Diese Seite ist nur auf Englisch verfügbar.

Research TandemsShaping Access

An interdisciplinary research project on the handling of human remains in collections of the Ethnographic Museum vPST and Heidelberg University. The engagement with those remains held in museum and university collections is a complex scientific and societal challenge that highlights numerous social, political, economic, medical and ethical concerns. This Research Tandem aims to explore and transfer strategies into society that address these concerns on a theoretical and practical level.

Project Description

The Research Tandem (RT) brings together collections from the Ethnographic Museum vPST with those of Heidelberg University’s Institutes of Anatomy and Geosciences, as well as Egyptology, which is hosted at the Heidelberg Center for Cultural Heritage (HCCH). The transdisciplinary project creates synergies via close collaboration of scientists from Fields of Focus (FoF) 3 and 4 with geosciences (FoF2), medicine (FoF1) and a central transfer partner within the museum landscape of Heidelberg, the Ethnographic Museum of the J. u. E. von Portheim Foundation (vPST).

We seek to contribute to an internationally visible research hub on collaborative Cultural Heritage and Museum Studies based on both theoretical and practical engagement. The RT is an incubator for exhibitions, conferences, seminars, and workshops, through which we pursue two specific goals: (1) the redesign of collections to actively involve an interested public (TRANSFER) and (2) the development of new scientific methods that embed collections in a genuinely transdisciplinary research practice (COLLABORATION).

In order to recalibrate the collections towards these goals, the RT understands itself as a "collaboratory" in which scholars explore transformative possibilities of access and participation through processing, networking and digitizing of relevant objects, some of which are unique in the world. Along these lines, we wish to make a strong and original contribution to most timely debates about the proper handling of human remains and the associated moral-ethical implications – intensified in Heidelberg by the controversial commercial exhibition "Bodyworlds" of anatomist Gunther von Hagens. Our transdisciplinary work is to mobilize the collections in question to define what is "good", if not "best practice". The RT thus has pilot character for the future display, networking and indexing of collections in Heidelberg and beyond.

The Team

The team. From left to right: Carsten Wergin (project lead), Roman Sokiranski, Martina Schmalholz, Sara Doll, Karen Nolte (project lead), Dina Faltings, Janina Wurbs, Alban von Stockhausen (project lead)