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Summer School 2016: East Asia and 'the West': The Question of Anthropological Constants

July 28 - August 7, 2016 | Freie Universitaet Berlin, Seminarzentrum, Room L115, Habelschwerdter Allee 45, 14195 Berlin

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One of the most intriguing questions in the field of cultural studies is the problem of mono- or, rather, poly-genesis. Present-day biology seems to agree in the assumption that the human species originated from one (very) small tribe of advanced primates living in East Africa. Despite this commonality, cultures in different regions of the world are extremely diverse. With a comparative focus on obvious cultural distinctions between East Asia and Western ‘Mediterranean’ civilizations (but also including other areas, such as South American, or Sub-Saharan African regions), this year’s summer school will address the following questions: is this diversity a phenomenon that pertains only to the level of manifestation, or are cultural differences the results of a deeper structural variation? Given the oscillation between the hypothesis of anthropological constants on the one hand, and the seemingly irreconcilable specifics of different cultures on the other, by which reliable descriptive parameters might we be able to grasp a concept such as ‘cultural difference’?

Examining this vast field with instructors not only from the various international institutions of the network, but also from different disciplines of the humanities, the PCD’s summer school is conceived as an intellectual laboratory, which brings together young researchers from all over the world. Rather than being a ‘school’ in the pedagogical sense, its aim is to encourage discussions among all involved. Under the umbrella of a complex general topic, each particular session will provide all participants with the opportunity of discussing specific materials and case studies from various areas in an interdisciplinary atmosphere. The individual topics and proposals for discussion are linked to the network’s research agenda, which focuses on describing principles of cultural dynamics. The individual sessions are taught by postdocs and senior scholars, whose research focus pertains to the network’s field of study.

In addition to the Incoming and Outgoing Junior Fellows of the network’s mobility program, circulating during the year, the PCD network invites graduate and doctoral students from all partner universities to take part in the annual summer school at Freie Universitaet Berlin.