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Main Research Areas

Authority and Trust in American Culture, Society, 
History, and Politics

The topical focus of this undertaking is the emergence and transformation of authority and trust in American politics, society, religion, and culture since the nineteenth century. Due to its early democratization, its egalitarian and libertarian political culture, its ethno-cultural heterogeneity, and its international predominance, the United States is a particularly interesting case study of authority and trust in the modern world. The thematic scope of the project encompasses state and private actors, social and economic structures, institutions and discourses as well as spatial dimensions and transnational interconnections. For the first time, the formidable expertise that the HCA has been able to gather from the fields of geography, history, linguistics, literature, political science, and religious studies is concentrating on a single issue in this project.

With this project, the HCA hopes to inspire innovative doctoral dissertations in the field of American Studies, and it envisions to concurrently establish an innovative qualification concept tailored to academic as well as professional career paths. This endeavor ties in with the comprehensive concept of graduate training that Heidelberg University has developed in recent years. It is the goal of this program to combine clear-cut institutional structures and cooperative research with a maximum of intellectual freedom for junior researchers.


Cotton Mather's Biblia Americana: A Critical Edition of America’s First Bible Commentary

Professor Jan Stievermann and a team of young scholars from American Studies and theology are now working on volume ten (Hebrews to Revelation) in the ongoing edition of the Biblia Americana by Cotton Mather. Together with general editor Reiner Smolinski (Atlanta), Jan Stievermann also serves as executive editor of the entire ten-volume edition of the Biblia to be realized by a team of seven international scholars.

The original handwritten manuscript, never before transcribed or published, is a comprehensive English-speaking Bible commentary from colonial British North America, produced by the famed Puritan theologian Cotton Mather (1663-1728) between 1693 and 1728. Since 2010 this work – of great significance for both religious and intellectual history – is being made available for the first time by academic publishers Mohr Siebeck and Baker Academic in what will ultimately be ten annotated volumes. In 2015 Stievermann and his team completed volume five that includes Mather's commentaries on the Biblical books of the Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, The Song of Solomon, Isaiah, and Jeremiah. Editing the Biblia Americana in its entirety is unquestionably one of the most important and promising interdisciplinary projects now underway in early North American Studies. Researchers examining the cultural, religious, or literary history of America as well as Europe can equally profit from this academic edition of the Biblia.

The descendant of an important Puritan clergy family of New England, Cotton Mather was arguably one of the most influential and productive theologians in Colonial North America. He published more than four hundred writings, including a series of extensive and well-known works in various academic fields. Yet, he always regarded the Biblia as his most important endeavor and the summation of his lifework but failed to find either a wealthy patron or sufficient subscribers for the publication of his magnum opus. Today the 4,561 handwritten folio pages of the Biblia reside in the archives of the Massachusetts Historical Society (MHS). While the Biblia manuscript is in good overall condition, its contents have not generally been accessible even to scholars using the MHS library in Boston, given its form. Challenges include the early modern handwriting used, which is difficult to decipher; frequent comments on loose pages of paper inserted into the manuscript; the extensive number of citations in classical languages provided without a translation; or a lack of identification for the innumerable literary references. Over the past few years leading Mather expert Reiner Smolinski has brought together a seven-person team of scholars from the fields of American Studies, American history, church history and religious studies who will now finally realize this mammoth undertaking. The target for completion of the entire edition is 2020.

For more information, please visit matherproject.org.


Urban Inequality in the Creative City: A Comparative Analysis of Emerging New Disparities in the Knowledge Society

In the context of the knowledge society, knowledge-intensive industries are seen as a chance for urban economic prosperity and development. However, many of these claims have not yet been tested thoroughly or have even been refuted. Moreover, it might be that the strong focus on education, creativity and social networks adds to increased cleavages between different social groups instead of opening up opportunities for disadvantaged inhabitants. The project therefore takes a closer look at the impact of the knowledge-based industries on disparities in cities.

We are analyzing social inequalities in seven different cities and how these relate to being so-called creative cities. The cities, stemming from different countries, all have large and prestigious universities and share a strong focus on the knowledge-intensive industries. By comparing them, we will be able to assess differences and similarities in inequalities and relate these to recent trends in the context of the knowledge society.

