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.
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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!


Inaugural Lecture of Jun.-Prof. Dr. Julia Binter at the Dies academicus (Dec. 6, 2023)

A warm invitation to the inaugural lecture of Julia Binter, Argelander Professor for Critical Museum and Heritage Studies on the topic "Haben Museen Zukunft? Annäherungen an ein umkämpftes Feld".

Time: Dies academicus / Dec. 6, 2023 / 2:15 pm
Location: University main building
Lecture room: III

Our transdisciplinary Professorships

© 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.

© 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
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). 

From Both Sides Now: the Story of an Egyptian Stele

How people cope with crises has always been a fruitful field of research for the sciences. For instance, how do people from different cultures use objects to find strength and reassurance in times of need? This question lay at the heart of the indisciplinary collaborative project “SiSi,” which was funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and involved teams of researchers from Egyptology and the Anthropology of the Americas at the University of Bonn. In a case study on a stone tablet from the University of Bonn’s Egyptian Museum that has reliefs on both sides, Egyptologist Prof. Dr. Ludwig D. Morenz has now documented indications of personal piety in a new book.

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. 


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Prof. Dr. Matthias Becher

Department of History

Prof. Dr. Karoline Noack

Department of Archaeology and Cultural Anthropology

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