Our Working Groups

The inter-project exchange stimulates the research work, new approaches and the further development of research questions are thus forced. There are currently 9 working groups.

Bonn Center Working Groups

'Transitions of rule' are normally regulated, i.e. the change from one ruler to the next is accepted by the community and is thus legitimate. So-called special cases point to negotiation processes and are already evident in the judgement of contemporaries. The focus of consideration is therefore, on the one hand, on persons who have a legitimate claim to rule and, on the other hand, on persons whose rule was only legitimized, retrospectively.

Contact: Tilmann Trausch

By means of a comparative look at consensual elements of premodern political decision-making, the concept of consensual rule will be further sharpened and its viability tested in intercultural comparison.

Contact: Matthias Becher, Linda Dohmen

Visualizations and pictorial representations of those in power have an essential function in the context of power and domination. The development of a transdisciplinary approach promises to provide a better understanding of the relationship between text and image, as well as answers to the question of whether visual representation can be historicized.

Contact: Andrea Stieldorf

Using a jointly developed 'toolbox', transcultural concepts are focused within conceptualisations for power and domination.

Contact: Tilmann Trausch

Courts can be characterized as social units constituted by persons who have regular access to the ruler. Their interactions with each other (and with the ruler) are determined by patronage, rivalry and the exchange of economic, cultural and social capital. A guideline for a transcultural comparative analysis of the court will be developed.

Contact: Anna Kollatz

Gender plays an essential role in the construction of power. The focus is therefore on questions of the participation, representation and imagination of rulers in premodern textual and pictorial sources and the significance of the gender identity attributed to them in the context of power and rule.

Contact: Katharina Gahbler

For the analysis of ruler criticism, the working group works with schemata that facilitate a transcultural comparison: addressees of criticism, the (open) critics themselves, goals of criticism, standards of criticism, forums of criticism and finally the reception of criticism.

Contact: Alheydis Plassmann

The projects of the working group of philologists, historians and philosophers are united by the investigation of premodern power constellations in different social and textual formations. The focus is on phenomena of 'asymmetry' and 'symmetry' within (personal) relationships and their communicative manifestations. The group also works on a terminological sharpening and fundamental methodological foundation of the terms 'asymmetry' and 'symmetry' for the humanities and cultural studies.

Contact: Birgit Zacke, Hendrik Hess

The working group compares transculturally and transdisciplinarily asymmetrical power and dependency relations in the so-called premodern era. Dependency relations are understood as "all forms of societal, group-related, and individual hierarchization and oppression" (Winnebeck e.a. 2021, pp. 2-3). Our aim is to explore which methodological approaches can be used to develop a comparative toolkit for diachronic analysis in the context of slavery-like relations or among de iure free actors. The focus is on the fate or life trajectories of dependents or participants in asymmetrical power relations as a way to explore horizontal and vertical interdependencies in premodern societies. To this end, it makes sense to examine case studies that appear so different at first glance, such as slavery and relations between rulers and elites, in terms of their fundamental mechanisms. The focus here will be on exploring the interagency between the parties involved in asymmetrical relations of dependency and power. The overall aim is to explore how people are able to bring or coerce others into social relations of asymmetric dependency. We ask which characteristics of the specific relationship allow the people in the subjugated position which possibilities of action or resistance. 

Project description "The power of the powerless" (German)

Contact: Christine Beyer, Anna Kollatz, Veruschka Wagner

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