An International Conference is taking place at the Max Weber Kolleg on ‚The Shadow Side of Gratitude‘

The Conference takes place from 3-5 July

The aim of the interdisciplinary conference “The Shadow Side of Gratitude” is to bring together experts from a range of fields to examine the potentially darker side of this everyday social emotion and valued human excellence.

In recent years there has been growing academic interest in the topic of gratitude, in psychology, philosophy and education, amongst other fields. Psychologists have examined the role of gratitude in promoting wellbeing and fostering good social relationships. Philosophers have pondered the conceptual contours of gratitude and have debated whether gratitude is always a virtue, while educationalists have looked at whether and how gratitude should be fostered in the young.

While many experiences of gratitude are life-affirming, the concept may not be as straightforwardly positive as many people have assumed. It is not uncommon for gratitude to be experienced with mixed emotions, such as embarrassment, shame and guilt. Beneficiaries may be suspicious of benefactors’ motivations in bestowing favours, gifts and compliments which could serve an ulterior purpose. It could be argued that gratitude to benefactors serves to keep marginalised groups in their place, and that cultivating gratitude makes a virtue out of an unwanted dependence on others.

For more information:

„Towards a History of the Term ‚Racism'“ – Nathan Alexander introduces his current research project at the Max Weber Kolleg

For more information please read the article by Nathan Alexander:

Jutta Vinzent presents a working paper on her final chapter to her monograph „From Space in Modern Art to a Spatial Art History. Reassessing Constructivism“

This paper is not a contribution to enlightening any subject historically, but evaluates a new methodology developed and termed by me as “Spatial Art History.” This methodology may be of interest to anybody interested in objects and social relations, as it makes use of ideas related to the Spatial Turn (including Lefebvre and Soja) and of (actor-) network theories (Latour particularly), emphasising relationality and proposing a way in which to relate ‘objects’ (understood as things), particularly art objects, with the social, namely through “spacing.” While the Spatial Art History is developed in the introduction to my forthcoming monograph that explores particularly Constructivist art of the first half of the twentieth century, the colloquium paper is the final chapter titled „Outlook“. It consists of two parts: first it will relate concepts of space to those of the Spatial Turn and distinguish their relevance to modernism (including modern art), arguing that it were concepts of space which dominated Modernity and the modern project, therefore characterising it not only by acceleration (i.e. via time) but also by ‘expansion’ (via space). Second, it will evaluate the Spatial Methodology by considering its gains and pitfalls, asking what it actually brings to the fore that other methodologies have failed to consider yet.

Marcus Döller presents a working paper on ‚Freedom as Resistance – Two Forms of Non-Participation‘

n the paper Freedom as Resistance I am going to argue, that the form of normativity is its immediacy. In a reading of the Geist chapter in the Phenomenology of Spirit I develop the conception of immediacy with regard to the structure of social normativity. In a first step I am going to show why there is a necessary split in the social within the greek ethical sphere. (I) In the second step I argue that Antigone is the name for a resistant subjectivity, which cannot be integrated within the social sphere, but is a product of the social reproduction in its very form. Here I compare two sophisticated actualisations by Judith Butler and Slavoj Zizek in order to develop my own approach to a theory of subjectivation. (II) In a last step I am going to explain why radical resistance takes place internal to the form of the subject and how this is related to the form of the judgement in realising an internal suspension. (III)

Antje Linkenbach gives a working paper on ‚Asynchronicity, Ambiguity and Contingency: Provincializing Theories of Modernity‘

The present contribution examines recent sociological, non-linear and contingencysensitive ways of engagement with modernity, which attribute different significance to normative questions and refer to different levels of socio-historical configuration. It will lay particular emphasis on the work of Johan P. Arnason, as one of the most advanced, although non-normative approaches to modernity. This will be followed by a discussion of normative approaches to modernity offered by Hartmut Rosa and Peter Wagner. I will argue that a normative perspective is constitutive for social theory and questions about the emancipative potential and possibilities of modernity must be at the core of analysis (see Joas, Knöbl 2004). I will further argue that while it seems reasonable to discuss modernity from a macro-perspective and even in the context of civilizational analysis, and so move to a geopolitical higher level or ‘hyper-social system (Mauss) – as it is prominently done in the work of Johan P. Arnason -, the reverse route has never been received adequate attention. Modernity should also be approached from a microsociological perspective, which takes into account the temporally, spatially and socially contextualized acting subject in a locality or a region. Special attention should be given to the postcolonial encounter.

