You are here

Trans-Atlantic Summer Institute

The Trans-Atlantic Summer Institute in German and European Studies (TASI) aims to make a major contribution to training the next generation of experts on Germany and Europe by providing a unique research experience to advanced graduate students from across Europe and North America. Each summer, up to 15 graduate students from both sides of the Atlantic receive fellowships to the two-week institute. Topics change annually. Institute sites alternate between the University of Minnesota and major German universities. Each institute is led by a team of core faculty and enhanced by guest speakers.

Past TASI Programs

2016: Reframing Mass Violence in Europe and the Americas: The Holocaust and Global Memory Constellations

Presented by the Center for German & European Studies at the University of Minnesota in cooperation with Universität Bayreuth, Germany.

This institute's objective was to explore the particular developments and transnational entanglements of memory discourses in societies revisiting their legacies of large-scale political violence. This entails processes of re-interpretation, renaming, and re-framing of (a) the atrocities themselves and (b) the often-questioned transitional justice mechanisms that were adopted in their aftermaths. We place special emphasis on the analyses of practices, rituals, and social events that help create, support, and disseminate social memories related to mass violence. The TASI’s collective discussions across disciplinary and geographic boundaries served to identify new emerging patterns of social memory, which have distinct national features and are at the same time shaped by interdependence, linkages, and transnational cross-fertilization.

Core faculty:
Bernt Schnettler, University of Bayreuth, Germany
Alejandro Baer, University of Minnesota
2015: Emotions in Late Modern Societies: Persons, Politics, and Social Practices

Presented by the Center for German & European Studies at the University of Minnesota in cooperation with Europa Universität Viadrina, Germany.

Most approaches in the social sciences assume that human action emanates from rational beings; in contrast, the humanities have paid more attention to expressive works that explore feelings and experiences. In recent years, the boundaries between these conceptions of motivation and practice has broken down, and conduct is believed to emerge from complex settings of culture, politics, and subjectivity.

A systematic integration of rational and irrational elements of conduct and practice are still rare in historical, social, and political studies. Emotions, or affects, are often dealt with in theoretical writings, but rarely considered as cornerstones of human action in empirical studies. The TASI explores the inherent tension between these opposing conceptions of human behavior and the degree to which both views can coexist.

Core faculty:
Timm Beichelt, Europa Universität Viadrina (Frankfurt/Oder)
Thomas Wolfe, University of Minnesota
2014 & 2013: Borders in Motion—New Dynamics of Inclusion and Exclusion across Europe and North America

Presented by the Center for German & European Studies at the University of Minnesota in cooperation with Europa Universität Viadrina, Germany.

"Mobility" and "flexibility" are buzz words of the postsocialist, post-9/11 decades. With EU enlargement, national borders between member states have become less important. At the same time, new internal boundaries proliferate—distinctions between immigrants and native citizens, between "ethnic" and supposedly non-ethnic groups, between religious communities and a supposedly secular and liberal society. Emancipatory values and human rights seem to become instruments of distinctions. Religious, ethnic, and sexual minorities are often pitted against one another. The new boundaries are reconfirmed through public policy, practices, and security technology and reflected in discourses of belonging. This seminar drew on a broad range of academic fields—including anthropology, sociology, political philosophy, history, political science, and cultural studies—to investigate dynamics of inclusion and exclusion across Europe and North America.

This institute was held at the University of Minnesota in 2013.

Core faculty:
Anika Keinz, Europa Universität Viadrina (Frankfurt/Oder)
Matthias Rothe, University of Minnesota
2012: Class, Church, Community: The Historical Origin of Current European Social Policy

Presented by the Center for German & European Studies at the University of Minnesota in collaboration with Lund University, Sweden.

