Past Worlds and Modern Questions - Cultures Across Time and Space

The TRA Present Pasts takes an interdisciplinary approach to the research of past cultural, political, social and economic constellations embedded in a broad geographical context and historical depth. Its work focuses on the interaction of contemporary challenges and processes and comparable phenomena in the past. The knowledge about the functioning of cultures generated by such a historical-comparative approach can lead to a better understanding of the present.

The interdisciplinary approach of the TRA Present Pasts and its research fields heritage and communication seek to combine the different traditions and structures of the various cultures of research present at the University of Bonn. In particular, it seeks to effect the networking of the "minor subjects". The holdings of the university collections function as a research infrastructure, integrating the various disciplinary approaches involved in TRA 5 in historical and contemporary contexts and processes.

© Bialek/Uni Bonn
Eine Wissenschaftlerin und ein Wissenschaftler arbeiten hinter einer Glasfassade und mischen Chemikalien mit Großgeräten.
© Unsplash

About us

Organisation, goals, team

Eine Wissenschaftlerin und ein Wissenschaftler arbeiten hinter einer Glasfassade und mischen Chemikalien mit Großgeräten.
© Markus Winkler on unsplash


Research profile, topics, projects, Professorships

Eine Wissenschaftlerin und ein Wissenschaftler arbeiten hinter einer Glasfassade und mischen Chemikalien mit Großgeräten.
© Jordan Ladikos on unsplash


Events, funding, newsletter

Eine Wissenschaftlerin und ein Wissenschaftler arbeiten hinter einer Glasfassade und mischen Chemikalien mit Großgeräten.
© Fabio Bracht on unsplash


Members, partners

Our members are professors, postdoc researchers and PhD students of all Faculties and of central scientific research institutions.

Benefit from our network and funding opportunities!

Current Calls

TRA² - Transdisciplinary Research Prize (deadline: April 7, 2024)

The University of Bonn Transdisciplinary Research Areas (TRAs) aim to jointly support highly innovative, transdisciplinary collaborative research projects from researchers from at least two different TRAs. The funded projects should address new and relevant questions at the interface between disciplines or should aim at the development of new tools, which push the borders of existing research questions.

The innovative and cross-disciplinary nature of the proposal is the most important requirement for funding. A continuation of already established projects will not be funded.

The successful proposals (up to three) will receive a funding of up to 50.000 EUR. This funding can be freely used for the described project within DFG funding regulations and should ideally be spent in 2024.

Expected are joint applications from at least two project leaders from at least two different TRAs, working in different research areas. Only university members of the TRAs are eligible to apply.

Funding can also be awarded to postdocs who are members of a TRA or are hosted within the group of a university TRA member.

The proposal should contain a convincing and conclusive description of the planned project and its innovative and inter-/transdisciplinary character. With respect to Open Science, the proposal should also briefly describe how the results of the proposed project will be disseminated and how researchers from Bonn and beyond will be able to profit from or be able to access the expected results.

Application deadline is April 7, 2024.

Research Assistant (WHK, m/f/d, 12 hours/week) at the Chair of Prof. Dr. Julia Hillner at the Bonn Center for Slavery and Dependency Studies 

The Chair of Prof. Dr. Julia Hillner at the Bonn Center for Slavery and Dependency Studies is seeking to fill the position of a

Research Assistant

(WHK, m/f/d, 12 hours/week)

as soon as possible.
The position, funded by the TRA Presents Pasts, will support the German-British cooperation project "Connecting Late Antiquities", which aims to create a digital prosopography of late antiquity (

Our transdisciplinary Professorships with the Global Heritage Lab

© Gregor Hübl / Uni Bonn

Global Heritage Prof. Dr. Paul Basu

Experimenting with decolonial approaches to cultural heritage and museum studies in transcultural contexts. Paul Basu is Hertz Chair of TRA Present Pasts.

© Uni Bonn

Global Heritage Lab

The Global Heritage Lab emerges as a central hub for heritage and museum-related research and operates as a transdisciplinary laboratory hosted by the TRA Present Pasts.

© Gregor Hübl/Uni Bonn

Critical Museum and Heritage Studies Jun.-Prof. Dr. Julia Binter

Julia Binter joins the Global Heritage Lab in TRA Present Pasts. Her transcultural research opens new collaborations to the natural sciences and theologies.

Notice Board

Have an event overview with our digital 'notice board'.

© TRA Present Pasts
Press releases
Was Human Height in the Neolithic Period Influenced by Cultural Factors?

Body size differences between females and males in northern Europe during the early Neolithic period (6,000 to 8,000 years ago) may reflect cultural factors in play. The findings of an international research project led by the University of Pennsylvania (USA) suggest that differences in stature during that period cannot be explained solely by genetics and diet. Eva Rosenstock of the University of Bonn is involved in the study, the results of which have now been published in the journal Nature Human Behaviour. 

Experience Digs Virtually

How do you explore an excavation site without being there in person? The Classical Archaeology team and the Bonn Center for Digital Humanities at the University of Bonn want to use new digital tools such as 3D technologies and virtual reality in their research and teaching. Their researchers are collaborating with the Universities of Amsterdam and Oslo and the Open University of the Netherlands in an international project entitled “Virtual Worlds in Teaching Archaeology.” The European Union is co-financing the project to the tune of some €400,000 over the next three years.

Colonial entanglements of museums

How can we make the formation of knowledge in museums and cultural heritage more sustainable and equitable? As the new Argelander Professor at the University of Bonn, Jun-Prof. Dr. Julia Binter is not only carrying out research into cultural, political and economic entanglements past and present but also seeking to reshape them in collaborative film and exhibition projects. In the transdisciplinary research area “Present Pasts,” the social and cultural anthropologist is currently co-leading the collaborative research, curation and restitution project “Confronting Colonial Pasts, Envisioning Creative Futures” for collections from Namibia together with research partners from Germany and Namibia.

Mongolia Honors Two University of Bonn Researchers

Two archaeologists from the University of Bonn have been presented with major awards in recognition of their many years of successful research work in Mongolia. At a ceremony held at the Ministry of Education and Science of Mongolia in the capital Ulaanbaatar, State Secretary M. Batgerel pinned the Order of the Polar Star - the highest honor that the country can award to a foreign citizen - onto Professor Jan Bemmann’s lapel. Susanne Reichert received the Friendship Medal. The two researchers are currently working in Mongolia as part of Research Unit 5438, “Urban Impacts on the Mongolian Plateau - Entanglements of Economy, City, and Environment,” which has recently secured funding from the German Research Foundation (DFG). 


Avatar Alings

Dr. Kim Alings

Strategic Development and Quality Assurance


Prof. Dr. Matthias Becher

Department of History

Prof. Dr. Karoline Noack

Department of Archaeology and Cultural Anthropology

Discover more

The six Transdisciplinary Research Areas

The six Transdisciplinary Research Areas (TRAs) create areas for exploration and innovation in research and teaching at the University of Bonn.

Research Profile

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Research Funding

The Research and Innovation Services of the University of Bonn support you in all questions concerning your third-party funded projects.

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