On the coronary heart of globalization
A new, federally funded, international research center at the Ludwig Maximilians University (LMU) in Munich is examining globalization from an unusual angle. It will look at the complexity of global interdependent networks in terms of the dynamics of “dis: connectivity”.
On the surface, globalization promises more of everything – more speed, more efficiency, more internationality – an inexorably increasing degree of networking and concentration. “But that is a view that needs to be simplified,” says Roland Wenzlhuemer, Professor of Modern and Contemporary History at LMU. “Globalization also encompasses opposing forces and limiting factors, detours, discontinuities, and the loss or lack of connections.” Furthermore, any serious attempt to understand the complexities of globalization must take into account the dynamics of connectivity and its erosion, he adds. – And if proof of this thesis was needed, the current coronavirus crisis will provide it. The rapid spread of the pandemic was made possible by the worldwide networks of exchange and interdependence and can only be effectively combated by breaking as many of these connections as possible.
To refer to this characteristic feature of globalization processes, Wenzlhuemer and his LMU colleagues Burcu Dogramaci (Professor of Art History) and Christopher Balme (Professor of Theater Studies) coined the term “Dis: connectivity”, which is also the central theme of the new Käte Hamburg International Research Center at the LMU. The Federal Ministry of Education and Research has promised to support the project initially for 4 years with 7.9 million euros. According to the Federal Government, the Käte Hamburger Program “should make a contribution to the further development of networks and research structures in the humanities in order to strengthen the international profile of the scientists working in Germany.
Wenzlhuemer regards the concept of ‘Dis: connectivity’ as “a completely new approach to researching the phenomenon of globalization”. Processes based on interconnections inevitably lead to the loss of existing connections and / or the lack of necessary connection elements. “When people migrate, they quickly reach their limits, encounter obstacles and are exposed to discrimination,” emphasizes Wenzlhuemer, “or to use another example, while markets for certain goods and services are often integrated with one another, while others remain regional or through customs barriers are protected. “In the next few years, the new research center aims to establish and research a more complex and practice-oriented understanding of globalization.
The researchers at the new Käte Hamburger Center want to “develop an innovative model that combines scientific approaches with aesthetic aspects in order to capture the phenomenon of globalization in all its complexity and fluidity”. For this reason, art historians will be a central element in the research concept of the center and Wenzlhuemer (historian), Dogramaci (art historian) and Balme (theater historian) will act as directors.
Research at the center is structured as part of the fellowship program, which enables around 10 researchers and artists to work in Munich each year. In addition, the center will maintain close contacts with other cultural institutions such as theaters and museums in the city and is planning to set up a “Transfer Lab”, which should also stimulate dialogue with the public.
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