The interdisciplinary lecture series is part of the research project Thematic Research Network (TRN) "Philanthropy, giving and collecting in the Longue Durée". The series of lectures is open to the public and will be held in cooperation with the Metropolitan Region Rhine-Neckar. Together with experts from the participating disciplines at University of Heidelberg and selected guests from national and international research and practice, the topic of philanthropy, donations, and collections in the longue durée will be examined from different perspectives and questions from the project context will be discussed.

Why do people in different cultures and eras donate, give and collect? For what kind of purposes and with what kind of goals? Under which social, cultural, economic and power conditions and in which forms can this happen? Is this good or bad for a society? These and other questions will be explored in an exchange between academia and practice. The guests selected for the series of events from national and international research and practice will provide insights into European and non-European cultures.

The series of events took place in the summer semester 2022, winter semester 2021/2022 and summer semester 2021. Further information on the content of the lectures and the speakers can be found here:

Public Lecture Series in the summer semester 2022  

Public Lecture Series in the winter semester 2021/22

Public Lecture Series in the summer semester 2021

You can also find many of the past lectures online.

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

Metropolregion Rhein-Neckar

Insights into the lecture series of the summer semester 2022 and winter semester 2021/22

Due to the pandemic, most of our discussion rounds took place online.

Topic: “Philosophy of the Common Good and Preservation of Cultural Heritage: Perspective from the Islamic Jurisprudence of Waqf Endowments”

Randi Deguilhem showed in her online lecture vividly the Islamic jurisprudence related to the role of Waqf foundations in society. Through examples, both historic as contemporary, the expert outlined religious, public, and private goals and intentions of Islamic foundations from the early Islamic centuries to the present. The focus was on the intersection between the common good and the preservation of cultural heritage in the field of Waqf, especially based on Islamic Sunni religious scriptures. Interesting to learn was among other things where foundations were adapted to political and societal changes over the longue durée and where they were not. Conflicts can sometimes arise centuries after the foundation was established and be reflected in case law.

Topic: "Inscriptions as main documentary sources on the pre-modern Indian endowment system ".

In her lecture, Annette Schmiedchen shed light on Indian inscriptions about foundations, which - in contrast to the otherwise rather thin source material on pre-modern India - have been handed down thousands of times from the period 300 BC to 1500 AD. The inscriptions, most of which were written in stone or metal and thus survived the centuries, convey both direct information and indirect clues. They include foundation and consecration inscriptions, copper plate charters, stone inscriptions about maintenance donations, but also manuscript colophons.

In her inspiring lecture, Ms Schmiedchen used these diverse sources to show what we can learn from these inscriptions about the founders, different types of foundations, foundation assets and income, the motivation of the founders and the goals of the foundation. What they cannot provide us with, however, is information on the development and continued existence of the foundations.

Topic: "Remembering that saves lives. Projects of the Foundation "Remembrance, Responsibility and Future" in Ukraine before and during the war"

Dr. Tetiana Pastushenko, staff member of the Institute on the History of Ukraine of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine showed in her lecture vividly what foundations can do on the ground in crisis situations and how research provides an interface for this. She opened our lecture series this semester with her presentation on ‘Remembering that Saves Lives’ and offered an overview and results on research projects conducted in Ukraine with the support of the Foundation " Erinnerung, Verantwortung und Zukunft". For example, she reported on "Rodynna pamjat - Family Memory" - a memorial and educational site in Shostka, the only museum in Ukraine dedicated to forced labor. (more about it and a virtual tour can be found here:

Ms. Pastuschenko explained the significance of these projects and how they shift the emphasis from the traditional historiography of Ukraine in World War II from heroes to war victims, and thus also the chronology, and focus on the civil society perspective. She also shared her experiences with the current events in Ukraine (which can also be read in her public war diary: ), the documentation and support of well-known activists and witnesses, and the help provided by German helpers.

Topic: "Cult Foundations: Benefit or Bondage?"

Mariette Horster, Professor of Ancient History at the University of Mainz, offered us an insight into the meanings and functioning of cult foundations in ancient cities in the first event this year. The contribution had its focus on ancient, Greek-influenced culture, but was deepened by comparisons to other cultures and eras. For all their advantages and despite all adversities, the foundations were community-building and ensured the permanence of the community. The subsequent discussion resulted in new impulses in the interdisciplinary exchange.

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.

Topic: "Perspectives on Giving and Endowments from Buddhist Studies".

To our pleasure, we were pleased to welcome our colleague Prof. Dr. Michael Radich for the second lecture this semester. As an expert in Buddhist studies, he succeeded in introducing the complex background of Buddhist endowment. He also suggested to explore the topics of "giving" and "endownments" in Buddhist studies. In his lecture he raised many questions, which afterwards led to an exciting and lively discussion with the audience. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic situation, the upcoming event will be held online again. We hope to welcome you digitally then.

Topic: "From medieval memoria research to universal historical comparison of foundations"

Our first lecture event in presence received great interest, as Prof. Dr. Michael Borgolte spoke as a proven expert of the matter on the topic: "From the medieval memoria research to the universal historical comparison of foundations". Starting from the complex origins of foundations, he traced their lines of development up to the modern foundation landscape of the 21st century. He stimulatingly reflected on his own many years of research and findings in this regard and also addressed the criticism of foundations that has flared up time and again. Following the lecture, the audience took the opportunity to elaborate on individual points and clarify questions in the discussion. We hope that we will be able to continue with the attendance format in future lectures of the lecture series.

Topic: "Theoretical discussion about giving based on Pierre Bourdieu's critical argumentation towards authority" (Prof. Dr. Frank Adloff)