- Awards and Personnel
Published: | By: Vivien Busse
“Science plays a significant role in Jena. The high esteem in which it is held is wonderful and exemplary,” enthuses Prof. Anja Laukötter when describing her first impression of the city.
Anja Laukötter is the new Professor of Cultural History at the Department of Cultural Anthropology of Friedrich Schiller University Jena. One focus of this professorship is the museum and museum studies. Born in Westphalia, she is looking forward to further expanding cooperation between university teaching and research, and the general public.
Diverse orientation of cultural history
With her broad portfolio of priority research areas, from the history of knowledge and science, through the history of emotions, the history of collecting and collections, to the history of the media and the body, as well as the history of colonialism and post-colonialism, Anja Laukötter is enriching the range of topics at the Department of Cultural Anthropology of the University of Jena. In her work here, she wants to continue her focus on the 19th and 20th centuries, and further shape research on these topics in the future.
Scientific collections raise fundamental questions
The integration of the University’s more than 40 scientific collections into teaching and public use is particularly close to Laukötter’s heart. In addition to dealing with the historicity of the collections, she also wants to cooperate with museums and other cultural institutions in Thuringia. “I want to build bridges between science and society. The collections have great potential for connecting the two worlds more strongly,” she says.
She is particularly interested in current research on colonialism and its legacy. The Alphons Stübel Collection of Oriental Photography at the University of Jena, for example, offers her a good basis for this work.
“We can use this and other collections and their artefacts at the University to ask fundamental questions about cultural history, both in terms of content and methodology,” she explains. Especially pressing questions with this kind of material are where the objects come from, why and how they were collected, and what knowledge was generated about them, both in their original environment and today as part of science.
Cultural history between micro and macro perspectives
Laukötter is particularly enthusiastic about the different perspectives on cultural history. “On the one hand, we work closely on local and national phenomena in cultural history. At the same time, however, it is also important to include larger, global structures and processes, and to classify and understand phenomena within them,” she says, explaining the micro and macro perspectives on the academic field. This also includes comparative and transnational work. Students of cultural history should learn to classify topics and phenomena in a Germany-wide comparison, as well as in European and transnational comparisons. In addition, cultural historian Laukötter is committed to interdisciplinary work and in her projects, she tries to link the humanities and natural sciences more closely. Collections such as those of the Phyletic Museum or the Botanical Teaching Collection of Friedrich Schiller University lend themselves particularly well to this.