Cultural Transformations in the Age of Globalization (Kultrans)

It has long been a trend of research into culture and society to consider culture as a system for the production of identity and difference. In recent times, however, a shift has taken place: to an increasing extent, culture is regarded as a site for change, for multiple and complex processes of change within different domains, at different places and often at different speeds.

A distinctive feature of such processes is that they go beyond the limits of what is known and shared, whether these be professional, national or period boundaries. To meet this challenge, Kultrans will conduct research that is transdisciplinary, transnational and transhistorical.

Change takes place when people, texts, things or concepts cross boundaries. New confrontations and exchanges are played out; new connections and constellations take shape. Languages change, texts are read and used in new ways, laws are developed and challenged, institutional formations, practices and identities shift, familiar objects take on new forms.

The dynamics of change in itself demands an appropriate research dynamics that is flexible and multiperspective, one that focuses on the interplay of forces between identity and difference, continuity and rupture, tradition and innovation.

Transformations means – briefly put – change in the plural. While change, like history, progress or evolution, appears to presuppose a unitary movement, ‘transformations’ designates multiple, varied and often intersecting processes which must be studied in their own right. Subsequently, it becomes necessary to investigate the ways in which different transformations – social, political, linguistic, scientific or cultural – impact on one another. Kultrans will identify and analyse such processes with regard to their internal dynamics, mutual relations and effects.

Transdisciplinary. Kultrans conducts research that cuts across the borderlines of disciplines, specializations and faculties. That this research is transdisciplinary rather than interdisciplinary implies that the active, conscious and constant crossing of disciplinary borders has in itself become a key theme. What are the theoretical, methodological and empirical questions that come to the fore once the established borders between specializations and disciplines are crossed?

Transnational. Kultrans will investigate what happens when the world becomes a space of communication and interaction in competition and exchange with other political, social and geographical entities. Rather than focusing on national contexts and traditions, Kultrans will conduct research that has an explicitly comparative and transnational aim. The principal focus will be directed towards cultural transformations that challenge national identities, traditions and legal or moral systems.

Transhistorical. A decisive contribution from Kultrans as a cross-disciplinary field of research will be to give research on globalization and cultural transformation a clear historical and diachronic dimension. By ‘globalization’, as a kind of contemporary buzz-word within the humanities and social sciences, we thus do not mean a development in communications technology or economic relations specific to the last few decades, but an indefinite number of shifting activities and processes that have taken place over several centuries, with various geographical and institutional points of departure, but with the world as a horizon, arena or goal.

Published Feb. 17, 2009 3:49 PM - Last modified Jan. 9, 2012 11:19 AM