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30.06.2016 15:39

Zentrum Moderner Orient will join the Leibniz Association

Yasser Mehanna Zentrum Moderner Orient (ZMO)
Geisteswissenschaftliche Zentren Berlin e.V. (GWZ)

    As of January 1, 2017 Zentrum Moderner Orient (ZMO) in Berlin will join the Leibniz Association. The final decision was taken by the Joint Science Conference (Gemeinsame Wissenschaftskonferenz) on June 24, 2016. ZMO is the only German research institute devoted to an interdisciplinary and comparative study of the Middle East, Africa, and Asia from a historical perspective. The Centre´s international profile and its focus on non-European developments will contribute to the Association’s profile regarding global issues. ZMO’s admission is based on a positive evaluation by the German Council of Science and Humanities as well as by a positive statement by the senate of the Leibniz Association.

    Since 1996, as one of three research institutes of Geisteswissenschaftliche Zentren Berlin e.V. (GWZ), ZMO has been conducting interdisciplinary basic research on historical and current developments in Islamicate societies in the Middle East, Africa, Central Asia, South and Southeast Asia. The main research programme, entitled “Muslim Worlds - World of Islam? Conceptions, Practices, and Crises of the Global”, explores a wide range of flows and dynamics of transregional interaction and connectivity within the global south and its interrelations with Europe.

    Both the German Council of Science and Humanities and Leibniz Association recognise ZMO’s innovative scientific approach, its socio-political relevance and, particularly, the quality of research conducted at the Centre. The latter is based on language skills and disciplinary expertise of ZMO fellows and associates and the Centre’s extensive national and international networks. Furthermore, the evaluations highlighted ZMO’s activity in the field of knowledge transfer as well as its wide spectrum of public relation activities. ZMO’s director Prof Ulrike Freitag emphasized the importance of the Centre’s admission to the association concerning ZMO’s research agenda and future perspectives: “The transformation of the Centre from a temporary project into a permanent research institute allows for a long-term development of its research programme. This is of particular importance with regard to our academic contacts in Africa and Asia which need to be built on long-term relations of cooperation and trust. This is important for successful research and cultural dialogue, but also for the recruitment and retention of high-profile international scholars.”

    The Centre's main research programme “Muslim Worlds – World of Islam?”, funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) currently comprises four interdisciplinary research fields. There are 24 researchers investigating the following topics: “Progress: Ideas, Agents, Symbols”, “The Politics of Resources”, “Trajectories of Lives and Knowledge” and “Cities as Laboratories of Change”. They are complemented by another 18 researchers working in third-party-funded projects.

    The Leibniz Association connects currently 89 independent research institutes, devoted to basic research as well as applied knowledge. The Association receives an overall funding from the German government of 1.7 billion Euro. ZMO will especially strengthen the Associations’ sections A (Humanities and Educational Research) and B (Economics, Social Sciences, Spatial Research). It is already an active part of the Leibniz Research Alliance ‘Historical Authenticity’.

    Prof Ulrike Freitag is available for interviews. Please send your request to

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