15. November 2021

NRW Minister Isabel Pfeiffer-Poensgen for talks at the BCDSS Visit by NRW Minister Isabel Pfeiffer-Poensgen

Engaging two-hour visit to the BCDSS during Minister's research tour across Northrhine Westfalia

NRW Minister Isabel Pfeiffer-Poensgen for talks at the BCDSS
NRW Minister Isabel Pfeiffer-Poensgen for talks at the BCDSS © Cécile Jeblawei
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On Friday 12 November 2021, we had the pleasure of welcoming Minister Isabel Pfeiffer-Poensgen, who paid a visit to the BCDSS as part of her research tour across Northrhine Westfalia (NRW). After a warm welcome by Prof. Dr. Volker Kronenberg, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, our speaker, Prof. Dr. Stephan Conermann, introduced the Minister to the cluster's extended inter- and transdisciplinary approach to dependency studies, one that goes beyond the traditional notions of 'freedom' and 'slavery'.

She learned that our cluster hosts more than 100 international researchers across four faculties and 43 disciplines: from archaelogy and history, Egyptology and German literature to sociology and Tibetology. Together we examine all forms of human exploitation across all time periods, religions and cultures such as slavery, serfdom, debt bondage, or forced labor.

Eleven of our cluster members, from Master students to senior professors, gave testimony to the many different manifestations of "strong asymmetrical dependencies". One example included a 19th century annual gift book ('Liberty Bell') dedicated to the abolition of slavery. However, the publishers were themselves "trapped" in structures imposed by society. Other manifestations included a judicial sentencing to slavery from the 18th century African 'Gold Coast' whereby slavery was used as a means to pay off debts.  

Wherever possible, the Minister took the chance to engage in talks with our cluster members as well as members of the Rectorate, including the Rector Professor Dr. Dr. h.c. Michael Hoch.

Before concluding her visit, the Minister was let to see parts of the cluster's current exhibition "Resources of Power", which illustrates vividly that dependency can also be reflected in objects. She was made aware that we are planning a big exhibition in 2024 on the topic of "Embodied Dependencies".

The Minister's visit was accompanied by a film team that will produce a short video of the day. So watch this space! Special thanks go to Professor Dr. Marion Gymnich, Professor Dr. Claudia Jarzebowski and Luvena Kopp (doctoral student) for posing as interviewees.  

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