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WS: "Building Bridges: Activists and Cultural Researchers in Conversation"


Mar 09, 2021 10:00 to Mar 12, 2021 12:30 (Europe/Berlin / UTC100)



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“Nothing in science has any value to society if it is not communicated.”

Anne Roe, 1952

As posited by psychologist Anne Roe, the academic community needs to be conscious of their “social obligations.” From the outset and especially since Stuart Hall, critical cultural studies aspire to unearth the constructedness of cultural and social phenomena in order to expose power structures. Moreover, cultural studies informed researchers usually strive to share the findings they obtained with society, hoping to foster emancipatory endeavours.


But how does this aspiration translate into today’s German discourse and the situation of the study of culture in Germany? We are living in times of increasing awareness of the diversification of society and a growing reflection on structural relations of power. We are witnessing huge social and environmental challenges with a progressing sense of urgency, often accompanied by a heavily polarized audience – migration, climate change, and a global health crisis being only three pressing examples. Within academia, the study of culture analyzes these dynamics in its manifold research fields. It offers concepts and tools for critical investigations, produces studies and engages in scholarly debates, thereby discussing, for instance, de- and post-coloniality, gender issues, epistemic violence, migration and the Anthropocene. But how does this theoretical research relate to our social and political reality? 


We will investigate which models and concepts, originating in the study of culture, can be applied beyond the realms of academia and how the results of social and political involvement feed back into scholarly research. In doing so, we aim to rethink the (inter-)dependencies of academic discourse and society, and to find ways of how to better bridge the two in an attempted “two-way”-conversation. More specifically, we would like to address the following questions:

  • How can critical thinking and critical humanities have a meaningful and sustainable impact on society and politics?
  • How to design, shape and communicate research to make a meaningful contribution to society?
  • How to open up research and instigate a continuous dialogue with social and political actors?
  • How to engage with public discourse in a fruitful way, to maintain academic independence while not being absorbed in one’s efficacy by the status quo?
  • How can the experience of practical engagement feed back into and reshape the academic study of culture?
  • As scholars of the study of culture, what kind of responsibilities do we bear, inside and outside of academia?


Looking beyond scholarship and academia, the workshop aims to foster a dialogue between scholars and organizations working on the interface of the study of culture and social practice, academic discourse and political action.


Please apply by Friday, March 5th, 2020 to Places will be limited. We would also like to encourage you to tell us about your interests and why you would like to discuss with us the questions and issues we raised above.
For more information including a detailed programme, please visit the workshop's event webpage.