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

Our members are professors, postdoc researchers and PhD students of the Faculty of Arts, of the Faculties of Protestant and Catholic Theology, and of central scientific research institutions.

Become a member!

Become a member of the TRA Present Pasts and benefit from our network and funding opportunities!

 Prof. Dr. Paul Basu
© Meike Böschemeyer/Uni Bonn

TRA Hertz Professorship for "Global Heritage"

We are pleased to welcome Prof. Dr. Paul Basu as Hertz Professor of TRA Present Pasts as of 01.06.2022. The internationally renowned anthropologist, curator and critical heritage specialist will establish a "Global Heritage Lab" in which he and his team experiment with decolonial approaches to cultural heritage research.

© TRA Present Pasts

Notice Board

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

General Assembly and Networking-Event

On 12 October 2022, the annual general assembly of TRA Present Pasts took place in the auditorium of the main building.

In addition to the annual report, the elections of the speakers and the steering committee, the announcement of the TRA Present Pasts Young Research Award 2022 and a lecture by the Hertz Professor of Global Heritage Paul Basu, the TRA Present Pasts used the meeting as a networking event. Nearly 70 members gathered for a poster session with snacks and drinks.

The TRA projects 'Open Museum', 'Digitised Memory Practices in China and in International Comparison' and 'Religious Communication' as well as the university centres ZHF, BMZ, MHZ, ZVF, CCT and BoCAS, the Cluster of Excellence BCDSS, and the Dölger Institute presented their work. At the same time, the service points Research Data Service Centers and Open Access, the Research and Innovation Services (EU applications and BMBF applications), and the TransferCenter enaCom offered info points.

Press releases
Cult of the Gods in Pre-Egyptian Society

The desert in southern Egypt is filled with hundreds of petroglyphs and inscriptions dating from the Neolithic to the Arab period. The oldest date from the fifth millennium B.C., and few have been studied. Egyptologists at the University of Bonn and Aswan University now want to systematically record the rock paintings and document them in a database. Among them, a rock painting more than 5,000 years old depicting a boat being pulled by 25 men on a rope stands out in particular. 

Ten million euros for archaeologists at the University of Bonn

The four Roman legionary fortresses in Bonn, Neuss, Xanten and Nijmegen still hold unexplored treasures of knowledge about the multifaceted life of the Romans on the Lower Rhine. The goal of a team led by archaeologist Prof. Dr. Jan Bemmann from the University of Bonn is to decipher these and preserve them for future generations of researchers. The project is now receiving major support from the Academies Programme, which is jointly funded by the federal and state governments: As one of five newly funded long-term projects, it will receive around ten million euros for the next 18 years.

Colonial heritage in knowledge production

The University of Bonn has once again received excellent reinforcement. The internationally renowned anthropologist, curator and critical heritage specialist Paul Basu now occupies a so-called Hertz Professorship in the Transdisciplinary Research Area "Present Pasts". The starting point for his work is a critical engagement with the heritage of Western knowledge production, especially as it is reflected in scientific archives and collections. In doing so, he brings together different disciplines, but also the non-university public.

Zentrum für Versöhnungsforschung ceremonially opened

Covid-19, climate change, populism, and not least the Ukraine war make the question of how and whether reconciliation is possible highly topical and relevant. The new Bonner Zentrum für Versöhnungsforschung (Center for Reconciliation Research) at the University of Bonn bundles research on this topic in cooperation with partner organizations. The center’s aim is to analyze reconciliation practices in an interdisciplinary and comparative way looking at different cultural, social and regional contexts. The center has now been ceremoniously opened in the University's Festsaal.


Avatar Alings

Dr. Kim Alings

Strategic Development and Quality Assurance

+49 151 464 767 44


Prof. Dr. Matthias Becher

Department of History

Prof. Dr. Karline Noack

Department of Archaeology and Cultural Anthropology

The six TRAs: the Research Profile of the University of Bonn

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

Wird geladen