Beyond Centers and Peripheries? The History of the Goethe-Institute between National Representation and Transnational Entanglement from 1951 to the present

26 - 28 October 2022, Mainz

Since its founding in 1951, the Goethe-Institute was firmly part of the German foreign policy ensemble and, as an intermediary organization of the Foreign Office, was integrated into national contexts of meaning and value systems. At the same time, most of its cultural and educational work has always taken place in the actual "outside" of foreign policy beyond Germany's national borders. For this reason, one should be focuses on the Goethe-Institut as a transnational institution whose history has always taken place in different spaces and on different levels - in interaction with the political institutions of the Federal Republic of Germany and in the everyday cultural policy of its international locations. What effects has this ambiguity had on the institutional self-image, the external impact of the organization and the underlying understanding of culture in the various periods of its history? How and by whom did the change that the Goethe-Institut experienced since 1951 take place? Where did decisive impulses come from, what paths did they take within the organization, what traces did they leave behind? What role did the global orientation of the organization and the cultural-political everyday life in the transnational space play?

The workshop is intended as a kick-off event – at the beginning of the new DFG project on the transnational history of the Goethe-Institute we want to reflect on how to overcome terms and thoughts of center and periphery and to reverse the predominant Germany-centered view.

Scientific Organizer:

Sarah Christine Bernhardt

©Ken Yamamoto


Event Manager: Kumi Kost