Dresden, Germany

Culture, Power, Democracy

blended course
when 13 September 2021 - 26 September 2021
language German
duration 2 weeks
fee EUR 50

Within a democratic society, cultural institutions are places for the formation of self-understanding. By showing, collecting, preserving and staging objects, they map society, including all its associated conflicts, social and moral resources, histories, and futures. But what is the cultural institution's contribution to democracy?

Democracy is a model where the majority rules - but it is also a model of fundamental human rights, as well as the promise of participation and of equal opportunities. Democracy enables diversity. At the same time, it must avoid discrimination to the greatest extent possible. The forms, places and media of democratic action and democratic participation are changing. Are the fiery public discourses and emotions on social media, as well as the civic movements that are forming both online and in real life, signs of a vibrant democracy or rather indications of its decline and the dwindling trust in democratic institutions? Is societal cohesion at risk? What function do cultural institutions have in this field?

How can they encourage participation, create freedom of action, bridge gaps in society, overcome disunity, enable experiences of self-efficacy, and strengthen civic engagement? Is that part of their responsibilities? In the present conflicts, and the cultural and political upheavals, how can they demonstrate stances and take positions? What are the formats that cultural institutions can use to strengthen democracy?

These are just a few of the questions that the exchange with the participating institutions will focus on. The topics of individual discussions and workshops will be developed in line with the current priorities of the respective institutions. Nevertheless, due to their high topicality, they will always refer to contexts beyond the institutions.

As an introduction to the Summer School, the significance of designing the cultural sector in a participatory way in order to strengthen society in terms of its commitment to democracy and diversity will first be outlined theoretically. In the course of the Summer School, we will discuss the potentials of new participation methods such as citizen advisory boards within cultural institutions. Based on the examples of special exhibitions and already implemented events of the participating institutions, we will discuss how curatorial and informative methods can be developed so that they meet the requirements of a comprehensive education on democracy. Likewise, libraries take on a neutral role as a platform for exchange across political lines and as providers of knowledge. As a public and protected space, they can provide guidance on what can be considered true and false.

State cultural institutions are subject to a political principle of neutrality. However, when it comes to defending fundamental, constitutional rights, there cannot be "neutrality." Consciously addressing conflicts and negotiation processes in cultural facilities is one of the major challenges cultural institutions have to face. As an example, how can controversies about special exhibitions be transformed into a productive dialogue and thus contribute to education on democracy?

The Henry Arnhold Dresden Summer School 2021 is a joint project of Technische Universität Dresden, Deutsches Hygiene-Museum Dresden, Militärhistorisches Museum der Bundeswehr, Sächsische Landesbibliothek - Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Dresden, and Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden. As such, it provides a unique opportunity to explore theoretical and practical concepts alike.

The Henry Arnhold Dresden Summer School 2021 consists mainly of virtual events. If circumstances permit, we will host a closing weekend in Dresden on September 24-26, 2021. In workshops and discussion groups, we will address specific issues from an interdisciplinary perspective and develop proposals for action. Moreover, the program offers the opportunity for in-depth discussion with the participating institutions as well as with renowned experts.

Target group

Early-career researchers (in particular doctoral students and post-docs) from the relevant disciplines as well as young professionals working in museums, archives and libraries are invited to apply.

Fee info

EUR 50: Participation fee is 50 EUR per person. Should the closing weekend be possible on site, information will be provided in good time. In this case, the expenses for travel, accommodation and meals will be covered.