Heidelberg Academy Call for Papers

The WPC team of Heidelberg University invites scholars and early career researchers from the fields of Art History, Transcultural Studies, Anthropology to deliver papers at the academy Lessons Learned? Transcultural Positions in Curating and Pedagogies.


Lessons Learned? Transcultural Positions in Curating and Pedagogies will take place at the Dresden State Art Collections (Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden/SKD), Dresden, Germany in the framework of the second edition of the Transcultural Academy organised at the Japanese Palace

14 – 16 July 2022
Organized by the Worlding Public Cultures team of Heidelberg University

As the drive to expand, explore and inform museum collections through global histories gains momentum, a pressing question remains: what is the role of art historical pedagogy in the museum? The concept of pedagogy is etymologically posited on the distinction between an adult and a child, and privileges teaching over learning. In past decades, there has been a decisive move to rethink the role of museums away from teaching through visuality (Alpers) towards becoming sites of emancipatory and critical learning. Exhibitions such as the Documentas X and XI (curated by Catherine David in 1997 and Okwui Enwezor in 2002 respectively) or the iteration of Havana Biennale directed by Gerardo Mosquera in 1989, adopted open transactions across curating, learning and teaching. In addition, a growing number of cross-disciplinary platforms and collectives across the Global North and South – small in scale, locally anchored, and horizontally organized – have brought forth radical modes of cultural critique and transnational networks opposing exploitation, precarity, homophobia, militarization and xenophobia. The radicalism of such “micro- organizations” (von Osten) has now begun to rebound on larger institutions. Presently, a number of museums, particularly in Europe and North America, are introducing forms of self-reflection about audiences and collections.

The international Academy, Lessons Learned? Transcultural Positions in Curating and Pedagogies, explores the successes and failures of existing pedagogical practices in museums, and potentials for new transcultural and ‘worlded’ approaches. Conceptualized by Heidelberg University’s team of the international research project, Worlding Public Cultures: The Arts and Social Innovation, this Academy will unfold as a three day series of on-site and virtual discussions, excursions and exhibition visits around the Dresden State Art Collections (SKD) from the 14-16 July 2022. The SKD museums hold amongst the most important and expansive present- day collections in Germany. They speak to histories of transcultural collecting and conservation in Germany since the 16th century. Later in 2022, SKD will hold a ‘Transcultural Academy’ at the Japanese Palace to rethink curatorial presentations, and audience engagement via an artist residency programme. Funded by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media (BKM), this aims to rethink and reflect upon the role of ethnographic collections in the context of current debates around decolonization.

Lessons Learned? Transcultural Positions in Curating and Pedagogies invites scholars from the fields of Art History, Transcultural Studies, Anthropology among others, alongside museum professionals, critics, activists and artists and others to deliver panel papers of 20 minutes around one or several of the following questions:

  • What methodological practices are needed to embrace transcultural and ‘worlded’ approaches in museum curating, research, archiving and public outreach?

  • How can museum taxonomies be ‘retold’ through research based on collaboration and consultation?

  • What strategies (such as cross-disciplinary studies of language, society and embodied cultural practices) can museums employ to surmount museums’ emphasis on visuality and material culture?

What is the role do funding bodies and selection committees play with regards to research and curatorial outputs?

What different approaches to ‘decolonizing’ museums have been developed so far?

Please submit abstracts of no more than 500 words and a short biography (150 words) to Dr. Eva Bentcheva (eva.bentcheva@hcts.uni-heidelberg.de) by 22 May 2022. Travel to and from Dresden, as well as accommodation for 3-4 nights (depending on arrival from international or regional destinations) will be covered by the Academy organizers.

Worlding Public Cultures: The Arts and Social Innovation is funded by a Social Innovation Grant from the Trans-Atlantic Platform for the Social Sciences and Humanities and (within Germany) by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (DLR Project Management Agency). Partner institutions and networks are Transnational and Transcultural Arts and Culture Exchange (TrACE), the University of the Arts London (UK), Carleton University (Canada), Concordia University (Canada), the University of Montreal (Canada), the University of Quebec in Montreal (Canada), Heidelberg University (Germany), the University of Amsterdam (Netherlands) and Vrije Universitet Amsterdam (Netherlands).

CfP: Emerging Research on Reciprocal Learning across Art Institutions: Futures of Transcultural Knowing
Location: Hybrid event - online and on-site at the Dresden State Art Collections 14 July 2022

As part of the international Academy, Lessons Learned? Transcultural Positions in Curating and Pedagogies, the hybrid panel discussion ‘Futures of Transcultural

Knowing: Emerging Research on Reciprocal Learning across Art Institutions’ invites emerging scholars, curators and educators whose work and research focuses on the intersection of art and pedagogy. This session particularly welcomes presentations about independent curatorial and pedagogical projects, as well as research and case studies from institutional contexts, which shed light on the successes and shortcomings of reciprocal learning between academic and cultural institutions.

The session is interested in how emerging scholarship and professional initiatives address the intersections of art historical pedagogies (primarily as taught in academic settings) and pedagogical and curatorial practices in museums and beyond. What are examples of existing initiatives that illuminate how we can open up and shape spaces for encounters of reciprocal learning to better enable transnationally, transculturally, or ‘worlded’ forms of knowing? How can innovative pedagogical approaches create new spaces for audiences to learn from – and across – the expertise of museums and universities?

The session invites presentations of 10 minutes each followed by a discussion. The presentations and discussions will be in English. There will also be an opportunity to summarize the discussions in the form of a blog post on the WPC website blog after the Academy. At the end of the Academy, emerging scholars and professionals are invited to meet with the WPC team for a reflection session to debrief and share their experiences of the Academy.

We welcome contributions and case studies from or about museum-university collaborations and/or successful pedagogical models beyond institutions that address one or several of the following questions:

  • What are innovative forms of transnationally, transculturally, or ‘worlded’ pedagogical learning in and through networks between, for example, universities and other art-related institutions such as museums?

  • What does the concept of pedagogy entail in this nexus? How can it be re- imagined? How has it thus far been re-imagined?

  • How can we learn/unlearn art and visual practices in ‘worlded’ ways? How can emerging ideas be incorporated into teaching and showing practices?

  • How can art institutions work together to enable situating formerly and continuously excluded, suppressed or ‘othered’ ways of knowing?

    The sessions will take on a hybrid format, with select participants on-site in Dresden and others virtually present online. There are a limited number of travel grants available for participation in this panel in person. If you wish to apply for such a grant and attend in person, please indicate this in your submission along with details of your current place of residence.

Please send your abstract (max. 300 words) and a short professional biography (max. 300 words) to Moritz Schwörer (moritz.schwoerer@hcts.uni-heidelberg.de) by 22 May 2022.

Image credit: ‘The Damascus Room’, Japanese Palace, Dresden State Art Collections.