Associated partners: Professor Ulrike Gerhard (Heidelberg), Dr. Michael Hölscher (Heidelberg), Professor David Wilson (Urbana-Champaign), Professor Thomas Hutton (UBC Vancouver), Professor Linda McDowell (Oxford), Professor David Giband (Montpellier), Dr. Ferenc Gyuirs (Budapest), Dr. Justin Beaumont (Groningen).


Mobile Spaces: Urban Practices in Transcultural Perspective

The project "Mobile Spaces" focuses on the study of urban everyday practices. It is grounded in three disciplines – human geography, linguistics and media anthropology – and aims to develop and promote new angles and methods for interdisciplinary urban studies. It is based on the members' different regional expertise.

Conceptualizing the specific urban spaces of the individual research fields in Asia, Europe, and North America as genuinely transcultural phenomena, the project explores in which ways experiences and understandings of cities of the "global South" and the "global North" can be brought together. It probes whether transculturality as concept and method allows for new ways to critically examine everyday practices in different regional contexts under the influences of globalization and neoliberalization. The research focus on everyday practices will be approached through the three analytical fields of migration, language & media as well as gender.

Project partners of Professor Ulrike Gerhard are Professor Christiane Brosius (visual media and anthropology), Professor Beatrix Busse (linguistics), Dr. Marie Sander (ethnology), Dr. Editha Marquardt (geography).


Beyond North and South: A Comparative Analysis
of Urban Inequalities in the Americas

Research on urban inequality has a long tradition in human geography as well as sociology. This project seeks to amplify the discussion by introducing some new theoretical approaches to the analysis. The first is to open up a research setting for comparative urbanism. By looking at urban life-worlds of marginalized neighborhoods in the two Americas, the contributors do not want to search for similarities or disparities between different countries, but try to shed light on societal contexts and their spatial settings.

The idea is to develop a reconstructive perspective to understand the uneven place-making within cities. With this, a second task is circumscribed: By describing and interpreting every-day life practices in Brazilian favelas and U.S. ghettos, we want to contribute to a better understanding of patterns and spaces of urban inequalities. Despite the wide array of (mostly quantitative) studies on urban inequality and segregation we discern a lack of understanding how these marginalized localities are experienced and reproduced. How do unprivileged inhabitants cope with everyday negligence and discrimination? Further concepts of urban citizenship, governmentality, and the role of the penal state are introduced to enhance the conceptual as well as empirical analysis of inequality in cities.

The project partner of Professor UIrike Gerhard is Professor Eberhard Rothfuss (Uni Bayreuth).


A Transcultural Atlantic:
Constructing Communities in a Global Context

This multidisciplinary and multinational research project (current members hail from Canada, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Poland, and the United States) explores the Transcultural Atlantic as a realm of cross cultural interaction from the period of the late eighteenth-century Atlantic revolutions to the end of the Cold War and beyond.

More precisely, it investigates various processes of transatlantic networking, community-building, and dissent in the realms of business, academia, the media, popular culture, government, law, and the military. The project sheds new light on the men and women who shaped cultures of transatlantic exchange and cooperation; on the transfer and adaptation of ideas and values across the Atlantic; and on the changing nature of the Atlantic space in an increasingly globalized world. Taking up this approach not only allows us to resituate discourses about the "West" within a larger global framework; at the same time, it will place a greater and necessary emphasis on the contingent, pluralist, and protean nature of transatlantic cultures itself. Because it considers the making of the Atlantic world over a broad span of time, the project will trace changes in the culture of different, sometimes competing communities in the Atlantic realm – to highlight continuities and ruptures; to show the effects of increased flows of goods, services, information, ideas, and identities; and to reassess the impact of major historical developments across the centuries.

