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Study Groups

Our research falls into two broad fields:

Language, Knowledge, Practices

This study group brings together PhD students and senior scholars from a range of disciplines, including linguistics, history, political science, ethnology and cultural studies. Research projects of study group members address different forms of knowledge, theoretical and practical as well. Knowledge as a product of discourses is linked to its carriers and their actions, which are embedded in hierarchies and asymmetries of power. For example, locally produced epistemologies outside of the Western core of knowledge production often face problems of recognition, as Western knowledge and its premises is mistakenly taken as universal, while any other knowledge is considered place-specific. We are interested in highlighting the underlying dynamics of these politics of knowledge production and relate them to social practices. This is an eminent task for Area Studies, which tap into local knowledge and serve as translators between different knowledge spaces.

To unpack these questions, the study group will discuss approaches that link the discursive realm with that of social practice. For that purpose, we can for instance draw on classic thought models from functional linguistics, such as Karl Bühler’s Organon model which distinguishes the expressive function, the representation function and the conative function. Concepts like framing for example, determine the construction of problems by making certain phenomena salient – and others not. Framing, thus, shapes the description and the interpretation of a phenomenon and seeks to preclude alternative understandings. Frames, therefore, also justify practices and interventions. Another important concept relevant for this study group is narrative: narratives form the basic methods of humans to articulate their experience and to make sense of the world, but also to initiate action.

Through joint readings, the discussion of the applicability of these approaches in different disciplines, and the presentation of individual dissertation chapters, the study group aims at enhancing interdisciplinary exchange. Our study group is based on the assumption that learning about different approaches to investigate the same phenomenon creates new ideas for any project.

Group Leaders:

Members and Projects

  • Artur Higenberg, M.A.
    Der Gemeindebesitz der Donkosaken. Entstehung und Entwicklung bis 1835
  • Barbara Frey, M.A.
    Korruption in Serbien und Kroatien seit 1990 [Betriebswirtschaftliches Teilprojekt 2)]
  • Caroline Emig, M.A.
    Leyb Kvitko. Sowjetisch-Jiddische Kinderlyrik und ihre Illustrationen zu Beginn des 20. Jahrhunderts
  • Drivalda Delia, M.A
    National Resistance as a Temporary Mean of Gender Empowerment – the Reshaping of Public Sphere before, during and in the Aftermath of the Kosovo Crisis (1988 – 1999)
  • Elia Bescotti, M.A
    Secession, Non-Recognition and Identity Building in the post-Soviet politics of international law Contested Sovereignties and Ontological Security between Territorial Integrity and Self-determination
  • Frederik Lange, M.A
    Der Fluss unter der Brücke. Die Drina als ambivalenter Erinnerungsort
  • Jovana Jovic, M.A
    Die historische Semantik von INFORMALITÄT– empirische Studien zum thematischen Wortgebrauch anhand serbischer und kroatischer Pressetexte 1919-2018 [Linguistisches Teilprojekt 3)]
  • Miloš Lecić, M.A
    Korruption in Serbien und Kroatien im "kurzen“ 20. Jahrhundert, 1914- 1989 [Historisches Teilprojekt 1)]
  • Stefan Gužvica, M.A
    International Solidarity and Transnational Repression: The Balkan Communist Parties during the Great Purge, 1936-1939

Transatlantic Entanglements and Comparisons

This study group starts from the idea that the Atlantic world, from the colonial into the contemporary era, has played a significant role in creating, shaping and structuring Western modernity and postmodernity. A kind of global ‘fabric’ has been woven, through ever more intricate mechanisms and patterns, creating ‘transatlantic’ connections and entanglements. The study group’s members will explore these links as an important aspect of their research, either by making comparisons, or by tracing entanglements in terms of the various personal and institutional, political, economic, cultural, technological and infrastructural connections that exist and continue to develop between both sides of the Atlantic. Apart from exploring these in their paradoxical complexity, we will assess the usefulness and the epistemological value of such a ‘transatlantic’ perspective for the study of European and American societies.

Under the auspices of the Cold War, European-American relations were framed as ‘Trans-Atlantic Relations’. The term essentially referred to the political relationship between the United States and Western Europe (with Canada playing some subordinate role), and it was a history of states and statesmen, of alliance systems and power relationships, of crises and confrontations in the context of the Cold War.
Since this era came to an end, ‘European-American Relations’ has replaced the concept of ‘Trans-Atlantic Relations’, transforming the field resulting in a number of new approaches. New International History, for example, has worked to overcome the focus on states and statesmen, widening the perspective to include non-state actors as carriers and shapers of European-American relations, such as businessmen and migrants, traveler and tourists, ‘transporting’ a multitude of goods, values, concepts and ideas across the ocean. Second, ‘translocal’ and ‘transnational’ approaches have shifted attention to various links, networks and entanglements below and beyond the scale of the nation-state.
Migration scholars have developed concepts such as ‘transmigration’ and ‘transnational social spaces’ to come to grips with the complex relationships between host, destination and transit countries which migrants create in the process of their displacement. Atlantic History, yet another paradigm, looks at how Western Europe, Western Africa, South- and North America have been implicated in multi-directional interactions from the period of European expansion onwards. Finally, the older debate on the ‘Americanization’ of Europe has now morphed into a discussion about the ‘Westernization’ of both the United States and Western Europe in multi-directional and -dimensional processes of exchange and transfer.
With a few exceptions, the way in which Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and Latin America positioned themselves in relation to these Atlantic relations has remained under-researched. This will be one of the study group’s objectives: to explore how these regions were implicated in, and reacted to these processes, either through ‘postcolonial’ or ‘post-imperial’ responses. The insights gained from taking this kind of angle may modify the various conceptual and theoretical offerings currently circulating. We will reflect on whether ‘comparison’ – between what is understood as discrete entities – continues to be a viable research strategy in a world that is interconnected, or whether we better shift the focus to ‘entanglements’. One of the aims of the study group will be to empirically flesh out and conceptually define these ‘entanglements’, in terms of spatial connections, economic exchange, telecommunication, media, knowledge production and transfer, shared practices, institutions, technologies and infrastructures.

Group Leaders:

Members and Projects:

  • Cornelius Merz, M.A.
    Exploring identity and belonging through spatial relations - a comparative study of Cleveland and Leipzig, 1890-1930
  • Daniela Weinbach, M.A.
    Transnationale Film-Remakes: Zwischen Interkulturalität und universeller Verständlichkeit
  • Efthalia Prokopiou, M.A.
    Notions of Home in the Far Right “White Genocide” Narrative. A Multinational and Multilingual Approach to Contemporary Far Right Self-Representations in Europe and the Americas
  • Igor Stipić, M.A.
    Who speaks the nation-state?: Hegemonic structures, subaltern pedagogies, and fractured community in Bosnia and Chile
  • Jon Matlack, M.A.
    Maneuvering towards ‘The West’: U.S. Army-Bundeswehr joint War Games as Conduit for Western Identity Formation
  • Nargiza Kilichova, M.A.
    International democracy and rule of law promotion in Central Asia and South Caucasus – Places and Spaces of Struggle
  • Vita Zelenska, M.A.
    What does it mean to be a refugee? Sites of knowledge production and their asymmetrical entanglements