Document Actions

Research Area 8: Cultures of Knowledge, Research, and Education


(c) Image: Free-Photos from Pixabay
Knowledge is a key dimension of cultural and social processes. It is not only the targeted aim of research and therefore subject to specific conventions, standards and rules, but also tied up with phenomena such as subject formation, structures of power and mechanisms of social exclusions. Recent decades have brought a plethora of discussions around various facets of knowledge: from epistemological concepts of knowledge to embodied implicit knowing, from the marginalization of discourses under colonial and neo-colonial domination to a critique of the values of modern sciences as unbiased and based on impartiality.

Conceiving of knowledge, its production and utilization, as subject to historical change, the RA investigates the social and material production of knowledge, cognitive aspects of individual knowledge creation, the materialities of knowledge production and empirical practices of knowledge transmission in research and education. This ranges from discussions of science studies to issues of post-colonial theory, from discourse analysis to structures and formats of education at schools and universities, but also includes practices of knowledge production in premodern cultures, religious contexts and artistic formats.

The RA consequently adopts a broad interdisciplinary approach, exploring cultures of knowledge, research and education from a wide range of analytic angles. Historical, sociological, philosophical and media-theoretical perspectives are integrated into a processual approach to knowledge cultures, thus highlighting the construction of knowledge.

The specific situation, status and social impact of humanities in general and the study of culture in particular has recently become a special issue of interest of this RA. The rise of right wing populism in Europe, but also in many other areas of the globe has paved the way for a critique of many core insights of the study of culture in public debate. This ranges from a dismissal of gender studies as a whole by some politicians and journalists to an overly simplistic and monolithic understanding of cultures to a re-emergence of conspiracy narratives in the context of the pandemic.

In recent years, Research Area 8 has also addressed questions of hierarchies, epistemic gaps, situated knowledge and participation in contexts of empirical social research. Based on theoretical approaches from Freire to Haraway, Collins, and Boltanski, the RA reflected the issue of shaping the relationship between researchers and researched persons/communities from an epistemological perspective.






Participating scholars

  • Laura Borchert
  • Juan-Camilo Brigard
  • Sarah Happersberger
  • Jonathan Holst
  • Dr. Philipp Lottholz
  • Ruth Manstetten
  • Lena Nüchter
  • Ruben Pfizenmaier
  • Fabian Pindus
  • Giovana Possignolo
  • Edith Ruvalcaba-Galindo
  • Tobias Schädel (Speaker)
  • Juliane Saupe (Speaker)
  • Florentine Schoog



Former and Upcoming Events


The Research Area 8 is currently collaborating in the organisation of the following events:


26 - 27 July 2021

Workshop: Engaging Struggles Across the Global South and East


26 April 2021

Masterclass with Rick Dolphijn (Associate Professor Utrecht University): New Materialisms: Approaches in Transdisciplinary Reserach and Theory


9 - 12 March 2021

Workshop: Building Bridges: Activists and Cultural Researchers in Conversation


3 July 2019

Masterclass with André Keet (Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, South Africa).


2 July 2019

GCSC Keynote Lecture by André Keet (Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, South Africa): Racism's Knowledge Culture


5 December 2018

Masterclass with Vanessa Andreotti (University of British Columbia, Canada): BeingBexond Representatio: ethics of Internalization, Global Studies, Global Citizenship (GCSCG)


4 December 2018

GCSC Keynote Lecture by Vanessa Andreotti (University of British Columbia, Canada): The enduring educational challenges of setting horizons of hope beyond modern-colonial imaginaries




Research Projects

The 1968 Newsreels

This is a collaborative research project by doctoral students at the Justus-Liebig-University Gießen and at the International Graduate Centre for the Study of Culture (GCSC). Members from the GCSC RA 8: Cultures of Knowledge, Research, and Education and from RA 5: Media and Multiliteracy Studies launched the project in 2014 together with AG Moving Images. The aim of the project is to organize throughout the whole year a number of events and discussions on "The newsreels in 1968" that will guide the individual, nationally focussed research on newsreels from several European countries.

Since the beginning of the Winter semester 2014/2015 we are working on a conceptual basis and started collecting, translating into English, and analysing newsreels from 1968 from Bulgaria, Poland, East and West Germany, Spain, Yugoslavia, England, France, Portugal, and Italy. We combine this with theoretical discussions of newsreels as genre, on visual culture and knowledge production, on media in totalitarian societies, and on methodologies and approaches towards media and particularly towards the newsreels. A significant part of our activity was a public lecture and a master class by Roel Vande Winkel under the titles "Researching newsreels" and "Between propaganda and pragmatism: German film policy implementation in occupied Belgium (1940-1944)", which took place in April, this year. We also plan to host a symposium and publish a publication that synthesizes our findings. The overarching methodological and conceptual frame is the focus on the presentation and construction of ‘alterity’ in newsreels.

More information on the project is availalable here


Library Life

The idea for this study crystallized during our discussions on the texts of the post-constructivist Actor–network theory (ANT) as the result of our desire for a practical application of our theoretical assumptions. Its aim is to reconstruct the practices of the organization and production of humanistic, social and cultural knowledge. The concept of Laboratory Life described in the works of Bruno Latour and Steve Woolgar serves as the theoretical basis. According to our program and comparable to work in the natural sciences, the places of impact and output for the production of knowledge in the humanities and social and cultural studies are the “laboratories”. They are nodes of the networks of human and non-human agents in these fields, which has an appreciable effect on the cognitive processes taking place there. Using the practice of narrative interview we intend to raise the consciousness of the individual steps of text production by the “producers of knowledge” and contribute to its conversion into a narrative and performative practice of reporting. In this way we hope to reveal partly unconscious and intuitive processes or reciprocal relationship of mental, social and material (work environment and used tools) factors of knowledge production. While the project illustrates how humanities knowledge is produced, it could simultaneously contribute to a demystification of the "ivory-tower" of human and social/cultural scientists. Thus, we understand the empirical analysis presented here as an important historical document of the current knowledge culture of the humanities in an interesting era of a highly increased technological and informational upheaval.

Project members: Friedolin Krentel, Katja Barthel, Sebastian Brand, Alexander Friedrich, Anna Rebecca Hoffmann, Laura Meneghello, Jennifer Ch. Müller, Christian Wilke


"Library Life: Werkstätten kulturwissenschaftlichen Forschens" was published in German by meson press in 2015. The publication is open-access and may be found here