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Mission Statement

The Institute for the Study of Culture Heidelberg was founded as a European network of young scholars with the aim of promoting academic collaboration beyond the university as well as intellectual exchange on an international level. The Institute acts as a facilitator of interdisciplinary thought and challenging intellectual research in the area of cultural studies.

Heidelberg has been a prominent center of critical thought in the past. It is renowned for its tradition in cultural theory, which includes such eminent figures as Max Weber, Georg Lukács, Wilhelm Windelband, Heinrich Rickert, Gustav Radbruch, Hannah Arendt, Karl Jaspers, Dolf Sternberger, Karl Löwith and, of course, Hans-Georg Gadamer. Heidelberg has been the venue of interdisciplinary and international encounters of intellectuals and scholars willing to discuss the issues of their times in new and demanding ways. In taking up residence in Heidelberg, the Institute is dedicated to continuing this tradition  in the context of changing political, social and cultural conditions.

In order to describe today's problems and social trends adequately and to conceptualize them critically, it seems necessary to take into account all advanced approaches and methods of current cultural studies. This not only includes the Critical Theory of the Frankfurt School, which has been all but neglected in Heidelberg in the past, or poststructuralist theories, but also postcolonial or science and technology studies as well as recently established disciplines such as media and picture theory and corresponding forms of artistic expression.

The activities of the Institute depend on the personal engagement of its members, who regularly convene in workshops and workgroups, conferences, lectures or lecture series. Since its founding, the Institute has focussed on its networking function and the organization of independent research projects. Its mode of national and international collaboration enables scholarly debates in which different and even incompatible perspectives and contextualizations can be considered, thereby fostering discussion across the boundaries of academic disciplines. In this way, unconventional ideas and lines of thought, which go beyond the confines of a single discipline, can be explored and evaluated.

Reflecting on the conditions of scholarly work, which also derives its validity from 'taking sides', has always been a part of the study of culture. The mission of the Institute consequently encompasses an examination of its members' own position in a society based on temporary and precarious relationships of employment, especially for young academics. It aspires to be a social space in which scholars from different backgrounds and diverse institutional affiliations can cooperate without being subjected to competitive pressures or hierarchical power structures.

The research projects of the Institute are instigated at the initiative of its members and developed over time in co-operation with  the directorate and an advisory board of senior fellows. Further information on current themes and projects, to which you are invited to contribute, is available on this site.


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