Resident Research Groups
Multimodal Rhetoric in Online Media Communications2020
The Research Group will investigate how the proliferation of media channels enables political sub-communities to manage and control the creation and dissemination of alternative rhetorical discourses, including advertisements that are personalized according to user profiles and false news stories which have been found to spread faster and more widely than true news stories in platforms such as Twitter. Given that these discourses are increasingly supplanting traditional consensus-based media frameworks, it is essential to understand the mechanisms through which these discourses operate. This includes the prime sites identified as carriers of these discourses and the multimodal strategies (linguistic, visual, filmic) used for target audiences and the resultant effects. In particular, we will establish the mechanisms of such rhetorical formations with respect to their relationship with mainstream news and the deployment of social media for their amplification and transportation.
Cognitive Behavior of Humans, Animals, and Machines: Situation Model Perspectives2019/2020
Recent advances in cognitive neuroscience have given us new insights about likely core components of cognitive behavior that exhibits the striking flexibility and context-sensitivity that we see in humans and many animal species. At the same time, progress in artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics, particularly through deep learning and its connection with other machine learning approaches, along with the availability of sophisticated robots, scenarios and datasets, have opened up new routes for synthesizing intelligent functions. These advances have created a strong basis for a converging and cross-disciplinary challenge: to understand how the emerging functional modules need to be connected in order to enable flexible context-sensitive behavior for both natural cognitive agents as well as for robots to live up to what we would expect from truly intelligent systems.
Research Groups in Preparation
Global Contestations of Women's and Gender Rights2020/2021
The research group's fundamental assumption is that human rights and equality principles have never been universal, never inclusive – despite the promise made by the political revolutions before and after 1800. By contrast, gender has been globally reinforced as a category of social inequality. The divide between legally guaranteed equality principles and the empirical continuation of gender inequality is the starting point of the work programme. However, the research object is the global transformation of the notion and semantics of rights into a shared 'language of contestation'. The research group will examine how the presumed normative consensus about equality principles has become disputable recently in various nationalist political contexts using the example of three empirical arenas in which the contestation of equality principles is particularly manifest: (1) the gendered division of labour, (2) religion, and (3) gendered citizenship regimes and sexual rights.
Research Groups in Postprocessing
'Felix Culpa'? Guilt as Culturally Productive Force2018/2019
During the last decades, it has become more common to appeal to people's sense of guilt regarding current social problems such as economic exploitation or environmental protection. Besides the political instrumentalization, guilt and shame have also been discovered as cultural forces which are able to foster and expedite moral revolutions, for instance. But the development of political discourse to overlap and become indistinguishable with discourses of guilt has also led to a critical stressing of the destructive consequences if collective guilt becomes a leading notion within a culture. In contrast to current research approaches, the main focus of this research group does not lie in the damaging impacts of guilt, of which a person wants to break free or which he or she tries to overcome as quickly as possible.