Our research endeavor is a cross-disciplinary undertaking, combining the insights of political science, history, cultural studies, literature, and geography. We do not treat culture, society, or politics in a vacuum but examine how they influenced each other through ideas, institutions, and practices. Transnational communities have never been crafted solely and primarily by statesmen and diplomats. Rather, we hypothesize that they grow out of socially constructed values, customs, and symbols as well as the ways in which these were disseminated, interpreted, and adapted in the Atlantic world. To examine these culture flows, our project rejects the traditional notion of cultures as holistic entities and embraces a more recent definition that conceives of cultures as highly interdependent and permeable. Transculturality emphasizes the plurality of existing societal designs and ways of life in the Atlantic realm, highlighting their transnational contours.

Funding for the overall project has been provided by the Foundation German-American Academic Relations (Stiftung Deutsch-Amerikanische Wissenschaftsbeziehungen, SDAW), the European Union Center of Excellence at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Global Networks Program of Heidelberg University, the Ontario Baden-Württemberg Faculty Mobility Program, and by the Transatlantic Program of the Federal Republic of Germany through funds from the European Recovery Program (ERP) of the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology.


Protest, Culture, and Society: Europe and North America

Protest movements have been recognized as significant contributors to processes of political participation and transformations of culture and value systems as well as to the development of both a national and transnational civil society. This research focus brings together the various innovative approaches to phenomena of social change, protest and dissent that have emerged in recent years from an interdisciplinary perspective.

It contextualizes social protest and cultures of dissent in Europe and North America within larger political processes and socio-cultural transformations by examining the influence of historical trajectories. At the same time, it explores the response of various segments of society, political and legal institutions on a national and international level. Drawing on a variety of networks, events, and forms of academic collaboration, this research initiative seeks to offer a more comprehensive, multi-dimensional, and transnational view of historical and cultural change in the 20th and 21st century.


Research Project: "The Nuclear Crisis: Cold War Cultures and the Politics of Peace and Security, 1975-1990"

On December 12, 1979, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) implemented the so-called Double-Track Decision: In case arms control negotiations with the Soviet Union failed, the West would station intermediate nuclear forces to provide a counterweight to the new Soviet SS-20 missiles. This momentous decision, alongside the almost simultaneous Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, directly affected international politics as well as domestic developments in Europe and North America. The world moved from an era of reduced tension to a newly heightened East-West confrontation during the “Second Cold War.” East-West tensions and the threat of nuclear war provoked sustained political protest. This was further augmented by domestic political turmoil, which in Western societies was heightened by the arrival of a new brand of Western leaders, such as Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, and Helmut Kohl. The early 1980s thus saw the biggest protest mobilization of the Cold War. This research project seeks to establish a transnational history of this “Nuclear Crisis,” which engulfed both Western Europe and North America, yet transcended the European and global East/West divide as well. The “Nuclear Crisis” explores this discourse from three distinct but interrelated angles:

  1. It looks at the diplomatic, political, and strategic debate surrounding the nuclear armament issue. Only recently have historians started to look at this most salient political issue of the 1970s and 1980s. “Traditional” actors such as the political, diplomatic, and military elites carried this debate forward. Yet “anti-establishment” forces as well as other domestic and transnational actors, such as the churches and intellectuals, were equally important.
  2. By merging an “establishment” perspective with an analysis of protest cultures, this project aims to transcend the narrow boundaries of traditional diplomatic history: It seeks to bring non-state actors, intellectual discourses, and the role of culture into the study of international relations. It also looks at manifestations of “nuclear death” in popular culture, as well as in “high art,” including – but not limited to – music, film, and novels.
  3. The project transcends the traditional East/West divide in postwar European history in a number of ways: It explores the “nuclear crisis” on both sides of the Iron Curtain; it looks at the connections between establishment and anti-establishment forces across national borders; it places them in a transatlantic and pan-European setting (one that is potentially global, given the impact of nuclear testing in the South Pacific); and it asks how and to what extent people envisioned themselves as part of larger transnational communities and spaces.

The accompanying digital archive has three main goals: First, it gathers and preserves materials on this important chapter of transatlantic and European history. Second, it makes these materials available worldwide and free of charge to scholars and teachers. Third, it fosters the growth of a community of scholars, teachers, and students engaged in teaching and learning about the nuclear crisis of the 1980s.

