There are six doctoral researchers at the Leibniz ScienceCampus who joined in March 2020. You can find their profiles by following this link.
In collaboration with the Graduate School for East and Southeast European Studies and other partners of the ScienceCampus at IOS and UR, the doctoral scholars are participating in a programme of research skills training, career advice, and workshops in theory and methods.
In their first year, the doctoral researchers have already participated in tailored workshops on "Getting Started with a PhD", addressing both time and project management. There will follow sessions on academic writing in English, and the key theories and methods in area studies, including this workshop in July 2020.
Other planned events will explore research communication and translating scholarship for broader audiences, and careers in European structures. Throughout their doctoral degree, they will attend a monthly Graduate School and ScienceCampus research colloquium featuring talks and presentations by renowned invited guests, including visiting fellows. The doctoral scholars will also attend seminars and colloquiums organised by their supervisors' departments.
They will have the opportunity to organise events and projects within the relevant Research Modules of the LSC, while further conceptual, methodological and theoretical aspects of their projects will be addressed in the Study Groups of the Graduate School. The doctoral researchers will be expected to take a leading role over time in guiding the work of these groups in collaboration with the principal investigators involved.
Every semester, the doctoral scholars will update their supervisors through self-reflexive Progress Reports, in addition to regular meetings with them. Around 18 months into the programme, there will be a chapter workshop where the scholars will present at least one chapter of their theses where they will demonstrate that the methods, concepts and sources they intend to work with are feasible and will lead to a successful doctoral dissertation.
From the Leibniz ScienceCampus, the doctoral researchers can expect not only excellent supervision, but also support from mentors collaborating with the Research Modules and based in the partner institutions. They will also receive the necessary financial support for funding research trips and active participation in conferences, as well as seed money for developing further collaborative projects. The network of outstanding national and international partner institutions and scholars associated with the Regensburg ScienceCampus will ensure that they become embedded in the research community of their respective fields.
The Leibniz ScienceCampus was delighted to have Kerstin Schmidt, Chair of American Studies at the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt, and Katja Naumann, researcher at the Leibniz Institute for the History and Culture of Eastern Europe (GWZO) in Leipzig, join us for this workshop. The event was organized by the coordinators of the ScienceCampus Research Module Towards Multi-Polar and Multi-Scalar Area Studies, Birgit Bauridl (American Studies, UR) and Natali Stegmann (Southeast and East European History, UR), who led the introductory first session on 13 July.
The participants, who included doctoral researchers, postdocs and senior faculty, discussed two key texts, Charles S. Maier’s ‘Transformations of Territoriality 1600-2000’ (2006) and Heike Paul’s ‘Critical Regionalism and Post-Exceptionalist Area Studies’ (2014). The discussion focused on central concepts and ideas that ran throughout both days, namely: how has spatialization and territorialization shifted in particular in relation to globality; how can area studies address multiple scales of interaction between regions and actors within them; how can methodological nationalism be overcome, i.e. how can analysis shift away from making nation-states the central actors. The discussion also took in differences in disciplinary traditions and research scope, as evident in the lenses adopted in both texts. The ‘critical regionalism’ approach outlined by Paul showed that an attachment to particular place (or Heimat) does not necessarily entail a conservative, exclusionist attitude, nor does it preclude mobility. There was instead a sense that a notion of ‘translocality’ could help understand the ways in which experiences of globality be accounted for in light of the unbounded spatializations outlined by Maier, whereby the significance of the state and its boundaries no longer had primacy.
The first session of the second day was led by Kerstin Schmidt as she explored experiences and visualizations in art, popular culture and the environment of being “up against the wall” at the US-Mexican border. She outlined how spaces at the edge and at borders can come to reflect central and interconnected processes of globalization. From a symbolic perspective, the “theatre” of building walls reflects the weakness of the state as in light of the respatializations emerging from technological and economic shifts, as well as the practices of mobile migrants, walls can be circumvented. Attempts to control flows and counter globalization often exacerbate the inequalities that encourage migration – such as NAFTA weakening the competitiveness of Mexican producers as the US employed dumping practices to restrict competition. The multidisciplinary skills required to explore these edge spaces and borders that are central sites of globalization become clear, as the economic and geopolitical contexts of the border and walls were discussed in the context of television shows and artworks. This highlighted the intersections with gender, class and race that shape the nature of these spaces that might appear peripheral but show how critical regionalism as an approach elucidates the transformations of territoriality.
