Current Projects

Bücherregal der Forschungsbibliothek in Gotha

Network texts: Technologies of writing, reading and publishing in 17th and 18th century botany (Dr Bettina Dietz)

This project examines the intertwined practices of producing and publishing botanical knowledge that characterised the networked knowledge culture of early modern botany. The focus is on text-based practices, which have long received little attention in research due to a persistent fascination with scientific objects. Specific forms of production and circulation of botanical texts created a publication system that was used by the botanical community and at the same time constituted it.

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Project manager: Dr Bettina Dietz
Funding: German Research Foundation (DFG) € 300,000
Duration: 01.04.2023-31.03.2026


Institutionalising the Law of Nature and Nations: The Universities of Kiel, Greifswald and Rostock 1648-1806 (Dr Mikkel Munthe Jensen)

The project is about the history of the teaching of natural law at the three north German universities in Kiel, Greifswald and Rostock during the period 1648-1806. It is concerned with why, how and to what extent this academic discipline developed in three different political settings along the Baltic coast. The project is based on the general presumption that natural law was of great significance for the period's intellectual development and state building endeavours. The general aim of the project is to show that "modern" natural law, even at smaller north German universities, was playing an important role in this matter.

project webpage

Project Director: Mikkel Munthe Jensen
Funding: German Research Foundation (DFG) € 350.000
Period: 01.07.2022-30.06.2026

Strategies of Collecting and Displaying China in Nineteenth-Century Germany: Gotha’s Chinese Cabinet (Dr. Emily Teo)

My research project brings renewed attention to a significant Chinese collection in early-nineteenth-century Germany, the Chinese Cabinet in Gotha, established by Duke Emil August (1772-1822) of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg from 1804 to 1810. Consisting of over 2000 objects, the Cabinet was a great sensation during the first decades of the nineteenth-century and was described as the most important Chinese collection in continental Europe. However, following the establishment of national museums across European metropoles in the late-nineteenth century, smaller, regional collections such as the Chinese Cabinet gradually faded from memory. Despite its former fame, this collection is scarcely heard of today. The project argues that the Chinese Cabinet deserves further scholarly attention and takes a micro-historical approach to investigate the historical, cultural and social processes behind its creation. In doing so, this project offers new conclusions about the history of collections in nineteenth-century Germany, German perceptions and representations of China, and the provenance of Chinese objects during the early-nineteenth century.

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Funding: DFG
Period: May 2021 - April 2024

Ownership and Habit. On the political anthropology of property in Western modernity

The FZG is involved in the Collaborative Research Centre/Transregio CRC TRR 294 "Structural Change of Property", which was established in 2021, with a subproject on "Property and Habit. On the Political Anthropology of Property in Western Modernity".

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