“Nuclear Crisis” is a collaborative project by the German Historical Institute (GHI), Washington, D.C.; the Institute for Contemporary History (IfZ), Munich-Berlin; the Heidelberg Center for American Studies (HCA), Heidelberg University; and the History Department, University of Augsburg. It is directed by Philipp Gassert, University of Augsburg, Martin Klimke, New York University/Abu Dhabi, and Wilfried Mausbach, Heidelberg Center for American Studies, Heidelberg University, in cooperation with: Archive Green Memory (Archiv Grünes Gedächtnis), Berlin; Das Bundesarchiv, Koblenz; International Center for Protest Research (ICP); and Volda University College, Volda, Norway.

Recent publications that grew out of this project include: Wilfried Mausbach, “Vereint marschieren, getrennt schlagen? Die amerikanische Friedensbewegung und der Widerstand gegen den NATO-Doppelbeschluss,” in: Philipp Gassert, Tim Geiger, and Hermann Wentker, eds., Zweiter Kalter Krieg und Friedensbewegung: Der NATO-Doppelbeschluss in deutsch-deutscher und internationaler Perspektive (2011); Philipp Gassert, “Die Popularität der Apokalypse: Überlegungen zu einer Kulturgeschichte der Nuklearangst seit 1945,” Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte 46 (2011); Philipp Gassert, “Arbeit am Konsens im Streit um den Frieden: Die Nuklearkrise der 1980er Jahre als Medium gesellschaftlicher Selbstverständigung,” Archiv für Sozialgeschichte 52 (2012): 489-514; and Christoph Becker-Schaum, Philipp Gassert, Martin Klimke, Wilfried Mausbach and Marianne Zepp (with the assistance of Laura Stapane), eds., “Entrüstet Euch!” Nuklearkrise, NATO-Doppelbeschluss und Friedensbewegung (2012; English-language edition forthcoming with Berghahn Books, New York).

Other Projects:

  • Intercultural Exchange and Collective Identities in 1960/70s Protest Movements in West Germany and the U.S. (2002-2005)
  • European Protest Movements Since 1945 (2006-2010)
  • International Center for Protest Research (ICP, 2006-)


African-American History: National and Transnational Vistas

The HCA's research focus on African American history unites several endeavors. Two projects at the Curt Engelhorn Chair in American History have explored the history of slavery, race, abolitionism, black political integration, and the civil rights movements from a perspective that encompasses intersections with social, political, and cultural developments outside the United States. They seek to contribute to a deeper understanding not only of the enduring relevance of African-American history at a national level but also to place questions of ethnicity, race, and racism in a larger global and transnational framework. Publications from these projects include Globalizing Lynching History: Vigilantism and Extralegal Punishment from an International Perspective (eds. Manfred Berg and Simon Wendt, 2011) and Racism in the Modern World: Historical Perspectives on Cultural Transfer and Adaption (eds. Manfred Berg and Simon Wendt, 2011).

In 2009, Martin Klimke and then-HCA research fellow Mischa Honeck co-convened a conference on Germany and the black diaspora at the German Historical Institute in Washington, D.C. The conference volume Germany and the Black Diaspora Points of Contact, 1250-1914, edited by Mischa Honeck, Martin Klimke and Anne Kuhlmann-Smirnov, came out in 2013.

HCA research associate Anja Schüler has started work on a biography of the African-American biographer Mary McLeod Bethune (1875-1955), the preeminent figure of the African-American women's movement in the first third of the twentieth century. Utilizing one of the few roads for African American women to gain professional status, Bethune established and presided over what would in 1941 become the first fully accredited four-year college for African Americans in Florida; advised four presidents on child welfare, education, and civil rights; served two terms as president of the National Association of Colored Women; founded the National Council of Colored Women; and became a member of Franklin D. Roosevelt's "Black Cabinet" and arguably the most influential African American woman in the New Deal administration.

In 2008, the Heidelberg Center for American Studies joined a research initiative with the German Historical Institute, Washington D.C. and Vassar College (Poughkeepsie, N.Y.) on “The Civil Rights Struggle, African American GIs, and Germany.” Initiated by Professors Maria Höhn (Vassar) and Martin Klimke (New York University/Abu Dhabi), this research project and digital archive explores the connection between the establishment of American military bases abroad and the advancement of civil rights in the United States. It investigates the role African American GIs played in carrying the demands of the civil rights movement abroad beginning with World War II.

