Universität KonstanzExzellenzcluster „Kulturelle Grundlagen von Integration“

How do societies construct boundaries? The Konstanzer Meisterklasse 2008

9. July 2008

Konstanz, 9. 7. 2008: This year’s Konstanzer Meisterklasse, running from 16-24. July at the arts and cultural center Kulturzentrum am Münster, will explore an increasingly controversial subject that has been the focal point of political and academic inquiry for some time now: social boundaries and their construction (“Construction and Boundaries”).

Individual, social and political boundaries are anything but facts of nature; boundaries are continually contested and renegotiated. As the products of historical processes they are also bound by trust and the expectations that exist between the parties involved. These boundaries also have a material existence that is denoted by signs and other markings including barriers, control posts and walls or barbed wire.

Sociologist Thomas Luckmann (Konstanz) and social philosopher John R. Searle (Berkeley) have made several groundbreaking and controversial contributions to Constructivism in cultural studies and social sciences. In their works Luckmann and Searle examine the extent to which social circumstances are constructed, i.e. actively created, and how this relates to what we perceive as “reality”. In the course of this year's Meisterklasse Luckmann and Searle will be joined by Oslo-based ethnologist Fredrik Barth in a discussion of the possibility of constructivism literally reaching its limits in the exploration of boundaries.

The Meister series was founded in 1999 by Bernhard Giesen, holder of the chair for macrosociology in Konstanz, along with Shmuel N. Eisenstadt and Lord Dahrendorf. The Konstanzer Meisterklasse endeavors to support an ongoing and intergenerational dialogue within academics. The conference takes place every summer and its generous schedule leaves plenty of room for informal discussions and ad-hoc workshops. The 2008 Meisterklasse will give 25 specially selected doctoral candidates and post-doc graduates from around the world the opportunity to engage in a debate with this year’s ‘Masters’.

This is the second time that the Meisterklasse will be hosted by the Center of Excellence “Cultural Foundations of Integration”.