10 July 2009
In late 2008, the Center for Intercultural Studies at Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz brought out five new publications. By the first half of 2009, four other monographs and/or collections of essays focussed on intercultural topics had been published by the Center, with another five planned for the remainder of 2009. This brisk publication activity reflects the broad scope of intercultural research by Mainz University scientists and other academics.
That extensive research has been done on Marrakech by the director of the Center for Intercultural Studies, Prof. Anton Escher, is fairly well known. Now, in A Thousand and One Strangers in Paradise? Foreigners in Marrakech’s Medina, Escher collaborates with Dr. Sandra Petermann of the Geographic Institute at JGU Mainz to reveal how Marrakech’s changing historic cityscape is especially affected by the purchase of old buildings by Europeans and Americans; Escher and Petermann also investigate how the “myth of Marrakech” has manifested itself in Western culture in filmic and literary impressions. The critical work of the two researchers ranges from analyses of tourism, the investigation of divergences from the social structure, and above all to the study of diverse examples of the filmic, literary, and intellectual presence of Marrakech as an “imagined paradise.”
An equally current and publicly discussed topic is investigated by Jr. Prof. Sandra Poppe, Dr. Thorsten Schüller, and Dr. Sascha Seiler, who convened a European Research Network for young researchers on cultural analytical perspectives on “9/11 as Cultural Break: Representations of Sept. 11, 2001, in Cultural Discourses, Literature, and Visual Media.” The break of the title refers to the phenomenon that “in the artistic fields of literature, film, and music, new forms associated with violence and terror have developed, while the field of theory has reinterpreted intercultural and postcolonial communication.”
The essay collection The Third Shore: Vilém Flusser and Brazil: Contexts—Migration—Translations (Das dritte Ufer: Vilém Flusser und Brasilien: Kontexte—Migration—Übersetzungen), edited by Susanne Klengel and Holger Siever, focuses on the media and communications philosopher Vilém Flusser, who as Jewish resident of Prague was forced to emigrate in 1939 to São Paulo. The authors read Flusser as part of the intellectual and cultural field of Brazil—“not only in the form of a condensed biography but also with the goal of illuminating a constellation of knowledge that until now has been little known.”
Equally embedded in theoretical concepts, Kati Röttger and Alexander Jackob’s edited volume, Theater and Image: Staging Sight (Theater und Bild: Inszenierungen des Sehens), includes contributions from various (theater) scholars who are or have been based at the University of Mainz. “With theater, we look at the world in a different way. This is especially true for the world of images, which is also a part of theater—a connection which has rarely been examined in cultural studies research until now.”