In July 2009, the project was awarded the Julius E. Williams Distinguished Community Service Award by the prestigious civil rights organization National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) at its Centennial Convention in New York City. As the NAACP explained: “By giving voice to their experience and to that of the people who interacted with them over civil rights demands and racial discrimination on both sides of the Atlantic, Höhn and Klimke are preserving and expanding the history of the African American civil rights movement beyond the boundaries of the U.S.”

As part of this research initiative, an exhibition on “The Civil Rights Struggle, African American GIs, and Germany,” including more than 50 black and white photographs as well as other exhibition samples, has been shown in numerous cities across both Germany and the United States, including Augsburg, Berlin, Hamburg, Heidelberg, Mainz, Munich, Ramstein, and Tübingen, as well as in Washington, DC, Poughkeepsie, NY, Berkeley, CA, Oxford, MS, San Francisco, Athens, GA, Chapel Hill, NC, and London, UK. By illustrating the untold story of African American GIs and the transnational implications of the civil rights movement, the exhibit aims at advancing a more nuanced and sophisticated sense of how America’s struggle for democracy reverberated across the globe.

The accompanying book A Breath of Freedom: The Civil Rights Struggle, African American GIs, and Germany by Maria Höhn and Martin Klimke was published by Palgrave Macmillan in October 2010.

The documentary “Breath of Freedom: Black Soldiers and the Struggle for Civil Rights,” directed by Dag Freyer and originating from the project, premiered February 17, 2014, on the Smithsonian Channel in the U.S. and was broadcast on Arte on December 16, 2014. For further information on the project as well as access to its digital archive, please visit: www.aacvr-germany.org.

Other Projects:


  • Maria Höhn and Martin Klimke, A Breath of Freedom: The Civil Rights Struggle, African American GIs, and Germany New York: Palgrave Macmillan, October 2010)
  • Martin Klimke, The Other Alliance: Student Protest in West Germany and the United States in the Global Sixties (Princeton: Princeton UP, 2010).
  • Belinda Davis / Wilfried Mausbach / Martin Klimke / Carla MacDougall (eds.), Changing the World, Changing Oneself: Political Protest and Collective Identities in West Germany and the U.S. in the 1960s and 1970s (New York: Berghahn Books, 2010)


Sustainable Governance Indicators 2015 and 2016: Regional Coordination - United States, Canada, Chile and Mexico

HCA faculty member Dr. Martin Thunert continues to serve as regional coordinator for the OECD member states in the Americas (Canada, Chile, Mexico, United States) and affiliated member of the board of an ongoing international and comparative research project which is conducted and sponsored by the Bertelsmann Foundation in Gütersloh – the Sustainable Governance Indicators (SGI).

The SGI is a cross-national survey of governance in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) that identifies reform needs and forward-looking practices and offers full access to its data set. Currently, the OECD has 34 member states in Europe, the Americas, Asia, and Oceania. The SGI project was launched in 2006-07 - at the time under the heading "Bertelsmann Reform Index" - and published the first and second editions of results in the spring of 2009 and 2011 respectively. The first edition of the Sustainable Governance Indicators 2009 was based on a two-year study period from 2005 to 2007; the second edition looked at developments from 2008-09 to 2010 and third SGI round for the observation period 2012-2013 was published in March 2014. In 2014 the Bertelsmann Stiftung decided to update the SGI annually - that is in much shorter intervals than in the past. Thus, the SGI 2015 was published in the summer of 2015 and the data gathering for SGI 2016 was launched in September 2015.

