Dresden, Germany

The Struggle for the Truth. Institutions of Culture in Polarized Societies

when 23 September 2019 - 2 October 2019
language German
duration 2 weeks
fee EUR 250

Technische Universität Dresden
Deutsches Hygiene-Museum Dresden
Militärhistorisches Museum der Bundeswehr
Sächsische Landesbibliothek – Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Dresden
Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden

Archive science, library science, information science, documentation science, ethnology, German studies, history, art history, cultural studies, media studies, museology, philosophy, political science, psychology, sociology and other related disciplines

The public discourse has become an arena of the struggle for truth. Claims to truth are negotiated in mutual accusations of representing the wrong truth. Terms such as post-factual, fake news and alternative facts make it all the more difficult to communicate about differing explanations of the world and diverging interests on a sophisticated level. Such communication moreover takes place against the background of growing skepticism – not only towards the nation’s elites, but also towards institutions that have traditionally conceived of themselves as producers and representatives of existing orders of knowledge and society.

Museums and libraries, but also universities, as institutions whose purpose is to store knowledge, make it accessible, and thus further it, are accordingly under increasing pressure. These institutions have a long tradition of seeking to distinguish between original and forgery, between ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, and of the struggle for proof and counterproof. At the same time, they serve as forums for discourse and resonance chambers for societal developments. Culture and knowledge institutions are thus not only the focus of societal polarizations, but within those polarizations they must also take a stance and act accordingly. They are theatres of the war for truth, and at the same time they are in the firing line of competing claims to truth.

This is precisely the topic the Henry Arnhold Dresden Summer School 2019 will address. The ten-day programme will pursue issues of scope for action, competencies and responsibility. How do museums and libraries proceed when they find themselves at the centre of societal polarizations? What role do they play as arenas and venues of societal debates? And what position do they take themselves, as protagonists, with regard to polarizing issues? Perhaps scientific and cultural institutions should respond to reductions of the public discourse to ‘true’ or ‘false’ by pointing out that there can be several truths, that mistakes can also be productive, that lies can write successful stories, and that in some cases ignorance can be a helpful.

These questions will form the core of intensive exchange with the participating institutions. The themes of the individual discussions and workshops will be developed in conjunction with these institutions’ current activities, which will ensure a high degree of topicality. At the Deutsches Hygiene-Museum, for example, against the background of the redesign of its presentation on “Sexuality”, the museum is to be examined as a space for societal discourse. At the Militärhistorisches Museum, conflicts over the power of interpretation are to be addressed – based on the example of the museum’s own history, but also with a view to the interpretation of historical occurrences such as the attempt by resistance within the military to assassinate Adolf Hitler on 20 July 1944, seventy-five years ago this year. The SLUB, as an institution that curates knowledge and offers access to a wide range of sources, will teach techniques for differentiating between facts and fake news / fake science. And finally, at the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, multiperspectival object histories will be discussed, an aspect that – in view of how museums deal with the origins of objects, and above all in connection with the SKD’s colonial-period holdings –, bears great relevance for the present.

Information / Application procedure:
The fee for participation is 250 € per person. The TU Dresden will cover the travel expenses and the cost of room and board.

The summer school will be held primarily in German. Individual programme items and discussions may be held in English. We expressly welcome applications from all over the world. Applicants should be capable of following lectures in German.

The summer school will be accompanied by a blog (http://dss.hypotheses.org/) to be kept by the participants. Your willingness to write one or more blog contributions during the summer school is assumed.

Please send your application, consisting of a personal statement of motivation and your current curriculum vitae, by electronic means to the director of the Henry Arnhold Dresden Summer School, Prof. Dr. Hans Vorländer (e-mail: ddsummerschool@mailbox.tu-dresden.de). The personal statement should not exceed one page, and it should explain your interest in the topic of the Henry Arnhold Dresden Summer School 2019. You will be informed as to your participation prospectively by the end of June 2019.

Felicitas von Mallinckrodt
Academic Coordinator
Henry Arnhold Dresden Summer School
TU Dresden
Zellescher Weg 17
01069 Dresden
Tel.: +49 (0)351 463 37681
Fax: +49 (0)351 463 37774
E-mail: felicitas.von_mallinckrodt@tu-dresden.de
@ddsummerschool, #ddss19

Target group

Junior scholars (in particular doctoral students and post-docs) from the relevant disciplines as well as young museum, archive and library professionals are invited to apply.

Course aim

As a joint project of the Technische Universität Dresden, the Deutsches Hygiene-Museum Dresden, the Militärhistorisches Museum der Bundeswehr, the Sächsische Landesbibliothek – Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Dresden and the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, the Henry Arnhold Dresden Summer School 2019 represents a unique occasion to focus on theoretical and practical concepts to equal degrees. The participants will discuss concrete issues and develop proposals for action within the framework of exhibition visits and interdisciplinary workshops. The programme will moreover provide opportunities for more in-depth engagement with the participating institutions and their representatives, as well as for concentrated discussion with well-known experts and scholars.

Fee info

EUR 250: The TU Dresden will cover the travel expenses and the cost of room and board.