July 24,2024

Hybrid Book Talk with Wang Yiman: To Be an Actress.
Labor and Performance in Anna May Wong’s Cross-Media World

Time: 24. July, 11—13 (German time) / 17—19 (Chinese time)
Venue: Centre for Asian and Transcultural Studies (University of Heidelberg), Room 010.00.01, Voßstraße 2 | 69115 Heidelberg

The talk is open to a wider online audience. If you are interested in participating online, please send a short message to register with and we will share the link with you before the session.

Chinese American actress Anna May Wong (1905—1961) is one of the most intriguing and complex personalities of the early to mid-20th century media landscape. As a “defiant misfit”, Yiman Wang claims, she “innovated nuanced performances to subvert the racism and sexism that beset her life and career”.

Wang Yiman, Professor of Film & Digital Media at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and former fellow of the Heidelberg “Worldmaking” project “Epochal Lifeworlds: Narratives of Crisis and Change”, offers a new perspective on Wong beyond that of a controversial star. In her multifocal and transmedial study based on extensive archival work, she focuses on Anna May Wong’s actual performance and labor, offering the reader a new perspective on Wong’s career and her challenging of the racialized and gendered framings of her times.

The book is available for free on: 


July 9, 2024

The Guerrilla Economic
Reforging Everyday Life in China’s Guerrilla Bases (1937-1945)

Speaker: Dr. Harlan David Chambers (University of Göttingen)
Time: July 9, 2024, 19:15 (CEST)
Venue: CATS R. 010.01.05, Voßstraße 2, 69115 Heidelberg

How did the guerrilla emerge as a figure for economic thinking in China’s revolutionary history? Throughout the 1930s, the guerrilla was mediatized across Republican China as a global figure of resistance struggle. At the same time, China’s own Communist movement was developing guerrilla tactics, which Mao Zedong famously formulated in wartime speeches on guerrilla strategy. I will argue that, during China’s WWII “war to resist Japan” (1937-1945), the guerrilla was reconfigured as a Communist strategy to make global resistance local, specifically through relations of the guerrilla to its projects for economic reconstruction. This integration of the guerrilla and the economic emerged in party reports and cultural works developed in guerrilla zones behind enemy lines, where fighters’ “mobile attack” (游擊) approach was conceptualized in relation to projects to develop economic systems for the base areas (根據地). With a particular focus on documents from the first major Jin-Cha-Ji base area in the late 1930s, I will argue that these experiments forged a “guerrilla economic:” an experiment to rethink economics as a social practice intimately linked to everyday life under wartime crisis. This stimulated a reimagining of the economic as unleashed from institutionalized expertise and rooted instead in active, broad-based participation.

The first part of this talk examines the emergence of the guerrilla across the 1930s and 1940s as a key figure in the political imagination of Chinese thinkers and revolutionaries. From Ethiopia to the Soviet Union, the guerrilla was conceived as an anti-colonial and anti-fascist combatant relevant for the strategies of China’s Communist own “mobile attack” units. The second part then analyzes how the guerrilla was conceptualized, in theory and practice, in relation to economic development projects of the Jin-Cha-Ji base region. To further elaborate on this guerrilla economic as it developed in the political imagination, I will finally turn to cultural experiments of writers who used creative fiction to think along with the guerrillas in their midst.

About the speaker

Harlan Chambers completed his Ph.D. in Modern Chinese Literature and Culture at Columbia University in 2022 and served as a Visiting Assistant Professor of History at Illinois Wesleyan University before joining the Department of East Asian Studies at the University of Göttingen in 2024. As an interdisciplinary scholar of Chinese culture and history, as well as feminist and critical theory, his research interrogates the role of cultural practices in processes of social transformation, integrating archival research with analyses of cultural texts. He is currently developing his dissertation into a book-length project, Revolutionary Times: Narrating the Social in China’s Mass Campaigns, examining how writers and artists forged a new politics of time amidst the revolution’s history of mass campaigns.

As part of a research team exploring the history of conceptions of world order at the University of Göttingen, Harlan will interrogate internationalist cultural experiments in world-making.These include aesthetic and theoretical projects related to the League of Leftwing Writers, Sino-African relations, and cultural efforts to reimagine China’s place in the world amidst crises of the 1930. Harlan is also examining internationalist aesthetic debates of the early People’s Republic of China, particularly their relation to questions of socialist transition. This builds upon a series of workshops that he previously co-organized and hopes to continue developing at Göttingen, “Chinese Socialism in/as Theory: Political Economy in Revolutionary China.” In addition to peer-reviewed scholarship in Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, he has translated or co-translated works by Wang Hui, Li Tuo, Zhang Jishun, and the contemporary artist Cao Fei, for positions: Asia Critique, Modern China, and The South Atlantic Quarterly.


June 19, 2024

Digital Workshop Series “Digital Dialogues 數字對話” #18
The Minjian Avant-Garde: Book Talk and Discussion with Chang Tan

Time: June 19, 2024, 13:00-14:30 (Central European Summer Time), 19:00-20:30 (China Standard Time)

Access: Zoom. Please contact Chang Liu ( for the link and reading materials.

In her new book The Minjian Avant-Garde: Art of the Crowd in Contemporary China, Chang Tan departs from the usual emphasis on art institutions, global markets, or artists’ communities. Instead, she presents a new analytical framework within the theories of socially engaged art that stresses the critical agency of participants, the affective functions of objects, and the versatility of artists in diverse sociopolitical spheres. She examines how experimental artists in China mixed with, brought changes to, and let themselves be transformed by minjian, the volatile and diverse public of the post-Mao era.

The minjian avant-garde, Tan’s book shows, was unique in their attempt to simultaneously engage in world-making and world narration, populism and radicalism. Minjian, an indispensable actor of world-making in China, are often more complex, defiant, and savvy than elites would assume, and they could constitute either a democratizing or coercive force. Tan questions the fetishization of marginalized communities among practitioners of progressive art and politics, while showing how the art forms the avant-garde invented mediated between human and non-human actors and negotiated with epochal changes.   

Organized by Chang Liu, research fellow at Heidelberg University, the event is part of the “Open Humanities Lecture Series” and the Digital Dialogues series of the project “Worldmaking from a Global Perspective: A Dialogue with China,” funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research ( Following Chang Tan’s introduction of her book, Yizhou Wang, research assistant professor at Hong Kong Baptist University, and Emily Williams, associate professor at Xi’an Jiao Tong-Liverpool University, will join as discussants to reflect on some of the issues discussed. The book talk will conclude with an open Q&A session with the audience.


Short Bios:

Chang TAN is the associate professor of Art History and Asian Studies at Penn State University. Her research interests include global avant-gardism, public and socially engaged art, eco art and activism, vernacular art, and the history of collecting and exhibiting Asian art. Her first book The Minjian Avant-Garde: Art of the Crowd in Contemporary China (Cornell 2023) critically assesses the rise of populism in both art and politics. Her current book project, supported by the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. and the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation, studies collaborative artmaking and the emergence of vernacular modernisms in diasporic Chinese communities. She is also working on a co-edited volume that focuses on ecocriticism and art in the Sinophone world.

 Yizhou WANG, born in Chongqing, is a research assistant professor in art history and theory at the Academy of Visual Arts of Hong Kong Baptist University. She received her Ph.D. in Chinese art history from Heidelberg University. Before her doctoral studies, she studied Japanese and Korean art history at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, and received an M.Litt. in Arts of China from the University of Glasgow. Her research interests cover various topics in East Asian art history, ranging from painting to photography and from medieval and early modern periods to modern times. She has published peer-reviewed articles in Ming Qing StudiesResearch on Women in Modern Chinese HistoryChung Cheng Chinese Studies, and edited volumes. Besides academic research, Wang is also enthusiastic about experimenting with curatorial practice and video arts.

Emily WILLIAMS is a cultural historian of modern China, with a particular interest in Maoist material culture and collections of red relics in contemporary China. She received her Ph.D. from Birkbeck College, University of London in 2016, and has taught at Birkbeck College, Christie’s Education London, and the School of Oriental and African Studies, London. She joined Xi’an Jiao Tong Liverpool University in 2018 and is associate professor and head of the Department of China Studies. She teaches modules in Chinese history, society, and aesthetics. Her first book, Collecting the Revolution: British Engagements with Chinese Cultural Revolution Material Culture (Rowman Littlefield), was published in 2022.

Chang LIU recently defended his PhD thesis, MAOdonna: The Social Life of Madonna in Post-Mao China, in Transcultural Studies at Heidelberg University (in cotutela with Ca’ Foscari University of Venice). He is currently a research fellow at the “Worldmaking from a Global Perspective.” He has written on contemporary popular music, including several forthcoming essays such as “Songs of the World: On the Global Dissemination and Geopolitics of Chinese Rock” and “The Environmentalist Guide to China’s Rock ‘n’ Roll: From Slow Violence to Activism.” Before pursuing a research career in academia, he was based in Beijing and served at the French Embassy in China as the musical affairs officer.


May 29, 2024

Rethinking Socialist Environmental Media:
Screening and Conversation with Trinh T. Minh-ha

Time: May 29, 7:30-10:30pm (GMT-7)

Venue: UCSC Communications Building Studio C

Organized by Worldmaking’s fellow Prof. Yiman Wang

Bio: Filmmaker, writer, composer Trinh T. Minh-ha is a Distinguish Professor of the Graduate, School at the University of California, Berkeley. Her work includes: 1) nine feature-length films (including What About China? 2021, Forgetting Vietnam 2016, NightPassage 2004, The Fourth Dimension 2001, A Tale of Love 1996, Shoot for the Contents,1991, Surname Viet Given Name Nam, 1989, Naked Spaces, 1985, and Reassemblage,1982) honored in some sixty-nine retrospectives around the world; 2) several large-scale multimedia installations, including In Transit (Manifesta 13, Marseille, 2020) L’Autre marche (Musée du Quai Branly, Paris 2006-2009), Old Land New Waters (3rd Guangzhou Triennial, China 2008, Okinawa Museum of Fine Arts 2007), The Desert is Watching (Kyoto Biennial, 2003); and 3) numerous books, such as Lovecidal. Walking with The Disappeared (2016), D-Passage. The Digital Way (2013), Elsewhere, Within Here (2011), Cinema Interval (1999), and Woman, Native, Other: Writing Postcolonialityand Feminism (1989). Her many awards include the 2014 Wild Dreamer Lifetime Achievement Award at the Subversive Film Festival, Zagreb; the 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award from Women’s Caucus for Art; the 2012 Critics Choice Book Award of the American Educational Studies Association; the 2006 Trailblazers Award at MIP Doc in Cannes, France; and the 1991 AFI National Independent Filmmaker Maya Deren Award. Her latest film, What About China? has received the 2022 New: Vision Award atCPH: DOX Film Festival in Copenhagen; The 2022 Golden Gate Persistence of VisionAward at the San Francisco Int. Film Festival and the Prix Bartók at the 2022 Jean RouchFilm festival, the Inspiration Award at Viet Film Fest, a Special Commendation at the BFILondon Film Festival and the Presidential Award at the Royal Anthropological Instituteof Great Britain and Ireland Film Festival.

