New video presents research results on the cultural significance of water spaces in India

Since Harald Lesch and Mai Thi Nguyen-Kim have become omnipresent, it is nothing new that scientists present their research on YouTube. Complex topics from space research, physics, biology, chemistry and technology are often explained in corresponding videos. Humanities scholars, on the other hand, are considered less YouTube-savvy. One exception is the research group „Religion and Urbanity“ at the Max Weber College of the University of Erfurt, which is currently presenting a new film on YouTube that deals with life around water in India.

In this video, Dr Sara Keller, who has organised an exhibition and a workshop on this topic, introduces us to the fascinating world of images in India and explains the cultural significance of water spaces in India on the basis of three thematic complexes (rituals, architecture, femininity). In addition to scholars, local artists who have dealt with the topic also have their say.

„We decided to use YouTube as a medium to give a younger audience an insight into foreign worlds, because in an increasingly globalised world it is important to get authentic impressions – beyond the clichés you have picked up from Bollywood films, for example,“ Sara Keller explains her motivation.

If you want to learn more about life around water in India, you can find the entertaining film here:

Mourning for Jutta Vinzent

It is with great sadness that we have to announce the death of Dr. Dr. Jutta Vinzent. Jutta Vinzent, born in 1968, was Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) for Modern and Contemporary Art at the University of Birmingham, UK, and Associate Fellow at the Max-Weber-Kolleg for Cultural and Social Studies at the University of Erfurt.

After studying German literature, art history and philosophy in Munich, she was awarded a doctorate in 1996 in Cologne with the thesis „Edlef Köppen – Schriftsteller zwischen den Fronten. Ein literaturhistorischer Beitrag zu Expressionismus, Neuer Sachlichkeit und Innerer Emigration mit Edition, Werk- und Nachlassverzeichnis“. She documented her interdisciplinary interests in 2004, when she was awarded a doctorate in art history at the Department of History of Art in Cambridge with the thesis „Identity and Image. Refugee Artists from Nazi Germany in Britain, 1933-1945“. In between, she was first Honorary Research Fellow and then (until her death) tenured Senior Lecturer in Art History at the University of Birmingham.

In 2012, Jutta Vinzent was appointed Fellow at the Max Weber Centre for Cultural and Social Studies at the University of Erfurt to work on the project „Modernist spaces in 1930s Britain“. She was well prepared for this through the EU-funded project „Overcoming Dictatorships“ with partners in Romania, Hungary, Poland, Germany and Italy, in which she had participated from 2006-2009, as also evidenced by her numerous publications on migration and internal emigration of artists in the face of authoritarian regimes.

Her active collaboration and the development of new projects in the context of the Max-Weber-Kolleg led to new fellowships with new project plans, such as the project „Precarious Spaces – Precarious Times. Commercial Exhibition Cultures in Times of Conflict“ in 2015, in which she explored exhibition cultures.

As part of the „Meister Eckhart“ Research Centre, she then also organised a very practical exhibition in Erfurt and in Korea that contrasted modern art by Taery Kim and medieval manuscripts by Meister Eckhart. This project was also published (together with Christopher M. Wojtulewicz) under the title „Performing bodies. Time and space in Meister Eckhart and Taery Kim“.

In Erfurt, she has not only been involved in the various research groups at the Max -Weber-Kolleg, but has also collaborated with the „Erfurt RaumZeitForschung“ and co-organised a conference, the results of which were published in the volume „SpatioTemporalities on the Line“ edited by her and Sebastian Dorsch in 2018 by De Gruyter. This volume deals with the ‚world-image production‘ in everyday life and the sciences through lines and linearity from a multidisciplinary perspective. She then continued her research on the relationship between modern art, artistic self-relationships and space in her monograph „From Space in Modern Art to a Spatial Art History. Reassessing Constructivism through the Publication „Circle“ (1937)“ published by De Gruyter in 2020.

Inspired by her work with the research group „Dynamics of Ritual Practices in Judaism in Pluralistic Contexts from Antiquity to the Present“ at the Max-Weber-Kolleg, she has again accepted as a fellow in 2019 the project „Forced Urbanism. Jewish Internment in the British Empire“.

