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8. August 2017, Melanie Altanian | 0 Comments

TransPositions Summer School 2017 (PP)

The full list of participants for the TransPositions Summer School 2017 in Utrecht is now announced!


9. April 2017, Melanie Altanian | 0 Comments

TPSS 2017

21–25 August 2017, Woudschouten Hotel & Conference Centre

This edition of the TransPositions Summer School focusses on material culture and the senses. How can we investigate sensory experiences of past material cultures or cultures that are not our own? And how can we reconstruct in our studies the experiential richness of ephemera and material practices “lost in transmission” or only preserved in textual sources? The summer school approaches these questions across different disciplines including art history, archaeology, anthropology, conservation, musicology, performance and media studies, cognitive science, and religion- and science studies.

Today the constitutive and performative nature of material culture has become widely acknowledged and researchers have developed different methodologies and tools to study the complex, dynamic textures and temporalities of material cultures. Scholars have shown, for example, that neither science nor religion can be studied as “immaterial affairs”. Instead, they study the material genesis of immaterial facts and spiritual presence with an integrated and inherently multi-disciplinary approach that does not prioritize mind over matter. At the same time, scholars from and across different disciplines have challenged notions of the senses as discrete and monolithic. Visual anthropologists study sensory perception as situated action that is guided by and sensible to material affordances of the environments; historians of the senses have convincingly shown how sensory notions and experiences change through time; conservators and technical art historians redefined the activity of looking as a learned competency that comes with handling materials and developing sensorial proficiency in assessing their textures and surfaces. These participatory and materially engaged approaches, prompt us to reassess notions of seeing in terms of “sensorial apprenticeship” and “skilled vision”. Moreover, new methods are explored across different disciplines, combining object-based and reconstruction research that train visual acuity and material literacy. In fact, the handling and remaking of cultural artefacts is increasingly understood as a powerful heuristic process. Yet, at the same time, these approaches give rise to ongoing controversies about the nature of material agencies, while the usefulness of embodied, extended and embedded mind theories for the study of past and present material cultures remain open to discussion.

Building on scholarship that brought materials and things to the centre of scholarly attention, we invite participants to contribute to critical interdisciplinary discussions, moving beyond the questions “Why materials?“ or “Why things?“ and exploring how we can become more perceptive to materials and sensible objects, how we can foster material engagements in our fields, and how we—as humanities and social sciences scholars—can apprentice ourselves (and our students) in sensory proficiency and skilled material expertise relevant to our research. In particular, the following questions will be addressed:

  • How can we investigate sensory experiences of past material cultures or cultures that are not our own?
  • How are human bodies involved in practices of making visible and palpable?
  • How can we educate our senses? How do we build sensory expertise and material literacy?
  • In what ways can performative and experiential methodologies help us to study the historical and cultural contingencies of sensory experiences?
  • How can we account for sensual and performative aspects of material culture in our own research output—in text, visual forms or in speech?

Invited keynote speakers

Ulinka Rublack
(Faculty of History, Cambridge University)

Lambros Malafouris
(Kebble College and Institute of Archaeology, Oxford University)

Rachel Prentice
(Dept. of Science and Technology Studies, Cornell University)

Shigehisa Kuriyama
(Dept. of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University)

16. October 2016, Melanie Altanian | 0 Comments

We asked some follow-up questions to our keynote lecturers, watch what they have to say below!

Guest lecturer Monica Juneja from the University of Heidelberg illuminates how new conceptions of current curatorial practices could create awareness of the relativity of disciplinary borders and transnational dynamic processes:


Guest lecturer Sandro Mezzadra from the University of Bologna explains why – in the face of today’s refugee crisis with all the media coverage on the return of fences, barbed wire and walls – it is necessary to see European borders not only as lines which disable or hinder mobility and exclude people, but to focus also on the productive aspect of borders:


Guest lecturer Bernhard Siegert from the Bauhaus University Weimar illuminates why – apart from economic and geopolitical processes – we should take into account aesthetics when dealing with today’s border regimes:


Guest lecturer Mary C. Fuller from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) elucidates why Richard Hakluyt’s collection is a text that is good to think with when it comes to the theme of border regimes:

12. October 2016, Melanie Altanian | 0 Comments











3Cs is born out of our enthusiasm with the power of maps

“We work on mapping in order to:

    • render new images and practices of economies and social relations
    • destabilize centered and exclusionary representations of the social and economic
    • construct new imaginaries of collective struggle and alternative worlds.

