Center for Interdisziplinary Research

Emotions: Synthesizers of Culture and Biology - Interdisciplinary Approaches

Opening Conference of the ZiF:Research Group 2004/05

Date: March 29 - 31, 2004
Scientific Organizers: Birgitt Röttger-Rössler, Hans J. Markowitsch (both Bielefeld)

The international conference officially opened the research year of the ZiF:Research Group Emotions as Bio-Cultural Processes. For three days, about 50 scientists from very different disciplines and with correspondingly diverse approaches intensively discussed current topics and questions in the research of emotions. Moreover, the attendance of several journalists pointed to the great interest that the general public has in the matter, which was also apparent at the mayor's reception of the Research Group in Bielefeld City Hall.
At the beginning of the conference, the organizing committee, comprising PD Dr. Birgitt Röttger-Rössler and Prof. Dr. Hans J. Markowitsch as scientific organizers as well as Prof. Dr. Harald Welzer and Prof. Dr. Gerald Hüther, introduced the Group's intentions and the basic research program. An important intention of the following talks was to illustrate the great spectrum of questions and approaches within the research of emotions. Nevertheless, potential interdisciplinary points of contact were also highlighted. In the contributions of the anthropologists Bradd Shore, Margot Lyon and William Jankowiak, as well as the interculturally oriented psychiatrist Aglaja Stirn, the culture-specific aspects of emotions were illuminated. The social sciences and Humanities provided another focus with talks by the philosophers Achim Stephan and Eva-Maria Engelen, the sociologists Katharina Scherke and Jack Barbalet, and the historian Alf Lüdtke. On Wednesday morning, Manfred Holodynski pointed towards aspects of the development of emotions from the point of view of developmental psychology, followed by Jaak Panksepp and Irene Daum who concentrated on the perspective of the natural sciences. Every contribution was followed by a lively and quite productive discussion of the topics.
However, the conference program did not only offer theoretical considerations but also quite practical suggestions. Thus, on the well-attended public evening lecture, the audience was not only informed on "Music as language of emotions" by the ceremonial lecture of Prof. Dr. Udo Will from Columbus (Ohio), it could also experience the musical expression of emotions themselves by a concert of the West-African band "Zolim", who stimulated the listeners to dance with to traditional African drumming. Moreover, at the end of the conference Henrik Albrecht, composer of "functional music", used a piano and a CD-player to show how emotional moods can be systematically generated in films or radio plays.
At large, the conference was successful in impressively conveying the spectrum of disciplines and approaches concerned with research in emotions. Even apart from the official contributions, the splendid atmosphere at the ZiF facilitated further discussions of the Group's work, which also yielded some important impulses for the first phase of the research year. An evidence for this might well be the spontaneous first meeting of all the Fellows directly following the last conference contribution, so that the future Fellows Bradd Shore and William Jankowiak also used the opportunity to attend.

  • Conference Program (PDF, ca. 44 kB)
  • Homepage of the ZiF:Research Group "Emotions as Bio-Cultural Processes"

Henrik Albrecht (Köln), Jack Barbalet (Leicester), Henrik Bollermann (Bielefeld), Benita Cantieni (Zürich), Michael J. Casimir (Köln), Radoslaw Martin Cichy (Oxford), Bernd Clausen (Bielefeld), Irene Daum (Bochum), Alfred Dress (Krefeld), Eva-Maria Engelen (Konstanz), Kathrin Fischer (FrankFurt/M.), Ursula Gast (Bielefeld), Elfriede Hermann (Göttingen), Manfred Holodynski (Bielefeld), Claudia Hornberg (Bielefeld), Gerald Hüther (Göttingen), Martin Hubert (Köln), Sven Ismer (Göttingen), William Jankowiak (Las Vegas), Susanne Jung (Göttingen), Janna Lau (Göttingen), Alf Lüdtke (Erfurt), Maria Mayer (Salzburg), Margot Lyon (Canberra), Wulf-Uwe Meyer (Bielefeld), Sighard Neckel (Gießen), Eva M. Neumann-Held (Essen), Uwe Opolka (Delmenhorst), Jaak Panksepp (Bowling Green), Walter Pfaff (Dompierre-Les-Ormes), Martin Peper (Freiburg), Anneliese A. Pontius (Frankfurt/M.), Judith Rauch (Tübingen), Iliana Sardi (Leiden), Katharina Scherke (Graz), Anna Schwab (Essen), Bradd Shore (Atlanta), Ulrike Spörhase-Eichmann (Freiburg), Achim Stephan (Osnabrück), Aglaja Stirn (Frankfurt/M.), Thomas Stodulka (Göttingen), Marie Vandekerckhove (Nevele), Dirk Wedekind (Göttingen), Bernd Weisbrod (Göttingen), Beate Wefel (Bielefeld), Harald Welzer (Essen), Udo Will (Columbus), Oliver Wolf (Düsseldorf)

Henrik Bollermann, phone: +49-521-1062777, Email:

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