Today's western European countries have the world's most extensive social welfare systems. Yet even among these countries, with their high levels of social spending, enormous structural differences remain. They are the residue of historical political conflicts over states and markets, over religious and cultural identities, and over the territorial reach of the nation state. The 2012 Trans-Atlantic Summer Institute explored the historical development of European social policy programs, particularly in the area of education, which has become a topic of great concern in all the social sciences. Materials drew on a broad range of academic fields such as anthropology, economic history, political economy, political science, social history, and sociology

Core faculty:
Johannes Lindvall, Lund University, Sweden
Ben Ansell, University of Minnesota
2011: Violence Across the Mediterranean to Northern Europe: Theory and Practice

Presented by the Center for German & European Studies at the University of Minnesota in collaboration with University College London, UK and Université de Provence, France

The intrinsic nature of violence to human behavior has produced an extensive interdisciplinary literature on the subject. Scholarly literature has tended to focus on four main strands: institutional violence; gender, racial, or social violence; textual violence; and social trauma studies. By using geographical parameters of the Mediterranean and Europe, the South and the North, and the violence engendered by the relationship of one area to the other, TASI 2011 provided a forum to discuss and analyze violence in all its forms. The institute featured a mix of research presentations and discussions of key readings and fellows’ research projects.

Core faculty:
Abderrahmane Moussaoui, Université de Provence, France
Ruth Mandel, University College London, UK
Patricia Lorcin, University of Minnesota
2010: Gender and Immigrant Life in Europe and North America

Presented by the Center for German & European Studies at the University of Minnesota in collaboration with Johann Wolfgang Goethe Universität, Germany.

In both Europe and North America, migration has traditionally been associated with the need for labor, and laborers have typically been imagined as men. Women remained invisible as protagonists of migration in their own rights. Today, in both regions, foreign-origin populations are gender-balanced or even female-predominant. TASI 2010 mapped this new interdisciplinary field by focusing on the methodologies and selected themes that are characteristic of a range of disciplines—from history, political science and sociology to anthropology and cultural studies. Fellows enjoyed a diverse mix of seminar discussions of key readings, research presentations by guest faculty and fellows, and informal discussions of fellows' research projects.

Core faculty:
Mirjana Morokvasic-Müller, Johann Wolfgang Goethe Universität, Frankfurt am Main
Donna Gabaccia, University of Minnesota
2009: Transitions in Central and Eastern Europe: Culture, Society, Politics after 1989

Presented by the Center for German & European Studies at the University of Minnesota in cooperation with Jagiellonian University, Poland.

One of the most compelling developments in postwar Europe has been the odyssey of Central and Eastern European societies from socialism to capitalist democracies and from national independence to European integration. Scholars have grouped these profound changes under the umbrella terms "transition" or "transformation," for after 1989/91 these societies seemed to take up the task of crossing over from one system and one project to another. TASI takes a strong multi-disciplinary approach. The 2009 Institute merged a dissertation workshop emphasizing close reading with group commentary as part of a broad intellectual agenda that seeks to inspire conversations within and across disciplines.

Core faculty:
Annamaria Orla-Bukowska, Jagiellonian University, Kraków
Francis Harvey, University of Minnesota
Thomas Wolfe, University of Minnesota
2008: Immigrants in Europe and North America: Representations of Self and Other

Presented by the Center for German & European Studies at the University of Minnesota in collaboration with Europa-Universität Viadrina

For the past half century, the immigration of culturally and ethnically different groups has been transforming economies, societies, and polities on both sides of the Atlantic. A huge and diverse body of data continues to accumulate: population data, newspaper articles, images, case records, fiction, personal narratives, art, and even music. Foreigners and migrants struggle to identify spaces and media to represent themselves in their own words and images. Add the very terminology of scholarly analysis, terms such as "migrants," "immigrants," "emigrants," "refugees," and the issue of representation becomes central to every facet of this growing archive. TASI 2008 focused on representation in the broad sense and examined, from multiple disciplinary perspectives, how immigrants are represented and represent themselves in different EU countries and the United States.

Core faculty:
Barbara Wolbert, Europa-Universität Viadrina
Donna Gabaccia, University of Minnesota
2007: Immigration, Citizenship, and the Future of Multiculturalism in Europe and North America

Presented in cooperation with the TIRES (transnationalism, international migration, race, ethnocentrism, and the state) consortium at the Europa Universität Viadrina, Frankfurt/Oder, and Florida International University.

