intercultural Studies. The call for application sounded completely fit to my research interest and my academic proficiency which is Phenomenology and Post-colonial Studies.

For whom or what is your scientific work relevant (e.g. for society, for a certain community, for science's sake)?

While there is an unprecedented increase in the forceful displacements of people around the globe due to various environmental, political and social calamities, the notion of ‘belonging’ and ‘home’ have gained an inimitable attention by both the newcomers and the host communities/societies. Between different philosophical, sociological and political engagements with the phenomenon of displacement and its related issues, it seems that phenomenology holds an advantage point. Phenomenology as the rigorous science of experience, enables us to inquire into the conditions of possibility of having such experiences of ‘being at home’ and ‘belonging’.

You grew up in Iran and lived in Australia. How do you experience Germany on this background?

Moving to Germany is my third major intra-continent move and I still cannot claim that dealing with the experience of ‘leaving behind’, in any rate gets simpler or less challenging. Due to all these border crossings, I believe that the concept of ‘home’ and ‘belonging’ gained new dimensions and importance for me. However, Germany provided me with a distinct perspective to engage with the phenomenon of ‘belonging to’ a community; CoF-CIIS is where I belong to the most.  

What are your favourite places in Tübingen?

Walking in Tübingen, you can wander about places that Hegel and Schelling once passed through, the breeze that gently brushed Hölderlin’s face, fills your lungs; you can tell the time looking at the clock designed by Johannes Kepler, located in the city centre. Then the natural beauty of the place; the surrounding charming villages to visit and Schönbuch natural park with its endless paths to walk- and merely allowing yourself to be enchanted by the magic of the forest.  

How does the university of the future look like?

With the development of social media the concept of teacher-student interaction surpassed far beyond the classroom where only certain authorised audience had the opportunity to participate in learning and knowledge production. Where some extraordinary events used to be exclusive to famous auditoriums of Ivy League, US, now one can attend unlimited lectures, given by great figures only from their room. Thus, if universities are going to be more than elegant and nostalgic lecture halls, they are to be performed as intersections of ideas, of languages, of cultures, of epistemologies. Instead of instructing teachers to be merely as knowledge transmitters, universities should cultivate them as facilitators who engage with endless ideas which are out there. Facilitation is not knowledge production, but it is creating opportunities, situations and spaces of productive encounters. The idea of interdisciplinarity only will be born out of the space of facilitation which leads to further knowledge production.