Monday, 25 June 2018

Martin Fuchs presents a working paper on 'Violating Traditions: The Ruptures of Cultural Transmission and the Issue of Moral Universalisms'

This Werkstattbericht is based on a paper presented at a workshop held at the Fondazione Collegio San Carlo in Modena on 15 June 2018. The paper addresses the topic of that workshop, “tradition”. I take this as an opportunity to view questions I have been occupied with since long from a new angle and through a new lens. The focus is on the meaning of tradition for social actors. The paper tries to shed some new light both on the concept of “tradition”, and on tenacious issues concerning India. It ends with some general and basic questions.
The paper addresses a contradiction, at least a tension, regarding views about the relevance of “tradition” in social life. To account for the role of tradition in society it is being argued that if “a practice or belief has persisted for an extended period” this would be a good enough reason to retain it. No society could do without a “bond” to its past. At the same time, it is being claimed that a tradition “which repeatedly brings disaster, or which repeatedly turns out to be obviously wrong” should not only not be clung to, but would in actual fact “not persist”: “No tradition could long be sustained if it brought about obvious and widespread misfortunes to those who practice it …”. Both clusters of statements, combining empirical and normative perspectives, are taken from Edward Shils’ 1981 book on tradition, the only sociological monograph on the topic of “tradition” we have so far. I take it that this is not just the personal view of Edward Shils, but a view that reflects widely shared attitudes among social actors and Social Science as well as Humanities scholars, across societies and across cultural contexts. What seems to be conveyed is that all that survives longer term must be beneficial for society and its members, or at least represents something on which societies and individuals can and should build. But what, if not all that is being carried on “out of tradition” is actually morally good, and advantageous for the people concerned and affected (or “works” as Shils calls it), but instead might actually bring great “misfortunes” to those under the hold of a tradition? What if traditions are being reproduced (and thus “work”) even when, or even because, they violate the position and dignity of those who are under their sway? What if people are forcibly included under a tradition that at the same time denies them equal participation?

Sunday, 24 June 2018

Stella Rehbein is going to present a working paper on 'Happy Objects and Unhappy Bodies - 'Depression' and the ideal of positive emotionality''

This paper presents preliminary findings of my first analysis of empirical material. Far from being a presentation of results or a draft for a chapter it gives a work-in-progress insight, going back and forth between interpretations and possible theoretical paths. Starting with an interest in ‘romantic rituals’ of couples it first seemed quite surprising to find narratives on (female) depression being of overwhelming importance for the interviewees. Taking this empirical hint seriously I now think about how to grasp the connections between romance, intimacy and ‘love’ on the one hand and perceptions of emotional normalcy and (in)sanity on the other.

Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Asuman Lätzer-Lasar presents a working paper on 'Challenging the Concept of “Landscape Biography” – Theoretical Considerations on Cult Transfers in the Roman Empire by Using the Case Study of the Mater Magna Veneration'

During the Roman Republic and the Imperial period cults or religion(s) were introduced to different places for various reasons. Religion as a constitutive element of especially ancient societies had a high impact on culture, the shaping of the urban space and urban life, as well as their religious beliefs. However, the spatial dimension as well as the urban actors (emperors, aediles, priests, individual adherent) did also influence religious practices, and consequently lead to religious change. By using the example of a case study – the Mater Magna veneration – the paper seeks to evaluate in what regard the concept of a “landscape biography” might be useful for the discussion of concrete archaeological contexts. The paper will focus on the so-called “place-making”: How was the deity and its sanctuaries situated and integrated in the previously existing city-scape? How did the city-scape, urban life and the history of the city transform?

Urs Lindner gives a working paper on 'Imitation, Assimilation, Segregation. On B.R. Ambedkar’s Sociology of Caste'

Controversies on assimiliation are far from being an exlusively Western phenomenon. What is of particular interest in this regard is colonial India in the 20th century, where assimiliation worked as a meta-narrative that could be mobilised accross the entire political gamut. This paper deals with the theoretical role of assimilation in B.R. Ambedkar’s sociology of caste. By a first step I will introduce three views on assimilation which are part of Ambedkar’s intellectual context, but of whom only the third one may be not far to seek: Sarah Simons’, Robert Park’s and Mohendras Gandhi’s. Subsequently I will turn to Ambedkar’s article on ‘Castes in India: Their Mechanism, Genesis and Development’ which elaborates on a paper presented in 1916 in the seminar of anthropologist Alexander Goldenweiser at Columbia. This article is not only the sociologically most concise piece of Ambedkar’s critical analysis of caste; it also introduces assimilation as a counter-concept to imitation and segregation, as a ‘natural tendency that is blocked by the ‘unnatural institution of the caste system. By a third step I will trace the further development of the topic of assimilation in Ambedkar’s work and show how it was closely connected to the conceptualization and use of the metaphor of social endosmosis’.

Saturday, 16 June 2018

Call for Applications - ICAS:MP advertises multiple Senior and Postdoctoral Short-Term Fellowships starting in autumn 2018/2019, and autumn 2019/2020

Call for Applications

ICAS:MP advertises multiple Senior and Postdoctoral Short-Term Fellowships starting in autumn 2018/2019, and autumn 2019/2020.

Closing date:

For 2018 Fellowships 15 July 2018; For 2019 Fellowships 15 September 2018.