What About China? By Trinh T. Minh-ha 2021, Digital film, 135 mins
In the politics and ethics of representation, the challenge of speaking nearby (rather than merely “about”) takes on a new lease of life with each film made. To refuse the readymade of packaged specialized knowledge is to keep open that relation of infinity within the finite n filming, writing, and research. When one works in a nonknowing mode, one remains open to allowing things to come to oneself in an unexpected way. Ear, eye, and voice, for example, never duplicate one another. They interact in counterpoints, syncopations, off beats, and polyrhythms. As the base from which form is created and undone, rhythm determines both social and sensorial relationships. The play of hear and see constantly solicits the hearing eye and the seeing ear, and multivocality can be intimately experienced in its multisensory bodily diversity.
Drawing from footage shot mostly in 1993–94 in villages in eastern and southern China linked in common lore to the remote origins of the country’s civilizations, What about China? takes the notion of harmony in China as a site of creative manifestation. Highly valued as a virtue and a guiding criterion in ethics, harmony has played an important role in the lives of Chinese people since ancient times—harmony with society, harmony with nature, and harmony with oneself.

May 14, 2024

Digital Workshop Series “Digital Dialogues 數字對話” #17
Entangled Encounters at the National Zoo: Book Talk and Discussion with Daniel Vandersommers

Im Rahmen der Digital Workshop Series “Digital Dialogues 數字對話” diskutieren Wissenschaftlerinnen und Wissenschaftler verschiedene Teilaspekte und Fragestellungen des Verbundprojekts.

Entangled Encounters at the National Zoo

Starting from the second half of the nineteenth century, zoological gardens became a global phenomenon as they began to appear in almost every major city around the globe. In his new book, Entangled Encounters at the National Zoo: Stories from the Animal Archive, historian Daniel Vandersommers explores the particular fate of the National Zoological Park of Washington, DC as a site of human-animal interactions during the period from 1887 to 1920. He shows how the animals tried to escape the human confines both literally, by running away, as well as figurately, by resisting the constructions that were created at the zoo. In addition, Daniel Vandersommers shows how the zoo was entangled with virtually every aspect of American science, culture, and conservation through what he calls “popular zoology.” The zoo was a public space at which knowledge about nature and animals was produced and spread within society, it was therefore an important space of “worldmaking.”

Organized by Chang Liu, research fellow at Heidelberg University, the event aims to highlight the manifold roles of the National Zoological Park in American history but also to situate Zoo Studies within the global context of the time by bringing in perspectives from East Asia, and China in particular. Accordingly, following Daniel Vandersommers’s introduction of his books, the two discussants, Todd Foley, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Chinese Literature at NYU, and Matthias Schumann, postdoctoral research fellow at Heidelberg University, will reflect on some of the issues discussed in the book based on their own work on human-animal relations in East Asian history. Afterwards, there will be an open Q&A with the audience.

The event is part of the “Open Humanities Lecture Series” and the Digital Dialogues series of the project “Worldmaking from a Global Perspective: A Dialogue with China,” funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.


May 14, 2024, 6 am (PST), 9 am (EDT), 3 pm (CEST)


The event will take place on Zoom. If you are interested in participating, please contact Chang Liu (

The Speakers:

Dan Vandersommers is an assistant professor of environmental history. His research interests reside at the intersection of environmental history, animal studies, science studies and posthumanism. Dan is the author of “Entangled Encounters at the National Zoo: Stories from the Animal Archive” (University Press of Kansas, 2023), coauthor (with Tracy McDonald) of Zoo Studies: A New Humanities (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2019), and is a Lead Editor of Animal History, the first journal of record in the field. He is currently writing a book titled The Zoo, Uncaged: A New History, under contract with Reaktion, which is a global history of zoos. And he is working on projects concerning race, human zoos, and zoological science.

Todd Foley is an adjunct assistant professor at NYU, where he teaches courses on Chinese literature and film. His research focuses on ideas of humanity and animality in modern and contemporary Chinese literature, as well as ideas of world literature and translation. His published work on the topic of human/animal includes articles on Lu Xun, Mao Dun, Xiao Hong, and Can Xue.

Matthias Schumann is a postdoctoral research fellow at Heidelberg University, where he works on the intersections of religion, society, and politics with a particular focus on human-animal relations. He is co-editor of a recently published volume, Communicating with the Gods: Spirit-Writing in Chinese History and Society (Leiden: Brill, 2023).

Chang Liu recently completed his PhD thesis in Transcultural Studies at Heidelberg University, titled MAOdonna: The Social Life of Madonna in Post-Mao China. He is currently a research fellow at the “Worldmaking from a Global Perspective” project, hosted by the Heidelberg Centre for Transcultural Studies. He has several forthcoming essays, including “Songs of the World: On the Global Dissemination and Geopolitics of Chinese Rock” and “The Environmentalist Guide to China’s Rock ‘n’ Roll: From Slow Violence to Activism.” He is currently in the early stages of preparing a project on China’s “Transformers Craze,” grounded in the field of energy humanities. Before pursuing a research career in academia, he was a diplomat who served at the French Embassy in China as the musical affairs officer.

Time: 6 am (PST) | 9 pm (EDT) | 3 pm (CEST)


May 13—14,  2024

Evironmental Symposium on A Gathered Dialogue
Eco-afterlives and Slow Hope

Co-conveners: Dr. Zimu Zhang (LCS); Dr. Jamie Wang (LCS)

Location: May 13: C-LP-02, The Education University of Hong Kong, Tai Po, HKSAR; May 14: Lamma Island

Registration deadline: 6 May 2024, 23:59. Online participation is available upon request. For further information and to register for the event, click here.

Amid the environmental degradation and mass extinction, life and lifeforce is cut short, ruptured, recomposed by industrial capitalism and technocratic development. The afterlives of many become the witness and/or embodiment of slow violence (Nixon, 2013) and entangled colonial, racial and environmental injustice.

As agricultural drug diclofenac kills the Gyps Vultures, as ghost fishing nets around the world drown various marine mammals, and as transcorporeal toxicity enacts new modes of “toxic kinship” (Alaimo, 2010; Cielemęcka and Åsberg, 2019), the multi-dimensional afterlives of “multi-being” (Reid, cited in Price and Chao 2023) require urgent attention and new modes of thought and engagement. Thinking of and with the afterlife in the Anthropocene is to move beyond the human timescale, to dismantle the life and death binary, and to take seriously the ongoing “intra-activities” (Barad 2010) of biotic and abiotic matters. 

How might our “weather bodies” (Neimanis and Walker, 2014) continue to index the afterlives of heat, rainfall, flood, toxins and the half-lives of radioactive waste? What are the by-products of some supposed sustainable technological (techno-optimistic) methods, and their impacts? As we grapple with these tensions and intricacies, we propose the term “eco-afterlives” to explore and foreground the interconnection and valence of “eco” and “afterlives”, and their spatial, temporal and material dimensions. Approaching eco-afterlives not only attends to the ecological and metabolic cycles of the many beings, but also considers them as relational and situated phenomena. It seeks to explore the way in which these relations impact, structure, make and unmake worlds. The possible ecomediation of afterlife confronts the uneven environmental debt, the hierarchized life and lifeforms, and the unmourned more-than-human death and loss. It invites us to befriend the ghosts and monsters from the Anthropocene ruins, and to speculate with our “oddkin” (Haraway 2016).  

The proposition of eco-afterlives also channels us to commoning, reconciliation and hope. Christof Mauch (2019) proposes “slow hope” as a much needed constellation to engage with and counter “slow violence” and its associated paralysing scenarios. Slow hope points to gradual, quiet yet processual endeavours. It inspires us to both explore alternative ways towards a more just and sustainable future and re-story hopeful narratives that are often untold. Practising slow hope compels us to tell stories of vulnerability and counter-stories that attest to both the tenacity of eco-mediations and the limits of extractive logic and ecological traps.    

This interdisciplinary symposium seeks to create a space where theory, praxis gather to imagine an onto-epistemological shift in accounting for the ongoing aftermath of anthropocentric disasters and enacting new modes of hope and worlding through the notion of eco-afterlives and slow hope. We are concerned with life, loss, and unevenly distributed environmental impacts. More importantly, we ask: How might the thinking of eco-afterlives enable other kinds of relations of a more-than-human world through eco-mediations? As militarisation, colonialism, nuclear power, plantations and their afterlives continue to haunt and sustain slow violence, how might a different approach to the ambivalent notion of hope (re)story human-environment relations? What are some of the ecological practices that resist the death narrative, and sustain death into life (Rose, 2004)? 

The opposite of fast is rarely slow (Wang, 2023). Rather being slow may be a radical process of unlearning and learning hope otherwise, opening up ways for transformation and reflective reproduction. While highlighting some of the ecological narratives, we also ask: What are the temporal and material dimensions of hope and slowness contextualised in and animated by Hong Kong and other translocal areas? What are the issues, frictions and compromises that may be associated with some ecological initiatives themselves? 

We invite you to think of, with, through these questions with us, and one another. By centring environmental humanities scholars and practitioners with particular grounding in Hong Kong and other parts of Asia, and beyond, this symposium attempts to create a space for situated dialogues, collective visions, and the development of practices and actions inspired by the translocal tenacious sparks despite the seemingly overwhelming Anthropocene challenges.



May 10—12,  2024

Israel in Egypt: Konzert/Projektion/Installation—Heimat? Auf der Suche

Israel in Egypt: Konzert/Projektion/Installation—Heimat? Auf der Suche 

Ein Beitrag zum Wissenschaftsjahr Freiheit, in Kooperation zwischen CATS Worldmaking in Global Perspective—A Dialogue with China, Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften &  Junge Kantorei Frankfurt/Main 

o  10. Mai 2024, 18:00 Uhr, Wartburgkirche Frankfurt 

o  11. Mai 2024, 18:00 Uhr, Stadthalle Hofheim Hofheim

o  12. Mai 2024, 18:00 Uhr,  Neue Universität, Aula, Grabengasse 3-5, 69117 Heidelberg

o   Junge Kantorei, Frankfurt / Main

o   FENG Chi-Han, Multimediakünstlerin

o   Jonathan Hofmann, Künstlerische Leitung 

Der brutale Kampf um Heimat und damit verbunden, territoriale Besitzansprüche, die dieser Tage so viele Menschen an unterschiedlichsten Orten dieser Welt erleben, lassen sich in einer großen Erzählung bereits in den ersten Kapiteln der Bibel wiederfinden, die vielseitig in Musik und Bild aufgegriffen und weiterverarbeitet wird: Den im ägyptischen Exil unterdrückten Israeliten gelingt – mit Gottes (brutaler) Hilfe – der Aufbruch in die Freiheit. Händels Israel in Egypt ist eine gewaltvolle Geschichte der immer neu wiederholten Suche nach Heimat. Die bildgewaltigen Texte sollen in dieser Aufführung musikalisch erlebbar und spürbar werden — im Dialog mit Bildern ganz anderer Heimatsuchender, hier der taiwanischen Multimedia-Künstlerin FENG Chi-Han, die die Geschichte in die Gegenwart holt und erfahrbar macht.

The sons of Israel do mourn,
and they are in bitterness;
all the people sigh
and hang down their heads to the ground.
Israel in Egypt, Teil I, 2

He rebuked the Red Sea, and it was dried up.
He led them through the deep as through a wilderness.
Psalm 106,9; Israel in Egypt, Teil II, 12

But the waters overwhelmed their enemies,
there was not one of them left.
Psalm 106,11; Israel in Egypt, Teil II, 12

The depths have covered them,
They sank into the bottom as a stone.
Exodus 15,5; Israel in Egypt, Teil III, 18

Geschichten von Heimatsuchenden, von denen die Heimat finden und von den Ängsten, die beides auslöst, den Kämpfen, die es nötig zu machen scheint, bestimmen unsere Reflexionen in diesem Konzert. Dabei können wir keine einfachen Antworten geben — Ist Gewalt wie die eines Gottes, der seine verfolgten Anhänger rettet, auf dass sie wieder Heimat finden, gerechtfertigt? Es sind Glaubensbekenntnisse: an den einen Gott, die eine Politik, den einen Lebensstil, die bestimmte Be- und Entheimatungsprozesse und die sich daraus oft ergebenden Gewaltakte bedingen — solche gibt es überall auf der Welt, nicht nur, aber auch  in der Volksrepublik China, wo Uighuren, Hongkonger, Taiwanesen, Rechtsabweichler, Katholiken, Avantgarde-Künstler und Nicht-Heterosexuelle gleichermaßen ausgegrenzt, kriminalisiert und entheimatet oder mit gleichschalterischen Parolen und militärischen Mitteln beheimatet werden. 

