‘Experts and Mediators of Knowledge in the 20th Century:
To be held in Schmoeckwitz, Berlin, September 4-11, 2005
Convenors: Andreas Eckert, Professor of African History, University of Hamburg, Germany; Marianne Braig, Professor of Political Sciences, Institute for Latin American Studies, Free University, Berlin, Germany; Shalini Randeria, Professor of Social Anthropology, University of Zurich, Switzerland
In conjunction with the research project ‘Ways of Knowledge’ at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin
Participants in this Summer Academy will discuss the circulation of knowledge and cultural transfer processes in the tensile field of mutual relations and interconnectivity. Particular emphasis will be placed on interaction among non-European societies, Europe and the United States, as well as on interactions between non-European societies. We will proceed from the assumption that these contacts exerted a formative influence on all interacting parties, and that they are embedded in the process of social and cultural globalization. The aim of the Summer Academy is to examine and debate these processes without reproducing Eurocentric assumptions about the linear transfer of knowledge.
The Summer Academy will focus on experts, translators and mediators of knowledge. These individuals and groups, including local teachers, government employees, mission catechists, traders and journalists, had to mediate and translate between different worlds in colonial and post-colonial societies. In the colonial period, these experts and mediators were able to gain a new authority as representatives of knowledge, and they increasingly benefited from the order of knowledge established by colonialism.
In the process, they entered into competition with other, often religiously rooted orders of knowledge and their representatives—and with European experts who claimed the exclusive monopoly on the ‘right knowledge’ and tried to push it through. In this way, competing expert cultures and knowledge orders emerged that interacted in manifold ways. Thus more recently the ‘experts’ in international development agencies increasingly refer to ‘local knowledge’ and ‘local experts.’ In this process, however, local experts and knowledge are often only just ‘constructed’ as ‘local.’
A closer look at experts and mediators of knowledge will enable us to reveal complex, ‘interactive’ networks of competing orders of knowledge, orders which resulted not only from an often hierarchical communication between representatives of European and non-European societies, but also from communication among non-European societies only. Moreover, we seek to provide impulses for cooperation between regional research and the systematic disciplines.
We welcome candidates from the disciplines of history, anthropology, literature, sociology, political sciences as well as area studies. Applicants should be at the doctoral or postdoctoral level. Ph.D. holders should have received their doctorate in the last five years. Proposed projects should employ a historical perspective and emphasize connections beyond the national state. Travel expenses and costs incurred during the stay in Berlin will be covered (pending the definite confirmation of funding).
To apply, please send the following documents in English:
A curriculum vitae
A statement about current research relevant to the Summer Academy’s theme; length: up to 1,000 words (not counting cited references)
The names and addresses (incl. e-mail) of two references
Application deadline: 30 April 2005
Candidates will be informed in mid-May whether they have been accepted. Participants will be asked to submit a full paper (10,000 words) in English by end of July to be distributed to the other participants.
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