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- Doktorand*innenstellen / Postes de doctorant.e.s à pourvoir / Call for PhD positions -

Die ERC-Forschungsgruppe "Minor Universality" ruft zur Bewerbung für zwei Doktorand*innenstellen in den Geistes- und Sozialwissenschaften auf.
Wissenschaftliche/r MitarbeiterIn, 3 Jahre - zu besetzen bis spätestens 1. Oktober 2020:
- Kulturanthropologie / -ethnographie
- Medienanalyse / Kunst- und Literatursoziologie

Le groupe de recherche ERC « Minor Universality » lance un appel à candidature pour deux postes de doctorant.e.s en sciences humaines et sociales –
Wissenschaftliche/r MitarbeiterIn, 3 ans – à pourvoir au plus tard le 1er octobre 2020:
- Anthropologie culturelle/Ethnographie (Plus d'informations ici)
- Analyse des médias/Sociologie de l'art et de la littérature (Plus d'informations ici)

The ERC Research Group “Minor Universality” is inviting applications for two PhD positions in humanities and social sciences – Wissenschaftliche/r
MitarbeiterIn, 3 years - starting at the latest on October 1st, 2020:
- Cultural Anthropology/Ethnography (More information here)
- Media analysis and Sociology of art/literature (More information here)

ERC Consolidator Grant


Narrative World Productions After Western Universalism

In an extensive interview to the New York Times, within the last days of his presidency, Barack Obama made an argument for narrations creating a solidarising humanity: “When so much of our politics is trying to manage the clash of cultures brought about by globalisation, technology and migration, the role of stories to unify is more important than ever.”

Minor Universality aims to make a substantial contribution to the actual debate on the problem of universality after Western universalism. Indeed, the question of how universality can be produced is crucial in times characterised by a double relativistic signature: the necessary political and epistemic critique of Occidental universalism, and worldwide identitarian assertions ranging from cultural othering to neonationalist movements. “Is there anything that relates us to others so that we can say that WE are?”, asks Achille Mbembe.

Here general narratology provides a crucial twist: if it is a genuine, anthropological potential of the narration to make a claim about the world as a whole starting from a singular setting, narrations create ways of extending concrete contexts towards experiences of a shared humanity. This can be analyzed in literature, in an epistemic field beyond the book and in social practices being part of global migrations. In contrast to conceptual debates such as on World Literature, which address the question through canons and legitimacies, this project shifts the debate to cultural practices producing universality in ways that inform the knowledge of our contemporary world: how and with which means do contemporary cultural productions such as literatures, films and social media, literary and cultural festivals and events, architectures and museums, open up local settings so as to produce a new sensuous, embodied or intellectual awareness of a shared humanity?

In her famous TED Talk, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie asserted that a single story leads to simplifications in the understanding of others. Talking of the Western universalism’s impact on cultures, whose concept considered Western ideas and concepts as being universal, the writer underlined the underrepresentation of many cultures in the universalistic narrative. This also reminds us of the fact that a new world consciousness is often prepared at the margins of dominant discourses: It needs to be inquired for the necessary debates on reparation, our living together and shared commons.

Based on close readings and qualitative case studies the project re-expands the material and medial turns in cultural analysis to processes of consciousness and agency. It also seeks to explore new literacies about the role of narration for civil imaginaries of our world and to provide ways to address universality in public debates about justice and legitimacy within world society.


A first conference was organized at Villa Europa Saarbrücken in September 2019, bringing together many project partners:



The ERC Minor Universality project cooperates with colleagues from all over the world. Four partner centres in Hong Kong, Mexico, Tunis and Berlin (HKW) have shaped the project and work closely with the hub based in Saarbrücken.

Institutional Project Partners

Prof. Tammy Lai-Ming Ho, Literature (Hong Kong Baptist University; PEN Hong Kong)

Prof. Christopher M. Hutton, Sociolinguistics (University of Hong Kong)

Prof. Mohamed Kerrou, Political Science (Université de Tunis el-Manar)

Prof. Soumaya Mestiri, Philosophy (Université de Tunis)

Prof. Bernd Scherer, Cultural Anthropology (Haus der Kulturen der Welt; Humboldt-University of Berlin)

Prof. Sergio Ugalde, Comparative Literature (Colegio de México)

Ethics committee

Prof. Leyla Dakhli, History (CNRS; Centre Marc Bloch Berlin)

Dr. Marion Detjen, History (Bard College Berlin)

Prof. Teresa Koloma Beck, Sociology (University of the AF in Munich)

Members of the ERC project based at Saarbrücken

Prof. Markus Messling, Cultural Studies (Principal Investigator)

Dr. Franck Hofmann, Cultural Studies (Associated Senior Researcher)

Dr. Hélène Thiérard, Comparative Literature (Postdoc)

Azyza Deiab, French Studies and Theology (Research assistant)