Im Kern sind die Geschichten, die diese Schicksale erzählen, auch in Israel in Egypt schon zu entdecken: Hier beobachten wir eine Gruppe von Menschen, die, weil sie Hunger leidet, die Heimat verlassen muss. Die Menschen sind verbunden durch den einen gemeinsamen Glauben. Auf der Suche nach einer neuen Heimat finden die Flüchtigen Hilfe im Nachbarland. Auch wenn dort ein anderer Glaube herrscht, sind sie zunächst in der Lage, sich dort eine neue Heimat aufzubauen. Durch einen Regierungswechsel werden sie nun selbst zu einer politisch unterdrückten Gruppe — nicht alle wollen in der neuen Heimat ihrem (fremden) Glauben folgen. Sie erleiden, ob dieses Glaubens, Diskriminierung, Gewalt, werden versklavt. Ihr Glaube wird aber nicht schwächer dadurch, im Gegenteil: Als sie sich erheben, ist es eben der Glaube an die Macht ihres Gottes, der ihnen hilft. Angeführt von Moses, können sie sich befreien, doch Gott rächt sich grausam an denen, die anders denken — „There was not one of them left … they sank into the bottom as a stone“ (Teil II, 12 und Teil III, 18; Psalm 106,11 und Exodus 15,5). Und während sie so die Hoffnung wiederfinden, die sie trägt, auf ihrer beschwerlichen Reise durch die Wüste, während sie im Glauben an Gott eine für sie schlüssige Narration, unter der all ihre furchtbaren Erfahrungen gebündelt werden können, finden, müssen wir uns fragen, ob diese Art des einen einzigen Glaubens und der damit verbundenen einseitigen Narration, die blutige Spuren hinterlässt und auf der anderen Seite Dunkelheit und Tod verbreitet, noch tragen kann in einer Welt, die vielleicht nichts mehr braucht als Frieden und Verständnis: „He sent thick darkness over all the land, even darkness which might be felt … He smote all the first born of Egypt” (Teil II, 8; Exodus 10,21; Psalm 105,36)? 

Israel in Egypt, die Geschichte der Israeliten in Ägypten ist eine gewaltvolle Geschichte der immer neu wiederholten Suche nach Heimat. Basierend auf der Tora (Fünf Bücher Mose) und dem Alten Testament (Mose & Exodus), erzählt das Oratorium eine Geschichte von zweimaliger Flucht und Rettung — vor dem Hunger und vor der Sklaverei. Händel vertont die Geschichte in drei Akten. Auffallend ist der große Choranteil: Wichtigster Protagonist der Geschichte ist das immer wieder neu suchende und von Gott ausgewählte Volk Israel, keine Einzelperson. Die bildgewaltigen Texte sollen in dieser Aufführung musikalisch erlebbar und spürbar werden — im Dialog mit Bildern ganz anderer Heimatsuchender, hier einer Künstlerin aus Taiwan. Wir haben es mit einer figuralen Setzung zu tun, in der das Publikum noch einfühlender, bewusster der Geschichte folgen und sie auf andere Situationen übertragen können soll. 

Synopsis: Eine Hungersnot lässt die Israeliten fliehen aus dem gelobten Land (Kanaa) nach Ägypten, wo sie Hilfe suchen und finden — Ägypten wird zur zweiten Heimat, wo Josef gemeinsam mit dem Pharao regiert und also den Israelis Geborgenheit bringt (Teil 1 des Oratoriums: „He deliver’d the poor that cried, the fatherless, and him that had none to help him. Kindness, meekness and comfort were in his tongue“ (Teil I, 4 Lamentation of the Israelites for the Death of Joseph; Hiob 29,12). Mit im Gepäck haben sie die Idee eines einzigen Gottes. Dass dieser Gott den Israeliten ein Land versprochen hat, macht den anderen, Alteingesessenen, in der neuen Heimat der Israeliten, den Ägyptern, auch Angst. Und so werden sie nach dem Tode Josefs unterdrückt, versklavt: Erst Moses gelingt es, sein Volk aus der Knebelung zu führen — Gott befreit es mit seiner Hilfe: Durch Wunder und furchtbare Plagen, die Gott den Ägyptern auferlegt, welche voller Angst und Schrecken reagieren, ist den Israeliten — nun erneut auf der Flucht — der Auszug aus Ägypten möglich (Teil 2 des Oratoriums: „Egypt was glad when they departed, for the fear of them fell upon them.“ Teil II, 11). Noch viele Jahre wird das Volk Gottes dann durch die Wüste ziehen und erneut nach Heimat suchen, bevor es auf den Berg Sinai gelangen wird, wo ihm Gott die Tora und die Heimkehr offenbart. Freude und Dank für die Möglichkeit und die Gewissheit, eine neue Heimat nicht nur suchen, sondern diese auch finden zu dürfen, ist Inhalt des 3. Teils des Oratoriums: „The Lord is my strength and my song, he is become my salvation… He is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation“, Teil III, 15–16).

Szene: Das Orchester ist fester Bestandteil im Raum, alle anderen ‘Figuren‘ (Chor, Solist:innen, Publikum, bildende Kunst) bewegen sich, der Architektur des Oratoriums folgend, um dieses herum und verändern dabei jeweils ihre Position/Perspektive — auf der Suche. In der Gesamtschau ergibt sich eine Art zeitliche und räumliche Landkarte zum Thema Heimat, Heimatverlust, migrierender Bewegung, Flucht, Exil und Fremdheitserfahrung. 

Der Dialog mit dem Werk einer bildenden Multi-Media Künstlerin aus Taiwan wird dabei den Raum, in dem wir agieren, mit Erfahrungen füllen, die konkret und zeitgenössisch sind, und die so die im Oratorium erzählte Geschichte der lsraeliten aufgreift, ergänzt, überschreibt, aktualisiert, mit Blick auf zeitgenössische Phänomene von Heimat, Heimatverlust und Fremdheitserfahrung. Die Summe aller gebündelten Erfahrungen und Eindrücke, die gezeigt und verhandelt werden, wird zu einem Geflecht, das zumindest ansatzweise abbilden kann, wie komplex die Suche nach Heimat ist und dass Heimat nicht zwangsläufig nur etwas mit Orten, sondern auch mit Menschen oder dem eigenen lch und seiner Beziehung zu einer bestimmten Umgebung zu tun haben kann. Es entsteht eine inhaltliche Dramaturgie, die darauf basiert, Geschichten zu erzählen und zu erleben und den Raum in seiner Gesamtheit mit Chor, Orchester und bildender Kunst zu einem Ort des suchenden Erfahrens — Erlebens — Verstehens — Handelns — und Fragens zu machen. Omnisensorisch und performativ wird der Aufführungsraum selbst zu einer Landkarte des Suchens von Heimat, in der die Geschichte auch losgelöst vom konkreten christlichen Kontext erfahrbar werden kann. Das Publikum wird dabei in der Begegnung mit und Erfahrung von Musik und Bild in Raum und Zeit als Figur in der Geschichte mitgedacht.

Raum: Das Orchester ist als nicht beweglicher Erzähler in der Mitte des Raumes verortet. Es steht dort, monolithisch fast, wie eine Gruppe, die Heimat gefunden hat und deren Definition von Heimat sich dadurch mit dem lst-Zustand einer Heimatdefinition im Raum deckt: Heimat ist da, wo ich bin, wo ich bleibe. 

Um das Orchester gruppiert sind das Publikum und die beiden Chöre. Die Chöre erzählen die gewaltige und gewaltsame Geschichte von der mehrfachen Ent- und Be-Heimatung Israels — seiner immer wieder neuen Suche nach Heimat. Publikum und Chor gleichen damit vier (Möglichkeits-)Räumen oder Landabschnitten, Heimatangeboten, die um das statische Heimat-Orchester positioniert sind. Zwischen diesen vier Raumangeboten gibt es Lücken, räumliche und inhaltliche Leerstellen.

Zeit: Händels Israel in Egypt besteht aus drei die jeweilige Vergangenheit oder Zukunft reflektierenden Akten. Nach jedem Akt gibt es eine Pause. Daraus ergibt sich folgende dramaturgische Bauart von fünf Zeitabschnitten im Konzert: Erster Akt / Zwischen Akt Eins und Akt Zwei / Zweiter Akt / Zwischen Akt Zwei und Akt Drei / Dritter Akt. Die jeweiligen Dazwischen sind narrative Stränge, die das Suchmoment verdeutlichen sollen. So ergeben sich zwei zu den Akten hinzukommende Zeitabschnitte in der Erzählung: Dramaturgisch wird so die doppelte Such- und Migrationsbewegung abgebildet, die sich auf Flucht vor dem Hunger und drohende Exilierung gründet. Das Orchester bleibt sesshaft, doch Publikum und Chor migrieren, sie müssen sich — zwangsläufig — immer wieder einen neuen Ort, eine neue Bleibe, eine neue Heimat suchen. Es ist nicht möglich, an den altbekannten Ort, dort wo man vorher war — Heimat?! — zurückzukehren, weil es diesen so nicht mehr gibt. Nur das Orchester bleibt. Publikum und die beiden Chöre andererseits erleben so, von diesen Leerstellen zu ständiger Bewegung getrieben, immer wieder neue Perspektiven auf das Suchen und die Erzählungen von Heimat, Flucht und Migration — und die damit verbundene Gewalt, auf allen Seiten. Am Ende dieses letzten Aktes führen wir deswegen in unserer Neukonzeption zum Anfang zurück — dem Trauergesang der Israeliten, der so zum Trauergesang für das zerstörte Ägypten wird — wir beenden das Stück, unaufgelöst, auf der Dominante, und rufen damit jede:n dazu auf, den scheinbar undurchbrechbaren Zyklus von Heimat-Kämpfen neu zu überdenken.  


April 25

Games and Disasters: Reading and Discussion with Yoko Tawada

April 25, 20:00

CATS Auditorium, University of Heidelberg

Games and disasters

Skyscrapers crashing, large forests burning, a Tsunami sweeping houses and cars to the bottom of the sea: images of disaster activate fear. At the same time, they play with the desires and fascination of humans—always hoping for a new and (better) future after every destruction. As one catastrophe has just passed, another is lingering just around the corner – this feeling has long become part of our normality. How to cope? Art sometimes offers to approach even grim situations in a “playful” manner. For this purpose, extant imagery and specific patterns of thought or language need not be destroyed, but are dis- and reassembled in new ways. Art and literature may take courageous approaches to such topics, filled with courage, respect and a certain cheekiness, but devoid of hatred, even when they do not invite laughter at all. And indeed, this may be a survival strategy: Where laughter is lost, creative solutions cannot emerge.

This event is not a lecture, but a literary reading with discussion. Several languages will be used during the course of the reading (Japanese among them), but to enjoy it, participants just have to be able to understand one language (German or English).

