Over the last years, including the academic year 2020-2021, the Kolleg has been and is the home of three key research groups, (1) Globalising the Enlightenment: Knowledge, Culture, Travel, Exchange and Collections, (2) Human Rights, Constitutional Politics and Religious Diversity, (3) the Moritz Stern Fellowships in Modern Jewish Cultural, Intellectual and Literary History. In addition, there are Fellowships in adjacent fields, including European Intellectual History and the History of Political Thought. International dialogue and synergy are the hallmarks of the Kolleg’s research agenda.

Globalising the Enlightenment

Going back to the roots of Göttingen as Germany’s outstanding new Enlightenment university, opening its doors in the 1730s, the study of the Göttingen Enlightenment was adopted as a distinct research focus for the Kolleg in 2012. Since then we have tried, to develop, in close cooperation with the Göttingen Academy, Göttingen faculties and, at international level, most notably with the Voltaire Foundation at the University of Oxford, a research programme that studies the Göttingen Enlightenment in its European, Atlantic and Global Contexts. For the coming years, the Kolleg has committed itself to cooperate with the Forum Wissen project Sensible Provenienzen, which has the controversial Blumenbach Collection of skulls at its center. The Kolleg will do so with a research group on Colonial Encounters, Enlightenment Collections, Post-Colonial Ethics and Politics.

The Kolleg continues to be successful in attracting leading international scholars in Enlightenment Studies to Göttingen, including Dorinda Outram in 2016, Ritchie Robertson from Oxford in 2017, Lars Magnusson from Uppsala and Anthony La Vopa as Permanent Fellows, Avi Lifschitz (Oxford) for the academic year 2021-2022 and Jonathan Israel (Princeton IAS) for the academic year 2022-2023. The Enlightenment group also continues to attract scholars, who come to the Kolleg with external funding, most notably from the Humboldt Foundation.

Human Rights, Constitutional Politics & Religious Diversity

Back in 2011/12 a second strategic decision of the Univeristy has been to maintain the Kolleg’s research focus on the study of religion from classical antiquity to the present, in line with the university’s efforts to raise the study of religion as a distinct Göttingen point of research excellence. In this light, it was deemed vital in 2017 to continue our research group Human Rights, Constitutional Law and the Governance of Religious Diversity. Cross-Cultural and Transregional Perspectives for the period 2019-2021.

Moritz Stern Fellowships in Modern Jewish Cultural, Intellectual & Literary History

January 2014 marked the start of the joint research group with the Fritz-Bauer-Institut, Frankfurt: Reappraising the Anne Frank Diaries: Contexts and Receptions. The research group, fully (externally) funded by the Anne Frank Fonds, Basel, and the Bundesbeauftragte für Kultur und Medien (BKM) was part of an ambitious international research project to transcribe, translate, and fully annotate the Diaries of Anne Frank and to do so in conjunction with a research network that explores the historical contexts and the global reception of the diaries. The research project is ongoing. In the coming years the truly scholarly editio princeps of Anne Frank’s diaries will appear in Dutch, together with new translations and editions in English and German. Planning is starting for the second phase of the project, focusing on translations and editions in French, Italian and Spanish and, in terms of research, a) The Readings and Receptions of Anne Frank’s Diaries around the Mediterranean and b) Asian Readings of the Diaries of Anne Frank: India and Indonesia.

In terms of research groups, the Anne Frank Fellowships have been turned, in cooperation with the Göttingen Academy of Sciences into a more enduring Fellowship Programme, named after Moritz Stern (1807-1894), the first Jewish Ordinarius, i.e. full professor at a leading German university, namely Göttingen, and an ancestor of Anne Frank. The research group in Modern Jewish Cultural, Intellectual and Literary History (1500-2000) started in October 2017. Intellectually, we are exploring a number of directions.

  • First, focusing on the early modern period, there is the idea to develop a research profile in the study of the dialogues and conflicts between Judaism and Christianity. The focus is not only on religious and political writings, but also on the theatre and on the visual culture of the Renaissance.
  • Second, our workshop The Renaissance in Exile: German Renaissance Scholars in Europe and North America explored the importance of exile in the work of Jewish Renaissance scholars who were forced to leave Germany during the 1930s. Given that a number of these scholars, including Ulrich Leo, had connections with the University of Göttingen, it is a pertinent topic for the Kolleg and the Academy. The theme also bridges early modern and modern studies.
  • Third, in cooperation with the Leo Baeck Institute (LBI) in London, the Kolleg has started to look for external funding to build up a research profile in Jewish visual culture, especially film and photography. Daniel Wildmann, director of the London LBI, has been Moritz Stern Senior Research Fellow for the academic years 2018-2020.
The Anne Frank Research Project

The Kolleg is the home of the Anne Frank Research Project, preparing the first multilingual and fully annotated critical edition of the Diaries of Anne Frank, based on a new transcription and groundbreaking new translations, and using high-tech modern technology of book design and typography to visualise how Anne actually wrote, with all her errors, deletions, insertions and corrections.