The greater region of Eurasia stretches from Central Europe to Asia. The so-called ’Eurasian Miracle’ has developed here over the last 3,000 years - historical processes of transformation that continue to have an impact on modern times. Environmental changes, mobility and migration have influenced the economy and the people’s lives. "Our common objective in the new Cluster of Excellence is to comprehensively document the history of a large region, which is characterised by a fascinating cultural diversity, on the one hand, and was connected in many ways on a large and small scale, on the other," says the expert on Byzantine studies Claudia Rapp , who coordinates the research network as Director of Research.
The Eurasian Transformations cluster, EurAsia in short, consists of 31 academics who particularly strive to "promote a deeper understanding of the historical and cultural dimensions of this region also beyond the academic institution, especially among the younger generations," emphasises Rapp, who conducts research at the Institute for Medieval Research of the Austrian Academy of Sciences and at the Department of Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies at the University of Vienna and was awarded at the Wittgenstein Award of the FWF in 2015.
Exploring the cultural heritage of a greater regionThe cultural heritage of Eurasia has not been fully researched to this day and the available historical sources are preserved in many different languages. Therefore, it is necessary to develop new methods of analysis in order to explore the cultural heritage of this greater region and to ask new questions, explains the export on Byzantine studies: "What was Europe’s relationship to Asia? How did ethnic, religious and state identities develop in dialogue and confrontation, and even in differentiation from others? And what channels of communication were used?"
What is the excellence initiative?
With the excellence initiative excellent=austria , Austria is opening a new chapter in basic research : Five clusters of excellence will launch cooperative projects at an unprecedented dimension at eleven locations from the summer of 2023 onwards. Researchers involved in the initiative have the opportunity to contribute outstanding research achievements in individual fields as well as in interdisciplinary areas and to firmly position this field of research at the highest international level in the long term in Austria. The University of Vienna is involved in all five Clusters of Excellence.
History and present are connected"The term ’Eurasia’ is currently playing an important political role also among some Russian pioneers," explains Rapp: "In this context, it is particularly important to show how such concepts have developed and to take a critical look at them." The EurAsia cluster addresses these contemporary issues and explores them in the context of a historical network and comparative cultural history.
"The knowledge of the relevant original languages and a responsible approach to cultural heritage are essential here." Claudia Rapp
Pooling academic expertise in AustriaResearchers from the Austrian Academy of Sciences, the University of Vienna, the University of Innsbruck and the Central European University work together in the Cluster of Excellence. "This enables us to pool academic expertise at different kinds of academic institutions within Austria. Doctoral candidates and early stage researchers have the opportunity to benefit from a broad spectrum of competences, which is complemented by the dialogue with partners abroad," says Rapp.
Each of the partner research institutions is represented on the Board of Directors (BOD), which supports Claudia Rapp in coordinating the Cluster of Excellence. The expert on eastern Europe Oliver Jens Schmitt and the linguist Melanie Malzahn represent the University of Vienna in the BOD. Key researchers from the University of Vienna in the team of the new research network include the papyrologist and expert on ancient history Bernhard Palme , the archaeologist Naoise Mac Sweeney , the expert on the history of Eastern Europe Wolfgang Mueller, the expert on economic and social history Juliane Schiel , the art historian Lukas Nickel , the expert on Turkish studies Yavuz Köse , the expert on ancient Near Eastern studies Michael Jursa and the expert on Turkish studies Jeanine Dagyeli.
Board of Directors and participating research institutions
- Claudia Rapp (Director of Research, Austrian Academy of Sciences)
- Birgit Kellner (Austrian Academy of Sciences)
- Tijana Krstic (Central European University)
- Melanie Malzahn (University of Vienna)
- Walter Pohl (Austrian Academy of Sciences)
- Robert Rollinger (University of Innsbruck)
- Jens Oliver Schmitt (University of Vienna)