The is a hybrid event. If you would like to watch the live streaming on zoom, we kindly request all online participants to register by sending an email with your full Name and affiliation/organization. Please send your registration email to Xiaojie Chang ( no later than 24. April 2024. The zoom-meeting link will be sent several hours before the event starts.

About the author: Yoko Tawada was born in Tokyo in 1960. She came to Hamburg in 1982 where she studied German language and literature and obtained her doctorate in Zurich. She has lived in Berlin since 2006. Her first book was published in 1987. She writes in German and Japanese and has received numerous literary prizes, including the Akutagawa Prize (Japan), the National Book Award (USA) and the Kleist-Preis (Germany).

(Germam Version)

Spiel und Katastrophen

Tsunami-Wellen reißen Häuser und Autos mit sich in den Meeresgrund, Hochhäuser stürzen ab und große Wälder brennen: Bilder der Katastrophen aktivieren Angst in uns, spielen aber auch mit Lust und Faszination der Menschen, die sich hinter jeder Zerstörung eine neue (bessere) Zeit erhoffen. Schon längst gehört der Zustand, in dem wir eine Katastrophe gerade hinter uns und eine weitere direkt vor uns haben, zur Normalität. Wie kann man damit umgehen? Manchmal geht die Kunst mit diesem ernsthaften Zustand „spielerisch“ um. Die bestehenden Denkbilder und Sprachen sollten dabei nicht zerstört werden, sondern auseinandergenommen und anders zusammengesetzt. Die Literatur kann ohne Hass, aber mit Mut, respektvoll und dennoch sehr frech mit den Themen umgehen, bei denen normalerweise niemand lacht. Es kann auch eine Überlebensstrategie sein: Wo das Lachen abhandengekommen ist, entsteht keine kreative Lösung.

Diese Veranstaltung ist kein Vortrag, sondern eine literarische Lesung mit Diskussion. Bei der Lesung werden mehrere Sprachen verwendet (z.B. Japanisch), aber um sie zu genießen, reicht es vollkommen aus, wenn Sie eine Sprache (Deutsch oder Englisch) verstehen.

Zur Autorin: Yoko Tawada wurde 1960 in Tokio geboren. 1982 kam sie nach Hamburg und studierte Germanistik. Promotion in Zürich. Seit 2006 lebt sie in Berlin. Die erste Buchveröffentlichung 1987. Sie schreibt auf Deutsch und Japanisch. Zahlreiche Literaturpreise u.a. Akutagawa-Preis (Japan), National Book Award (USA) und Kleist-Preis (Deutschland). 


April 24

Travelling Workshop with David Ownby: “A China We Can Talk To”

Dates & Venues
This event will take place at various locations of the Joint Center Worldmaking:

April 17, 18:00

Universität Würzburg, Zentrales Hörsaal- und Seminargebäude, Z6, Hörsaal 0.001, Am Hubland, 97074 Würzburg

April 18, 16:00

Universität Göttingen, Kulturwissenschaftliches Zentrum 0.602, Heinrich-Düker-Weg 14, 37073 Göttingen

April 22, 16:00

Universität Berlin, Friedrich-Meinecke-Institut, Koserstr. 20, Raum 336, 14195 Berlin

April 24, 18:15

Universität Heidelberg, Center for Asian and Transcultural Studies (CATS), Voßstraße 2, 69115 Heidelberg, Seminar Building, R. 010.01.05

David Ownby

David Ownby recently retired from the History Department of the Université of Montréal and is currently a Research Associate at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle, Germany. His most recent work focuses on intellectual life in contemporary China and he is the founder of the Reading the China Dream website.

“A China We Can Talk To?”
For the past decade or so, in his Reading the China Dream project, David Ownby has been reading and translating the work of Chinese intellectuals who publish in China and in Chinese, not dissidents, but not Party propagandists either. These intellectuals inhabit a world parallel to and at the mercy of the world of Xi Jinping and the Party-State where – like intellectuals elsewhere in the world – they write and publish to try to influence public opinion and perhaps the state on the issues they are allowed to discuss. This world is circumscribed and has shrunk under Xi Jinping, but over the course of 40 years of reform and opening, Chinese intellectual life in China underwent a transformation similar to that of China’s economy and society; globalization changed the way Chinese intellectuals think and write with the result that, to a surprising degree, Chinese and Western intellectuals now share a common vocabulary and common references. This suggests that a dialogue might be possible with many of China’s thought-leaders, if not with Chinese authorities.


February 22

Guest Talk with Barbara Mittler: Do you hear the people sing? – The Power of Silence, the Classic of Songs and Traditions of Protest in China

Barbara Mittler
Do you hear the people sing?
The Power of Silence, the Classic of Songs and Traditions of Protest in China
Berkeley China Colloquium, Thursday, February 22nd, 8-9.30 pm (European Time) 11.00-12.30 (California Time)

Register here: 

One powerful mechanism to responding to (political) crises in China is the use of evocative silence. Lu Xun, one of the most important modern Chinese writers, once warned in the 1920s: »As long as you can still hear wailing, sighing, crying and begging, you should not be too worried. But confronted with cold silence, you must be careful: … it is the harbinger of real anger«.A composition by Chinese composer Shen Ye – written during the Omicron lockdown in Shanghai in spring of 2022, and entitled 人们,你们可听见? (Leute, könnt Ihr das hören?) – expresses this type of real anger. His title plays with »Do you hear the people sing?« or, »À la Volonté du Peuple«, the song from Les Miserables which had become the main protest anthem in Hong Kong in 2019. In tracing the history of this reliance on silence and song which occurs already in the conception of the old Classic of Songs, this lecture deals with the unbroken worldmaking powers of dangerously charged silence(s) and the powers of (silent) music as a means of protest in China’s long history.

(Credit: Wang Keping “Stille”)


December 6,  2023

Digital Workshop Series “Digital Dialogues 數字對話” #15:

Animals, Science and Modernity: The Intricacies of Livestock Keeping in Late Imperial and Republican China

Date: December 6, 2023, 1.15 – 2.45 pm 

Winged, cloven-hoofed, furry, feathery or wooly – when talking about Chinese history and the societies situated therein, rarely do we mention the non-human populations despite their role in war, migration, culture and human lives. Bringing together approaches from environmental and medical history, this digital dialogue will explore the intricacies of rearing, keeping and treating livestock animals in late imperial and Republican China with a focus on horses and sheep. Delving into the history of these two species in China, the two speakers show their importance in the political and economic life of the time, but also the problems state officials, soldiers or medical professionals faced when trying to harness the two species for the state’s goals. Human objectives could be thwarted not only by unforeseen environmental factors but also by animals’ behaviors and their physical reactions, which not always conformed to human expectations but often ran counter to them. This event wants to invite reflection not only on the specific fate of these two species but also on human-animal relations more broadly.

The Speakers

Yan Gao is a historian of late imperial and modern China. She specializes in social and environmental history of central Yangzi region, water history, and Asian environmental humanities. Her first book Yangzi Waters, published by Brill, examines water management and environmental changes in late imperial central China. She continues to write about the Yangzi River, and expands her research interest to human-animal relations and climate humanities. Currently, she explores the interactions of social and climate systems in the central Yangzi valley from the nineteenth to the early twentieth centuries. She obtained her PhD from Carnegie Mellon University. She was a Carson fellow at the Rachel Carson Center and conducted research at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science and Duke University.

Renée Krusche is a historian of modern China with a special interest in medical history. She is a Postdoc at Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU), where in 2020 she finished her PhD on the topic of health practices and civilization diseases in Mao era China. In 2022 she published her first book The Health Socialist Life in Maoist China, 1949-1980. Currently she is researching Chinese veterinary history, historical human-animal relations in Asia, Chinese gendered health practices and the tradition of Yoga in Republican China.


The event will take place on zoom:


Novemver 23

Screening/Discussion/Workshop with

Female Film Artists from the Sinophone World

The Heidelberg Project Epochal Life Worlds: Man, Nature and Technology in Narratives of Crisis and Change would like to cordially invite you to the hybrid event “Trauma as method – Screening/Discussion/Workshop with Female Artists from the Sinophone World”.

Thursday, November 23, from 4 pm to 8 pm

On-site: KJC, Voßstr. 2, 69115 Heidelberg, room 400.02.12


During the first part “Screening: Trauma as Method”, multiple animation films will be presented, which were created by three brilliant animation artists from the Chinese-speaking regions: Lei Lei from Hangzhou, Luo Yi from Tianjin and Wang-chen Lee from Taipei. All animation films revolve around the theme of trauma, highlighting how trauma could serve as a method (consciously or otherwise) to confront the ever-present problematics of our everyday life. In the following workshop “Semantic Association in Image Combination — A + B ≈ C”, the artist Lei Lei will interact with the audience and provide an on-site tutorial on how to transform static images into animations using Chinese comics from the CATS library.

This event is organized and sponsored by the Heidelberg Center for Worldmaking Project Epochal Life Worlds: Man, Nature and Technology in Narratives of Crisis and Change, CATS Library and China Contemporary Animation Art Archive.

The Worldmaking Project focuses on catastrophes and moments of crisis and their changes in life worlds. Husserl speaks of “our everyday life-world” (unsere alltägliche Lebenswelt) as the world which man experiences at every point of his existence as immediately and simply given. The word “Trauma” originates from the Ancient Greek τραῦμα (traûma), meaning wound or damage. In modern usage the word opts for abstract meaning as well, namely emotional, psychological trauma. In the context of the animations presented, we observe trauma functioning as a method/driving force through which we are forced to re-approach and redefine the emotional aspects of our life world. By providing a new program with challenges in which the self needs to redefine itself, trauma marks the beginning of a new epoch on the personal level. The Chinese artists Lei and Luos’s works portrait the experiences related to trauma with the little girl’s suffering from long-lasting fear and shame of the sexual violence, the human struggling for freedom in the suffocating dystopian metropole, or the kafkaesque transformation of a heartbroken young woman’s body into the globe and the Rubik’s Cube. Wang’s short film, however, offers a humorous metaphor of the failed attempt to repair the wounds of the roof. So the questions need be asked, how can the animating of traumatic experiences contribute to a stronger resilience of the human spirit? As for several films portrait the nightmares of the females, what is the female’s situation in experiencing and recovering from trauma?

In the following workshop “Semantic Association in Image Combination — A + B ≈ C”, Lei Lei will engage in discussions with the live audience and collect ideas. Using the facial expressions, props and scenes from the Chinese comic “Dangerous Roads” (危险的路, Shanghai 1957), she will transform the static pictures into animated form, creating new interpretative possibilities.

We look forward to the communication that these works will inspire, and we are very grateful to our talented artists for their courage and creativity in bringing these films to life.


November 08

Digital Workshop Series “Digital Dialogues 數字對話” #14:

Ecological Justice with Jun.-Prof. Dr. Jacqueline Lorenzen (Bonn) and Prof. Shih-Yun Liu (Shanghai)

November 08, 2023, 12.30 – 2 PM (Heidelberg), 6.30 – 8 PM (Shanghai)

Im Rahmen der Digital Workshop Series “Digital Dialogues 數字對話” diskutieren Wissenschaftlerinnen und Wissenschaftler verschiedene Teilaspekte​​ und Fragestellungen des Verbundprojekts.
This Digital Dialogue is co-organized by the Heidelberg Team of the Worldmaking project Epochal Life Worlds: Man, Nature and Technology in Narratives of Crisis and Change and the Confucius Institute at Heidelberg University with its partner university, Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Jacqueline Lorenzen who holds the Argelander Professorship for the Law of Sustainability and Ecological Transformation, University of Bonn, and Shih-Yun LIU, Distinguished Professor in the Department of History, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, will engage in a dialogue in order to discuss legal as well as justice issues related to sustainability and ecology from an administrative and historical perspective.​

Legal questions of international, inter- and intragenerational justice in climate protection policy

In view of the politically and socially highly controversial so-called German Heating Act, the question of social compensation mechanisms as well as that of distributive justice in the context of climate protection measures is increasingly coming to the fore. Jacqueline Lorenzen will therefore discuss the extent to which state actors are obliged to establish inter- and intragenerational justice on the one hand, but also international justice on the other and by means of which instruments this justice can be implemented.