We seek to create collaborations for engaged research and cartography — transforming the conditions of how we think, write and map and the conditions about which we think, write and map.”

Check out their homepage for more information: http://www.countercartographies.org/

12. August 2016, Melanie Altanian | 0 Comments

Visible and invisible borderlands – art history’s unresolved epistemic frontiers

Monica Juneja

My talk takes its cue from Etienne Balibar’s designation of a border as something that goes beyond being a mere boundary between two states, rather performs a “world-configuring function”. In what ways does the notion of a border become a “condition of possibility” for the proliferation of boundaries as modes of producing authoritative knowledge? One important domain of such knowledge has been art history that, participating in and even constitutive of processes of nation building, was conceived of as a path to understand and account for the particularities of “national cultures”. My talk engages with these epistemic foundations and early histories of the discipline at a profoundly global conjuncture as it negotiated a dialectic of crossing and redefining boundaries. From the strivings of early “world art histories” (Weltkunstgeschichte) to encompass a new and ever-increasing diversity of objects that had made their way from regions of the world to Europe and confronted museums, curators, publics and not least a discipline fixated on Classical Antiquity with fresh challenges, I look at the way concepts of modernist art history get appropriated, re-configured and also reaffirmed as the discipline migrates beyond Europe to colonies and young post-colonial nations. I argue that this exercise assumes an urgency in contemporary times as art history strives once again to become “global”, carried by the euphoria of dissolving borders and a shared art world generated by contemporary art and the “excess visibility” (Jean Fisher) it accords to cultural difference. To what extent does the “intimate proximity” (Okwui Enwezor) induced by the global contemporary eschew an engagement with art history’s unresolved epistemic frontiers and what would be the logical consequences of a transcultural art history that worked to replace inherited notions of culture and the art historical apparatus that rests on them with more dynamic models of identities constituted through transborder relationships?

8. August 2016, Melanie Altanian | 0 Comments

Global Borders

Sandro Mezzadra

Many studies have mapped in recent years the proliferation and the increasing relevance of borders in the contemporary world. Far from taking this sheer fact as an argument against “globalization” the lecture will show that borders are currently crucial devices in the articulation of really existing global processes. The point will be made that the border itself provides a privileged angle on the production of global space and time, as well as on the nature of contemporary capitalism and the production of subjectivity that characterizes it. The lecture will start by highlighting the constitutive role played by borders in the origin and development of a world system dominated by state and capital. I will then analyze from the point of view of the shifting shape and functions of the very institute of the border the multiple transitions characterizing the present. I will elaborate upon some key concepts forged in critical border studies to make sense of these transitions – ranging from “differential inclusion” to “internal borders”, from “border regime” to “border struggles”. Against the background provided by these concepts the lecture will end with a discussion of the current developments of the crisis of the European border regime since the “summer of migration” in 2015.

8. August 2016, Melanie Altanian | 0 Comments

The Tides of Babylon: The Apocalypse of Territoriality in Melville and D’Annunzio

Bernhard Siegert

Babylon is the name of the triangle between the founding (and the stabilizing) of a collective, the symbolic (as law), and the elementary space of the sea. In the Revelation of John Babylon is called the “the great harlot who sits on many waters”, who will be annihilated by the coming of the New Jerusalem. At the beginning of modernity – in Herman Melville’s Confidence Man – as well as around 1900 – in Gabriele D’Annunzio’s La Nave (but also in authors like Kafka et al.) – the Apocalypse is revisited in different ways, which represent alternative models of reflection of what Carl Schmitt diagnosed in 1950 as crisis of the European Nomos.

The thesis from which I depart is, that the construction of meaning is dependent on the historical conditions of possibility to operationalize the distinction between land, sea, and air (and the “ether”), to translate that distinction in anthropological, religious, and political knowledge, to transgress it, to negate it, and to re-enact it within technical media. In so-called “modernity” the constructedness and contingency of meaning becomes a part of culture; referentiality appears as mediated by technology; the coupling between signifiers and signifieds is no longer guaranteed by the Great Other but is related to a technical process of articulation and hence to some original formless, which discovers its own cosmological prototype by revoking the distinction between land and sea.

