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Interdisciplinary Dialogue

With the event series Interdiscipliary Dialogue the BGHS expands the interdisciplinary discourse between doctoral researchers from History and Sociology to a new level. Professores from the Department of History and the Faculty of Sociology discuss about one topic from a variety of interdisciplinary perspectives.

First Interdisciplinary Dialogue

Grappling with the Global: The Challenge of Boundaries in Interdisciplinary Perspective

12 July 2017

The discussion round was titled Grappling with the Global: The Challenge of Boundaries in Interdisciplinary Perspective.

Prof. Dr. Ursula Mense-Petermann, director of the BGHS, gave a brief introduction to the topic and introduced the discussants. Afterwards everybody of them was asked to describe their own perspectives towards Grappling with the Global related to their own disciplinary backgrounds and research topics.

rof. Mathias Albert represented the Political Sciences. Angelika Epple, Professor of History with particular focus on the History of 19th and 20th Century, Assistant Professor Eleonora Rohland, whose research is about Entangled History in the Americas, 1600–1850 and BGHS guest researcher Alan Lessoff presented different perspectives from history.

Prof. Joanna Pfaff-Czarnecka focused on anthropological aspects of the Global and Tobias Werron, Professor of Sociological Theory highlighted some sociological questions within the topic Grappling with the Global

An open interdisciplinary debate and discussion about the Global was the main part of the event. Finally the discussion was opened for questions and comments by the audience.

What is Modernity? - Interdisciplinary perspectives on a contested concept

17 January 2018

The event was entitled What is Modernity? Interdisciplinary perspectives on a contested concept

Sisay Megersa Dirirsa, (History) and Edvaldo de Aguiar Portela Moita (Sociology) - two doctoral researchers of the BGHS - discussed with Joanna Pfaff-Czarnecka, professor for social anthropology at the Faculty of Sociology, Thomas Welskopp, professor for the history of modern societies at the department of history and Katsuo Nawa, professor für socio-cultural Anthropology at the University of Tokyo.

The discussion dealt in an interdisciplinary way with the complex and controversial topic of modernity. Not only theoretical questions were discussed. Also the challenges, problems and opportunities of dealing with the concept »modernity« empirically was one important aspect.

Katsuo Nawa started the discussion with some remarks on modernity from his perspective as an anthropologist, questioning the academic value of this concept. The other participants commented his ideas and added their own disciplinary approaches in the discussion.

Afterwards, the audience had the opportunity to ask questions. The event was chaired by Éva Rozália Hölzle, BGHS Alumna and PhD at the Faculty of Sociology.

Inclusion and Exclusion: Historical and Sociological Perspectives on Premodern Societies, the Law, and Organizations

4 July 2018

The topic was Inclusion & Exclusion: Historical and Sociological Perspectives on Premodern Societies, the Law, and Organizations.

The deputy director of the BGHS Prof. Dr. Thomas Welskopp introduced into the topic and welcomed the participants of the discussion. Afterwards every discussant explained how he or she approaches Inclusion/Exclusion.

For the sociological view Prof. Dr. Stefan Kühl and Prof. Dr. Alfons Bora were part of the panel. The historian perspective was represented by Prof. Dr. Antje Flüchter and Prof. Dr. Franz-Josef Arlinghaus.

Prof. Dr. Franz-Josef Arlinghaus described the meaning of Inclusion/Exclusion in medieval societies. As part of his statement he showed that even the death of a person did not necessarily mean his exclusion from society. His example was a law-suit in a case of murder, in which the widow mustn’t speak for herself but only in the name of her husband as the victim.

Prof. Dr. Stefan Kühl explained that he approaches Inclusion/Exclusion as the decisive mechanism for social systems in modern societies. As social systems he sees families, groups, movements and organisations. It is crucial for every system that it uses its own Inclusion/Exclusion mechanism.

Prof. Dr. Antje Flüchter gave insights about Inclusion/Exclusion phenomena in the early modern period. Beside other aspects she showed how a French colony in India had to deal with questions of Inclusion/Exclusion, since the colony’s French and Indian citizens were distributed to different law systems.

The perspective of law was also familiar to Prof. Dr. Alfons Bora, but with an sociological approach. For him, Inclusion/Exclusion is relevant in the process of juridification, when more questions of society can be judged by a court. As an example he mentioned the question if and how artificial intelligences should be made responsible for their decisions in front of a court.