In the final session of the workshop, led by Katja Naumann, the constructed nature of regions was taken up as a central challenge for area studies. The discussion focused on developments in area studies methodology, with the developments in comparative area studies and transregional studies traced. The discussion considered how the approaches challenge the ways that area studies have in the past applied approaches from particular disciplines to different regions. Transregional studies focuses more closely on individual border-crossing actors and networks as examples of connections across regions in the context of globalization, while trying to avoid a “mobility bias”, i.e. by considering how respatializations can also affect or be affected by local spaces. Comparative area studies looks at ways of countering asymmetries in sources and data available on particular regions, whether by working towards greater collaboration with scholars from regions or by developing a framework for interregional or cross-regional approaches. This draws on the expertise of traditional single area focus in research while expanding collaborative approaches in the case of large-scale interregional comparison, while cross-regional approaches are more thematic and focus on a limited number of cases relating to particular phenomena. Whether comparative area studies, with its origins in comparative politics and social science, is suited to some of the fuzzier, culturally-focused questions remained up for debate.
Across the sessions of the workshop, it became clear that a self-reflexive approach in area studies research is crucial as it is clear that regions and their significance is formed through both social and scholarly practice. “Europe” and “America” can be seen as components of “the West”. But reflecting on critical regionalism, comparative approaches and transregional connections, the discussion made clear that these areas are formed and transformed on multiple scales and in muti-polar relations to other parts of the globalized world. The challenge facing area studies is clear: to understand the interlocking and overlapping, rather than hierarchical, relations between individual actors, localities, states, supranational alliances and deterritorialized spaces of business and communication.
As part of the structured doctoral programme offered to the six doctoral researchers of the ScienceCampus, they participated in a workshop organized by the Graduate School for East and Southeast European Studies offering tips and information on time and project management. Matthias Kating, an experienced coach from the company Falkenberg Seminare, offered insight into techniques of managing large-scale projects, also offering tips on how to cope with the particular conditions resulting from the coronavirus restrictions.
The doctoral researchers first received access to an in-depth interactive e-learning module which presented some project management techniques while also requiring self-reflection on how each of them approaches their work. During the online "in-person" sessions on 27 April there were discussions on how to set realistic goals and realise them, how to plan work in differing timeframes and how to solve problems with workflow, concentration and motivation.
The doctoral researchers, along with their colleagues from the Graduate School and other projects at IOS, will continue the structured programme with a follow-up in-house workshop on writing the literature review and other stages of the PhD. The programme will also address aspects of area studies theory and methods starting in June.
On 24 April, the six doctoral researchers of the ScienceCampus along with colleagues from the Junior Research Group “Frozen and Unfrozen Conflicts” at IOS and the DFG-supported project at UR on corruption and informality, were formally welcomed and presented their projects to their peers and the broader research community.
We could not hold the event as planned in person, so around forty people attended the event on Zoom. Alongside introductions by the respective project leaders, Ulf Brunnbauer, Cindy Wittke and Klaus Buchenau, each doctoral researcher presented their project in around five minutes followed by brief follow up questions. The broad cross-section of area studies research in Regensburg was clear, with projects ranging from history and cultural studies through economics to political science and international law. As Ulf Brunnbauer pointed out, the relevance of area studies has been made very clear as a result of the coronavirus crisis with different regions and countries sometimes dealing differently to a problem resulting in part from the interconnectedness of the global world. At the same time, sharing expertise reveals the globalization offers a chance not just for frictions but also transnational cooperation and solidarity.
