Philanthropy, giving and collecting in the Longue Durée. Pathways to an intercultural analysis.

News from the Thematic Research Network

Newsflash: Thanks to the current pandemic situation, the upcoming Public Lecture Series events will take place AGAIN IN PRESENCE. You can find more information and the respective accesses to them on our website for the Public Lecture Series in the summer semester 2022.

You can find more about our events since the summer semester 2021 in our archive.

December 06, 2021

Lecture series with Prof. Johannes Pahlitzsch
Topic: "Foundations in Byzantium in a socio-historical perspective".

Although the third event of our lecture series was held online due to the pandemic, Prof. Dr. Pahlitzsch's contribution on foundations in Byzantium seamlessly continued the previous lecture. Comparatively, he outlined the purposes of foundations, especially with regard to their social significance. He connected foundation theory with lived practice over a long period of time. Using concrete examples, he showed that while the primary purpose was to preserve property, a central purpose was social. By establishing the foundations, the founders made possible a multitude of horizontal networks, which had the special characteristic of creating connections beyond death.

The project

Philanthropy, endowments, giving and collecting play a central role in social cohesion, in orientation to the common good and the preservation of cultural heritage. The common good and cultural heritage must not be equated with social integration, but should also be viewed in terms of tension and conflict, and not only in the Western European context of our time. However, corresponding theoretical models are almost exclusively oriented to this context.

Through interdisciplinary cooperation of the three humanities faculties at Heidelberg University – the Faculties of Modern Languages and Literature, Philosophy and Theology – together with the Faculties of Law, of Behavioural and Cultural Studies, and of Economics and Social Sciences, the project aims to develop the foundations for a diachronically and cross-culturally sustainable theory of philanthropy by combining social science modelling with perspectives from outside Western Europe from the fields of antiquity, regional studies, and religious studies.

Based on this preliminary work, a larger research cluster is to be prepared for further elaboration and empirical foundation with the participation of further disciplines. The Centre for Social Investment (CSI) forms the social science component of the network and joins forces with cultural studies expertise from Egyptology, Islamic Studies, and Theology to pave the exploratory way for the first three years of the project. The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Science as part of the Excellence Strategy of the German federal and state governments.


Coordinator Thematic Research Network
Dr. Gudrun-Christine Schimpf
Tel.: +49 (0)6221 54119-85


Download - Project Outline Thematic Research Network

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Project management

Institute for the Study of Christian Social Service (DWI)
Prof. Dr. Johannes Eurich

SAI - South Asia Institute

Prof. Dr. Ute Hüsken

Department of History

Prof. Dr. Katja Patzel-Mattern

Institute of Egyptology

Prof. Dr. Joachim F. Quack

Max-Weber-Institute of Sociology
Prof. Dr. Kathia Serrano Velarde

Institute of Islamic Studies
Prof. Dr. Henning Sievert

Centre for Social Investment (CSI)
Dr. Volker Then