For the past half century, the immigration of culturally and ethnically different groups has been transforming economies, societies, and policies on both sides of the Atlantic. Germany has experienced a transition from an ethnically homogenous to a multi-ethnic society, and the cultural diversity of the US has dramatically increased. In the wake of these transformations, important questions on topics of immigration, ethnic and race relations, and the politics of citizenship and multiculturalism have arisen, in particular since 9/11. We have seen a rise in xenophobia (and Islamophobia), the proliferation of racially-motivated violence, and a retreat from rights and the recognition of cultural difference. Yet, we have also witnessed greater efforts to foster the integration of immigrants, civic activism promoting and demanding immigrants' rights and a politics of recognition, and the proliferation of hybrid/multiple identities. TASI 2007 used the prism of multiple disciplinary perspectives to examine how these processes have played themselves out at the national and local scales in different EU countries and the United States—from the perspectives of both immigrants and receiving societies and states.

Core faculty:
Sarah J. Mahler, Florida International University
Michael Minkenberg, Europa-Universität Viadrina
Helga Leitner, University of Minnesota
2006: Germany and the East

Presented in cooperation with the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich and the Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung, Potsdam (ZZF).

Germany has had a long, close, and complex relationship with its neighbors to the East; Eastern Europe was a prime site of German imperial ventures, which reached their nadir with Nazi domination and the Holocaust. German culture once reigned supreme in Tallin, L'viv, Budapest, and many other centers, while Eastern Europe has also been a source of large-scale immigration into Germany. The Soviet Union and Russia inspired many Germans, but Germany was also the focal point of East-West conflict during the Cold War. Since 1990, unified Germany has supported the expansion to the East of the European Union. Further to the southeast, diplomats, businessmen, and archaeologists saw great opportunities for Germany in the Ottoman Empire but feared Ottoman expansion and worried about the stability of the Balkans. Today, Berlin is Turkey's second largest city—even though citizenship rights of Turkish residents and the possibility of Turkey's admission into the EU are flashpoints of political conflict. TASI 2006 invited participants to explore Germany's relations with the East in all their forms, including diplomacy, war, genocide, economics, migration, and culture.

Core faculty:
Priv. Doz. Dr. Thomas Lindenberger, Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung, Potsdam
Dr. Gregor Thum, University of Pittsburgh
Eric D. Weitz, University of Minnesota
2005: Mass Cultures and Mass Media in 20th-Century Germany

Presented in cooperation with the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich and the Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung, Potsdam (ZZF).

Mass cultures and mass media have fundamentally altered the forms of life in the twentieth century. These shifts in the cultural sphere are decisively linked to economic, technological, and political history and offer a fruitful opening for an interdisciplinary and transnational history of society in the modern era. Beginning in the 1880s, a new public emerged through the standardization of consumer goods and new forms of communication. The old markers of class distinctions were challenged by the rise of mass newspapers and then the cinema, gramophone, and radio, and by political parties that now had to compete for votes in the public sphere. The increasing commercialization of virtually all aspects of life and the new technologies of communication challenged intellectuals and artists to grapple with the meaning of modernity.

Core faculty:
Dr. Martin Geyer, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität of Munich
Priv. Doz. Dr. Thomas Lindenberger, Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung, Potsdam
Eric D. Weitz, University of Minnesota
2004: Germany in the Age of Globalization

Presented in cooperation with the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich and the Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung, Potsdam (ZZF).

Germany has been linked to the larger world for hundreds of years through emigration and immigration, economics, intellectual and cultural exchange, imperial ventures, and the literary imagination. TASI 2004 examined Germany's multitudinous relations to the larger world by concentrating on the period from the founding of the Kaiserreich into the present. Based in the discipline of history, the seminar also gave serious attention to research and perspectives emanating from cultural studies and the social sciences. Topics covered included the establishment of German colonies in the late nineteenth century, Germany's two efforts to establish continental hegemony, Germany in the global economy, migration from the nineteenth century into the present, and visions of Africa in popular culture. Across the individual topics, seminar participants were concerned with issues of continuities and ruptures—for example, the degree to which racial ideology and racist practices were forged in the colonies and then were transferred back into Germany and Europe, foreign policy goals across the many different regimes that have governed modern Germany, and the links that have bound other countries and regions to the powerful German economy.

