Heidelberg team

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Costina Mocanu

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Born in urban Bucharest, Romania, after growing in the natural environment of the Chianti landscape Italy, I received a BA in Cultural and Linguistic Mediation at the University for Foreigners of Siena. Currently, I am finalising my two MA studies in Romance Languages/Global History and Visual & Material Culture at Heidelberg University. In my first MA thesis, supervised by Prof. Elwys de Stefani and Prof. Elton Prifti, I explore the notion of contact by retracing the historiography of linguistics through archival sources dating to the 20th century. In my second MA thesis, supervised by Prof. Monica Juneja, I will switch to early modernity, to examine the visual and linguistical narration formed around artefacts by looking at Catherine of Austria, Queen of Portugal’s collection and the circulation of exotica as diplomatic gifts. The pursuit for transnational transfer and transcultural encounters intersects also with my work in academic and administrative environments, in both intercultural and transnational settings. My research interests include cultural production in a global context, gender studies, storytelling, and the subject in relation to space intended as landscape and territory.


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Eva Bentcheva

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Born in Varna Bulgaria, I was fortunate to grow up living across Zimbabwe, New Zealand and Vanuatu. While my studies and career later kept me rooted in the UK and Germany, I retained a strong interest in transnational movements and transcultural exchanges, via the prism of art and culture. Through my academic and curatorial work between the University of London, the Paul Mellon Centre and Tate in London, and Haus der Kunst in Munich, I was able to explore histories of performance and conceptual art, archives and participation across the national border of South and Southeast Asia, and Europe. In my current role as Associate Lecturer in Art History at Heidelberg University, I am deeply interested not only in how artists act as 'agents' of transfer, but also how artworks 'speak' in performative and embodied ways across national and cultural divides.


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Franziska Kaun

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I joined the Worlding Public Cultures project as a Student Assistant at the Centre for Transcultural Studies at Heidelberg University in 2020, while still completing my Masters degree in Art History and Museology at Heidelberg University and the École du Louvre in Paris. Connecting my MA research to my position in the WPC team, I have sought to interlink my two major research interests: researching global art history through a transcultural perspective and museology, in particular exhibition-making. Under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Monica Juneja, I am currently developing a PhD research project in which I critically examine the major four-part exhibition series Museum Global, a large-scale research and curatorial programme funded by the German Federal Cultural Foundation between 2014 and 2022. By developing a comparative analysis, I aim to highlight how each respective exhibition sought to put the museums’ collections of modern art into a ‘global perspective’. Concurrently, I use this as a case study to highlight which notions of the ‘global’ have recently played important roles in Germany, and assess the efficacy of Museum Global’s intended transformative potential and sustainability.


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Franziska Koch

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Seeking a ‘cultural shock’, I left the State Academy of Fine Art in Stuttgart, Germany, in 2001 to study at the Department of Oriental Painting of Seoul National University for a year, before spending another term with the Department of National Painting at Shandong Normal University in Jinan 2003. While the ‘shocks’ experienced here did transform my artistic practice, more importantly they instilled in me an ongoing intellectual desire to come to terms with experiences of cultural difference. Consequently, my PhD dissertation in Art History which I completed at Philipps-University Marburg in 2012 questioned how the ‘Chinese avant-garde’ came to be (in-)formed by the dispositif of the exhibition in the Post-Mao era. Deepening my focus on agency, and returning to a particular aesthetic practices, my second book project currently looks back into the 1960s. Here, I explore the conditions and limits of transcultural artistic strategies avant la lettre, via the lens of Nam June Paik’s Fluxus collaborations. Concurrently, I also hold an Assistant Professorship in Global Art History at Heidelberg University since 2006, and co-lead Heidelberg’s WPC team in its explorations of ‘worlding’ art historical pedagogies and curatorial practices.


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Miriam Oesterreich

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I’m an art historian working on Mexican modernism and Latin American art history in relation to its transcultural contexts. Currently, I’m writing a monographic book about the transcultural entanglements of Mexican Indigenism. I have published on various aspects of the topic in peer- reviewed journals, such as RIHA, Artelogie, and Design & Culture. However, for my PhD, I had switched to the other side of the Atlantic to research early exoticist advertising pictures in the German Kaiserreich, 1880-1914. As of summer 2021, I am a Professor of design theory and gender studies at the University of the Arts Berlin, and I’m glad to continue researching and teaching my interest in critical approaches to body conceptions throughout art and cultural history. In 2019, I was Ansel-Adams-fellow at the Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona where I deepened my second research focus on borders and artistic conceptions of questioning borderlines. I’m an associated member of Worlding Public Cultures after having been post-doctoral researcher in 2020-21.


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Monica Juneja

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I am an art historian at the Heidelberg Centre of Transcultural Studies. My life and scholarship have moved between places, subjects, and languages, European and Indian. The encounter with a sequence of turns over the years – postcolonial, linguistic, iconic, material, migratory, global, decolonial … the list goes on – has impacted my scholarship in different ways. While it has underlined the value of self-reflexivity at every step, pointed to ways of recovering suppressed voices and narratives, it has also made me suspicious of an extreme form of cultural relativism together with dogmatic modes of identity politics. Many of these proclivities have crystallized into a scholarly paradigm of transculturation, which is a radical ontology of culture to counter methodological nationalism. It teaches us to attend to democratic pedagogies and communicative tools, and not least, fosters theory-building in art history through a perspective that begins by unpacking the discipline’s epistemic foundations.

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Moritz Schwörer

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I am a doctoral student at the Institute for European Art History at Heidelberg University, and a researcher in the WPC team at the Heidelberg Centre for Transcultural Studies. With a background in Art History and Theatre Studies, my current research focuses on participation in curatorial and art historical practices. My PhD project in particular explores the intersection of online communication and public participation in museums and other cultural institutions. Through this research, I aim to uncover how art museums best use online communication tools in order, to enable not only their already established audiences but also a broader public to partake in the (re)formation of exhibitions or even the institutions themselves. Following one of the core ideas of the WPC project, my research explores whether incorporating the knowledge and thoughts of online participants might be one way of creating art museums that better reflect our diverse civil societies.


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Seung Hee Kim

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I am an artist and MA student in the Transcultural Studies program at Heidelberg University with a focus on Visual, Media and Material Culture. I was awarded a scholarship from the DAAD to support my graduate studies. My research interest is aesthetic practices that unveil mechanisms of neoclassical economics. Previously, I worked in curatorial and administrative roles at the Whitney Museum, New Museum, Brooklyn Museum, and Columbia University. In 2021, I performed at museums including Centre Pompidou, MAXXI, and Louvre-Lens to stage Gardien Party, an experimental theater work conceived by Mohamed El Khatib and Valérie Mréjen. The work bluntly points to the hegemonic structures of art museums and the “art world.” I was born in South Korea, and brought up in Australia and the United States. I received my BA in Art History at the Macaulay Honors College at Hunter College of City University of New York (CUNY).