Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Jasmin Kutzner presents a working paper on 'Tradition and Ritualism as Indicators of Jewish Self-Perception'

The paper deals with the question of conditions for individually construction of a national-Jewish felt art music. An autobiographic inside into the important stages of life of the composers Joachim Stutschewsky and Arnold Schoenberg manifests the Neue Juedische Schule as a movement with open and fluent boundaries. The art-musical inclusion of tradition and ritualism rather go beyond the frame of the association as a part of individually (Jewish) self-placement.

Monday, 29 May 2017

Aditya Malik gives a working paper on 'Hammira: Inception of a History'

The paper has two parts each representing truncated, though I hope interconnected, versions of longer chapters and themes that I plan to explore in a book I am writing for De Gruyter. In the first part of the paper I discuss the historical and literary context(s) of the Hammira-Mahakvya and its main protagonist, Hammira, with a view to showing that contrary to Indian nationalist historiographies of the second half of the 20th century, the texts under consideration do not represent a conflict between Hindus and Muslims but rather rivalries and friendships between scattered ethnicities and clans competing for political control in northern India between the 11th-16th centuries. Moreover, I aim to show that the social category of the Rajput (‘prince’, ‘warrior’ etc.) that crystallizes in the 15th-16th centuries transcends both ethnic and religious compartmentalization by signifying attributes, qualities and ethical values that once internalized by an individual could be expressed through heroic action regardless of caste or religious affiliation (i.e., by both Hindus and Muslims). The second part is more conceptual in nature springing from the fact that the Hammira-Mahakavya originates in a dream presented to the author of the text by the dead hero whose life and deeds lie at the center of the ‘great poem’ (Sanskrit: mahakavya). The question that arises here is whether history with its fundamental concern with empirical evidence, facts and what is considered ‘real’ can originate in the subjective, inner world of dreams or what is considered ‘unreal/imaginary’. Is the ‘unreal’ or imaginative fabric
equally or more important here than the ‘real’, empirical structure? While history concerns itself with the past, it is also obvious that not all statements about the past are considered to be history. It is only when the past is presented to us – ‘constructed’ one could say – in a particular manner that it becomes ‘history.’ Not every statement or perspective of the past therefore qualifies as history. But how exactly does history get constructed, particularly in the Indian/South Asian context? What does it mean to think about the past? Where is this thinking about the past located? Moreover, what does thinking and, in particular, imagination mean in the Indic context? Can history begin in a dream?

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Jürgen Straub presents a working paper on 'The Past of an Illusion. Sigmund Freud’s Criticism of Religion'

The paper presents a compilation of three fragments of a book chapter dedicated to Freud’s psychoanalytic criticism of religion. In the first part, the most important sources (like Freud’s “The Future of an Illusion”, “Totem and Taboo. Resemblances between the Mental Lives of Savages and Neurotics” or “Moses and Monotheism”) are listed and related to Freud’s practical and political aim to criticize, deconstruct and destruct religious beliefs and the faith in God. In the second fragment I describe Freud’s pre-psychoanalytic stance against religion which is rooted in his scientific beliefs and (partially naïve) devotion to science. Freud’s rationalism (paradoxically) remains strong in his psychoanalytic theory and particularly in his critique of religion. The most important arguments and concepts are remembered (e.g. infant illusion, compulsive neurosis). The essential elements of Freud’s criticism of religion and faith are illustratively described in the third part. There, I very sketchily refer to a kind of ‘case study’ (a telling conversation between Freud and an US-American medical doctor who tries to convert the atheist Freud to a true believer’s faith in God).
All in all the presented reconstruction of some main features of Freud’s approach to religion leads into a detailed criticism of Freud’s aversion to religious beliefs and faith. This critical analysis and the resulting counter-arguments are not part of the working paper. I want to present them in the first ten minutes of the colloquium very briefly.  