Last year, she was also involved in the successful application for the second funding phase of the International Graduate School (IGS) on the topic of „Resonant World Relations in Socio-Religious Practices in Antiquity and the Present“, funded by the DFG and FWF.

Jutta Vinzent not only had a wide range of interests and was always open to new interdisciplinary projects and questions, but was also particularly committed to promoting young researchers and equality, including by supervising many junior researchers and by temporarily taking on the task of deputy equal opportunities officer at the Max-Weber-Kolleg.

„We will greatly miss her always cheerful and hands-on manner, her incredible optimism and her drive. Our sympathy goes out to her husband, Professor Markus Vinzent, and her children,“ said the directors of the Max-Weber-Kolleg, Professor Hartmut Rosa and Professor Jörg Rüpke.

Frederic Guillaume Gass Quintero awarded DAAD Prize

Frederic Guillaume Gass Quintero, doctoral student at the University of Erfurt, will be awarded the DAAD Prize for Outstanding Foreign Students and Doctoral Students in 2021. The prize is awarded annually by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and enables DAAD member universities to honour foreign students or doctoral students for special commitment. Due to his outstanding academic achievements, the Max-Weber-Kollege nominated Gass Quintero for the award.

Since 2019, the native Colombian has been a doctoral student at the Max-Weber-Kolleg of the University of Erfurt. He is working on a project on „The experience of state violence and the making of a political opposition. An ethnographic case study from Colombia“. He is using social science and ethnographic methods to investigate the peace process in Colombia. Specifically, he uses participant observation to study a group of civil society organisations in Bogota in order to understand the social mechanisms underlying civil engagement in anti-violence campaigns and the formation of civil society coalitions in the context of a highly polarised society.

However, the peace process in Colombia does not only drive Gass Quintero in theory, but also occupies him in his non-academic engagement. For example, in spring 2019 he participated in the call for a transnational report to the International Criminal Court (The Hague) regarding the systematic murder of human rights defenders in Colombia. He prepared a letter and petition document signed by Colombian parliamentarians, which he then delivered in person at a meeting at the Bureau du Procureur at the ICC in The Hague. He met with European parliamentarians in Brussels to denounce the human rights crisis in Colombia and participated in a meeting with the Free Lula da Silva Committee at the Assemblee Nationale, France, in the summer of 2019. During this meeting, he formulated a request for an official visit by French parliamentarians to Lula da Silva in prison. In the same year, he filed a complaint against the murder of indigenous activists in Colombia at the United Nations and was also able to arrange a meeting at the United Nations in Geneva between two Colombian human rights activists and the Office of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders at the United Nations. But even beyond that, Frederic Guillaume Gass Quintero has been involved in many activities aimed at organising the Colombian migrant community abroad.

Currently, the 29-year-old is working on the results of his field research in Colombia for his dissertation, which is being done in cooperation with the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in Paris under a Cotutelle agreement. He has now been honoured for his outstanding academic achievements and great commitment.

Also nominated for the DAAD award this year were Hubert Hager, competitive athlete and student at the Faculty of Education, and Kyaw Si Th, one of the winners at the Commitment Award 2020 and student at the Willy Brandt School of Public Policy at the University of Erfurt.

„We are proud of our international students and doctoral candidates,“ says a delighted Prof. Dr. Beate Hampe, Vice President for International Affairs at the University of Erfurt. „In addition to their commitment and achievement, they bring wonderful diversity to our campus, from which we as a university can only benefit.“

Julia Seeberger received the Romanesque Research Award

The historian Julia Seeberger from Erfurt has been awarded the Romanesque Research Award by the European Romanesque Center in Merseburg. The jury thus honoured her dissertation on „Olfaktorik und Entgrenzung – die Visionen der Wienerin Agnes Blannbekin (died 1315)“.

The prize is endowed with 2,000 euros and has been awarded to young researchers since 2011. And so it was to be awarded again in 2019 to Julia Seeberger, research assistant at the Professorship for Medieval History at the University of Erfurt. Due to Corona, however, the award ceremony could not take place at first. But now, belatedly, it was presented.

