The proposed research training group aims at a critical reflection of the concepts of ‘place’ and ‘placing’ from a decidedly interdisciplinary perspective. Place and processes of (re-)placing have become central to a discussion of complex global interrelations, precisely at a time of growing transnational interdependencies and seemingly borderless communication networks. According to our guiding research idea, we suggest to think of place dynamically, as practicing place. Hence, we will consider specific practices of placing and their concomitant epistemic configurations (such as comprehending, mapping, locating, imagining, writing, experiencing, and redefining places) as well as the situatedness and specific locality of any practice. Every practice is shaped by given places, while it at the same time also designs and produces new places in a performative, ongoing process. Seen this way, places can never be conceived of as singular static entities, in the sense of ‘Heimat’ or a closed life-world; rather, places have to be thought of in terms of a dynamic, multifaceted, dialogical, often controversial, affective, and especially participatory system of relations, informed by aspects of performance, construction, perception, production, experience, recognition, and inscription. In addition, every practice is tied to other super- and subordinate as well as contiguous strategies of placing: thus, e.g., appropriation and disappropriation, inclusion and exclusion, but also participation are intricate to processes of placing that both inform and are continually (re-)produced in social and economic, imagined and fictional, artistic and medial practices. Put differently: We are less interested in the more traditional questions of where a place is, or what it is; rather, our research epitomizes on the ‘how’ of places, i.e. how places are shaped, created, altered, questioned, or known by socio-cultural practices.
The particular group of scholars from sociology, geography, philosophy as well as literary and cultural studies guarantees the proposed training program’s interdisciplinary orientation, exploring the innovative cross-fertilization between social science approaches and the humanities. Ph.D. students and post-doctoral researchers will closely collaborate with the participating professors as well as the international cooperating partners. Our wide range of renowned international associates expresses the long-standing and continually growing research networks in all participating disciplines. Following our shared interest in creative and interdisciplinary theorization and knowledge building, we will encourage young researchers from various disciplines to take active roles in our joint scholarly effort and support them in their critical academic development.