The M.S. Merian - R. Tagore International Centre for Advanced Studies “Metamorphoses of the Political: Comparative Perspectives on the Long Twentieth Century” (ICAS:MP), a project under the aegis of the Max Weber Stiftung India Branch Office, advertises multiple junior and senior fellowships for autumn 2018/2019 and autumn 2019/2020.
ICAS:MP is funded by the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and has its main location in New Delhi, India. It offers an extensive fellowship programme for senior and postdoctoral scholars, whose research focuses on one of the following themes (TM=Thematic Modules):
TM1: History as a Political Category
TM2: Labour as a Political Category
TM3: Critiques and Renewals of Democracy
TM4: Normative Conflicts and Transformations
TM5: The Challenge of Gender
TM6: Political Economy of Growth and Distribution

Fellowship Terms & Conditions:
Senior Fellowships are for up to 6 months. ICAS:MP will either pay a stipend or reimburse a teaching substitute in the home institution of the successful candidates. Fellows also receive airfare costs and allowances for housing and other costs in Delhi.
Junior Fellowships can be awarded for up to 7 months. ICAS:MP will pay a stipend plus an allowance for housing, visa and travel costs. Fellowship recipients will also be reimbursed for their round-trip airfare to New Delhi.

Application Process:

Interested applicants from related social sciences and humanities disciplines working on thematic fields relevant to ICAS:MP are invited to apply. Senior Fellows must be tenured
faculty or emeritus faculty. Postdoctoral Fellows must have successfully defended their doctoral dissertation at the time of commencing the fellowship.
Applicants are expected to possess adequate language skills (English, and if required by the applicant´s research project, the respective Indian or other languages).
Please submit applications (a single PDF comprising CV, list of publications, project description of 3000 words, and a research schedule for the fellowship period) along with a cover letter of one page that briefly outlines your experience and qualifications by email to Laila Abu-Er-Rub ( The cover letter should specify the type and duration of fellowship that is being applied for (e.g. Senior Fellowship, October 2019 – March 2020).
The research project should be related to a thematic module. For detailed module descriptions please consult the website of ICAS:MP
Additional notes: In TM 2, the Postdoctoral fellows are expected to closely cooperate with TM2's core project of digital "Extended Archives of Indian Labour". Of particular interest here are projects examining conflictual processes of formalisation and informalisation in the world of labour from an Indian or comparative perspective. In TM 5, fellows who conduct comparative research on the politics of gender and ways in which power and powerlessness are constructed in economic, social and cultural fields will be preferred, particularly researchers working on “Gender, Religion and Performance", "Gender and Reproduction", "Gender and Violence" or "Gender, Politics and International Relations. In TM 6, fellows may apply with research proposals on any one of the four research themes mentioned on the website, though preference will be given to proposals on the research theme "Political Economy of Economic Transformation".


TM 1: Prof. Shail Mayaram, CSDS Delhi (; Dr. Indra Sengupta, GHI London (
TM 2: Prof. Rana Behal (; Prof. Ravi Ahuja, CeMIS Göttingen (
TM 3: Prof. Rupa Viswanath, CeMIS Göttingen (; Prof. Amita Basviskar, IEG Delhi (; Prof. Srirupa Roy, CeMIS Göttingen (
TM 4: Prof. Rajeev Bhargava, CSDS Delhi (; Prof. Martin Fuchs, MWK Erfurt (
TM 5: Prof. Elisabeth Schömbucher-Kusterer, Würzburg (, Prof. Samita Sen (; Prof. Jörg Gengnagel, Würzburg (
TM 6: Prof. Sabyasachi Kar, IEG Delhi (

For all general enquiries, e.g. terms of conditions of the fellowship and financial compensation, please contact the Head of Administration Laila Abu-Er-Rub, ICAS:MP New Delhi (

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Anton Röhr gives a paper on 'Ready? Play! An Essay on the Relation between Ritual and Resonance in Tennis'

This paper tries to connect the abstract philosophical thesis of my dissertation about the relation between „ritual“ and „resonance“ with a specific topic, which is tennis. For that it analyses (in the first chapter) World-Self-Relationships in the domain of tennis and tries to point out moments of resonance, that can be experienced by players and spectators. After that, this Paper focuses (in its second chapter) on the fact, that resonance can never be completely controlled and predicted, which is an issue especially for the Players on court. Finally (in the last chapter) this Paper tries to develop an understanding on how rituals help tennisplayers to get in resonance with the game.

Monday, 11 June 2018

Qian Zhao is going to present a working paper on 'Civilization as Moral Background of Business Ethics'

“Ethical vacuum” in business in China is now a conclusion held by many domestic and western scholars. However, this conclusion is too easy to reach. It seems that contemporary China doesn’t have a unified, dominant and consistent ethical understanding. Indeed, one can observe moral pluralism but also moral confusion. And there is a strong call on businessmen to “acting ethically” by business ethicists. Business ethics in China deserves a profound research through moral background study which will help us better depict the difference. In this chapter, by employing the framework of moral background (Abend, 2014), I mainly analysize the empirical data from interviews and written resources of one China local business association. I argue, civilization is one type of moral background of Chinese business ethics. It emphasizes on civilized and cultured personal character.