Ambiguity and difference: Historical and cultural dynamics

Ambiguity and difference: Historical and cultural dynamics

Distinctions are the foundation of the structures and the order of our world. They do this in a very basic way, for example by allowing us to distinguish one object from the rest of all possible sensual experiences. But above all they do this with regard to social relationships by differentiating human beings according to e.g. their gender, ethnicity or religion – sometimes with considerable social consequences for the people affected by this process of differentiation. Differentiations like these are the mortar of social order. But the doing of differences is time and again confronted with phenomena that, although calling for a certain differentiation, do not seem to fit on either side of the difference.

These situations of ambiguity are the research object of a research group at the University of Duisburg-Essen with the working title “Ambiguity and difference. Historical and cultural dynamics”. The application for funding is currently being prepared to be submitted to the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. The eight participating projects of the research group study phenomena of ambiguity from a wide range of settings: from Italy in the Late Middle Ages to the colonial societies of North America to the politics of doing art in present day Turkey.

Mutual benefit between the research group and the Main Research Area “Transformations of contemporary societies” is to be expected: On the one hand, situations of ambiguity occur frequently in the wake of processes of globalization, which is the focal point of the Main Research Area. On the other hand, by providing expertise in pre-modern settings the research group will add a historical perspective that allows for an extension of the study of contemporary societies. Therefore, the Main Research Area has kindly agreed to fund a theme development workshop. At this workshop, a preliminary version of the funding application for the research group will be discussed with and tested by invited guests. The workshop will take place at the beginning of November 2017.

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Contact

Prof. Dr. Benjamin Scheller
Historisches Institut, UDE
Universitätsstr. 12, 45117 Essen, Germany
E-Mail: benjamin.scheller@uni-due.de

Marcel Müllerburg, M. A
Historisches Institut, UDE
Universitätsstr. 12, 45117 Essen, Germany
E-Mail: marcel.muellerburg@uni-due.de