Jacqueline Lorenzen is Argelander Junior Professor for the Law of Sustainability and Ecological Transformation at the University of Bonn. She studied law at the University of Heidelberg, where she also received her PhD. Before taking up her position at Bonn University, she worked as a research assistant at the University of Heidelberg and was part of the research network „Rethinking Environment“ in which the Heidelberg worldmaking team is also participating. Currently, she is particularly devoted to juridical questions of sustainable city planning and development and addresses problems within the dynamic Climate Change Law from an international, European and national perspective. Current publications are, for example, Natürlicher Klimaschutz in der Stadt – Handlungsfelder, Instrumente und Herausforderungen (Deutsches Verwaltungsblatt 2023, 398–406); Staatsziel Umweltschutz, grundrechtliche Schutzpflichten und intertemporaler Freiheitsschutz in Zeiten der Klimakrise (Verwaltungsblätter Baden-Württemberg, 2021, 485–494).​​

​​Eco-civilization and -justice in Chinese culture

Environment has been translated to “环境huanjing” in Chinese, a term of Chinese characters learned from Japanese “kankei” in Meiji period. However, it may not mean ancient Chinese had no ideas of natural surroundings and its protection. Shih-Yun LIU will discuss the possibility how to covert the traditional Chinese norms in protecting environment to modern social values and maybe, the legal infrastructure too.

Michael Shiyung Liu is Distinguished Professor in the Department of History, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, and Global Professor at the Asian Studies Center, University of Pittsburgh. He received his PhD in 2000 from the University of Pittsburgh. His research focuses on environmental history and the history of medicine. He was professor at the Institute of Taiwan History, Academia Sinica. He is the author of Prescribing Colonization: The Role of Medical Practice in Japan-Ruled Taiwan, 1895-1945 (Ann Arbor, MI: AAS, 2009), “Eating Well for Survival: Chinese Nutrition Experiments during the Second World War,” in Angela Ki Che Leung et al. eds., Moral Foods: The Construction of Nutrition and Health in Modern Asia, (Hawaii: University of Hawaii Press, 2019), “Transforming Medical Paradigms in 1950s Taiwan,” East Asian Science, Technology and Society 11 (4): 477-497 (2017), and other related publications.


The event will take place on zoom:
Meeting ID: 882 7779 6258
Passcode: 996997


October 25

Taiwan Lecture Series: Reading and Discussion with Lung Ying-Tai:”How the Wild Changed Me—a Philosophical Journey”

October 25, 6 p.m., CATS Auditorium

An unsuccessful writer is sent by her Buddhist master to the foot of Mount Kavulungan in southern Taiwan for two years so that her restless nature can find peace there while observing nature, people and animals. When she meets a mysterious fourteen-year-old girl, she embarks on an adventure to the mysteries of Mount Kavulungan, the namesake mountain of Taiwanese author Lung Ying-tai’s most recent book release. In 84 episodes, she tells a ghost story, a crime story, a love story, and more, taking her readers on a philosophical journey that leads into Taiwan’s nature, history, traditions, and society. In conversation with Barbara Mittler (CATS) and translator Monika Li, Taiwan’s most famous author will discuss her socially critical reflections on zeitgeist, experiences of lifeworlds as well as her own biographical journey and the multiple roles of an author in contemporary Taiwan.

Traditionally, Chinese intellectuals have taken several possible positions, that of serving the country/ruler as a chenshi 臣仕 / guan 官; that of critiquing the ruler directly, from outside the bureaucracy or from inside, as the official censor (who may then be risiking to lose his job, thus being/becoming the “pure official” qingguan 清官) and, thirdly, that of the critic from afar—only seemingly a “silent loner”—who is so abominated by the abuses of power that he is no longer willing to “wag his tail in human dirt,” a metaphor from Zhuangzi, a famous Chinese philosopher who lived around the 4th century BCE. Lung Ying-tai has taken on all three of these positions, and with her latest book—which will be the basis for the conversation and from which we will hear excerpts—moved from enfant terrible to minister to become the “silent loner”: Why?

Discussion in English, readings in German.


July 8-9

Worldmaking in a Global Context—A Dialogue with China
Joint Workshop with the Rachel Carson Center Munich

Environmental Narratives
Narrating Crisis—Imaging Disaster—Envisaging Future

Our workshop will explore the role of narratives of environmental crises and catastrophes both in the past and in the present. It sets out from the assumption that narratives shape the perception as well as the experience of crises. They can condition whether an event is even perceived as a crisis in the first place (by, for example, rallying a certain group behind a shared narrative). At the same time, narratives may shape later responses to “critical events.” Narratives can magnify a sense of rupture that accompanies a (supposed) crisis and thereby contribute to the epoch-making nature of crises. Our workshop defines narrative broadly so as to include different source types, texts and cultural products such as music, film, literature but also climate data or statistics. During the workshop, we will practice reading-in-conjunction letting each other in on our particular disciplinary approaches and uses of different source types in order to stimulate thinking out of each of our own disciplinary/regional/methodological boxes.

The workshop brings together Worldmaking project members, China experts, fellows and graduate students from Munich and Heidelberg, as well as scholars from many parts of the world. Its aim is to foster a dialogue across disciplines and continents.


Day 1, July 8 (Saturday)

13:15 -14:00 Meet and Greet—Buffet Lunch

14:00 Welcome and Introduction to the Workshop

Hans van Ess & Christof Mauch (LMU, RCC)

Barbara Mittler (Heidelberg, WORLDMAKING)

Environmental Crisis Narratives and Tropes of Emplotment

14:30 Keynote & Discussion

Dust to Dust, Ashes to Ashes: Telling the Story of Environmental Disaster

Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Donald Worster (RCC, Renmin Daxue Beijing)

CHAIR: Prof. Dr. Christof Mauch (RCC, LMU)

15:45–16:15 Refreshments

16:15-17:30 Reading-in-Conjunction Panel 1—

Envisaging (Liveable) Futures: the Rhetorics of Projection

CHAIR: Prof. Dr. Barbara Mittler (Heidelberg, WORLDMAKING)

Prof. Dr. Ying Jamie Wang (WORLDMAKING, Hong Kong)

In the Shadow of Future: Narrating a City of Many Worlds

Karen Hudlet Vázquez (RCC Landhaus, Clark University)

Non-human Animals and Disasters

Prof. Dr. Iris Borowy (RCC, University of Shanghai)

Waste as Seen in Intergovernmental Organizations: Watching a Crisis Unfold

17:30-17:45 Refreshments

17:45–19:30 Scientific Climate Narratives Past and Present—

China in a Global Context: A Roundtable Discussion

CHAIR: Prof. Dr. Hans van Ess (LMU, WORLDMAKING)


Prof. Dr. Zheng Jingyun (CAS Beijing) Climate Records from the Historical Books and Local Gazettes in China

Dr. Elena Xoplaki (Gießen) Simulating Palaeoclimate over China during the Common Era

Prof. Dr. Hao Zhixin (CAS Beijing) Rain and Snow records (Yu-Xue-Fen-Cun) in the Qing Dynasty


Prof. Dr. Julia Pongratz (LMU)

20:00 DINNER

Day 2, July 9 (Sunday)

9:00-10:15 Reading-in-Conjunction Panel 2—

Mediating Environmental Crisis: the Case of China

CHAIR: Prof. Dr. Weihong Bao (Berkeley, LMU)

Prof. Dr. Francesca Tarocco (RCC, Ca’ Foscari)

Environmental Crisis Narratives in China

Dr. Maxime Decaudin (WORLDMAKING, Singapore)

Narrating Hong Kong’s First Environmental Crisis: The Two Typhoons of 21 and 26 July 1841

Bowen Gu (RCC Landhaus, ICTA-UAB, Autonomous University of Barcelona)

Environmental Crises in China: Artistic Narratives

10:15-11:30 Reading-in-Conjunction Panel 3—

Rethinking Environment: Social Crises as Epochal Events

CHAIR: Prof. Dr. Gregg Mitman (RCC, University of Wisconsin–Madison)

Dr. Aanuoluwapo F. Sunday (RCC Landhaus, AAUA)

Maternal Health and Environmental Crisis in Nigeria

Nicky Rehnberg (RCC Landhaus, UCSB)

Environmental Racism as Crisis

Prof. Dr. Han Ziqiang (WORLDMAKING, Shandong)

Narratives of Accountabilities after Disasters: a Comparison of the 2021 Floods in China and Germany

11:30-11:45 Refreshments

11:45 -13:00 Reading-in-Conjunction Panel 4—

Re-Making/Mapping Environment from the Margins: Narrating Seas and Coastal Lands

CHAIR: Prof. Dr. Thomas Lekan (RCC-Fulbright Senior Scholar, University of South Carolina)

Prof. Dr. Hou Shen (WORLDMAKING, Peking University)

From Marginal Land to Coastal City: Four Maps and Tsingtao’s Colonial Experience

Dr. Paolo Gruppuso (RCC Landhaus)

Marginal to whom? A Counter-hegemonic Perspective on Coastal Marshlands in the Mediterranean

Lijuan Klassen (RCC)

On the Impossibility and Necessity of Representing Planetary Health: Saodat Ismailova’s film Aral: Fishing in an Invisible Sea

13:00-13:30 Reflexions and Outlook

Hans van Ess, Christof Mauch, Barbara Mittler

13:30 Farewell with Left-Overs…


July 4

Joint Workshop of the Heidelberg Centre for Apocalyptic and Post- apocalyptic Studies and the Joint Center “Worldmaking from a Global Perspective: A Dialogue with China”

Location: CAPAS Conference Room, Käte Hamburger Centre for Apocalyptic and Post- Apocalyptic Studies [in the Mathematikon], Berliner Straße 43, 69120 Heidelberg



10:30 – 11:00 Introduction of CAPAS/Worldmaking and the Fellows
• Barbara Mittler (Worldmaking) & Robert Folger (CAPAS)

11:00 – 12:00 Panel 1: Catastrophic Diseases (Chair: Rolf Scheuermann)
• Chen Hao (Peking University/Worldmaking Fellow): “Non-human Animals in a Human Pandemic: Entangled Histories”
• Patricia Murrieta-Flores (Lancaster University/CAPAS Fellow): “Mesoamerican Apocalypse: A Large Scale Analysis of the Indigenous Perspective on the Sixteenth- Century Epidemics of Colonial Mexico”

12:00 – 13:30 Lunch Break 

13:30 – 14:30 Panel 2: Outer Space (Chair: Matthias Schumann)
• Richard Wilman (University of Durham/CAPAS Fellow): “Apocalyptic Cosmic
Threats and our Post-Apocalyptic Future in Space”
• Pan Shaw-yu (National Taiwan University/Worldmaking Fellow): “Colonizing the Stars: Malthusian Theory of Population and Imperial Imagination in Late Qing Science Fiction”

14:30 – 15:30 Panel 3: Observation and Narrative (Rolf Scheuermann)

• Meng Xia (University of New South Wales/Worldmaking Fellow): “Drone in Covid Times: Urban Wasteland and Post-apocalyptic Revelation.”
• Mia Bennett (University of Washington/CAPAS Fellow): “Chinese Sociotechnical Imaginaries of Earth Observation: From Sight to Foresight”

15:30 Tea Time

June 15–17

Venue: Center for Asian and Transcultural Studies (CATS), Voßstraße 2, 69115 Heidelberg, R.010.01.05 (CATS Auditorium)

Worldmaking Annual Conference 2023

“The Making of Epochal Events: Narrating Turning Points in Chinese History”

“The epochal event [is] (1) an emerging category of a new kind of historical thought [that] is best conceived of as (2) a hyper-historical event that (3) brings about a ‘new reality’ and thereby (4) separates two worlds (5) in its capacity to signal the most momentous transformative changes (6) that extend beyond the limits of human experience (7) both in the world of human affairs and in the more-than-human world of the human-technology-nature entanglement.”[1]

Chinese history has been marked by radical changes in society, culture and the environment, which are often linked to specific events: famines, rebellions, inventions. This conference seeks to investigate how such epochal events determine our understanding of Chinese history and structures its narration. Potential contributions shall investigate how these events were reflected upon by specific actors and in specific media, and how they shaped institutions and social structures. A special emphasis shall be placed on how such events are recorded (in texts, images, statistics etc.) and situated in a particular vision of the Chinese past and future, arguing for their “epochal” quality.

