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Schlacht bei Waterloo

Ambivalent Enmity

Third-Party Funded Project

Ambivalent Enmity Dynamics of Antagonism in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East

In many parts of the world, anti-Semitism, antiziganism, Islamophobia, xenophobia, racism and other forms of hostility are on the rise. We see the most recent example of this in the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which was historically understood as a "brother nation". The Research Training Group (RTG) "Ambivalent Enmity" responds to this challenge. It aims to train a group of young researchers who will expand the field of enmity research to include perspectives that can be gained from the systematic combination of social science, humanities and cultural studies approaches. 

The Research Training Group breaks new ground by examining the ambivalent nature of enmity as a contradictory pattern of emotions, values and cultural habits that is closely linked to processes of identity formation. The focus will be on analyzing enmity as an essentially relational phenomenon that is significantly shaped by transcultural encounters and entanglements. The planned empirical case studies will be located in Europe, Asia and the Middle East - three regions with particularly rich and, in our context, significant archives - and will cover an extended period from the Middle Ages to the present day. In three research fields dedicated to the topics (A) "Knowledge of Enemies", (B) "Staging Enmity" and (C) "Encounters with Enemies", the junior researchers supervised by the Research Training Group will learn to empirically grasp and theoretically penetrate the ambivalent nature of antagonistic relationships. 

The research fields encourage the exploration of modes of learning from or about perceived enemies (A), strategies of representing and remembering enmity (B) and forms of interaction with perceived enemies (C) from different disciplinary perspectives. Supervised by a group of scholars whose expertise includes history, linguistics, literary studies, art history, philosophy and various regional sciences as well as political science and clinical psychology, graduates will acquire unique skills that will prepare them for future careers within and outside academia. A Research Training Group is the most suitable format for this endeavor because it enables intensive exchange across disciplinary boundaries in a focused research environment flanked by structured training strategies. Heidelberg University and the Heidelberg University of Jewish Studies, with their internationally recognized track record in interdisciplinary graduate education in the humanities and social sciences, provide an ideal environment to achieve these goals.