Both, Melville and D’Annunzio, depart from a crisis of the land-sea-distinction when conceiving of the frontier society or the political community – a crisis which gives rise to an immense movement of deterritorialization. Melville’s last novel interprets the frontier between the territory of the US and the terra nullius as the limits of an ontologically secured territoriality, which once guaranteed the stability of sign relations and identities; whereas D’Annunzio’s literature pursues the program of an imperial re-territorialization in the name of a renovated Mare Nostrum.

The reflection of the culture-technical backgrounds of these apocalyptic models, which are so deeply rooted in Western culture, appears to be exigent in our present times as we are told that Europe’s external borders have stopped to exist, and old legal- and geo-political concepts loom in the background of the current discussion on the Decline of the West: mare nostrum, res omnium, terra nullius and the New Nomos of the Sea.

8. August 2016, Melanie Altanian | 0 Comments

Who are “we”? A global text in 1600

Mary Fuller

I will be speaking about Richard Hakluyt’s Principal Navigations (1600) –an enormous and diverse collection of travel writing and related documents published at the end of Elizabeth I’s reign. The contents of the collection document movement into regions and contact with populations that were new to participants, authors, and contemporary audiences: Africa, the Arctic, the Americas, Asia, and the Pacific. They evidence the translation of practice into discourse, and theory into practice. Finally, the editor’s delineation of spatial regions as discrete paratextual categories offers evidence of the ways spaces and populations were being conceptualized, in a work that has long been regarded as among the founding documents of an English national identity grounded in an imperial relation to the rest of the world. My work explores how literary methods can most productively be applied to materials emerging from in historical experience and from non-narrative practices of writing as recording: how can we best read this collection, as textual analysts? I’m especially interested at present in the ways collective identities are shaped, reshaped, and articulated in and across the documents that make up the book, from the micro-level of individual ships’ companies to the macro-level of nation and confession; this topic will be the focus of my talk.

13. June 2016, Melanie Altanian | 0 Comments

File Jun 10, 12 54 15 PM (2) Mary Fuller is Head of Literature at MIT. Her research focuses on the records of early modern English voyages, exploration, and colonization, with a secondary interest in the history of books and of reading; more generally, she is interested in how complex experiences are shaped into narrative and enter into historical memory. She has published two monographs on early modern exploration and its documents – Voyages in Print (Cambridge, 1995) and Remembering the Early Modern Voyage (Palgrave, 2008) – as well as numerous articles and chapters on Caribbean poetry, climate theory, exploration narratives and video games, early modern circumnavigations, and Renaissance narratives of travel to Russia, West Africa, Guiana, Newfoundland, and Istanbul. In 2011, she directed an NEH summer seminar on interdisciplinary approaches to the study of early modern travel. She is currently a volume editor for the Oxford edition of Richard Hakluyt’s Principal Navigations, and serves as U.S. representative to the Hakluyt Society. She was Associate Chair of the Faculty for MIT in 2011-13. Website

Regarding the topic of the Summer School 2016, her areas of expertise include history of early modern voyages, exploration and colonization, cultural encounters, cartographies

MJuneja Bild2 (2) Monica Juneja holds the Chair of Global Art History at the Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Context”, University of Heidelberg. She has been Professor at the University of Delhi, held visiting professorial positions at the Universities of Hannover, Vienna, the Emory University, Atlanta and the University of Zurich. She was recently Resident Scholar at the Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles. Previous awards include fellowships of the Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and the Volkswagen Foundation. Her research and writing focus on transculturality and visual representation, disciplinary practices in the art history of Western Europe and South Asia, gender and political iconography, architectural history of South Asia, Christianisation and religious identities in early modern South Asia. Her numerous publications include Religion und Grenzen in Indien und Deutschland: Auf dem Weg zu einer transnationalen Historiographie (2009, ed. with M. Pernau); Global Art History and the „Burden of Representation“ in Global Studies. Mapping Contemporary Art and Culture (2011, eds. H. Belting et al.); Archaeologizing Heritage? Transcultural Entanglements between Local Social Practices and Global Virtual Realities (2012, ed. with Michael Falser); Kulturerbe Denkmalpflege transkulturell: Grenzgänge zwischen Theorie und Praxis (2013, ed. with Michael Falser). Her book in preparation is entitled Can Art History be made Global? A Discipline in Transition, based on the Heinrich Wölfflin Lectures which Monica Juneja delivered at the University of Zurich (Feb-May 2014). Monica Juneja edits the Series Visual and Media Histories (Routledge), is theme editor of the Encyclopedia of Asian Design (Berg), on the editorial board of Visual History of Islamic Cultures (De Gruyter), Ding, Materialität, Geschichte (Böhlau), History of Humanities (University of Chicago Press) and co-editor of Transcultural Studies. She has recently co-curated the exhibition Mensch.Natur.Katastrophe. Atlantis bis heute, Reiss-Engelhorn-Museen, Mannheim 2014-15. Presently she is working in an advisory capacity in the program Museum global? with the Kunstsammlung Nordrhein Westfalen, Düsseldorf. Website

