Research Training Group "Practicing Place. Socio-Cultural Practices and Epistemic Configurations"

In July 2020 the German Research Foundation (DFG) decided to establish and fund an international, interdisciplinary Research Training Group entitled "Practicing Place – Socio-cultural Practices and Epistemic Configurations" (GRK 2589/1) at the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt (KU). The Research Training Group is conceived as a joint undertaking supervised and coordinated by nine different professors resp. experienced researchers with a duration of four and a half years (54 months) and is expected to begin work on 1 April 2021. It will offer graduates from various disciplines in the field of social sciences, humanities and cultural studies excellent conditions for working on interdisciplinary topics and outstanding opportunities for academic qualification, career development and international networking. To this end, research assistant positions for ten doctoral students for three years each as well as a postdoctoral position will be provided for research candidates, who will be recruited in a competitive selection process until the start of the Training Group.


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.

Tentative funding period for the DFG Research Training Group:

1 April 2021 – 30 September 2025

Research funding organization:

German Research Foundation (DFG) - GRK 2589/1


Team members and participating disciplines (in alphabetical order)

  1. Dr. Nathalie Aghoro (American Studies)
  2. Prof. Dr. Joost van Loon (Sociology)
  3. Prof. Dr. Richard Nate (English Literary Studies)
  4. Prof. Dr. Annika Schlitte (Philosophy; University of Greifswald)
  5. Prof. Dr. Kerstin Schmidt (American Studies)
  6. Prof. Dr. Robert Schmidt (Sociology)
  7. Prof. Dr. Christian Steiner (Geography)
  8. Prof. Dr. Hans-Martin Zademach (Geography)
  9. Prof. Dr. Michael F. Zimmermann (Art History)

Qualification concept

With the admission to the research training group Practicing Place comes the opportunity to acquire further academic qualifications in a structured environment—including multiple occasions for disciplinary, interdisciplinary, and international exchange. Active participation of training group fellows in shaping the research program, for instance in the context of conference organization or self-organized work meetings, complements the intensive professional mentoring by affiliated scholars. The research training group maintains an international network of scholars (in Germany and abroad) through various cooperations and supports the development of personal networks through externships at other universities and research institutions, among others. In addition to the conceptual and thematic disciplinary offers the research training group provides, fellows have access to the broad range of general courses promoting academic careers at the KU.