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Project Gehrke/Sénécheau

Popular Constructions of Ancient Life Worlds in the Light of Processes of Europeanization and Globalization

In the current processes of Europeanisation and globalisation as well as in discourses dealing with these issues, recourses to history are gaining increasing importance. Cultural imprints and traditions, and, as a result, historical constellations ("Lebenswelten"), have become not merely objects of historical research in a narrower sense, but also objects of broader, lively debate – political as well (keyword: clash of civilisations). At the same time, the focus is often on very early stages of historical development.

Concerning Europeanisation, the project deals especially with the Roman Empire, which was recently even considered as a template for the European Union. Another focus are the Germanic and Celtic peoples, who in the present European context in Germany and France have been charged with different functions serving the establishment of national identities (Project Area I, in charge: M. Sénécheau). With regard to the process of globalisation, the project examines popular representations of Greek history in which, connected with the features of universalisation during the Hellenistic period, the Barbarian is presently given special emphasis as the classic antagonist of the Greeks (Project Area II, in charge: H.-J. Gehrke).+

The project focuses in particular on the following issues: the instrumentalisation and interpretation of topics of Ancient History and Protohistoric Archaeology in the general public and in scholarly research, as well as the documentation of present constructions of history as a process of "intentional history"; the presentation of cultural differences and cultural interaction in popular descriptions of relations primarily between Greeks and non-Greeks ('Barbarians') in the Hellenistic period, and in protohistory (between Romans and Germanic / Celtic peoples); the relations between academic and popular forms of presentation in the media examined; the ways of imparting the results of scholarly research to the public and the possible repercussions of popular forms on the originally scientific production.

The research is carried out by studying the historical lifeworlds of German and French schoolbooks, didactic films, exhibitions and museums (Project Area I), as well as recent documentaries and feature films (Project Area II). The research will initially focus on Project Area I, supervised by Prof. Dr. Hans-Joachim Gehrke (Ancient History) and Prof. Dr. Sebastian Brather (Protohistoric Archaeology). Due to the presidency of H.-J. Gehrke at the German Archaeological Institute (DAI) since March 2008, new perspectives of cooperation have arisen between universities, the DAI and media producers occupied with the conveyance of history.

Project Director: Hans-Joachim Gehrke (Ancient History)
Assistants: Miriam Sénécheau (Prehistoric Archaeology); Student Assistant: Anabelle Thurn

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