Regarding the topic of the Summer School 2016, her areas of expertise include global art history, transcultural visuality, cultural translation, transcending boundaries

Sandro Mezzadra Sandro Mezzadra teaches political theory at the University of Bologna and is adjunct fellow at the Institute for Culture and Society of the University of Western Sydney. He is currently visiting research fellow at the Humboldt Universität Berlin (BIM – Berliner Institut für empirische Migrations- und Integrationsforschung; October 1, 2015 – July 31, 2016). He has been visiting professor and research fellow in several places, including Humboldt Universität Berlin, Duke University, Fondation Maison des sciences de l’homme (Paris), University of Ljubljana, FLACSO Ecuador, and UNSAM (Buenos Aires). In the last decade his work has particularly centered on the relations between globalization, migration and citizenship as well as on postcolonial theory and criticism. He is an active participant in the ‘post-workerist’ debates and one of the founders of the website Euronomade (http://www.euronomade.info/). Among his books: Diritto di fuga. Migrazioni, cittadinanza, globalizzazione (“The right to escape: Migration, citizenship, globalization”, ombre corte, 2006), La condizione postcoloniale. Storia e politica nel presente globale (“The postcolonial condition: History and politics in the global present”, ombre corte, 2008) and Nei cantieri marxiani. Il soggetto e la sua produzione (“In the Marxian Workshops. The Subject and its Production”, Manifestolibri, 2014). With Brett Neilson he is the author of “Border as Method, or, the Multiplication of Labor” (Duke University Press, 2013). Website 1 Website 2

Regarding the topic of the Summer School 2016, his areas of expertise include colonial and postcolonial studies, frontiers of citizenship, border struggles, inclusion and exclusion, global governance, transit labour

06.11.2013 - Portraets Mitarbeiter und Fellows des IKKM der Bauhaus Universitaet WeimarBernhard Siegert is Professor for Theory and History of Cultural Techniques at the Media Faculty at the Bauhaus University Weimar. He gained his Dr. phil. in 1991 from Ruhr-Universität Bochum (German Literature, History, Linguistics), and his Habilitation from Humboldt-University in 2001 (venia legendi for Kulturwissenschaft and Media Studies). Since 2008 he is one of the two directors of the International Research Center for Cultural Techniques and Media Philosophy at Weimar. Since 2013 he is the spokesman of the DFG Research Group “Media and Mimesis” at the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar. He has been Senior Fellow at the IFK in Vienna, Visiting Professor at the University of California at Santa Barbara (2008 and 2011), LeBoff Visiting Scholar at the Department for Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University (2015), and in 2016 he won the International Visiting Scholar Award of the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. His current research focuses on the cultural history and theory of the ship and the ocean, hybrid and quasi-objects, the genesis of representation, and operative ontologies. His recent books are: Passage des Digitalen. Zeichenpraktiken der neuzeitlichen Wissenschaften 1500 – 1900 (Berlin: Brinkmann & Bose, 2003); Passagiere und Papiere. Schreibakte auf der Schwelle zwischen Spanien und Amerika (Munich: Wilhelm Fink, 2006), Cultural Techniques: Grids, Filters, Doors, and Other Articulations of the Real, trans. by Geoffrey Winthrop-Young (New York: Fordham University Press, 2015). He is also the co-editor of the journal Zeitschrift für Medien- und Kulturforschung and of the year-book Archiv für Mediengeschichte. Website

Regarding the topic of the Summer School 2016, his areas of expertise include media philosophy, comparative visual and cultural theory, medial and cultural triages (grids, filters, doors, passages)

16. May 2016, Melanie Altanian | 0 Comments

When: 4 – 9 September 2016
Where: Seminarhotel Alfa Soleil, Kandersteg near Berne, Switzerland
Languages: English (main), German
ECTS: 6 | Costs: 500 Swiss francs (travel and accommodation [double room] covered by organizer)

Application deadline: 20 May 2016

Official Call

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