The six doctoral students of the ScienceCampus come from various disciplines and cover both North and South America, as well as several European regions, in their research. Igor Stipić is conducting an ethnographically-inspired comparative study of social movements and protests in schools in Bosnia and Chile. Vita Zelenska also draws on ethnographic fieldwork to explore how the status of refugees is produced, embodied and experienced with a focus on Greece and the USA. Jon-Wyatt Matlack will also draw on fieldwork and performance studies in order to explore the history of Cold War military exercises in Bavaria through a performative lens. Thalia Prokopiou will look at discourses of right-wing extremism as a transnational phenomenon focused on concepts of homeland and Heimat that seeks to exacerbate frictions in a globalized world while being enabled by it. Daniela Weinbach examines how cultural specificity and difference, particularly in relation to gender, sexuality and humour is communicated through film remakes, while also commenting on the role of the globalized film industry. Cornelius Merz examines the urbanization of Leipzig and Cleveland comparatively as products of the infrastructures of modernity and industrialization that take differing routes according to local conditions.
ScienceCampus board member Cindy Wittke introduced the two doctoral students from the project Between Conflict and Cooperation: International Law in the Post-Soviet Space, which is based at the Junior Research Group that she leads at IOS. It examines the intersections of international law and international relations with a focus on the South Caucasus and Central, as well as Ukraine and Russia, in comparative perspective. Elia Bescotti examines differences in how international law affects identity making in states that are recognized and spaces that are contested. Nargiza Kilichova looks at the rule of law how discourses on it are shaped by Western donors, as well as Russia and China, in Central Asia.
Klaus Buchenau outlined the KorrInform DFG-funded project on corruption and informality, which works on a multi-disciplinary basis with projects drawing on the toolboxes offered by economics, history and linguistics, while encouraging dialogues between the findings. The focus is on comparing Croatia and Serbia, pointing to the long-term differences engendered by imperial rule in the past and current divergent positions in relation to the EU. Barbara Frey surveys the business landscape of the 1990s/2000s and how perceptions of corruption shaped business decisions during periods of turbulence, economnic transition and post-conflict realities. Jovana Jovic draws on linguistic approaches to framings of corruption and informality framed from the 1990s to the present present, with a focus on scandals that generated significant public resonance. Milos Lecic stresses the significance of scandals as a subject of historical research, since these are more visible in the record, as corruption and informality are usually hidden, thus he will seek to trace the grades informality and corruption across the twentieth-century in the region.
Heidrun Hamersky manager of the Graduate School concluded with an outline of the upcoming doctoral programme which researchers will be offered during their time in Regensburg as part of their research training and career development.
One of the first events organized by the Regensburg ScienceCampus was the workshop "Designing a Doctoral Project". Sixteen prospective doctoral students who have completed or are close to completing a Master's degree came to Regensburg to learn more about what a PhD looks like in Germany and Regensburg; what challenges and pleasures are involved in doctoral studies; and how to write competitive research proposals.
In exchanges with existing doctoral researchers, postdocs and senior researchers, the participants received general information on securing funding and writing proposals. In smaller groups, they received subject-specific feedback on project proposals from senior scholars working in the fields of migration studies, social anthropology, cultural studies, economics and business, history and politics, across all the regions represented at the ScienceCampus.
The workshop was led by Paul Vickers (CITAS/ Leibniz ScienceCampus) and Adrian Grama (Graduate School for East and Southeast European Studies), with colleagues from across IOS and the University contributing with presentations or as mentors of subject-specific groups. Heidrun Hamersky (Graduate School) offered insight into the forms that a doctoral degree can take in Germany, including structured programmes and researching individually in university departments. Ulf Brunnbauer offered regular contributions to the discussions on what makes a successful research proposal and the qualities required to succeed as a doctoral researchers.
Colleagues from the UR International Office, the Centre for Languages and Communication (ZSK), Bayhost, REAF, Research Centre Spain, and libraries at IOS and UR all shared their expertise.