International Conference: Things that Connect

Press Release No. 218/2012
2 October 2012
Event organised by the Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe” and CRC 933 “Material Text Cultures”

Heidelberg University’s Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Context” is hosting its 2012 annual conference from 10 to 12 October. Around 150 scholars from all over the world will examine the question of the stories things tell when people develop a connection to them. Co-hosting the event is the University’s Collaborative Research Centre (CRC) “Material Text Cultures. Materiality and Presence of the Scriptural in Non-Typographic Societies”. The main speakers include the Director of the British Museum in London, Neil MacGregor, and the archaeologist and anthropologist Prof. Dr. Ian Hodder of Stanford University.

The Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Context” examines the processes of exchange between cultures, ranging from migration and trade to the formation of concepts and institutions. A central question is in which dynamics the transcultural processes between and within Asia and Europe develop. On the topic of the annual conference, its organiser, Prof. Dr. Monica Juneja, notes: “Every history of a thing also enables a frequently unusual glimpse of the ‘greater’ history of its surroundings and inspires us to adopt a new perspective in reflecting on our ideas of space and boundaries, and on the complex relations between power and culture. We take an interdisciplinary approach to investigate what the materiality of things means for people and their behaviour.” The attention of Material Culture Studies is here particularly drawn to artefacts bearing inscriptions, as examined in the collaborative research centre.
The history and meaning of things will also be taken up by Neil MacGregor. The director of the British Museum in London first told the history of the world in 100 objects in 2010 in several radio programmes and later in a well-received book. His lecture entitled “Trajectories of Meaning: the Shifting Power of Things” is part of the opening session, which is scheduled to take place on 10 October in the Great Hall of the Old University building at 6 pm. The next day (11 October) Prof. Hodder will speak on “From Materiality to Entanglement” in the Karl Jaspers Centre for Advanced Transcultural Studies, room 212. This second keynote address will deal with the question of dependencies in relations between things and people. It will begin at 6.30 pm.

The conference “Things that Connect – Pathways of Materiality and Practice” addresses researchers and students and all others interested in the dynamics and effect of cultural exchange processes. Alongside the keynotes, the programme includes panel discussions and workshops, which will feature research results from the Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe” and the CRC 933 “Material Text Cultures”. In addition, there will be a poster exhibition by doctoral students and a farewell concert. The venue on 10 October is the Great Hall of the Old University, Grabengasse 1. On 11 and 12 October the annual conference will take place in the Karl Jaspers Centre, Voßstraße 2, Building 4400. Details on the programme along with enrolment forms are available at

Information on the Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Context” and CRC 933 “Material Text Cultures” are to be found at and

A tip for newsrooms
Members of the media are warmly invited to attend and report. Please register with An interview can be arranged with Neil MacGregor on request.

Dr. Alexander Häntzschel

Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Context”
phone: +49 6221 54-4008

Communication and Marketing   
Press Office, phone: +49 6221 54-2311

Editor: Email
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