In her study, which will soon be published as a book in the series Nova Mediaevalia. Sources and Studies on the European Middle Ages by Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht Unipress, Julia Seeberger devotes herself to a text corpus of visionary records, which she is able to reinterpret with the help of olfaction, the analysis of smell and olfactory perceptions in the visionary texts. This enables a broader understanding of the written mystical experiences of a young Viennese woman of the late 13th and early 14th century in a Franciscan milieu. Until now, the name „Agnes Blannbeckin“ has been attributed to her, but this is not verifiable, as Seeberger notes. This finding has not been changed by the discovery of new manuscripts containing the vision texts. Seeberger has made a weighty contribution to mystical research, and she enriches the innovative field of research into the history of the senses with a historical olfaction that has yet to be brought to light.

In his laudation, Jörg Ulrich from the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg praised her extraordinarily innovative research achievements. Her dissertation is a sensory-historical look at the life story and visions of Agnes Blannbekin, who is less well-known than other mystics such as Hildegard von Bingen, said the Centre.

Background: The European Romanesque Center in Merseburg is concerned with researching and communicating the Romanesque cultural heritage. It concentrates on scientific questions of architecture, art, archaeology, theology, history and legal history of the Middle Ages.

Max-Weber-Kolleg welcomes new members in the winter semester 2021/22

The Max-Weber-Kolleg for Advanced Cultural and Social Studies at the University of Erfurt welcomes numerous new fellows and junior researchers from Germany and abroad in the winter semester 2021/22.

This academic year, Professor Corinna Riva (Great Britain) with a research project on „Citizenship and religion in 1st-millennium-bc mediterranean: Etruria and Iberia“ and Professor Kiran Klaus Patel (Munich) with his project „Presence in contemporary history“ are Distinguished Fellows of the Max-Weber-Kolleg.

The research group „Religion and Urbanity: Reciprocal Formations“, which focuses on India, welcomes the following new fellows this semester: Professor Raminder Kaur (India) with the research project „Sacred Cities: Magnets for Mercantilism, Moralities, Worship and Salvation“; Dr Christina Williamson (Netherlands), who has come to Erfurt again to work on the topic „Festival hubs. Deep-mapping sanctuaries in the ancient Greek world“; Dr Mara Albrecht with the project „The Space-Time of Urban Violence and Violence Control in the British Empire – The Riots in Belfast (late 19th and early 20th century) and in Jerusalem during the Mandate Period“. Dr des. Marlis Arnhold is researching „Death and the Dead in the City – A Case Study on Roman and Late Antique Athens“. PhD candidate Austin Collins (UK) is researching within a cotutelle agreement with Durham „The Reach of Royal Power in France: Examining how the Valois Monarchy Reacted to the Centre and the Periphery, 1547–1589 „. The associated postdoc Thomas Schader is researching „Urban Piety between Resonance and Dissonance. Seville and Lisbon from the Perspective of German Jesuits“.

The International Graduate School „Resonant Self-World Relations in Ancient and Modern Socio-Religious Practices“, which is conducted in cooperation with the University of Graz, welcomes Alina Zeller as a new doctoral researcher, who is writing her dissertation on „Trachtenvereine in den USA: Praktiken im Spannungsfeld um deutschamerikanische Ethnizität“. Also newly admitted is the doctoral researcher Christopher Bégin (Canada) with the project „Religiosity and rituals in clubbing: resonance in unity, consumption and timelessness“.

The research group „Social Philosophy and Social Theory“ can also welcome two new doctoral researchers: Steven Sello is working on an „Examination of Life Advice Literature in the 20th Century“ and Sophie von Kalckreuth is working on the topic of „Body Phenomenology as a Normative Framework for the Use of Digital Technologies in Care“.

Within the framework of the new Collaborative Research Centre (SFB TRR 294) „Structural Changes of Property Regimes“ in cooperation with the University of Jena, the new doctoral researchers Philipp Köncke and Lea Schneidemesser (Project JRT02 “Clash or Convergence of Capitalisms: Property Conflicts over Chinese Direct Investments in Germany and the European Union”) as well as the postdocs Sanjay Jothe (Project B01 Urban Property Regimes and Citizenship in Transition: Changing Ownership Patterns and Systems of Relatedness in India”), Sophia Bianchi Mancini and Maria Dell’Isola (both in the Project A01 “Divine Property: Solutions form Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages”) can be welcomed. 

