Universität KonstanzExzellenzcluster: Kulturelle Grundlagen von Integration

Transcultural Hierarchies

From patriarchy in tribal societies to colonial rule and occupation regime, all the way to comprehensive supranational order-formations, hierarchy is a universal form of integration, appearing across cultures in multiple dimensions of social and political order. Yet concrete hierarchies are always culturally bound with respect to their material forms of appearance and their functional prerequisites.
Certain periods, regions or social sectors cultivate distinctive styles of hierarchy. Cultures or individual elements of them –  language, music, artistic styles –  can themselves have a hierarchical impact or help to sustain political and economic hierarchies as a type of “soft” power. On the other hand, hierarchies also always bring about the privileging and stabilizing of certain elements of culture at the cost of others.

The studies on “Transcultural Hierarchies” are focused on phenomena of hierarchization of cultures themselves and on the formation of political, economic and social hierarchies in cross-cultural contexts: empires, trust territories, and protectorate zones, federative systems, regional hegemonic powers, multinational enterprises, international administrations, etc.

In the foreground is the problem of integrative and disintegrative mechanisms. What are the specific conditions of integration in transcultural hierarchies? Which normative, symbolic, economic and institutional factors lead to success and failure of a hierarchical integration going beyond cultural boundaries? And how do these factors influence each other?

Using typical “success stories” and examples of failure, we will examine which cultural factors are of particular significance for transcultural hierarchies. Under what conditions do such transcultural hierarchies find acceptance? Where do their boundaries lie?