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The Power of Things: Objects in Cultural Exchange Processes

12 10 2009
Series of lectures organised by the “Asia and Europe” Cluster in the winter term 2009/2010

What role do objects play in cultural exchange processes? This question is the central concern of the lecture series “Die Macht der Dinge – The Power of Things and the Flow of Cultural Transformations” organised by Heidelberg University’s Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Context” in the winter term 2009/2010. The speakers are renowned experts from the United Kingdom, the United States and Switzerland. The lectures will be held in English every Thursday in term-time from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Karl Jaspers Centre. The series begins on 15 October 2009, when Prof. Dr. Nicholas Thomas of the University of Cambridge will be giving a talk entitled “Maori Carving and Colonial History. A Supplement to Tene Waitere’s Travels”.

While cultures define themselves through objects in a variety of ways, they are also “colonised” by alien objects. These things then attain such familiarity that they are no longer perceived as “foreign” and become integral elements of the culture in question. “Objects migrate between cultures, they transport ideas, become integrated and acquire new meanings in new cultural contexts,” says Prof. Dr. Lieselotte E. Saurma of the Institute of European Art History, the organiser of the lecture series. The speakers will be discussing these exchange processes and their effects from the perspective of their respective subjects. Among the “things” they focus on are wood carvings, musical instruments and silk.

The lectures will be held at the Karl Jaspers Centre (conference hall 212), Voßstraße 2, Building 4400. For more information go to

Iris Mucha
Cluster “Asia and Europe in a Global Context”
phone: +49 6221 544008

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