The International Centre of Advanced Studies „Metamorphoses of the Political“ (ICAS–MP) welcomes as new Fellows Dr Shireen Mirza, who is researching „Stigma in the City: Making and Unmaking Mumbai City“ and Professor Shail Mayaram (India), who is continuing work on her book „Political/Non-political Islam“.

The Meister Eckhart Research Unit is supervising a new doctoral researcher: Lorenzo Cozzi (Italy) is working on the topic „The other Apocalypse. The thought of history in Nicholas of Lyra’s Postilla Litteralis“ and will carry out his doctorate within the framework of a cotutelle with Modena.

Dr Jasmin Lorch has been associated with her project „Cross-Regional and Cross-Religious Comparative Investigation“ as a post-doctoral researcher in the research group „Local Politicisation of Global Norms“.

The director of the Kolleg, Hartmut Rosa, is pleased about the newcomers from Germany and abroad and emphasises: „We are glad to be able to meet again in presence thanks to the 3-G regulation, as this way more intensive interactions are possible in the joint struggle for research questions.“

Gábor Gángó publishes first part of Johann Christian von Boineburg’s correspondence

Professor Gábor Gángó, Associate Fellow at the Max-Weber-Kollege of the University of Erfurt and member of the Research Centre for Early Modern Natural Law of the Gotha Research Centre and the Max-Weber-Kolleg, has collected Johann Christian von Boineburg’s letters from German libraries and archives, processed their metadata in part and transcribed the texts. Now the first part of this correspondence has been published on EMLO Oxford (Early Modern Letters Online).

Johann Christian von Boineburg was born in Eisenach on 12 April 1622. He studied in Jena and later in Helmstedt. His marriage to Anna Christine Schütz von Holzhausen produced his important son, Philipp Wilhelm Reichsgraf von Boineburg (1656-1717). The last years of Johann Christian’s life were intellectually shaped by his encounter with the young Leipzig jurist Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, who not only became Philipp Wilhelm’s tutor but, thanks to Boineburg, also obtained a position at the Mainz court of Johann Philipp von Schönborn. A number of works by the young Leibniz were written in collaboration with Boineburg. Boineburg died in Mainz on 8 December 1672. Philipp Wilhelm was appointed governor of the Electoral-Mainzian city of Erfurt and rector of Erfurt university, and moved his father’s library from Mainz to Erfurt in order to maintain and expand it.

Professor Gábor Gángó collected Johann Christian von Boineburg’s letters from German libraries and archives (mainly from the University Library of Erfurt, the University Library of Giessen, the Bavarian State Archives of Munich, the Herzog August Library of Wolfenbüttel, the Lower Saxony State Archives of Wolfenbüttel and the Bavarian State Archives of Würzburg) between 2016 and 2018 as part of a MWK-COFUND Fellowship (Marie Skłodowska-Curie Grant Agreement No. 665958). A fellowship at the University of Erfurt subsequently made it possible for him to partially process the metadata of the letters as well as their previously unfinished transcription. The University of Padua is currently funding the completion of the metadata preparation for upload to the EMLO union catalogue. The first part of the correspondence is now available.

„I am pleased that my previous basic research on Boineburg is gaining great international visibility in this way. I also expect new fruitful research collaborations from the planned complete publication of the correspondence,“ says Professor Gábor Gángó. At the same time, the publication increases the international visibility of Erfurt’s research in the field of digital humanities and makes an important contribution to making central sources available for early modern research.

Hot off the press: Research perspectives on globalisation and world relations

Our 2021 thematic issue on the topic of „Globalisation and World Relations“ has just been published. It brings together perspectives and academic approaches from researchers from the various disciplines at the University of Erfurt and is now available online and in print.

Globalisation and world relations – a topic that may sound abstract at first, but which we encounter „live“ every day. One that we argue about, that challenges us, that drives us – in very different ways – and that sometimes also makes us doubt. And above all, one that academics at the University of Erfurt are researching and thus have a great deal to contribute. Each from their own perspective and discipline. Whether climate policy or COVID-19, conflict research or space-time observations, historical observations on the beginnings of global phenomena, religion, colonialism, world economy and financial crisis: the spectrum is broad. Our thematic issue is intended to provide an insight into this – our – research and, with a selected student contribution, also to show a perspective of tomorrow’s researchers.

