Wednesday, 8 March 2017

New International Graduate School of the Max-Weber-Center jointly with the University of Graz, Austria

The Max-Weber-Kolleg working together with the University of Graz have set up a joint international graduate school on resonant world relations in socio-religious practices of antiquity and the present.

What do ancient rituals such as the placing of marble noses in front of god images or common banquets with the deceased have in common with today's practices such as the setting up of teddy bears for young victims of an amok run or weddings of atheistic couples in cosy chapels of Saint Mary? - They represent socio-religious practices that define, express the important relationships of people to their worlds - that is, to other people, to things, to nature, to their own selves, to heaven or to gods or god. The nature of world relations tells a lot about the culture that characterizes them. It can, on the one hand, provide information about our cultural heritage, as well as on the other hand, about our own practices in order to create resonant - ie, responding - relationships with the world.
The question of world relations in antiquity and the present is raised in the context of a joint international graduate school, which the Karl-Franzens-University in Graz with the Max-Weber-Center for Advanced Cultural and Social Sciences at the University of Erfurt has taken. The school is planned to train young scholars in a joint research and study program in interdisciplinary projects that bring together scholarship of antiquity and late antiquity on the one hand and cultural and social sciences with a focus on the present on the other. From this interdisciplinary collaboration, particularly innovative results are expected for both fields of research. A special focus is placed on concrete socio-religious practices as objects of investigation, ie the sometimes peculiar rituals yesterday and today. Through this approach, the all too easy-going view of foreignness as the outflow of a polytheistic world image can be avoided and the foreign culture can be taken seriously in its peculiarity.
One of the specifics of this two-country-school will be that PhD students will enjoy a temporary stay in the partner country and, from the start, will be supervised by two supervisors, one from Austria and one from Germany - moreover, the students from both countries will form a community where exchange of knowledge and social cross-country relations are fostered.
After the German Research Foundation (DFG) endorsed the promotion of the joint international graduate school at the end of autumn of 2016, the Science Fund of Austria (FWF) has now also agreed to the funding of the new graduate school. 'We are looking forward to working together and would like to see many international applicants to the soon-to-be-advertised doctoral bursaries', says Jörg Rüpke, spokesman for the Graduate School at Erfurt.

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