New Centre for Asian and Transcultural Studies at Universität Heidelberg
28 June 2013
Heidelberg University is getting a new Centre for Asian and Transcultural Studies (CATS). The new research facility on the Bergheim Campus will receive funding of about 20 million euros in total after the Joint Science Conference of the German Federal and State Governments approved the grant application this Friday (28 June 2013). The infrastructure planned for CATS creates a platform for bringing together research activities from different disciplines and for dealing with issues in the study of South, East and Southeast Asia. “This new facility will provide the space our university urgently needs for the innovative concepts that bring forward-looking and profile-defining projects to fruition”, states Prof. Dr. Bernhard Eitel, Rector of Heidelberg University.
The new CATS research facility, financed by the German Federal Government and the State of Baden-Württemberg, will offer approx. 5,000 square metres of office, teaching and library space on the Bergheim Campus. As a multimedia “collaboratorium”, the new centre will provide central access to three departmental libraries focusing on South Asian, East Asian and Southeast Asian Studies. Media laboratories are also planned along with a Digital Humanities Unit, a facility for the development and use of digital resources in the humanities, social sciences and cultural studies. In addition to the new construction, the existing buildings which were formerly part of the university hospital and lie adjacent to the Karl Jaspers Centre for Transcultural Studies, which houses the Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Context”, are to be renovated and remodelled for CATS use. The Centre for Asian and Transcultural Studies will include the South Asia Institute, the Centre for East Asian Studies, the Institute of Anthropology and the Heidelberg Centre for Transcultural Studies.
“From a scientific point of view, work at the CATS will allow us to approach the history and development of Asia more holistically: not solely from a western perspective, but from an Asian perspective as well”, explains Indologist Prof. Dr. Axel Michaels who, together with Sinologist Prof. Dr. Barbara Mittler, has been responsible for the application for the new centre. Theoretical concepts and research methods developed in Asia will be introduced into the disciplines moulded along European/Western lines and their effectiveness explored. “We thus hope to bridge the differences between the more methodologically oriented disciplines and area studies and initiate a change in perspective within the core disciplines of the social sciences and humanities", emphasises Prof. Mittler. Research projects at CATS will focus on the socioeconomic and transcultural dynamics of power and the impact of social, demographic and cultural change. Other areas of interest include the controversial topic of religion, changes in the environment and health as well as the consequences of urbanisation and migration.
More than 50 scholars from various disciplines at Heidelberg University will be part of the Centre for Asian and Transcultural Studies. It builds on work begun at the Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe” and will also benefit from the expertise of the Collaborative Research Centre (CRC) “Ritual Dynamics” now finishing up its third and last funding period as well as the new CRC “Material Text Cultures”.