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Concept of Qualification

Isabel Mehl @ Conference 2023 "Moving Normativity"

Isabel Mehl @ Conference 2023 "Moving Normativity"

The GRK's emphasis lies on the qualification of doctoral researchers within the framework of a focused research program and a structured training strategy. The course of study is tailored to enable doctoral candidates to complete their dissertations within three years. During the first four semesters, each cohort will discuss the critical topics of the Research Agenda. The discussion will occur in the GRK's colloquium, in seminars and workshops. The PhD researchers will participate in shaping the course of study and will be encouraged to invite guests working on their topics of interest. In the third year, the Ph.D. students will mostly be exempted from the group work to focus on composing and finalizing their dissertation. Post-Docs are encouraged to do independent research within the framework of the GRK. With their more entailing research projects, Post-Docs will support doctoral candidates in sharpening the coursework and the guest program. Post-Docs also ensure that the GRK's focus remains coherent throughout the different cohorts.

Since qualification through (post-)doctoral research and supervision is inevitably entwined with thematic questions, the GRK 2638 aims to pursue an interdisciplinary and progressive micro-space for the doctoral and post-doctoral to conduct their study. These aims include:

Conviviality and team play.

In an academic environment that is ever more dominated by competitiveness and elbow mentality, we try to create a productive space for collaborative work. We conceive of ourselves as a learning community. This entails recognizing the intersubjective nature of knowledge production and committing to continuously reflecting hierarchies among scholars in different positions. Participating in the GRK will require a sense of community as an epistemic value. Setting up ten disciplines to create one forum is as demanding as ambitious. To render this set-up fruitful, unproductive forms of self-promotion by any member of the GRK should be addressed and criticized.

Interdisciplinarity and the role of theory

Despite all differences in method and phenomena, what all disciplines involved in the GRK have in common is their origin in the field of humanities. We understand our GRK as a space in which the ten disciplines involved shall enrich one another, thereby challenging the researchers to think beyond small-scale understandings of disciplinary cohesion. Within the GRK, PhD, and post-doc researchers will convene a forum that fosters group discussion on fundamental structures of normative practices, enabling them to take a theoretical perspective on their research topics. This dialogue should allow the group members to grasp better the specific differences of their research objects regarding the structure in question. This should help them improve their ability to articulate these differences. In this way, the group aims to foster the development of new theoretical approaches in the disciplines involved. That is why the GRK seeks to attract PhD students interested in taking a more theoretical approach within their disciplines.


Since knowledge is always situated knowledge, academic collaboration implies considering different positionalities concerning ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, citizenship, and other social categories. Our understanding of discrimination is intersectional and refuses to establish hierarchies between different forms of oppression. We recognize that access to academic practices such as a GRK depends on cultural, economic, and social capital. We commit to making implicit knowledge explicit - To clarify expectations and administrative procedures to welcome researchers from different academic systems or class origins. We encourage applications from the Global South. We offer workshops on Diversity and Critical Practice in Academia. Finally, we have installed a conflict counselor ("Ombudsperson"), Matthias Hüning, who can be approached with structural discrimination and unproductive forms of disagreement.


As stated above, we seek to attract international researchers interested in taking a more theoretical approach. We aim to establish a bilingual space since theory is essentially tied to language. English and German will be equal means for contribution to the discussion. The GRK will demand a passive understanding of sophisticated German (DSH 1/TestDaF 3; B1+). We will offer support for those who will need to catch up. 

Social commitment and academic intervention

We understand research as contributing to the critique, reflection, and transformation of social injustices. This means we see academic work as an essential intervention in dominant discourses. The GRK will take an interdisciplinary approach to grasp how critical reflection might be understood as a constitutive component of social practices and their dynamics. The GRK wants to train young researchers by equipping them with novel perspectives on their disciplines and the requisite skills to present their work within the academy and for a transdisciplinary outreach.

Freie Universität Berlin
Humboldt Universität zu Berlin
Universität der Künste Berlin