We seek to engage with the question in how far such events are “epochal” at all, whether they necessarily mark a break with the past, thus promising the dawning of a new epoch, a “new reality” (Simon), or whether the “epochal” can also be constructed to make a claim of historical discontinuity that might be quite at odds with the experiences of the actors involved. With Bernard Stiegler we also want to ask whether there is a way to end the epochal: the “epoch of the absence of epoch,” the absence of any collective vision for the future that he attributes to the current disjuncture of our technical and social systems.[2] Contributors are invited to consider how such epochal events or certain types of periodization impacted in their own fields of specialty – if they did at all. They are also free to introduce events that are meaningful within a given discipline, community region, or time period but ignored or marginalized in other narratives – suggesting alternative epochal divides.

[1] Zoltan B.Simon, The Epochal Event: Transformations in the Entangled Human, Technological, and Natural Worlds, Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, 2020, 114.

[2] Bernard Stiegler. The Age of Disruption: Technology and Madness in Computational Capitalism. Cambridge: Polity 2019, chap. 2.


June 15, Thursday

13:30 – 14:15


Björn Alpermann (on behalf of the Worldmaking Center)

Jens Brandenburg & Michael Sondermann (Federal Ministry)

Barbara Mittler (on behalf of the Heidelberg project)

Epochal Moments and Grammars and Logics of Worldmaking

14:15 – 15:45

Keynote Address I by Zoltán Boldizsár Simon (University of Bielefeld)

Epochal Events and Historical Narration

15:45 – 16:00

Coffee Break

16:00 – 17:15


Panel I. Periodization and Master Narratives: Situating East Asia in Global Twentieth-Century History

Chair: Dominic Sachsenmaier (University of Göttingen)

Sebastian Conrad (FU Berlin)

Making Japan Modern: Periodization and the Nation

Viren Murthy (University of Madison-Wisconsin/ Fellow FU Berlin)

Hegelian Master Narratives and Periodizing East Asian Modernity

Edward Wang (Rowan University/Fellow Göttingen)

Why were 1840 and 1949 not Turning Points in Modern Chinese Historiography? A Tentative Thesis

Barbara Mittler (University of Heidelberg)

Rethinking Renaissance: History as Shared Heritage

17:15 – 17:30

Coffee Break

17:30 – 19:00

Panel II. Narrating Environmental Histories: Actors, Discourses, Devices

Chair: Hans van Ess (LMU München)

Wang Yizhou (Hong Kong Baptist University/Former Fellow Heidelberg)

Plant as an Actor, Painting as a Device: Human-Nature Narratives on Ming-Qing Transition

Maxime Decaudin (University of Hong Kong/Fellow Heidelberg)

Narrating the ‘Barren Rock’: The Environmental Origin of Hong Kong’s Colonial Myths

Sara Landa (Heidelberg University)

Metamorphoses and Shifts of Perspective: Narrating (and Questioning) Epochal Change in Man-Animal-Relations

Wang Yiman (University of California, University of California Santa Cruz/Fellow Heidelberg)

Mediating Climate Change in the PRC

June 16, Friday

9:30 – 11:00


Panel III. Urban/Rural Futures: Narrating Changing Worlds in City and Countryside

Chair: Björn Alpermann (University of Würzburg)

Carwyn Morris (Leiden University)

Wanghong Urbanism: The Making of Urban Digital Spectacle in China and Europe

Antonie Angerer (University of Würzburg) & Elena Meyer-Clement (University of Copenhagen

(Self)Representations of Rurality and ‘New Farmers’ on Douyin

Tan Xiaohong (Guangdong University of Technology/Fellow HD, 2023)

Urban Gardening in Guangzhou

Li Xin (Nanjing Agricultural University/Fellow Würzburg 2023)

Housing Insecurity and Rural Migrants’ Coping Strategies during the COVID-19 Pandemic in China

11:00 – 11:30

Coffee Break

11:30 – 13:00


Panel IV: Worldmaking in Motion: Encounters and Ruptures in Travel and Exile

Chair: Barbara Mittler (Heidelberg)

Wang Shengyu (Soochow University/ Fellow Heidelberg 2023)

Disknowing the Globe: Steam Navigation, Maritime Disaster, and Terra Incognita in Wang Tao’s Late-Nineteenth Century Marvel Tales

Li Fupeng (China University of Political Science and Law/ Berlin Fellow 2023)

Translingual Making of Worlds through Chinese Global Travels (1905–1906)

Janice H. Jeong (University of Göttingen)

From Heavenly Square to Arabian Mecca: Modern Travels and Spatio-Temporal Returns to the Home of Islam

Wai-Yip Ho (Honorary Research Fellow, Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter / Göttingen Fellow 2023)

Global Ismaili in China: Dawoodi Bohra Diaspora from Gujarat to Hong Kong

13:00 – 14:00

Lunch Break

 14:00 – 15:30     

Panel V. Between Continuity and Epistemic Rupture:Negotiating Change in the Chinese History of Science and Technology

Chair: Sebastian Conrad (FU Berlin)

Chen Hailian (Leipzig University/Heidelberg Fellow 2023)

Converging Western Science of Nature and Chinese Art of Human-Nature Interactions: Reflections on a Japanese- and German-Trained Engineer-Reformer Ma Junwu’s (1881–1940) Educational Practices

Emily Tsui (MPI for the History of Science, Berlin/formerly Heidelberg member)

Tan Sitong and the Ether

Sally Chengji Xing (Göttingen Fellow 2023)

Pacific Crossings: The China Foundation and a Negotiated Translation of American Science to China, 1913–1949

Matthias Schumann (Heidelberg University)

Economic Development, National Sovereignty, and the Fight against Superstitions: Fei Hongnian 費鴻年 (1900–1993) and the Diverse Roles of Zoology in Republican China (1912–1949)

15:30 – 16:00

Coffee Break

16:00 – 17:30

Keynote Address II by Andrew B. Kipnis (The Chinese University of Hong Kong)

Imagining Social Change

June 17, Saturday

9:15 – 11:15


Panel VI. Making World Health — Local Moments and Global Moments

Chair: Elena Meyer-Clement (University of Copenhagen)

Harald Bøckman (University of Oslo)

An Epochal Event Unfolding: Wuhan in the Spring of 2020

Igor Sevenard (FU Berlin)

SARS in Hongkong as an Epochal Event

Chen Hao (Peking University/Fellow Heidelberg 2023)

Non-human Animals in a Human Pandemic: Entangled Histories

Emily Graf (Tübingen University/Berlin associate member)

The Barefoot Doctor Transgressing Worlds of Health?

Liu Chao (Nanjing University/Berlin fellow)

Ushering Nutrition and Nutriology into Everyday Life: A Conceptual History of yingyang in Republican China (virtual presentation)

11:15 – 11:30

Coffee Break

11:30 – 13:00

Rethinking Religion(s) in China—Theories, Methods, Practices

Methods Workshop organized by the Göttingen Team

Invited Guests:

Tansen Sen (New York University Shanghai)

Buddhist Cosmopolis and Ecumenes: Deconstructing Buddhist Transnational Entanglements in the Longue Durée

Vincent Goossaert (Ecole Pratique des Hautes Études)

The CRTA Database of Chinese Religious Texts

Commentary by Mohammed Alsudairi (Australian National University, former fellow Göttingen)

For more information: 

Summer 2023

Taiwan Lecture Series – Summer Term 2023

Sinophone Filmmaking: Identity and Environment

Dr. Winnie L. M. Yee 余麗文

This year’s Taiwan Lecture series will engage Professor Winnie Yee from the University of Hong Kong in a discussion on Sinophone Filmmaking. In the course, we will focus on how documentary films popularize the concept of the Anthropocene and its emphasis on the planetary conditions circumscribing human societies and systems in Taiwan in the contemporary era. The course will examine the intersections between films and ecology and will apply tools of ecocritical media studies to investigate representations of the relationships between humans and the natural world. We will cover mainly documentaries in this course and contextualize the topics within the evolving history of environmental and sociopolitical movements in Taiwan and Hong Kong. Students can expect to gain a broader understanding of and appreciation for the cinematic depictions of nature and non-human worlds in Taiwan and Hong Kong. Students will also be familiarized with how moving images mediate our relationship to environment in rhetorical, aesthetical and perceptual ways.

Winnie L. M. Yee is a Senior Lecturer of Comparative Literature and program coordinator of the MA Program in Literary and Cultural Studies at the University of Hong Kong. Her research interests are ecocriticism, contemporary Chinese literature and film, Hong Kong culture, and independent cinema. She has been a fellow at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society at Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich and the Worldmaking Center—A Dialogue with China.

Further information: 

Ruperto Carola Ringvorlesung “Vom Ende als Anfang”

3. OKTOBER 2022 – 13. FEBRUAR 2023

PROGRAMM: Ringvorlesung_WiSe

10. October – 12. October 2022

International Conference “Creating the ‘Good Life’ in the City: Urban Spaces in Times of Change, Challenge and Crisis”

The conference addresses a basic yet crucial philosophical and ethical question: What constitutes a ‘good life’ and how can it be realized in the urban spaces that we inhabit?

For about a decade, the notion of the ‘good life’ has come into the focus not only among political actors, but among scholars in the social sciences and in cultural studies alike. The notion of the ‘good life’ highlights the multidimensional nature of wellbeing and is thus particularly suitable for a discussion of urban spaces with their complex interplay of ecological, social and technological factors. The concept’s focus on a reconsideration of the relationship between human and non-human actors as well as on ensuring equal living conditions can help cities meet the challenges they face, especially in light of the current environmental crisis.

Theories of ‘good life’ provide an integrated framework for the study of urban transformation and perspectives of future cities: Which role does our relationship to our natural environment and the other living beings that are part of it play within an overarching understanding of ‘good life’? How can the interests of different urban stakeholders – human and non-human – be reconciled? How can theories of ‘good life’ contribute to creating more resilient urban communities? And how can we rethink cities in order to enable a ‘good life’ for all?

