Cultural studies

Cultural studies in Konstanz stands out with its interdisciplinary collaboration between researchers from the fields of history, cultural and social anthropology, sociology, philosophy, psychology, linguistics, literature-art-media, law, empirical educational research as well as politics and public administration. In particular at the university’s Centre for Cultural Inquiry (ZKF), researchers focus on investigating different cultural studies questions. Generally, the ZKF examines cultural phenomena and social processes of self-understanding. Research areas include integration and disintegration, the migration of persons, ideas and aesthetic forms, social cohesion, sites of memory as well as different performance and representation cultures. The impulse for the Centre for Cultural Inquiry (ZKF) came from the work completed from 2006 to the end of October 2019 in the Cluster of Excellence "Cultural Foundations of Social Integration”, which was funded in the framework of the German Excellence Initiative.

In the context of the Dr. K. H. Eberle research centre “European Cultures in a Multipolar World”, which is part of the ZKF, researchers also investigate political concepts which go beyond the European perspective. Their central question is how new perspectives on the diversity of cultural dynamics in Europe may be developed taking into consideration the continent’s loss of global significance and, on the other hand, its continued function as a role model. The Research Training Group “Changing Frames”, which also is associated with the ZKF, promotes exchange between the fields of art history and art technology.

The DFG Research Unit “Media and Participation. Between Demand and Entitlement” (FOR 2252) is based in Konstanz and includes researchers from the University of Konstanz, the Leuphana University Lüneburg, the Universität Hamburg and the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK). Using the concept of media participation, this research unit challenges a classic binary understanding of access and inclusion to reveal the complexities and intricacies involved in its underlying logic, especially with regard to the temporalities, networking structures and dynamics of collectivization at play. The research carried out during the initial funding phase (2015 – 2018) was put into a much clearer context in the second phase (2018 – 2021) where distinctions were made between concrete historical, political, infrastructural and transcultural dimensions.

Another ZKF project is the Research Unit "Historical Poetics and Theory of Form". This project was started by Professor Juliane Vogel using the award money from the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize she received in 2020 from the German Research Foundation (DFG). The research team examines the normative orders of pre-modern poetics, especially the rules of the genre in addition to its transformations in art and literature of the modern period, with its central focus on modern form theory and its effects on processes of aesthetic and cultural formation. The aim is to connect the rules of poetics and form theory to each other in a systematic, historical way and use them to illuminate each other respectively while at the same time examining the relationship between form theory and practice.

The University of Konstanz is part of Germany's Research Institute Social Cohesion (RISC), which has been funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research since 1 June 2020. In this context, more than 100 researchers from a large number of different disciplines use empirical studies and large-scale comparisons to develop practical approaches that contribute to meeting current social challenges. In the Konstanz location, we focus our work on the current dynamics of cohesion and risks to it. We combine questions from law, literature and media science on the one hand and historical, ethnological and sociological issues on the other. Our researchers do not isolate any one cultural dimension in the narrower sense but instead investigate the interactions between socio-economic, political and institutional factors.

What endangers the sense of community and what can we do for it? This is the question at the heart of the corresponding project funded by the Dr. K. H. Eberle Foundation: “Gemeinsinn. Was ihn bedroht und was wir für ihn tun können”. The researchers view the sense of community as something that transcends the boundaries of origin and creates connections and a new sense of belonging. They study, for example, how civil society might deal with the increasing danger posed by groups that do not see themselves as part of a community of solidarity, but rather design counter-societies based on exclusion and hatred.

The Research Unit "Dimensions of techne in the Fine Arts - Manifestations / Systems / Narratives" focuses on the idea that art is not only imagined but also made. The research group is a collaboration with the Technische Universität Berlin, the Universität zu Köln, the Goethe-Universität in Frankfurt am Main and the Karl Franzens-Universität Graz. Supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgesellschaft (DFG), the research group investigates the work of artistic production and the factors which enable it. The goal of our joint project is to widen the scope of investigation through which artistic processes are analysed and to reclaim the materiality objects, already in danger of being dissolved into digital surfaces, as a reservoir of practices and knowledge for art historical research.

In the project “Traveling Forms”, which is funded by the NOMIS-Foundation, Konstanz researchers from the fields of anthropology and literature examine the transcultural travels of forms in cooperation with external fellows.