Design and Purpose of SGI

Some 70 international experts participate in this broad-based study. Based on 150 qualitative and quantitative indicators, the SGI provide a detailed picture of the countries' strengths and limitations in order to advance the debate on good governance and sustainable policymaking among OECD members. The SGI thus provide considerably more information than conventional economic data since social progress and sustainability cannot be expressed by growth rates or material prosperity alone. They also shed light on the success of OECD member states in additional policymaking fields crucial for ensuring the ongoing performance and long-term stability of economic, political, social, and ecological systems and for guaranteeing a high level of social participation. These fields include education, employment, healthcare, integration, innovation, and the environment. In addition to these traditional policymaking fields, the SGI also examine the quality of democracy and rule of law as well as each government's executive capacity in practice. Thus, similar to its sister project, the Bertelsmann Foundation's Transformation Index (BTI) for developing and transition countries, the SGI are divided into a Status Index, which measures policy performance and the quality of democracy, and a Governance (formerly: Management) Index measuring executive capacity and executive accountability. The SGI and its sub-indexes are calculated using quantitative data from international organizations and then supplemented by qualitative assessments from recognized country experts. As a result, the SGI shed light on how capable each country is of using governance processes to identify pressing problems, formulate strategic solutions, and, consequently, ensure sustainable policymaking outcomes. Over the past eight years the project has helped to create a comprehensive data pool on government-related activities in the world's developed market democracies - among them the United States, Canada, Chile, and Mexico. The role of the regional coordinator for the Americas is to edit, amend, and consolidate expert assessments written by eight recognized country specialists - two for each country, representing at least two academic disciplines (for example economics and political science) or two nationalities, including the subject nation. The results are four separate country reports of 30 pages each on reform capacities of the United States, Canada, Chile, and Mexico, incorporating quantitative data interpreted through the lenses of the qualitative expert assessments.

Key Findings and Current Status of the Project

The results of the latest SGI round for the observation period November 2013 – November 2014 were released as Sustainable Governance Indicators 2015 in the summer of 2015. As always, the entire data, rankings, and sub-rankings for each policy area as well as the country reports are accessible online free of charge on the project's website. Based on its highly interactive functionality, the SGI website offers users easy access to every level of information, including a short version of key findings.

The USA 2015 country report written by Martin Thunert (HCA), Christian Lammert (Free University of Berlin, JFK-Institute), and Paul J. Quirk (University of British Columbia) can be downloaded here. In 2015 the key findings for the United States were on balance similar compared to the results of SGI 2014, significantly better than the results of SGI 2009 and 2011, but the overall picture is mixed. Take, for example economic policy performance. With its low-tax, low-regulation, trade-focused regime, the United States falls into the upper-middle ranks internationally (rank 17) with regard to economic policies. Its score on this measure has increased by 0.3 points since 2014. GDP growth has been moderate, and unemployment has fallen to low levels by OECD comparison. Austerity policies have reduced budget deficits below 3%, but structural cuts have proved elusive, and long-term debt and demographic-driven expenditures remain serious problems. States are increasingly engaging in active labor-market policies, though collective bargaining is under attack in some areas. Unemployment is below 6%, though the share of involuntary part-time work is high. The tax system does not produce sufficient revenue, and is highly responsive to special interests. R&D funding has stagnated, though at relatively high levels. The country has taken a lead in shaping international financial-market rules. The full SGI 2015 indicator scores for the United States can be accessed here. Current SGI News is available on Facebook.

Media Coverage and Current Activities

SGI was covered extensively, for example in a series of the German news magazine Der Spiegel in the summer of 2012 (editions 26/2012-29/2012) entitled "The Craft of Governing" ("Das Handwerk des Herrschens"). The series singled out "good governance" as the central topic for policymakers and civil servants in time of economic and financial crisis. In its introductory article, Der Spiegel described the Sustainable Governance Indicators (SGI) and its sister project BTI as the "most ambitious experience in comparative politics since Aristotle's time."


Patterns of Economic Policy Advice in the Federal Republic of Germany and the United States of America

Organizational Models, Cultural Influences, and Advisory Discourses with a Particular Emphasis on the World of Work

In times of economic uncertainty and financial crisis, economic advice is in high demand across the industrialized world. The United States and Germany represent two very different models of making economic expertise available to policymakers and society at large. Dr. Martin Thunert, together with Professor Andrea Römmele of the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, received a substantial grant to research economic policy advice in the United States and Gemany from a comparative perspective. 

