About us

(Video clip about the Research Unit Historical Cultural Sciences)

The Research Unit (FSP) Historical Cultural Sciences at the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz is an inter-faculty and interdisciplinary institution for the networking and promotion of empirical cultural studies work with a historical perspective.

The FSP came into being in 2008 as part of the image-building strategy of the University of Mainz within the framework of the  “Research Initiative 2008-2011” of the State of Rhineland-Palatinate, continuing in part the work of the inter-university Historical Cultural Sciences Research Centre Mainz-Trier (HKFZ, 2005-2008). The research conducted here starts out from a wide cultural concept and emphasises the importance of methodology and theory, precisely for interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary work. Above all, however, the objective of the Research Unit’s measures is not merely typologising  or speculative research, but one approaching the actual phenomena, such as is conducted in numerous subjects and associations at the University of Mainz. The specifically historical interest in this connection is derived, on the one hand, from the insight that current phenomena and problem situations have historical roots and only become comprehensible from the same, on the other hand, from the conviction that a contrastive look at different historical epochs and constellations can open up new perspectives, even for familiar cultural phenomena.

The FSP’s activities are varied: It initiates new historical-cultural sciences associated research projects, supporting academics engaged in cultural sciences and groups of researchers in a methodological-theoretical, organisational and also financial respect, promoting and organising conferences or workshops. The Forum Young Cultural Sciences also offers the rising generation of academics (graduates studying for a doctorate and postdoctoral researchers) the possibility of academic exchange and networking, as well as general and financial support. In the “HKW Reflexive” discussion group, interested members of the FSP discuss methodological-theoretical bases. The research colloquium held several times per semester with papers given by internal and external cultural sciences researchers followed by discussions is open to interested persons from all faculties. In addition to this, the FSP publishes its own book series “Mainz Historical Cultural Sciences” (transcript-Verlag Bielefeld).

Beyond the bounds of Mainz University, the FSP is working on the networking of historical-cultural sciences research and co-operates with different national and international partners, such as, for instance, the HKFZ Trier, the Institute for Cultural History at the University of Turku (FI) and the International Cultural Studies Research Centre in Vienna. Furthermore, within the framework of the Fellowship “Methods and Theories of Historical Cultural Sciences” organised jointly with the Gutenberg Research College (GRC), outstanding external cultural sciences scholars are invited to Mainz for two semesters in each case. Here they have the opportunity to pursue their own specialist projects, but support in particular Mainz research work in the reflection of methods and theories.

> More information on the structure of the FSP