Institute of Historical and Cultural Anthropology

Cross-Linking Cultural Knowledge: Cooperative Structures in Cultural Anthropology Research, Teaching and Knowledge Transfer

Funding institution: Volkswagen-Stiftung, Initiative „World Knowledge – Structural Support for Rare Subjects“
in cooperation with the Landesmuseum Württemberg (Stuttgart), the Badisches Landesmuseum (Karlsruhe), the Landesstellen für Volkskunde (Stuttgart/Staufen), and the Zentrum für populäre Kultur und Musik (Freiburg)
PIs: Thomas Thiemeyer (Tübingen) and Markus Tauschek (Freiburg)
Coordinators: Karin Bürkert (Tübingen) and Matthias Möller (Freiburg)
Funding period: 07/2021-06/2028

The collaborative endeavor Cross-linking Cultural Knowledge aims to create a sustainably effective, coherent knowledge landscape of Cultural Anthropology beyond institutional boundaries. It is a response to the institutional differentiation of folklore and cultural studies research in museums and universities, a differentiation that to the present day informs the small discipline of Folklore Studies (which since the 1960s has evolved into an empirical cultural science) and its precarious knowledge base.

The structural concept consists of four closely interlinked modules that, with different focuses, strengthen the situation of research and knowledge transfer in the field of Cultural Anthropology. Each module addresses a specific topic.


The first module about shared knowledge systems forms the basis and identifies central challenges in the cooperation of university and non-university research. Cultural anthropology research within and outside the universities, such as in the participating museums, builds upon and simultaneously generates different knowledge systems. University research is guided by other logics than the object- and collection-based research of museums. Module 2 implements cooperative collection-based teaching formats between the respective institutions. Module 3 develops cooperative communication formats (such as exhibitions, blogs etc.) and will map different practices of knowledge transfer with regard to their underlying logics. This lays the basis for the creation of and experimentation with new formats. The central structure-enhancing element in regard to personnel continuity is module 4 that consists of 2 doctoral traineeships, an innovative four-year combination of museum traineeship and university doctorate.

In terms of content, the network partners identified the tension field of rurality – urbanity as a relevant topic for the future. In the wake of growing cities and accompanied by housing shortages, the relationship between rurality and urbanity is currently being renegotiated. In both cities and rural communities, similar questions are being posed regarding growth, development potential, and characteristics to be preserved or aspired to in the future. Construction projects and new residential areas are accompanied almost everywhere by highly polarizing disputes. However, today’s underlying dynamics run counter to clear demarcations between urban and rural areas. Decisive is rather the access to infrastructures that independent of urban or rural surroundings determine attractiveness, growth potential, and the lack of housing space. Similarly, specific imaginations and objectivations of life and living are produced. The investigation of rurality – urbanity intends to examine the processes and conflict lines that unfold in the course of urban expansion and rural development. To this end, it also draws on historical holdings that were accrued in earlier times in the confrontation with urban/rural processes of change and dynamics. At the same time, the discursive negotiation of rurality and urbanity will be analyzed on a symbolic level. This includes utopias of progress as well as culture-critical or culture-conservative perspectives that place “city” and “countryside” in diametrically opposite positions. Such historical boundaries are also reflected in the recent discussion of home(land) (“Heimat”) and regional belonging.