The project started in late 2013 and will run through 2016. Funding comes from the Hans Böckler Foundation, affiliated with the DGB, the Confederation of German Trade Unions. The project analyzes the rules, mandates, and procedures and then evaluates the strengths and weakness of selected advisory bodies in both countries – from in-house policy units to expert committees and think tanks. In line with the Hans Böckler Foundation's support for research linked to the world of work, the project pays special attention to the question of how the perspective of workers can inform actors, institutions, and processes of economic policy advice in both countries.

Dr. Martin Thunert's work was supported by Michael Kühlen, M.A., who served as his research associate between February and November 2014, when he left for a position at the Hans-Böckler-Foundation. Gordon Friedrichs, M.A., who has been with the HCA since 2012, has taken over this position as research associate as of December 1, 2014. In Berlin, Professor Andrea Römmele at the Hertie School of Governance works with Dorota Stasiak, Ph.D., who succeeded Yann Lorenz, M.A.

During the first months of the project, the research team compiled an extensive database of the various players on both sides of the Atlantic. The staff at the HCA focused on institutions in the United States, drawing on a wealth of material, for example IRS data (990 forms), annual reports, Web sites, studies and op-ed pieces, media coverage, and scholarly articles. The resulting database contains both hard facts (like figures on financing, staffing, and publication output) and summative assessments, for example with regard to an institution's ideological bent, history, and position in the world of policy advice. This database is already being used as a major source for a number of papers and lectures by members of the research team. The database also helped to identify players that were interviewed in the first half of 2015 in Germany and in the fall of 2015 in the US via questionnaire. Interviewees include both practitioners from advisory bodies and those with a meta-perspective like scholars, journalists, and veteran observers.

The research team is currently in the process of analyzing results from a comprehensive online survey of think tank representatives from both the United States and Germany. The collected data promise to offer insights regarding instruments and form of think tanks' advisory activities, as well as national perspectives on supply and demand of economic policy advice, including its perceived impact on actual policymaking and their representation of the world of work. The online survey will be enriched with personal interviews in the first quarter of 2016 in both the United States and Germany. In addition, the research team presented present parts of its research results in December 2015 at the workshop “Think Tanks in the Knowledge Society” in Speyer and will also present at the annual conference of the International Political Science Association 2016 in Istanbul.

Two side-studies of our project will focus on consulting arrangements around (a) TTIP, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership currently negotiated between the U.S. and the European Union, and (b) inequality in a changing economy. TTIP is ideal for a comparative case study on the mechanisms on economic policy advice because of its transatlantic scope and because of the oversize role that actors from civil society are playing in the discourse on the proposed agreement. On February 6, 2015 a panel discussion on TTIP was held at the HCA involving stakeholders from the business community (BASF and the Rhein-Neckar Chamber of Commerce), trade unions (IG Metall), as well as Brussels-based groups like the Transatlantic Business Dialogue and the "Stop-TTIP"-network. A workshop on inequality in a changing / digitalizing economy is planned for the first quarter of 2016.

The research project "Patterns of Economic Policy Advice" is monitored by an interdisciplinary advisory council appointed by the Hans-Böckler-Foundation in cooperation with the project directors. The advisory council includes members from academia, politics, federal ministries, think tanks, and unions. The first meeting took place in February 2014, and the second meeting was on July 3, 2015 in Düsseldorf.


Images of America in the World after 9/11:
A Data-Driven Approach to Semantic Imprints of Texts

Texts have semantic imprints on their surfaces that can be read as indices for their pragmatic, social or cultural function. These imprints lie beyond traditional concepts of meaning and have so far neither been systematically identified nor analyzed. Using transformations in images of the U.S. since 2001 as a case study, this project will develop categories for the description of semantic imprints with a data-driven approach and integrate them into a model that allows an automatic semantic analysis of texts.

In doing so, the project will explore possible applications of these models for a semantization of the internet and methodological innovations in the social sciences and cultural studies. This research project (2008-2010) was funded by the FRONTIER program of the University of Heidelberg. Project Coordination: Martin Klimke (HCA), Joachim Scharloth (Freiburg/Zürich), Noah Bubenhofer (Zürich).



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Latest Revision: 2017-04-24
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