Social Sciences & Humanities

Modernity - in its various phases and alternatives - increasingly and ever faster makes visible how technoscientific phenomena are inextricably intertwined and interdependent with social, cultural, political, and economic factors, artifacts, techniques, and institutions. Going beyond the fallacies of either techno- or sociodeterminisms, this working group will explore and discuss the complex relationship between technology, culture, and society.

Scholars in this workgroup come from a range of disciplines in the social sciences and the humanities where language and culture matters not only as a means of communication but also as an object of study. Our academic disciplines are history, literature, philosophy, law, religion, sociology, politics and economics, and last but not least Asian and Europeans Studies. Depending on the circumstances we conduct our interdisciplinary meetings in English, Japanese or German, sometimes in a multilingual fashion. We aim to overcome the national borders of our own academic traditions by using theories and methods of “Cultural Translation” and “Transcultural Studies.” The theme of our next meetings will be the study of education from a multicultural perspective.

We have been most successful in establishing networks for joint graduate school training and graduate student exchange between Japan and Germany.

  • Joint PhD degree programme between Tohoku University, Faculty of Law, and Heidelberg University, Faculty of Philosophy since 2012.
  • ISAP DAAD graduate student exchange programme between Osaka University and Heidelberg University, now ongoing for several years.
  • Graduate Student exchange between Kyoto University, Faculty of Letters and Faculty of Economics and Cluster of Excellence, Heidelberg University. 2013.
  • Internationales Graduiertenkolleg Initial funding by the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Arts and Sciences, 2012, 2013.  


  • Prof. Harald Fuess, Heidelberg University (Chair)
  • Dr. Alexandra Hausstein, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (Co-Chair)
  • Prof. Yukie Irie, Osaka University
  • Prof. Judit Arokay, Heidelberg University
  • Prof. Kimio Ito, Kyoto University
  • Prof. Emiko Ochiai, Kyoto University
  • Prof. Inken Prohl, Heidelberg University
  • Prof. Toshiya Ueki, Tohoku University
  • Prof. Hans-Martin Krämer, Heidelberg University
  • Prof. Toru Takenaka, Osaka University
  • Prof. Katja Triplett, University of Göttingen
  • Prof. Kaoru Iokibe, Tokyo University
  • Prof. Kiyotaka Naoe, Tohoku University
  • Prof. Armin Grunwald, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
  • Prof. Christian Förster, Heidelberg University
  • Prof. Kurt Möser, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
  • Prof. Saku Hara, Tohoku University
  • Prof. Mariko Nihei, Tohoku University
  • Prof. Akihiro Ozaki, Tohoku University
  • Prof. Eric Fongaro, Tohoku University
  • Prof. Judith Arokay, Heidelberg University


Project abstract: 

This working group combines the recent innovations in Global History pioneered at the partner universities of Osaka and Göttingen with the classical strengths of Asian and Transcultural History at the universities of Heidelberg, Kyoto and Tohoku. The aim of this pilot project is to position the HeKKsaGOn alliance as the leader in Global and Transcultural History both in Asia and in Europe. Thus to push for more connected and comparative forms of historical narratives than are currently once again being told in public as the disconnected histories of isolated and competitive nation-states and their very distinctive cultures. The focus will be on times of ruptures and disjunctions when tectonic shifts occurred or appeared to be happening leading to local, regional and global crises. These moments may at their times seem ephemeral and not leading to significant turning points but then often create enduring instabilities or chaotic circumstances that are as much in need of explanations as the conventional master narrative of the rise and fall of nation-states. What is crucial to this project is the desire not to preach to the converted area studies specialists but include those colleagues who are being defined as mainstream disciplinary historians in their relative regional institutional settings such the historians of the Western World in Europe and the historians of Japan in Japan. We will also strive for a lively inter-generational dialogue as much as we will insist on hearing multiple international voices in writing history to understand better the complexity of what was and why this history still matters for today. Francis Fukuyama once famously postulated the end of history. It is the contention of this working group that history is not over yet and we still need to be able to distinguish historical facts from multiple fictions to make sense of our world in past and present as a joined universe.

Lead coordinator: 

Name: Akita, Shigeru
Position: Professor of History
Institution: Osaka University
Department, Faculty: Head of Department of World History, Graduate School of Letters 

Other coordinator(s):

Name: Fuess, Harald
Position: Professor of History
Institution: Heidelberg University
Department, Faculty: Director of Heidelberg Center for Transcultural Studies, Faculty of



Project Abstract: 

The aim of this interdisciplinary working group is to create a long-term multilateral network to foster institutionalized research-based graduate education between the three Japanese HeKKSaGOn Universities and the German universities of Heidelberg and Göttingen. It serves as a framework for academically maintaining and developing existing bilateral exchanges in the humanities and social sciences. It furthers joint degree prospects and acts as an incubator for research initiatives of younger scholars. At its membership core is the Heidelberg-Kyoto joint degree relationship in transcultural studies, the Heidelberg-Tohoku double doctoral degrees as well as the Heidelberg-Osaka exchanges in Asian and Japanese Studies. Multilateral HeKKsaGON activities will be encouraged through this project application. We need steady funding streams from multiple sources and administrative support for institutionalized innovations in the kind of collaborations that university leadership advocates but there may be problems in reality. The members of the Asian and Transcultural Studies group already have had substantial experience of international and interdisciplinary cooperation together so the emphasis now is on keeping binational education alive and finding new joint academic themes with and for the next generation of scholars. The key proposed activity will be an annual graduate student workshop alternating between Japanese universities (uneven years) and Heidelberg (even years). Kyoto University’s annual Next Generation Global Workshop, which started in 2008, inspired this model as well as the doctoral workshop of the European Association of Japanese Studies. These regular workshops would be open to graduate students from all HeKKSaGOn universities and their core partners, which cooperate with us in Asia and Europe. However, core university funding would be limited to members of the HeKKSaGOn universities.

Lead coordinator:

Name: Wada-Marciano, Mitsuyo (Ms.)
Position: Professor of Transcultural Studies and Film Studies
Director of the Transcultural Studies Division
Deputy Director of the Heidelberg/Kyoto Joint M.A. Degree in Transcultural Studies
Institution: Kyoto University
Department, Faculty: Graduate School of Letters 

Other coordinator(s):

Name: Fuess, Harald (Mr.)
Position: Professor of Cultural Economy
Director of the Heidelberg Graduate School for Humanities and Social Science (HGGS)
Director of the Centre of Asian and Transcultural Studies (CATS)
Director of the Heidelberg Centre of Transcultural Studies (HCTS)
Director of the Heidelberg/Kyoto Joint M.A. Degree in Transcultural Studies
Director of the Working Group in Korean Studies
Institution: Heidelberg University
Department, Faculty: Heidelberg Center for Asian and Transcultural Studies, Faculty of