Engaging with these questions, the conference aims to explore how cities can be or have been (re)shaped to become spaces worth living in for all of their inhabitants – human and non-human alike. Therefore, it seeks to address the above-mentioned questions in three interrelated panels:

(1) NatureCultures: Negotiating Multispecies Interactions

Cities can be perceived as places of dense multispecies interactions, constituting ‘hybrid ecosystems’ in which the boundaries between ‘nature’ and ‘culture’ are (re)negotiated. The panel seeks to understand how the imagination and regulation of multispecies interactions in urban spaces evolve, how delineations between ‘nature’ and ‘culture’ dissolve and reappear, as well as how the interests of human and non-human stakeholders can be reconciled, and how cities can be reimagined as spaces of enriching multispecies interactions.

(2) Managing Precariousness: Vulnerability & Resilience

The environmental crisis exceedingly shows impacts on cities, laying bare their vulnerability: Floods, exceptionally hot weather periods and hailstorms affect citizens, flora and fauna as well as buildings, infrastructure and cultural properties. The panel aims to point out various, yet interconnected ecological, sociological and psychological dimensions of urban vulnerability and its reflections, but also discuss strategies and paths of action to develop resilient cities and urban societies, be it through legal instruments, city planning projects, or activist movements.

(3) Rethinking Urban Spaces

The third panel engages attempts to rethink urban spaces, to reexamine notions of thresholds and borders and to rebuild existing urban spaces into cities of the future. It aims to bring together the emerging contemporary demands on urban spaces as places of multispecies interactions and will explore how they can be (re-)shaped, with the aim of ensuring ‘the good life’ for human and nonhuman actors alike.


Day 1 — 10 October 2022: Conference
Heidelberg Center for American Studies (HCA), Hauptstraße 120, 69117 Heidelberg

18:00–18:30           Conference Introduction

Tanja Granzow (TRN Heidelberg), Friederike Reents (Catholic University Eichstätt-Ingolstadt) & Christof Mauch (Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society Munich)

18:30–20:00           Keynote

Anne Rademacher (Environmental Studies, NYU): On Refuge and Ruin: Finding ‘Good Lives’ in Place and Practice

Day 2  — 11 October 2022: Conference
Karl Jaspers Centre, Building 4400, R. 212,
Voßstraße 2, Heidelberg University

9:00–10:30  Panel 1: NatureCultures: Negotiating Multispecies Interactions      

Birgit Hoinle (Geography, Hohenheim University): Buen Vivir/ Sumak Kawsay: About the (Cosmo-)Visions, Practices, and                  Political Proposal of the Andean Concept for a Good Life from an (Urban)       Political Ecology Perspective

Marie-Christine Fuchs (Law, Saarland University): The Concept of Rights of Nature in Latin America: Between Indigenous Traditions, Legal Utopia and Socio-Cultural Change in Times of Environmental Crisis

10:3011:00           Coffee Break

11:00–12:30         Panel 1 (continued)

Matthias Schumann (Chinese Studies, Heidelberg University): A Space of Leisure and Ecological Instruction: The Shanghai Municipal Zoo in the 1930s

Harry den Hartog (Architecture and Urban Planning, Tongji University Shanghai): Creating an Ecological Civilization along Shanghai’s Waterfronts

12:3014:00           Lunch Break

14:00–15:30 Panel 2: Managing Precariousness: Vulnerability & Resilience

Gonzalo Lizarralde (Architecture, Built Environment and Sustainability, Université de Montréal, Canada): Unnatural Disasters: Why Most Responses to Risk and Climate Change Fail and Some Succeed

Roberto Pérez Rivero (Biology, Fundación Antonio Núñez Jiménez de la Naturaleza y el Hombre): The Movement of Urban Agriculture: A Food Security Contribution in Difficult Times. Cuban Experiences

15:3016:00 Coffee Break

16:00–17:30         Panel 2 (continued)

Nicolene Steyn (Law, North-West University, South Africa): Legal Perspectives on ICTs for Urban Resilience in the African Context

Robert R. Gioielli (History, University of Cincinnati): The American Single-Family Home: A Social and Environmental History

19:00           Conference Dinner
Kulturbrauerei, Leyergasse 6, 69117 Heidelberg (

Day 312 October 2022: Conference
Heidelberg-Bahnstadt, Meeting point: Hauptbahnhof Süd (tram 22/26 from Bismarckplatz)

9:00–10:30  On-site Lecture with Ulrike Gerhard (Geography Department, Heidelberg University)

Experiencing the “Good Life” in Cities: Conflicting Sustainabilities in Heidelberg’s Most Celebrated Environmentally Friendly Neighborhood, the Bahnstadt

10:3011:00           Return to the Centre for Asian and Transcultural Studies,
                                         Seminar Building, R. 010.01.05 (CATS-Seminargebäude)

11:0011:30           Coffee Break

11:30–13:00 Panel 3: Rethinking Urban Spaces

Hou Shen (Environmental History, Peking University): ‘A New Ocean, a New City’: Qingdao and the Rise of Chinese Coastal Recreation

Christof Mauch (American Studies, RCC Munich): America’s Greenest City: History, Politics and the Radical Makeover of Portland, Oregon

13:0014:00           Lunch Break

14:00–15:30         Panel 3 (continued)

Gareth Doherty (Landscape Architecture, Harvard University): Landscape Fieldwork

Elisa Bertuzzo (“Spatial Strategies”, weißensee kunsthochschule berlin / khb): Urban Concomitances: Weaving Political Urban Ecology Claims and the Cohabitation Question

15:3016:00           Coffee Break

16:00–17:30         Panel 3 (continued)

Eveline Dürr (Social & Cultural Anthropology, LMU Munich): The ‘Good Life’ as Practice and Research Agenda

Daphne Xu (Anthropology/Urban Planning, Canada): Experiments in Keeping Pace with Place: Screening and Conversation with Filmmaker Daphne Xu

17:30–18:00 Final Discussion & Closing Remarks

Tanja Granzow, Friederike Reents & Christof Mauch


18.07.2022 bis 24.07.2022, Uferstraße 5, 69120 Heidelberg

Perceiving Extinction – Ein Kooperationsprojekt an der Schnittstelle zwischen Kunst und Wissenschaft

zeigerarten für lebensräume
unverbrauchte kompassnadeln
(Sabine Scho: schmetterlinge)


Während der künstlerischen Gestaltung einer großflächigen Hauswand an der Uferstraße vom 18.–24. Juli mit dem Bild eines vom Aussterben bedrohten überlebensgroßen Schmetterlings (Skabiosen-Scheckenfalter) begleitet und erweitert das interdisziplinäre Forschungsnetzwerk Umwelten – Umbrüche – Umdenken der Universität Heidelberg von der Theodor-Heuss-Brücke aus den Produktionsprozess und gibt Einblicke in die Arbeit des Netzwerks. Angesichts der Abnahme von Artenvielfalt in unseren Städten initiieren die Forscher*innen einen breiten Dialog im öffentlichen Raum über die Frage, wie die vielfältigen zu beobachtenden Umbrüche zu beschreiben, zu kommunizieren und ggf. auch zu bewältigen sind. Jenseits der wissenschaftlichen Fakten stehen künstlerische Aktionen im Vordergrund, wie etwa das sicht- und hörbar gemachte Gedicht „Schmetterlinge“ der Berliner Lyrikerin Sabine Scho. Die Gestaltung des Wandgemäldes durch den französischen Künstler Mantra ist eine Kooperation der Universität mit dem Metropolink Festival.

In Zeiten der Umweltkrise und des Biodiversitätsverlusts soll die Gestaltung eines Murals (18.–24. Juli) durch den Streetart Künstler Mantra in der Heidelberger Stadtlandschaft eine Sichtbarkeit des Schmetterlings als exemplarisch bedrohte Art erzeugen. Ziel ist es, auf diese Weise die lokale Betroffenheit durch die Klimakrise für eine breite Öffentlichkeit wahrnehmbar zu machen und zugleich eine Aufmerksamkeit für die globale Tragweite der Extinktionsprozesse zu generieren. Während der Gestaltung der Hauswand in der Uferstraße in Neuenheim durch den Künstler besteht die Möglichkeit für Passant*innen mit den Mitwirkenden des Metropolink und den Mitgliedern des Thematic Research Networks Umwelten. Umbrüche. Umdenken der Universität Heidelberg in einen Dialog über Möglichkeiten der Neuausrichtung ausgehend von Kunst und Wissenschaft und deren Schnittstellen zu treten. Neben informativen Flyern können die Passant*innen selbst zu gestaltende Postkarten mit nach Hause nehmen, die Platz bieten für Notizen, Gedichte und eigene (Schmetterlings)Zeichnungen, die in die Welt versandt werden können und so überregional Sichtbarkeit für die Artenvielfalt und deren Bedrohung erzeugen.

Auch über den Zeitraum der Produktion hinaus soll der Dialog in der Stadt aufrechterhalten werden. Hierzu sind vielfältige Aktivitäten von Seiten des Forschungsnetzwerks geplant, so etwa ein wissenschaftlicher Vortrag zum Thema Artensterben und eine sich anschließende Diskussion über Wege, diesem zu begegnen. Weiterhin wird es eine Stadtführung entlang unterschiedlicher urbaner Umbruchspunkte von Ulrike Gerhard (Geographie), Friederike Reents (Literaturwissenschaft), und André Butz (Physik) geben ebenso wie literarische Lesungen, die die Veränderungen der vom Menschen gemachten Welt künstlerisch in den Blick nehmen. Die genauen Termine der einzelnen Veranstaltungen werden sukzessive auf der Homepage des Netzwerks veröffentlicht.

Zu den Kooperationspartnern:

Das Thematic Research Network TRN Umwelten – Umbrüche – Umdenken analysiert im transdisziplinären Dialog von Geistes-, Sozial- und Naturwissenschaften die globale Umweltkrise ebenso wie ihre Wirkung auf Individuum und Gesellschaft und macht es sich zur Aufgabe, ausgehend davon das Verhältnis von Mensch und Umwelt neu zu denken: Wie können Grenzüberschreitungen und durch sie hervorgebrachte (Um)Brüche Ausgangspunkt eines Umdenkens werden und zum Handeln animieren? Diesen und vielen weiteren Fragen geht das Netzwerk nach und versucht dabei nicht nur Brücken zwischen den Disziplinen, sondern auch zur Gesellschaft zu schlagen. Weitere Informationen und Veranstaltungshinweise:

Metropolink, das Festival für urbane Kunst, verändert seit 2015 die Perspektive auf die Stadt und darüber hinaus. Künstlerische Interventionen im öffentlichen Raum sind dabei eine Möglichkeit, diesen für die Gemeinschaft wiederzugewinnen. Öffentlicher Austausch ist erwünscht und kulturelle Brücken sollen im Kontext der urbanen Kunst geschlagen werden. Seit 2018 öffnet Metropolink das Patrick-Henry-Village (PHV), die ehemalige Wohnstadt der US-Army, für alle. Mit Metropolink’s Commissary im ehemaligen Supermarkt ist 2021 eine der größten Galerien für Street-Art in Deutschland und Europa entstanden. Kunst und Urbanität bilden den thematischen Kern von Metropolink, das mit dem Schulterschluss zu den Themen Kultur und moderne Stadtentwicklung eine zentrale Rolle bei der Entwicklung von PHV als neuem, 16. Stadtteil Heidelbergs spielt. Weitere Informationen: Metropolink – Metropolink

Mantra (*1987), mit bürgerlichem Namen Youri Cancell, ist ein französischer Streetart Künstler, der Motten und Schmetterlinge weltweit auf Fassaden in Farbe und Form festhält und durch seine überlebensgroßen Inszenierungen der Insekten auf den Biodiversitätsverlust aufmerksam macht.