Friday, 26 May 2017

Rebecca Van Hove presents a working paper on 'Religious authority in Attic oratory'

This text is the first chapter of my thesis and is concerned with the notion of religious authority. It starts off by presenting an oracle story told by the orator Lykourgos in a judicial speech, which serves as illustration of the way in which different, conflicting authorities, such as the Athenian demos and the gods, but also the demos’ laws, the gods’ unwritten laws, the god’s oracular message, and the human interpretation of this message, influence decision-making processes in classical Athens. The chapter then moves on to examine how we can begin to understand such episodes: the first part deals with the concept and definition of authority; the second part applies this to religious authority in ancient Greece; the third part examines how a notion of authority as a contested-and-constructed process affects the reading of oratory as a genre.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Maik Patzelt is going to present a working paper on 'The 'Freedom' of the Widows: Late Antique Inheritance Hunting as Focal Point Networks and Agency of Late Antique Widows'

My paper targets the relatively unknown dynamics of legacy hunting in late antiquity through the eyes of a multidimensional network-agency-approach. By following the paths of economic, socio-political and religious networks, which all culminate in the scenes of legacy-hunting, I am able to reveal the complexity and the various ramifications of networking processes that common network analyses are unable to detect. Given the prominent presence of widows in the variety of legal, historical and ecclesiastical sources, these ramifications especially concern the transformations and thus conflicts of norms and moral codes. A complex context appears, in which late antique widows set up networks that compete with those of local elites and bishops.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Jane Bennett holds a guest lecture on 'The ‘Phiz‘ of Walt Whitman'

A playful presentation of Walt Whitman’s poetic explorations of a sympathetic causality between, on the one hand, the posture of a body (its “phiz” or physical-physiognomic shape and style) and, on the other hand, its internally-experienced mood. Whitman’s depictions, in Leaves of Grass, of mimetic transmissions between phiz and mood contribute to his project of inducing a democratic self and society: a human being who is both capable of self-rule and affectionately disposed toward an egalitarian pluralism. The lecture explores several phiz-mood couplings in the poems, and then places Whitman’s body-mind experimentations in the contexts of 21st century research in embodied cognition theory and 19th century discussions of American phrenology.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Martin Mulsow presents a working paper on 'Amsterdam's Secret. Politics, Alchemy and the Commodification of Knowledge in the 17th Century'

In August 1688, duke Frederik I. of Saxe-Gotha dissappeared for a stay in Amsterdam. What did he do there? He arranged a selling of wood from the Thuringian Forest to the Dutch - officially -, but more secretly he negotiated with the French about renting his troops to them, and even more secretely he conducted alchemical experiments in order to transform base metals into gold. His hope was to get a lot of gold to rent even more troops, and through the avails to be able to enlarge the territory of his small state. I reconstuct the story of Frederik's Amsterdam sojourn to give an impression of the commodification of knowledge in an early knowledge society such as the Netherlands. Alchemists sold their secret skills to princes. How did this shadow marked function? What was the alchemical milieu in Amsterdam in the late 17th century?

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Jan Surman gives a working paper on 'Conceptual Transformation, Scientific Progress and Societal Stability: Image and idea of Ukrainian science 1918-1939'

Sciences in the interwar period are viewed mostly through the lens of growing nationalism and militarization, although recently researchers paid more attention to transnationalism. Looking at the Ukrainian scientific community, scatted across three European countries, this paper ask the question how science was conceptualized in different states with different regimes. Was it so serve the nation, state, international community? How was its relation to people defined and practices? Which  epistemisc model of science emerged amidst post-1918 re-thinking (Ukrainian) science?
With these questions in mind I discuss the images of knowledge idea by Yehuda Elkana and the way I want deploy it to analyse Ukrainian interwar science. Finally, I presents short examples, focusing mostly on the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.

Beatrice Renzi is going to present a working paper on 'Intersectional perspectives on Dalit women and justice: Exploring the systemic interlinkages between patriarchy, caste and class'

The paper takes stock of present day conditions involving violence against Dalit women. It strives to unpack the many normative systems shaping Dalit women’s social positionalities and their lived realities of justice. The analysis is focused on gaining an understanding of the ordinary every-day context within which systemic violence and its normative frames of reference are inscribed. By positioning the field of investigation at the intersection between questions of gender, caste and class entangled within locally contextual dynamics of power, the paper aims to illustrate how the understanding of violence and justice changes if it is viewed from Dalit women perspectives and how this view alters our assessment of the potentials and constraints facing democratic institutions and the rule of law in contemporary India. This also represents a methodological choice which seeks to highlight how a seemingly liminal analytical perspective becomes central in illuminating some of the pivotal junctures that help to explain the workings of a system as a whole.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Hannah Peaceman presents a working paper on 'Systematic questions of Jewish political Philosophy'

This project aims to tackle the universality, secularity and practice of Jewish political Philosophy in the 19th century and until the Shoah. Reference-points are Jewish-German perspectives that were involved in political debates in magazines and newspapers until the Shoah. They have not been systematically accounted on since then from a philosophical perspective. The focus lies around the debates on the “Jewish Question”. Jewish perspectives provided important ideas on political emancipation and societal alternatives in the 19th century. In this paper I sort out my material, present criteria for the selection of sources and offer a first interpretation of an article in the journal "Sulamith".