The statements were followed by a discussion between the participants. In the end the audience addressed questions to the discussants.

Tracing Racism: Insights from Postcolonial Studies, Global History, Gender Studies, and the Law

3 July 2019

The topic was Tracing Racism: Insights from Postcolonial Studies, Global History, Gender Studies, and the Law. Tracing Race and Racism, scholars from four different faculties of Bielefeld University presentrf their respective views on racism and discussed them with each other and with the audience.

The discussants were: Prof. Dr. Ulrike Davy (Law), Prof. Dr. Angelika Epple (History), Prof. Dr. Julia Roth (American Studies) and Prof. Dr. Heidemarie Winkel (Sociology). Dr. Sabine Schäfer (BGHS) did the Moderation.

Society in Permanent Crisis?

27. September 2022

On the occasion of the 41st Congress of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Soziologie (DGS), which took place in Bielefeld, the Bielefeld Graduate School in History and Sociology (BGHS), in cooperation with the Volkshochschule Bielefeld, organized a panel discussion.

When crises or disasters occur, they must be responded to and managed. We expect politics, science and other responsible actors (including ourselves) to take countermeasures. Here, disputes can already take place: What is considered a crisis? What is the appropriate countermeasure? What means should or must be used? Can lessons be learned from dealing with previous crises?

At present, a variety of crisis experiences and crisis discourses overlap. Climate crisis, Corona pandemic and war in Ukraine keep shifting the attention of politics, the media and academia. The various crisis scenarios and crisis perceptions compete with each other, they overlap and they are played off against each other. But what does this mean for dealing with crises? Are measures or reforms prevented or made more difficult by this opposition? What does it mean for our own attention and perception of crises when the crisis mode becomes a permanent state?

In an Interdisciplinary Dialogue between sociologists and historians, the mechanisms of social perceptions of crises, crisis management and their transformations will be discussed.


Oliver Dimbath (Professor of Sociology, University of Koblenz-Landau)

Eleonora Rohland (Professor of Environmental History, Bielefeld University,

Markus Schroer (Professor of Sociology, University of Marburg) and

Silke Schwandt (Professor of Digital History, Bielefeld University).

Introduction and moderation:

Sabine Schäfer (BGHS) and Dr. Klaus Weinhauer (BGHS).

Scientific Understanding

21 November 2023

in 2023, the BGHS celebrated its 15th anniversary. Since 2008, it has organised and coordinated the joint doctoral programme of the Department of History and the Faculty of Sociology, and thus facilitates a variety of opportunities for academic and personal acquaintance and exchange. Interdisciplinarity, internationality and the promotion of individual initiative are the three basic principles on which the work of the BGHS is based. On this basis, the BGHS has become a 'learning community', a community that invites learning and is itself constantly learning.

On Tuesday, 21 November 2023, the BGHS celebrated the anniversary in the BGHS seminar room (X-B2-103). The event started at 6 pm with a talk between the new rector, Angelika Epple, and the two BGHS directors, Klaus Weinhauer and Ruth Ayaß, about graduate training at Bielefeld University.

At 6.30 p.m. there was an Interdisciplinary Dialogue in which four professors from different disciplines at Bielefeld University discussed how to achieve what seems to be self-evident: scientific understanding. Oliver Flügel-Martinsen (political theory), Marie Kaiser (philosophy of science), Lisa Regazzoni (theory of history) and Tobias Werron (sociological theory) were on the podium. Sabine Schäfer, executive manager of the BGHS, moderated. And of course, the audience was also welcome to join in the discussion.

The event ended with a reception in the BGHS lounge.

How is it actually possible to tell one's own life story against the backdrop of a complex historical context? The Interdisciplinary Dialogue on "Memories between Life Stories and History", which the BGHS hosted on Monday, 15 April 2024 at 6 p.m. in room X-B2-103, was dedicated to this question. The filmmaker Danielle Schwartz from Tel Aviv addressed this question in her award-winning short film "Mirror Image", in which she has a conversation with her grandparents about their biography. Using a wall mirror, which occupies a prominent place in the grandparents' house, different perspectives on historical circumstances are negotiated.

Danielle Schwartz introduced the film at the Interdisciplinary Dialogue and discussed the question of the relationship between life stories and history with sociologist Ruth Ayaß and historian Klaus Weinhauer. The dialogue was moderated by Sabine Schäfer from the BGHS. Following the dialogue, the BGHS invited everyone to a reception in the BGHS Lounge.

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