Welcome

… to the Homepage of our Interdisciplinary Research Group on Cultural Property.

In June 2008, researchers at the Universities of Göttingen and Hamburg began an interdisciplinary project on Cultural Property supported by funds from the Deutsche Forschungsgesellschaft. Since 2011, the research team is composed of scholars in cultural anthropology/European Social and Cultural Anthropology, economics, Social and Cultural Anthropology, commercial and international law from the Universities of Göttingen and Tübingen. By now, the project has entered the second stage. These six linked projects are devoted to the question of how cultural property is constituted, focusing on actors, discourses, contexts and rules.

The Constituting of Cultural Property: Actors, Discourses, Contexts, Rules

Cultural Property is a concept with far-reaching consequences. The interest in bringing cultural property to market (or to block it from reaching the marketplace) and thereby realize an economic, ideological, collective, or individual profit has proven difficult in light of the highly divergent circumstances that actors face in a post-colonial, late-modern world.

Our group of researchers is engaged in examining the constituting of cultural property at the intersection of conflicting priorities in cultural, economic, legal, and social discourses. By focusing on the actors, discourses, contexts and rules that have led to different ways of constituting cultural property, the research group highlights the problematic nature inherent to the concept of cultural property itself, with an eye to both understanding and explaining it as a phenomenon.

This also calls for a heretofore unprecedented combining of expertise from various disciplines; the research group includes specialists from the humanities and the social sciences, as well as from law and economics. Together, they conduct both micro-studies that address the different levels at which cultural property is constituted as well as formulate theories of institution-building based on jurisprudential and economic models – with the micro-level augmenting the macro-level, and vice versa. Interdisciplinary cooperation, and the holistic intermeshing of theory and practice with respect to cultural property lead, across disciplines, to the mutual enhancement of basic knowledge, of central epistemic concerns, and of methodology.

The exchange of knowledge such interdisciplinary work promotes will help remedy the deficits that exist in the various disciplines with respect not only to concept formation but also to empirical work thus far undertaken. Work on cultural property is meant to reach differing publics, and in cooperating with national and international scholars, the research group builds a network, unique in German-speaking Europe, that has the subject competence to address numerous aspects of questions that arise about cultural property and copyright. This network serves as a basis both for communicating with other researchers in this area and serve as an information conduit to decision-makers.