Our Research

The aim of the TRA Present Pasts is to overcome the Eurocentric focus of current historiography through an interdisciplinary approach to various geographic areas and periods. It seeks to promote exchange between researchers interested in South and Central America, Africa, Asia and Europe and to challenge the subject divisions of European research disciplines.

The research of TRA 5 focuses on two core areas – heritage and communication – and their diverse connections.

© Bialek/Uni Bonn
© BASA Museum

Profile Area Heritage

Those involved in this research area seek to challenge the Eurocentric focus of current discourses and practices involved in heritage. Through investigation of the provenance and restitution of collections, the researchers seek to deconstruct hegemonic heritage discourses and challenge colonial power structures, and in so doing, develop a new understanding of heritage. The collections of the University of Bonn act as the confluence point for the range of negotiation processes involved with objects and the associated practices, forms of knowledge and origin contexts. As such, the collections constitute a special focal point within the project.

Profile Area Communication

Communication over long distances is a prerequisite for the processes of globalization. Led by the concepts communication and globalization, the researchers of the TRA Present Pasts investigate phenomena such as social inequality and social dependence, migration and mobility and other forms of power relationships. The focus rests on pre-modern forms of communication, to enable a better understanding of their current manifestations within the framework of globalization.

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© Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn, Historisches Seminar Lehrsammlung Urkunden A III 26

Research projects (selection)

© Colourbox

FOR 5438 "Urban impacts on the Mongolian Plateau – Entanglements of Economy, City, and Environment"

Open Museum.jpg
© TRA-Projekt Open Museum

Open Museum for Open Science for an Open Society

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Infrastructures of Memory in China

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© Fotosammlung des Kunsthistorischen Institutes Bonn

Photography as a Document and Documentation of Cultural Heritage. Securing, recording, and researching the analog photo collection of the Institute of Art History Bonn

Early-Career Researches-Award 2022

One of the main goals of the TRA Present Pasts is to promote and identify excellent young researchers. Ms. Mai Le Quyen, who was nominated by Prof. Dr. Christoph Antweiler, receives the TRA Present Pasts 2022 Young Researcher Award for her dissertation entitled "TALES OF HERITAGIZATION. Networks, flows and community involvement at World Heritage sites in Vietnam".

The evaluation states that her work fulfils the evaluation criteria of the TRA Present Pasts  in an outstanding way, as "it deals with both focal points – communication and cultural heritage – and combines them with each other. In doing so, she takes a participatory and methodologically innovative approach and the result is a work that also empirically transfers a previously unexplored field into research. Furthermore [...] this historically dimensioned work contains (implicit) suggestions for the future design of World Heritage processes."


Congratulations to the prizewinner!

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© Mai Le Quyen

Research Projects in the content-related Focus of the TRA Present Pasts

Completed Research Projects

  • Academy Project: Cults in Cult - Meaning and Function of the Sacral Microcosm in Extraurban Sanctuaries Using the Example of Didyma (Turkey) (2009-2021)
  • Collaborative Research Project SiSi: Excess of Meaning and Reduction of Meaning by, through and with Objects. Materiality of Cultural Techniques for Coping with the Extraordinary (2018-2021)
  • Human-Environment Relationships in pre-Columbian Amazonia (2019-2021)

Discover More about the TRA Present Pasts

About Us

Organization, Goals, Team

Our Offers

Events, Funding Offers

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Members, Cooperation Partners

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