Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg

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room E 01.1
Research Cluster
Society and Culture in Motion
Reichardtstraße 6
06114 Halle (Saale)

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The Research Cluster Society and Culture in Motion

The Research Cluster "Society and Culture in Motion"

Origin

The Research Cluster (RC) and Graduate School (GS) “Society and Culture in Motion” (SCM) emerged out of the graduate center “Asia and Africa in Global Reference Systems” in 2008. Since that time, the Research Cluster has extended its scope from regional studies to include the systematic disciplines of the humanities and social sciences. Today, SCM represents the research focal point of three university faculties. Here, the social sciences, humanities, law, as well as economics and regional studies come together in a fruitful exchange and jointly develop inter- and trans-disciplinary grant applications for research projects. Formative for the RC is the fact that it is a joint endeavour with the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology.

Objectives

At the center of the research is the analysis of movement – and thus also the persistence – of people, ideas, artifacts and models in both international contemporary and historical contexts. Movement as the diffusion of elements of epistemic, ontological, normative, and material orders are being investigated with respect to their meaning for changing social figurations. People translate circulating elements into their own contexts, experiment with them, and in some cases even contribute to the creation or emergence of new institutions.

All our research goes by the guidelines of the DFG: https://www.dfg.de/en/research_funding/principles_dfg_funding/good_scientific_practice/index.html   

Tasks

The Research Cluster and the Graduate School serve to support the professional development of excellent young researchers. They are oriented toward the increasing demand both for regional specific expertise and the development of interculturally linked perspectives. The individual perspectives of the participating subjects have come together to form shared interdisciplinary research interests. Methodologically philological, cultural-historic, philosophical, and historical subjects work hand in hand with disciplines, which work in a social scientific empirical manner. The respective research projects are integrated into the field of tension encompassing regionally oriented competencies and worldwide interconnected complexes of ideas. As such, both the Research Cluster and the Graduate School take into consideration the growing internationalization of scientific discourses and intend to actively contribute to this process of internationalization.

Research Program

Techniques of Future-Making: Crisis and Translation

Why do societies and cultures move in a particular direction (and not the other)? The Research Cluster investigates this guiding question by deploying the concepts of techniques of future-making, crisis, and translation. Modern and postmodern societies can be characterized through a variety of techniques of future-making: plans, projects, prognoses, benchmarks, indicators, profit expectations, among others, increase the “shadow of the future” for present actions.

The perception of the shocking consequences of techniques of future-making refers to the notion of crisis. Potentially far-reaching, destructive crises of the financial markets, international debt crises, demographic and ecological crises epitomize the fact that expectations of the future can clash with real-world developments, leading to the readjustment of these expectations or to the intensification of structural crises. A main focus of the Research Cluster is the reconstruction of the complex relationship between techniques of future-making and crises because, on the one hand, crises are often a direct consequence of techniques of future-making, while on the other hand, techniques of future-making are constantly developed and deployed in order to address crises.

Models represent a technique of future-making with perhaps the most serious consequences. Epistemic, practical, or artefact-centred models have been circulating for the past two centuries, shaping world society and world culture. While modernization theory conceptualizes the circulation of these models as processes of diffusion, the empirical analysis reveals that many models are being altered along the way to their local implementation. In fact, this “translation” of practices, knowledge, and artifacts constitutes an important element in the creation of social innovations which, in turn, encourage new practices in other parts of the world. Its international and interdisciplinary orientation enables the Research Cluster to investigate cultural experiences of social catastrophes as well as social translations of models in different countries.

The Research Cluster thus aims to analyse techniques of future-making in order to gain a deeper understanding of unintended consequences of these techniques, as well as of the innovative translations of these techniques and models.

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