Universität KonstanzExzellenzcluster „Kulturelle Grundlagen von Integration“

Aleida Assmann Awarded the Paul Watzlawick Ring of Honor

2. April 2009

The cultural theorist Aleida Assmann, professor of English and comparative literature at the University of Konstanz, has been awarded the Paul Watzlawick Ring of Honor for 2009.

The award panel was directed by former Austrian vice-chancellor Erhard Busek. Its decision was unanimous, and the ceremony was held in Vienna. The award was established in 2008 by Vienna’s Medical Society as an act of homage to the psychoanalyst, linguist, and philosopher Paul Watzlawick. It is given annually to an individual who has both promoted interdisciplinary discourse in the sciences and humanities and worked for a humanization of the world, and who has published significantly in this framework.

“Aleida Assmann is an outstanding scholar who has laid the foundations for and opened up new fields of research. Defining herself as a politically-oriented researcher, she is a humanist and critical pathfinder” is how Erhard Busek explained the panel’s decision. Medical Society president Walter Dorner described Aleida Assmann as a humanist and admonisher: devoted largely to the phenomenon of collective memory, her scholarly oeuvre grapples in a probing and enduring way with societal repression; at the same time it is a necessary confrontation with Germany’s own specific past.

The Paul Watzlawick Ring of Honor has now been awarded twice. The first recipient was the scholar of sociology and communications Peter L. Berger, who lives in the USA but like Watzlawick was born in Austria. Aleida Assmann, whose book Der lange Schatten der Vergangenheit. Erinnerungskultur und Geschichtspolitik (The Long Shadow of the Past: Cultures of Memory and the Politics of History;  2006, C.H. Beck) has reached a broader public, already received the Max Planck Prize for Research earlier in the year. She is a member of the scholarly board of the Center of Excellence “Cultural Foundations of Integration” at the University of Konstanz and a fellow at the university’s Institute of Advanced Study.