Issue 12 / January 2017
by Katharina Wiedemann
The new year of 2017 begins with a new edition of our Köpfe und Ideen. As usual we will be presenting a small number of Fellows and the projects they are pursuing at the Wissenschaftskolleg. It is due to its comfortable and even luxurious appearance that the Kolleg is often described as an august Grunewald villa with graceful wood-paneled rooms, etc. But surface appearances belie the fact that the Wissenschaftskolleg is an active workshop – or more precisely, that it houses a large variety of workshops where the manpower toils at creative brainwork. In Köpfe und Ideen we will be profiling these intellectual smithies, foundries and bakeries.
Our digital edition kicks off with the Focus Group Causes and Implications of Adult Sex Ratio Variation in Vertebrates, which is posing the question: “What is the impact of fluctuating sex ratios on the development of a given species’ population, and what is the effect of such fluctuations on sex roles?” The science writer Manuela Lenzen talks with the four men – manpower indeed! – who comprise this fascinating research cluster.
One is led to believe in these times of advanced digitalization that disambiguation or bibliographic work take place primarily on the computer. But occasionally Fellows sit considerably less comfortably directly in front of the bookshelves – and if you look in on them again two hours later they are still there. Presumably only outwardly unchanged.
This can be seen in the instance of Lena Lavinas. She is an economist at the University of Rio de Janeiro and uses her time at the Wissenschaftskolleg to work on questions of financialization and welfare policy.
It is with increasing frequency that the Wissenschaftskolleg plays host to Fellows who for a while gladly exchange the quiet and solitude of their workroom for the Kolleg’s semi-public spaces or even those of the Grunewald so as to reflect and read and write. At least that’s the impression one can get in seeing them engrossed in solitary thought in the clubroom, the restaurant, in a nearby café or in the garden.
Presupposing agreeable atmospheric conditions, it seems one can get some decent reading and thinking done here. Our photo shows the Iranian-American sociologist Asef Bayat. He looks back on the Arab Spring and proffers his diagnosis: Post-Islamism.
The constitutional-law specialist and EU expert Dieter Grimm is intellectually at home in courtrooms and lecture halls alike. But neither as a constitutional judge nor as a university professor has he ever distanced himself from his audience or ensconced himself behind his lectern. His argues from the perspective of the citizen.
Dieter Grimm celebrates his eightieth birthday on May 11 and we send him heartfelt congratulations ... while using the occasion to profile his views in a conversation with Jürgen Kaube.
The offices which the Wissenschaftskolleg places at the Fellows’ disposal all look pretty similar – that is, before the academic year gets underway. After arrival of the Fellows these offices quickly transmogrify into individual microcosms that in most cases are rarely to be seen by those who are not the direct occupants. But the art historian and and journalist Julia Voss unhesitatingly invited us into her little workshop.
She is presently laboring over a monograph on the artist Hilma af Klint and her conspicuous absence from the history of abstract painting. Voss’ interest in art history and the history of science expressly includes the natural sciences, which is why the literary scholar Hans-Joachim Neubauer met with her for a conversation in Berlin’s Museum für Naturkunde.