On Wednesday, 11 November 2015, DAAD London had the pleasure of holding a panel discussion entitled “Germany from the outside” on German and Germany related subjects at the Goethe-Institut London.

Panellists were German and British academics from Aston / Maastricht University, the University of Birmingham’s Institute of German Studies (IGS) and the University of Cambridge. The event was chaired by Lord Green, whose book “Reluctant Meister: How Germany’s Past is Shaping it’s European Future” was published last year.

All panellists and their HE institutions had either received funds or are currently funded by the DAAD within the Promoting German Studies Programme (PGS). Their research projects tackled issues including “What does it mean to be German in the 21st century”, “Germany and the World”, “The Political Challenge of Managing Migration in the UK and Germany” and “(Not) Made in Germany? Imagining Germany from the Outside”.

To a packed audience and after an introductory statement on the respective projects’ outcomes, Lord Green led a lively discussion on the role of Germany viewed from an Anglo-Saxon perspective but also stretching as far as China.

The current project “(Not) Made in Germany? Imagining Germany from the Outside” (Dr Nicholas Martin, University of Birmingham’s IGS) for instance deals with and analyses how images of contemporary Germany are construed. “What can be learned by looking at how a nation is understood by diverse actors and in a variety of contexts beyond its borders?” is one of the leading questions tackling economical, educational, historical, cultural and political aspects.
Dr Henning Grunwald (University of Cambridge) emphasised as one project-related outcome that at certain moments, mutual perceptions can be self-reinforcing: “The run-up to WW1 for e.g. and war itself were times when mutual antagonism was such that even relatively unsuspicious areas of a nation’s culture, economy, language or education system came to reinforce the dominant ideas in others’ eyes.” Thus such perceptions tell as much, if not more, about the originating culture than about the one that it is ostensibly being referred to, Mr Grunwald concluded.

DAAD and German Studies in the UK:

The DAAD has been supporting German Studies at universities in the United Kingdom for many years. From 2009 on the Promoting German Studies Programme (PGS) started to strengthen innovative and interdisciplinary approaches in research and teaching in German Studies and to encourage the intellectual support of partners at universities in the UK to this end.  To date there have been three rounds of PGS project funding and the discussion picked up some of them.
The term “German studies” describes research and teaching about contemporary Germany (including comparative studies) as well as its role in the European Union and its interaction with other European countries and the world at large. The focus is on approaches based in the social sciences and/or interdisciplinary orientated cultural studies that go beyond, though do not exclude, the literary manifestations of contemporary German culture. Funds are for a two year duration.

PGS-Projects for 2015-2016:

1) German Screen Studies Network (GSSN) – Prof. Erica Carter (GSSN founder), Eleanor Halsall (Network Coordinator), King’s College London

2) Not Made in Germany? Imagining Germany from the Outside – Dr Nicholas Martin, Dr Isabelle Hertner, Dr Sara Jones, Dr Julian Pänke, University of Birmingham / IGS

3) Comparing Housing Policy in Britain and Germany – Dr Ed Turner, Aston University

4) Reading violent politics: transnational and interdisciplinary approaches to political extremism in Germany since 1968 – Prof. Sarah Colvin, University of Cambridge

5) German Studies Summer School for Postgraduate Researchers – Prof. Ritchie Robertson, Oxford University, and Prof. Stuart Taberner, Leeds University