Conference | ATTENTION: Changes in the program!
27 Oct 2022 – 29 Oct 2022

Aktivismus und Wissenschaft I: Zur Theorie, Geschichte und Aktualität einer Provokation

Venue: Leibniz-Zentrum für Literatur- und Kulturforschung (ZfL), Schützenstraße 18, 10117 Berlin, 3. Etage, Trajekte-Tagungsraum

Antiracism, feminism, the struggle against climate change, against social injustice, for LGBTIQ rights, and the admission and rights of refugees: almost all of today’s relevant political debates also take place at universities, in the sciences and humanities, and the science-related areas. Not for a long time has academia been so hotly debated. At the same time, “science” is being considered as an authority figure in public debates. While its findings are meant to guide political decisions, the political opponent expresses doubts in these very findings. Currently, the new and intensified politicization of science is summarized under the keyword of activism, a word that has become an irritating term through which different positions are juxtaposed and posited in increased tension to one another.

Terminologically, an activism that aims to establish political goals beyond the universities and sciences with the help of scientific findings can be distinguished from an activism that is concerned with academia and its institutions themselves. The question arises to what extent science can use activist provocations and interventions to better understand its central concepts and reference points: how do scientists understand their actions in contrast to or maybe even complementarily to thought, reflection, and criticism? What is their position on the political claim to power that is still and repeatedly associated with science?

This conference, which is organized in cooperation with the Deutsches Literaturarchiv Marbach (DLA) and planned to be the first conference in a series on the relationship between activism and science, deals with the effects of different forms of activism on the sciences and humanities and their institutions from the 18th century to the present. This observation includes historical stations of activism as well as present-day debates on the relationship between the sciences, activism, and politics.


Fig. above: Modernization of a lecture hall in the Ernst Ruska Building at TU Berlin, 2017
© TU Berlin/PR/Groh


Thursday, 27 Oct 2022


  • Eva Geulen/Henning Trüper (ZfL): Introduction

Panel 1: Aktivismus, Universität und Wissenschaft heute

Moderation: Moritz Neuffer (ZfL)

  • David D. Kim (UCLA): The Activist University
  • Marian Füssel (University of Göttingen): Akademische Freiheit und die Verheißung des Intellektuellen: Historische Genealogien des Spannungsverhältnisses von Universität und Aktivismus

Evening event at the ICI Berlin
ATTENTION: Please register on the ICI website.

Moderation: Patrick Eiden-Offe (ZfL)


Friday, 28 Oct 2022

Panel 2: Historische Stationen

Moderation: Alexandra Heimes (ZfL)

  • Nacim Ghanbari (University of Siegen): Aktivistisch publizieren (Lenz)
  • Angus Nicholls (Queen Mary University of London): Comparative Literature: The History of an Activist Discipline

Panel 3: Das 20. Jahrhundert: aus Deutschland in die USA und zurück

Moderation: Katrin Trüstedt (ZfL)

  • Dieter Thomä (University of St. Gallen): Aktivismus in und an der Universität ca. 1930 (Bloch, Tillich u.a.)
  • Paul Fleming (Cornell University): Theory, Praxis, Regression. On the late Adorno and Marcuse [via Zoom]

Panel 4: Aus den 80ern in die Gegenwart: Exil, Migration, Feminismus

Moderation: Hanna Hamel (ZfL)

  • Dîlan C. Çakir (DLA Marbach/University of Stuttgart): Aktivismus im Deutschen Literaturarchiv – Engagement für bedrohtes kulturelles Erbe am Beispiel der kurdischen Literatur in der Diaspora
  • Heide Volkening (University of Greifswald): Kritik des Feminismus. Gender in der Universität


Saturday, 29 Oct 2022

Panel 5: Aktivismus im Museum?

Moderation: Eva Axer (ZfL)

  • Clémentine Deliss (University of Cambridge/KW Institute for Contemporary Art Berlin): Die Praxis des akademischen Ikonoklasmus an der Museums-Universität
  • Unfortunately, the lecture by Elisabeth Heyne had to be cancelled!

Closing lecture

  • Sandra Richter (DLA Marbach): Schiller als Aktivist