Wandgestaltung: Mantra
Stand: Metropolink, TRN “Umwelten – Umbrüche – Umdenken”

Fall School “Urban Ecologies”
10.-14. Oktober 2022



CREATIO — Vom Ende als Anfang: Globale und interdisziplinäre Perspektiven
Workshop im Rahmen der Reihe “Academy for Future” – Klimakrise: Warum müssen wir jetzt handeln?

Datum: 21. Mai 2022, 15-20 Uhr

Ort: CATS (Centrum für Asienwissenschaften und Transkulturelle Studien), Gebäude 4400 (HCTS), Raum 212 HCTS, Voßstraße 2, 69115 Heidelberg

“Kann man also die Katastrophe als eine Chance, eine Möglichkeit zum Neuanfang, zum Wiedererstehen, einer anderen Schöpfungsgeschichte begreifen? Wie kann man sich ein Leben als Teil der Schöpfung vorstellen, wie kann man die Welt neu (be)schreiben und darin unsere Beziehungen, in denen wir zueinander und zu unserer Umwelt leben? Im gemeinsam mit der Academy for Future der Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Jungen Kantorei organisierten Workshop CREATIO—Vom Ende als Anfang, wird die Frage von Zerstörung und (Neu-)Schöpfung aus unterschiedlichen disziplinären Perspektiven beleuchtet und—im Austausch mit künstlerischen Vorlagen und den Ideen junger Menschen (zusammengearbeitet wird mit Frankfurter und Heidelberger Schulen und Kirchengemeinden sowie Fridays for Future)—weiterentwickelt […].”

Weitere Informationen

Programm des Workshops (Pdf)

Organisation: Worldmaking-Kolleg Heidelberg, Prof. Dr. Barbara Mittler

Academy for Future Lecture Series:
Klimakrise: Warum müssen wir jetzt handeln?

Die Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften (HAdW) ist eine Gemeinschaft von Wissenschaftlerinnen und Wissenschaftlern aus vielen unterschiedlichen Fächern. Die Mitglieder der Akademie wollen ihr Forschungspotenzial und ihren Sachverstand in die Erörterung gesellschaftlicher Probleme und in den Dialog mit der Öffentlichkeit einbringen. In der Akademie widmen sie sich deshalb relevanten Zukunftsthemen, die eine Zusammenarbeit verschiedener Disziplinen erfordern.

“Klimakrise” ist ein solches Zukunftsthema. Dieses Schlagwort meint neben den klimatologischen Hintergründen des menschengemachten Klimawandels auch die damit einhergehenden ökologischen, gesellschaftlichen und politischen Dimensionen. Zu diesem Themenfeld haben sich Mitglieder der Akademie zu einer Arbeitsgruppe zusammengeschlossen. Gemeinsam führen sie eine Veranstaltungsreihe durch, vermitteln Fakten und Kompetenzen und ermöglichen dadurch Diskussion und Meinungsbildung.

Die Klimakrise schreitet offensichtlich schnell voran. Weitere Verschlimmerung kann nur durch Umbau unseres Energie- und Wirtschaftssystems auf netto Null-Treibhausgasemission verhindert werden. Leider war dieser Umbau bisher viel zu langsam, so dass wertvolle Zeit verloren ging. Jeder einzelne Mensch und Bürger muss dazu offensichtlich sein Handeln und Verhalten ändern. Allerdings kann dadurch alleine der CO2-Fußabdruck unserer Gesellschaft nicht auf Null gebracht werden. Dieses Ziel kann nur durch gesamtgesellschaftlich akzeptierte, technologisch verfügbare und gesamtwirtschaftlich realisierbare Maßnahmen erreicht werden. Lösungswege sind prinzipiell bekannt, erfordern aber – vor allem da nun Eile geboten ist – große Anstrengungen und Investitionen. Der Umbau bietet allerdings auch Chancen. Hier ist die Gesellschaft als Ganzes gefordert.


22. Februar 2022

Klaus von Klitzing (Physiker, Stuttgart)
Solarenergie: Kann die Photovoltaik die Klimakatastrophe verhindern?
>> mehr

8. März 2022

Friedemann Wenzel (Geophysiker, Karlsruhe)
Kann, soll und will man große Mengen an CO2 im geologischen Untergrund speichern?
>> mehr

5. April 2022

Thomas Koch (Ingenieur, Karlsruhe)
Technologiealternativen für eine emissionsminimierte Mobilität – Eine Bewertung der Technologieoptionen
Moderation: Anthony D. Ho (Mediziner, Heidelberg)
>> mehr

3. Mai 2022

Barbara Mittler (Sinologin, Heidelberg)
Wie antworten wir (kreativ) auf Umweltkrisen?
Pandemien in Literatur, Kunst und Musik: Von Vanitas und Carpe Diem
>> weitere Infos folgen

Juni 2022

Joachim Quack (Ägyptologe, Heidelberg)
Was tragen ägyptische apokalyptische Texte zur Klimadiskussion bei?
>> weitere Infos folgen

26. Juli 2022

Sabine Dabringhaus (Sinologin, Freiburg)
Wie reagierten Gesellschaften auf die letzte Klimakrise
Die „Kleine Eiszeit“ im 17./18. Jahrhundert?
>> mehr


Datum: 23. bis 25. Februar 2022 
Ort: geplant als Präsenzseminar in Heidelberg
Dozierende: Tanja Granzow (Ethnologin), Friederike Reents (Literaturwissenschaftlerin) und Karen Nolte (Medizinhistorikerin)

“Das Spannungsfeld zwischen Körpern und Umwelten ist historisch und interkulturell höchst unterschiedlich ausgeprägt und kann sich in katastrophischen Ausnahmesituationen besonders aufladen, den Krisenverlauf beschleunigen und mitunter an Kipppunkten mit schwer vorhersehbarem Verlauf entladen. Im interdisziplinären Dialog wollen wir uns unterschiedliche Körperkonzepte, das Zusammenwirken von Körper und Umwelt, die Versehrtheit von Körpern, den Bereich der Biopolitik und die Idee vom Körper als Weltzugang analysieren. Von medizinhistorischer, ethnologischer und literaturwissenschaftlicher Seite untersuchen wir dabei u.a. die mitunter historisch kontingente Manifestation und Repräsentation von Krisenzuständen, ausgelöst etwa durch Naturkatastrophen, Seuchen oder auch psychische Aberrationen. Dabei soll es nicht nur um die rational messbaren Fakten gehen, sondern vor allem auch um die verdeckten, die stimmungs- oder gefühlsmäßig erspürbaren Wirklichkeiten und deren Darstellung.”

Weitere Informationen

Gratwanderungen – Vom Umgang mit(einander) (in) der Krise

Datum: April – Juli 2021 , jeden Dienstag 18.00Uhr (via Zoom)

“In der interdisziplinären Ringvorlesung „Gratwanderungen“ möchten wir in Vorträgen von Experten und Expertinnen und in Gesprächsrunden mit ihnen einige Facetten der Pandemiesituation aufgreifen, die nun schon seit gut einem Jahr unser Zusammenleben nachhaltig prägt. Entscheidungen in Politik, Recht, Gesundheit oder Bildung erleben wir dabei als fortgesetzte „Gratwanderungen“. Zur Diskussion steht beinahe jedes Mal ein zu Viel oder zu Wenig, ein zu Nah oder zu Distanziert, ein zu ‚Rigide‘ oder ein zu ‚Locker‘.  Phasen im strikten Lockdown wechseln ab mit solchen, in denen Lockerungen in Aussicht gestellt werden. Die gesamtgesellschaftlichen Folgen dieser Zyklen bleiben schwer abzuschätzen. Viele Effekte für das gesellschaftliche Zusammenleben bereiten zu Recht große Sorgen. Der Krisenmodus scheint der Normalzustand zu sein, und so ist das Bedürfnis nach belastbaren Informationen und Austausch sehr groß.  Die Ringvorlesung möchte hierfür einen Rahmen bieten. “

Weitere Informationen und Programm


 Romantische Ökologien

Datum: April – Juli 2021 , jeden Mittwoch 18.15Uhr (via Zoom)

“Gegenstand des Vorhabens ist die romantische Auseinandersetzung mit ökologischen Fragestellungen. Analysiert werden dabei naturwissenschaftliche und literarische Texte aus dem Zeitraum zwischen 1790 und 1850, zudem exemplarische Werke der bildenden Künste und der Musik. Ausgehend von aktuellen Forschungsfragen der sogenannten Environmental Humanities soll dabei die Zeit um 1800 als entscheidende Epoche in einer Vor- und Frühgeschichte modernen ökologischen Denkens profiliert werden. “

Anmeldung und Registrierung 

Weitere Informationen und Programm

Lecture Series
Apocalypse now, then, when?

Datum: Mai-Juli 2021,  Dienstags 18.15Uhr via Zoom

“The CAPAS lecture series undertakes the task of exploring imaginaries and experiences of apocalypses and post-apocalypses from an interdisciplinary perspective.”

Weitere Informationen und Programm

Grabenkämpfe und Brückenschläge.
Interdisziplinarität in der Praxis

Datum: 6. Mai 2021 bis 8. Mai 2021

“Unter welchen Bedingungen führt Interdisziplinarität tatsächlich zu neuen Erkenntnissen, die nicht nur einseitig anerkannt werden? Wie kann man das Risiko des Dilettantismus minimieren? Welche Rolle spielen (nicht-)geteilte wissenschaftsethische Normen? Wie wird die Kooperation effektiv organisiert? Welchen Interessen dient die Öffnung der Geisteswissenschaften zu den exakten und empirischen Disziplinen? Gibt es historische wie aktuelle Beispiele, aus denen wir etwas über das Gelingen, aber auch über das Misslingen interdisziplinärer Zusammenarbeit lernen können?”
Einstein Forum – Grabenkämpfe und Brückenschläge. Interdisziplinarität in der Praxis

International Conference
Rethinking Theology in the Anthropocene 

Date: 15. July -17. July 2021

Call for Papers: Deadline für Abstracts 30. April 2021

University of Bonn and the European Research Network
„Transcending Species – Transforming Religion“

Sun Rise — Sun Set

Zeitraum: 27. Februar bis 25. Juli 2021
Ort: Schinkel Pavillon, Berlin

“Die Ausstellung «Sun Rise – Sun Set» im Schinkel Pavillon widmet sich dem Klimawandel und versammelt künstlerische Positionen der Gegenwart und der Moderne, die sich zu lebendigen Organismen formieren.”
Weitere Informationen unter:
Sun Rise – Sun Set –

Theater des Anthropozäns


“Die Projekte des Theaters des Anthropozäns machen auf der Basis miteinander verknüpfter wissenschaftlicher und künstlerischer Entwürfe einsichtig und im Sinne von Humboldts Idee der Natur als eines Gesamtzusammenhangs emotional erfahrbar, dass die Geschicke der Menschen mit dem der Tiere, der Pflanzen, der Gewässer und Ozeane, der Atmosphäre und ökologischen Systeme unlösbar verbunden sind. Bei diesem partizipativen Theater des 21. Jahrhunderts im Herzen Berlins unter dem Schirm der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin handelt es sich um die Einladung, einen global vernetzten, ästhetischen und wissenschaftlichen, ökologisch – anthropozänen sowie theatralen Brennpunkt zu entwickeln.”


Spielplan und Spielorte sowie Informationen zur ‘Digitalen Bühne’ unter:
Start — Theater des Anthropozän (







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