Dieter Gosewinkel gives a public lecture on 'Geschichte und gegenwärtige Bedeutung der Staatsbürgerschaft in Europa seit dem 20. Jahrhundert'

Citizenship was the sign of political affiliation in Europe in the 20th century. It decided about the protection and freedom of a person and thus about his life and survival chances. In this lecture (and the following workshop), it serves as a probe of a historical analysis of Society in order to illuminate inclusion and exclusion in Europe in the 20th and 21st century. The starting point is citizenship as a legal institution which has been increasingly shaping since the turn of the 19th century and which achieved high political and practical symbolic power and effect in European and non-European societies.

Michael Rösser gives a working paper on 'The Colonial Mindset of the Building Companies'

East African construction sites (particularly railway lines) and construction sites in the occupied territories during WWI in Europe were regulated by the so-called ‘colonial contract’ (“Kolonialvertrag”). As the contract’s terms and conditions granted the companies of Philipp Holzmann and MAN almost all-encompassing rights and duties to fulfill their task in East Africa and in Europe, this paper investigates the colonial mindset of both enterprises involved. While consciously disregarding the question of actual forced labour practices on the spot, this paper illustrates the companies’ self-understanding as agents of colonial policies particularly in Eastern Europe and East Africa. Employed in all the territories concerned, they actively established a mental link from overseas colonial policies to colonizing strategies in (Eastern) Europe.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Friedrich Cain presents a working paper on '‚On a proper method for studying creativity’ Antoni B. Dobrowolski’s Archive(s) of Creative Thought'

The paper is part of an edited volume on the epistemology of the so called Science of Science Circle [Koło Naukoznawcze] from Interwar Warsaw (1928-1939), forthcoming in 2017.

Anna-Katharina Rieger is going to present a working paper on 'Division of labor or excess supply? Water, healing and oracles in temples of Roman Syria'

The majority of inhabitants of the Roman Empire lived in villages, living off the agricultural capacities of the land around. In this, the Roman Western Asian Provinces are not different to other parts of the Roman Empire. However, even if not based on counted numbers, the density of religious institutions in and around villages, in the open land between them, seems to be extremely high in the areas of the Eastern Mediterranean. But why? What are the religious needs and demands that are reflected in the many architecturally structured places, the objects offered and in use there? How regional, then, are certain developments, manifestations and their material outcomes – how are general trends of the wider Mediterranean / Roman Empire taken over into a local tradition?
In particular, I look at oracular and healing services, offered in sacred places along the ridge of the Libanon and on Mount Hermon as well as in the Syrian steppe – taking this as a point of distinction of the numerous sacred places.[1] With a choice of several sanctuaries (Niha, Hosn Niha, Temnine el-Fouqa, Afka, Banias, Baitokaike, Isriye and Ain el-Fije) whose phases correspond roughly to a Hellenistic foundation and one or two Roman rebuilding phases (with a peak in the 2nd c. CE) I revise certain takes on the sanctuaries and their functions by applying a spatially oriented methodology, and offer new interpretations of how they were embedded into a social topography in the rural areas of the Lebanon mountains and Mount Hermon, acknowledging their relatedness to the urban places like Sidon, Berytus, Tyros, Baalbek, Damascus or Palmyra, as well as their independent social and spatial position. The consolidation of the Roman administration in the 2nd c. CE as the political background in the region as well as the cultural backdrop of the 2nd c. CE in the wider Mediterranean allows for the questioning their impact on the appearance and activities reflected in dedications by visitors or neighbours, in rebuilding measures by religious specialists, or reshaping entire places by civic authorities.

[1] Other features one could look for to have a closer perspective are f. e. dedicants and their offerings, relation of elite people to other agents in the sanctuaries, on the way gods are conceptualised at the sites etc.pp.