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Research Area 7: Global Studies and Politics of Space

Photo Credit: Michael Wolf, Architecture of Density #91, 2006Source:
The focus of this RA has been both on comparing national phenomena and their interlinks and on transfers between spaces located in various national cultures. The RA is dedicated to an exploration of how globality and spatiality impinge on each other, foregrounding the relevance of politics and transnational relations for the study of culture. The combination of questions of globality and space differentiates the so-called ‘spatial turn’ in the study of culture, viz. Global Studies and the study of the politics of space or the spatiality of politics. Going beyond an understanding of the term ‘globalisation’ as a political, economic and cultural constellation of homogeneity, the RA explores the processes of political integration and conflict and the spatial structures that produce different and divergent globalities.

Current and future research in this RA will explore processes of translation, negotiation and acquisition in productive ‘inter-spaces’ between social groups, including situations of conflict such as political, economic, social and cultural exclusions and marginalisations. The segmentation of globally interconnected spaces also calls for a questioning of the outmoded model of centre and periphery, and for comparisons between the dynamics of such processes in order to discover parallels and differences. As political spatialities affect enclosing and arresting movement, but also serve to organise and dynamise it, phenomena such as migration, diaspora, transnational movements, global mediascapes, and ‘travelling concepts’ will be studied not only in their transgressive power but also with a view to how they affect the movement of persons and groups, cultural representations and heuristics in the study of culture. By conceptualising cultural contacts as complex processes of cultural translation, the RA will link research on transnational/global phenomena to both spatial politics and significant culture-specific activities and cultural techniques.



The RA has sought to address global, cultural, social as well as historical connections and connectivity without an over-reliance on ‘abstract or grand narratives of global transformation’ (Conradson & Latham 2005). This opens up discussions about how bodies experience spaces, contribute to place-making processes and how their existences shape and are shaped by the constant transcendence of what used to be national, cultural, geographical boundaries. Lining up with the so called 'sensory turn' (Adams and Guy 2007), the RA asks how we can analyze localities (concomitantly as constituents and constitutive of globalities) as multi-sensual experiences intrinsically interlinked with transnational relations, national cultures and urban policies amongst others.


The RA7 has recently worked with a strong focus on issues connected to Global Studies and other transnational fields of research aimed at challenging euro-centrism. Topics we discussed include border regimes, constructions of space/place and comparative approaches to “world literatures”. A masterclass with Stuart Elden focused on the materiality of political spaces, extending discussions of volume towards fluid and underground spaces. Such approaches fit well with events featuring Tim Cresswell, who combined perspectives from the geo-humanities with an analysis of the interrelations between mobility and space. The methodology lab “Spatialising Culture: Methods and Approaches to Studying Space” allowed doctoral students to reflect on their projects related to such topics – with the intention of exploring how meaningful spaces are both created by people and embedded in wider social and economic structures.


In addition, RA7 has been actively collaborating with other research groups at the GCSC, thus strengthening the interdisciplinary orientation of the centre. The symposium on “Conceptualizing Sacred Space(s): Perspectives from the Study of Culture”, which was organised by the Culture and Religion ETRG, allowed researchers to engage with fellow scholars from a wide array of fields, such as social science, art and architecture history, religion studies, to unpack concepts such as the sacred and the profane, religious practice, constitution and desacralisation of sacred spaces, global capitalism and sacred spaces, among many others. These various events and approaches continuously help us deepen our understanding of how the political nature of space can vary according to specific regions, cultures, and time periods.

List of participating scholars:

  • Dr. Doris Bachmann-Medick
  • Dr. Katharina Stornig
  • Prof. Dr. Encarnacion Gutierrez-Rodriguez
  • Prof. Dr. Andreas Langenohl
  • Prof. Dr. Falk Seiler
  • Jagoda Motowidlo
  • Maike Neufend
  • Andreea Racles
  • David Scheller
  • Sebastian Zylinski
  • Melina Kalfelis
  • Stella Basinyi 
  • Nourhan Kassem
  • Ana Ivasiuc
  • Melanie Hartmann
  • Amina Nolte
  • Alina Jasina
  • Hannes Kaufmann
  • Nikola Baković
  • Dr. Diana Hitzke
  • Richard D. Herzog