German Research Foundation Supports New Centre for Advanced Studies at Freie Universität Berlin

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Investigation of Tension between Ancient Oriental Despotism and Enlightened Democracy

‘ 066/2017 from Mar 31, 2017

The German Research Foundation (DFG) is setting up one of nationwide only two new Centres for Advanced Study at Freie Universität. It is entitled "Rethinking Oriental Despotism - Strategies of Governance and Modes of Participation in the Ancient Near East" and directed by Eva Cancik-Kirschbaum and Jörg Klinger from the Department of History and Cultural Studies, as the DFG announced on Friday in Bonn.

In both past and present-day research on the origin, structure, and effectiveness of political configurations, Near Eastern forms of rule are usually presented as the prime examples of precursors to autocratic rule. These pre-existing categories and narratives are then presupposed as an interpretive framework in the face of the overwhelming complexity of the textual and archaeological record, leaving the potential of these materials for an innovative, longue durée comparative approach unfulfilled. Research on Near Eastern societies shows, however, through its continual growth and achievements in the production of new textual and archaeological sources, a huge internal dynamism. And, consequently, this dynamism calls for a renewed effort of systematic theory-building.

With its coordinated programs, the DFG supports researchers in devoting themselves to urgent current issues in their fields and to set up innovative groups for working collaboratively. The Centres for Advanced Studies in the Humanities and Social Sciences are a special type of funding instrument specifically tailored to the working methods used in these particular fields. They can be funded for two four-year periods. The DFG Research Units can be funded for a maximum of six years (two times for a three-year period). In the first funding period, a total of four new Research Units and two Centres for Advanced Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences, will receive 17 million euros. Altogether the DFG is currently funding 180 Research Units and nine Centres for Advanced Studies in the Humanities and Social Sciences. Five of the Humanities Centres are led by a scholar based at Freie Universität Berlin.


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