Our aim is to introduce a completely new field of research – interweavings of theatre cultures in terms of globalization today and in the past. Such processes of interweaving can be traced back to the middle of the 19th century. But today they have become conspicuous particularly in the international composition of theatre, opera, and dance ensembles as well as in the collaboration of artists from different cultures in productions. Most notably, interweaving can be recognized in the international theatre festivals: spread all over the world, they bring together productions from different parts of the world and present them to culturally diverse audiences.
Processes of interweaving already possess an explicitly political and social dimension – irrespective of their particular contents. They apply and test a certain politics of the future in culturally diversified societies, allowing for the aesthetic experience of successful integration and, at the same time, posing and tackling the question of how cultural identities are brought forth, stabilized, and destabilized. The aesthetic, ultimately, is the political. In this regard, theatre is to be investigated as a cultural model.
We are proceeding from the assumption that such processes of interweaving do not contribute to the homogenization of cultures but rather enhance diversification.
They are to be found in European, Asian, African, North and Latin American theatres. Therefore they will be investigated in cooperation with scholars of theatre and culture from the respective cultures as well as with internationally renowned experts in the field.
Aiming at contemporary and historical perspectives, the research focus is divided into five main areas:
A. The emergence of a new aesthetics
C. Political and economic dimensions
D. Performance in relation to religion and spirituality
E. Interweaving as social practice
The Freie Universität offers an ideal environment for such a research institution. Its wealth in area studies and the various art disciplines as well as its long standing cooperation with the House of World Cultures, Berlin's numerous theatres and operas as well as with the Goethe Institute and the DAAD (German Academic Exchange) will greatly contribute to the success of the research institution. Moreover, it will strengthen and sharpen the university's profile as an International Network University.
The research center started its work in August 2008.
In September 2013 the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) announced that the International Research Center »Interweaving Performance Cultures« at Freie Universität Berlin will be funded for another six years (the International Press Release can be accessed here).
This federal funding enabled the Center to continue its research by inviting outstanding international researchers as Fellows to investigate phenomena in which different cultures meet in and through performance. The directors at that time, Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Erika Fischer-Lichte, Prof. Dr. Gabriele Brandstetter, and Dr. Christel Weiler, have been joined by Prof. Dr. Matthias Warstat.
In the second phase of funding, the aim will be to further delineate the guiding concept “Verflechtungen von Theaterkulturen / Interweaving Performance Cultures” and to probe its scope and its productiveness. In doing so, we will have to avoid stretching it in such a way that it becomes applicable to virtually any performance, thus losing all heuristic force. Faced with a wealth of case studies such as carried out by the International Research Centre’s Fellows and scholars, it is necessary to establish in each case what exactly is being interwoven, how this interweaving takes place, to what purpose it is being undertaken, what function it fulfils, and, most importantly, in what context it is being carried out. Only on this basis does it become possible to develop a theory directed at cross-cultural comparison/culturecomparative theory.
For detailed information about the program of the Research Center in its second phase, please follow this link.
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