Andreas Pettenkofer is going to present a working paper on ‚The irreducibly collective character of criticism‘

In our ‘liberal’ ordinary language of politics, political criticism is usually described as a product of individuals who resist collective pressures; here, “the collective” appears as that which suppresses critique. This is mirrored by a “sociology of critique” that sees critical activities as being founded in individual capacities. Against this kind of assumption, this paper tries to show how nonconformist acts of criticism are internally tied to collective processes. For this purpose, it uses concepts from Durkheim’s social theory (which emphasizes aspects of the sociality of mind that are not emphasized in pragmatist analyses). Through this, the paper also tries to show what a Durkheimian approach can contribute to a sociology of critique.

Luca Pellarin presents a working paper on ‚Acknowledging Limits. Building on Franz C. Overbeck Remarks on Modernity‘

Starting from the analysis of some excerpts of Franz C. Overbeck (1837-1905), the aim of this paper is to investigate the concept of “limit” with regard to Modernity and identify some limits of Modernity itself, trying to account for a recurring feeling that arises when one reads Overbeck’s production: the German theologian seems to constantly vindicate the need to set limits. On this basis, it will be shown, on the one hand, that: a. for Overbeck speaking of “limits” means addressing the moral field and the theory of knowledge; b. a proper character of Modernity is individualism; c. two of the most important representatives of individualism of his time were F. Nietzsche and P.-J. Proudhon; d. his interpretation of Modernity is rooted in the cultural tradition of the German thought (in primis in J.W. Goethe). Each of these items will thus be explored in depth in order to reach significant conclusions for the understanding of Overbeck’s work. On the other hand, despite the large attention devoted to Overbeck, the focus of the text will not be only on him; his reflections will instead be taken as an opportunity to survey the issues listed above.

Carmen González gives a contribution to a documentary on the history of al-Andalus

The documentary has been released by Canal ARTE and speaks about the history of al-Andalus. González contributes by explaining the Great Mosque of Córdoba (which is at the core of her research project at the Max-Weber-Kolleg). The documentary has been very recently released, and it can be seen in French or German. For more information:

Carmen González is going to present a working paper on ‚The use of water in religious spaces in al-Andalus: new archaeological evidence from Madīnat Qurṭuba’s suburbs‘

Islamic religious practices and water hold a very close relationship determined, mainly, by the need of the faithful to perform ritual ablutions before prayer. However, the archaeological documentation of infrastructure related to this practice in al-Andalus is very infrequent. For this reason, a recent discovery from the western outskirts of Madīnat Qurṭuba (Córdoba), consisting of a secondary mosque with a small ablution room attached to its northern end, stands out for its uniqueness. This mosque has been recovered in one of the most interesting areas for the archaeological and urban study of the city in Islamic times, the so-called „Plan Parcial O-7“. This sector has been excavated almost entirely in recent years, revealing interesting dynamics of urban configuration already from the 8th century, which allow a better and deeper understanding of the medieval Islamic city, its components and its functions.

Sisi Sung presents a working paper on ‚An overview of institutional context of private and state-owned enterprises in contemporary China‘

This paper is a starting chapter of my dissertation. The chapter aims at illustrating three institutional factors: enterprises (state-owned and private), labor market, government policies which altogether frame the work context of an individual. The work context represents an important piece of evidence for understanding the overall picture of one’s career choices and work-related behaviors.