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31 October 2006

The Clash of Civilisations

"Studium Generale" at the University of Heidelberg homes in on fundamentalism

The clash of civilisations is the big topic in the media. So the "Studium Generale" series of lectures starting on 6 November at the University of Heidelberg is very much in keeping with the spirit of the times, though the title it has been given is a little more low-key: Civilisations in Dispute. At 7.30 p.m. every Monday evening in term-time, the various speakers and their audiences will be engaging with different aspects of this subject. Admission is free and the lectures are not only designed for students. Anyone interested can come along. The Great Hall of the New University in the Grabengasse seats an audience of anything up to 700 listeners.

On 4 December, Prof. Detlev Junker, founding director of the Heidelberg Center for American Studies, will be talking about fundamentalism in the USA. On 20 November, Prof. Shalini Randeria (Department of Ethnology, University of Zurich) indicates the relationship between, religion, the state and history in India in her lecture on Hindu fundamentalism. Islamic fundamentalism, its origins and evolution is the subject of the lecture by Prof. Susanne Enderwitz (Islamic and Arab Studies, Department for the Languages and Cultures of the Middle East, University of Heidelberg) on 15 January.

On 11 December, Prof. Christoph Schwobel of the Institute for Hermeneutics and Intercultural Dialogue of the University of Tübingen will be addressing a related issue: "Is the Clash of Civilisations a Religious War?"

A number of the lectures will be focussing on the influences and hostility that civilisations are exposed to. "Cultural Identities in the Age of Globalisation" is the title of the lecture on 13 November by Prof. Bernd Thum of the Institute of Sociology, Media and Cultural Studies at the University of Karlsruhe. Other talks addressing similar problems are scheduled for 27 November and 18 December, the first of these centring on "Ethnic-Cultural Conflict and Peace-Building Education Measures" (Prof. Volker Lenhart, Institute of Educational Studies, University of Heidelberg), the second on "The Europe of the East? — China's New Challenge to Foreign Cultural Policy" (Dr. Manfred Osten, former secretary-general of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation).

In the first lecture, on 6 November, Prof. Uta Gerhardt of the Institute of Sociology at the University of Heidelberg will provide an introduction to the whole subject and address some of the crucial issues it involves: "Why Fundamentalism?" One of her central research interests is the sociology of fascism.

The final lecture in the series, on 22 January, does not have a title yet, but the controversial and combative journalist and author Henryk M. Broder has plenty to say on civilisations in dispute. His main interests revolve around Judaism, nationalism and the German left.

Birgit Sommer

The programme of the Studium Generale can be found on the internet at www.uni-heidelberg.de/univ/generale/index.html

Please address any inquiries to:
Dr. Michael Schwarz
Press Officer of the University of Heidelberg
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 54317

Irene Thewalt
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 542317

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