You can download the issue as a PDF here or pick it up as a print brochure from the Office of University Communications in the Administration Building (while stocks last). We hope you enjoy reading it!

Jörg Rüpke receives honorary doctorate from the University of Graz

A particularly solemn event can be experienced at the University of Graz today, 27 October 2021, as the University of Graz is today honouring two outstanding academics for their special academic achievements with an honorary doctorate in philosophy. In addition to the historian Professor Ivan Părvev, the religious scholar Professor Jörg Rüpke, co-director of the Max-Weber-Kolleg at the University of Erfurt, will also be awarded this special dignity.

Rüpke is being honoured as one of the world’s leading experts on the history of ancient Roman religion, as well as for his services in cooperation with the University of Graz, especially as one of the initiators and idea providers of the International Graduate School „Resonant Self-World Relations in Socio-Religious Practices in Antiquity and the Present“.

But honorary doctorates are not only an honour, they also entail an obligation. Following the custom of the University of Graz, „honorary doctorates vow to keep an honourable memory of the University of Graz and to support its concerns, furthermore to keep the honour conferred upon them unharmed and without reproach, and finally to apply their erudition, knowledge and wisdom – according to their humanity – for the salvation and welfare of mankind and never to stray from this task.“

This reminder of the task of the sciences in society has always been taken particularly seriously by the Max-Weber-Kolleg. Hartmut Rosa, Director of the Max-Weber-Kolleg: „We are pleased with Jörg Rüpke about this outstanding award for his scientific oeuvre as well as for his tireless commitment in the sense of promoting young researchers and transferring scientific knowledge to society.“

Young female scientists at the University of Erfurt receive support in the Rowena Morse Mentoring Programme

The Thuringia-wide Rowena Morse Mentoring Programme (RMMP) enters its fourth round in November with 21 new mentees.

The interdisciplinary programme accompanies female doctoral candidates in the final phase of their doctorate and post-doctoral candidates in planning their individual career paths. During the twelve-month programme, the mentees network in peer mentoring sessions, receive individual advice from experienced professors from Thuringia’s universities in group mentoring sessions and can continue their education together in workshops.

The University of Erfurt is pleased that a total of six young women from the Faculty of Philosophy and the Faculty of Education as well as the Max Weber Kolleg will be supported in this round of the programme and wishes them every success in their academic endeavours!

What Max Weber Always Wanted to Know about China – Two Doctorates on China Successfully Defended at the Max-Weber-Kolleg

With the appointment of Prof. Dr. Carsten Herrmann-Pillath as Fellow for Economics at the Max-Weber-Kolleg, a research focus on China was established at the same time, because he is not only an economist, but also a sinologist with intensive contacts to China. Under his supervision, two doctoral theses dealing with specific aspects of the Chinese economy were defended at the Max-Weber-Kolleg this week.

Ms Qian Zhao successfully defended her dissertation on „The Evolution of Modern Business Ethics in Reform China“ on 13 September 2021. In it, she deals – like Max Weber more than 100 years before her – with the religious and cultural roots of business ethics in China and examines the so-called „moral background“ (Gabriel Abend) of today’s business ethicists at business schools and in business associations. For this purpose, she not only examined extensive source material, but also conducted a large number of interviews, which have been incorporated into the material-rich writing. This work provides a broad overview of the foundations of business ethics ideas in contemporary China.

On 17 September 2021, Ms. Sisi Sung successfully defended her PhD thesis on „Managerial Careers of Women in China. An Economics of Identity Approach“. In this thesis, she examines the problem that although women in China have relatively equal rights in terms of both participation in working life and salary levels, this equality does not exist in the area of corporate management. Rather, women come up against so-called „glass ceilings“ here. For her study, Ms. Sung not only uses economic theories, but supplements them with insights from sociology and social psychology in order to draw a more holistic picture of this problem. Furthermore, by using both English and Chinese research literature, she is able to show how cultural gender stereotypes are effective all the way into research literature from economics, business studies or sociology.

„I am delighted that these two projects could be completed so successfully. The two doctoral researchers have benefited enormously from the research environment at the Max-Weber-Kolleg and have made great progress. But my colleagues at the Max-Weber-Kolleg have also learned a lot about China beyond the usual clichés,“ says Prof. Carsten Herrmann-Pillath, who supervised both projects.