Core faculty:
Dr. Martin Geyer, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität of Munich
Priv. Doz. Dr. Thomas Lindenberger, Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung, Potsdam
Eric D. Weitz, University of Minnesota
2003: German Citizenship in the Twentieth Century

Presented in cooperation with the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich and the Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung, Potsdam (ZZF).

Definitions of citizenship always entail mechanisms of inclusion and exclusion. For a good part of its modern history, Germany has enabled a fairly broad scope of political inclusion. The Reich constitution of 1871 established universal male suffrage, and the electoral system of the Kaiserreich was robust. Germany also pioneered the welfare state, which served as a mechanism of inclusion, especially for male industrial workers. Yet female suffrage was achieved only in 1919, and the social welfare state tended to classify women as dependents. In the Weimar period, the expansion of the electorate and of social welfare programs coincided with intense conflicts in all areas of politics, society, and culture. The Third Reich, in using the legal code's linkage of citizenship to “blood,” gave its own, particularly brutal, definition of the meaning of citizenship. As social actors and institutions have sought to reshape the parameters of full citizenship in both postwar German states, gender ideologies and the presence of foreign workers and refugees are challenging any simple definition of what it has meant to be “German.”

Core faculty:
Dr. Martin Geyer, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität of Munich
Priv. Doz. Dr. Thomas Lindenberger, Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung, Potsdam
Eric D. Weitz, University of Minnesota
2002: Violence and Normality in the Century of Total War

Presented in cooperation with the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich and the Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung, Potsdam (ZZF).

The two world wars of the twentieth century altered the role of organized violence in German society. They raised great hopes and desperate fears. They opened up vistas of power and pleasure in the future for those defined in German national or racial terms. But the wars also deeply unsettled German society, raising fears of betrayal from within and of the exactions that might result from failure on the battlefield. Both wars also promoted the salutary effects of political violence, which altered the prevailing norms of human interaction.

Violence was not only expressed in wartime. Violence occurred in the contested streets of Weimar, Germany, as rival paramilitaries battled for political control. It occurred in labor conflicts throughout the century, in New Left politics of the 1960s and 1970s, in the stringent assertion of state power in the German Democratic Republic, and in the more recent emergence of the extreme right. Violence has also been expressed in the home, in strict approaches to child rearing and in the assertion of male dominance over women. The Institute's participants studied violence in Germany from economic, political, social, and cultural vantage points.

Core faculty:
Prof. Dr. Martin Geyer, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität of Munich
Priv. Doz. Dr. Thomas Lindenberger, Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung, Potsdam
Eric D. Weitz, University of Minnesota
2001: Germany in the Century of American and Soviet Power

Presented in cooperation with the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich and the Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung, Potsdam (ZZF).

After World War II, Germany was, of course, divided into the Soviet-dominated German Democratic Republic and the largely American-influenced Federal Republic of Germany. The two superpowers critically shaped virtually all aspects of state and society in their respective spheres of influence. But the historiography of the last twenty-five years has amply demonstrated that neither superpower could simply exert its will. The Institute explored the policies and practices of the two superpowers in Germany, but also the drawn-out, at times highly-frustrating process of interaction by which the two Germanies adapted, shaped, and occasionally blocked the efforts of their respective allies and protectors. Moreover, both Germanies developed in competition and in tandem, each carefully watching the other's moves across the Cold War divide. A key theme of the seminar was the mutual interaction of the two Germanies in a divided world.

Core faculty:
Prof. Dr. Martin Geyer, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität of Munich
Dr. Konrad Jarausch, Zentrum für Zeithistorische Forschung, Potsdam
Eric D. Weitz, University of Minnesota