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Past Worlds and Modern Questions. Cultures Across Time and Space



UBo_18_92_Broschüre Antrag Exzellenzuniversität_Icon Pre-Modern Orders.jpgGlobalization affects and impacts socio-cultural, economic and political developments across the world. It highlights similarities as well as differences in our societal, state and economic systems and structures. These structures often originate in pre-modernity. Yet, academic disciplines established in the 19th century make it difficult to analyze cultures more broadly. Whereas research on the Western world diversifies itself into individual disciplines such as history or sociology, the study of non-Western cultures is organized more comprehensively, according to religious, linguistic or regional criteria, for example, islamic studies, anthropology of the Americas, sinology or indology.

But how would our understanding of contemporary social configurations change if we reflected on our past, not as subdivided, but as related cross-cultural developments? That is why this Transdisciplinary Research Area takes a modern approach and focuses on reciprocities and dynamics, with the aim of advancing our understanding of current social developments.

Thanks to its subject diversity and the fact that many so-called smaller subjects focus on pre-modernity, the University of Bonn offers excellent prerequisites for transdisciplinary research of pre-modern socio-cultural, economic and political orders.

Research Projects, Infrastucture and Digitialization

Bonn is distinguished by both collaborative and transcultural research into pre-modern societies. This includes the Collaborative Research Centre "Macht and Herrschaft – Premodern Configurations in a Transcultural Perspective", which explores phenomena of power and rule in pre-modern Asia, Europe and Northern Africa. This research focus is complemented by the Annemarie Schimmel Kolleg "History and Society during the Mamluk Era (1250-1517)", which brings together international Mamluk specialists and focuses on questions of governance and economy as well as understanding how unique narrative strategies where used in this period.

Another research highlight is the Advanced Research Centre ‘History of Islamic Culture and Ideas from the 12th-16th century‘, currently being installed with the support of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. It intends to pose philosophical as well as political questions concerning this period of rather neglected Islamic history. The Franz Joseph Dölger-Institute and the Department of Epigraphy in Bonn are further notable interdisciplinary research centers in this field at the University of Bonn.

For junior researchers, the Graduate School “Archeology of Pre-Modern Economies” offers a structured doctorate training as well as an excellent scientific environment for analyzing and comparing pre-modern economic systems in intercultural and diachronic perspective.

Researchers in Bonn profit from access to diverse and abundant sources – literary sources as well as artefacts preserved in thirteen museums and collections such as the Egyptian or the BASA Museum (Bonn Collection of the Americas). Digitalization and digital humanities is a further strength with several database projects such as KOSMOS, which, in collaboration with the Museum Alexander König, explores the accumulation of scientific university collections and their impact on the formation of modern academic disciplines.

The Department ‘Text Database Dictionary of Classic Mayan’ analyses hieroglyphics to create a Classic Mayan language dictionary in form of a database. And, if you want to learn more about the medieval presentation and perception of the so-called Saracens, you will soon be able to use a wiki designed by Bonn researchers providing an annotated compilation of all relevant contemporary accounts.

Cluster of Excellence: Beyond Slavery and Freedom

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