Collaborative Research Centre ('Sonderforschungsbereich') 1095 - "Discourses of Weakness and Resource Regimes"

Societies face a central challenge when dealing with material and non-material resources. Noticeably the distribution of resources is connected to discourses of weakness. For instance, separate individuals or whole governments can be considered weak because they do not dispose of sufficient resources or the demand for resources is grounded on their own weakness.

The aim of the new collaborative research center CRC 1095 "Discourses of Weakness and Resources Regimes" at the Goethe University of Frankfurt is to examine the changes that have taken place when dealing with resources from comparative trans-cultural and historical perspectives. Two of the projects within the interdisciplinary research project (initially funded by the German Research Foundation till the end of 2018) are being led by researchers from the Max Planck Institute for European Legal History. Altogether 16 projects presented by scientists from history, history of law, as well as ethnology investigate the connections between resource regimes and discourses of weakness at two levels.

On the one hand, empirical case studies will inquire to what degree the writing on weakness leads to a reflection about the distribution of (potentially) scarce resources and thereby produces pressure to change. Is it possible to identify specific ”resource regimes” within various eras and within different ethno-and geographic contexts by investigating the interplay of norms and practices that organize the dependency on and the access to resources?

On the other hand, based on empirical findings, the project will develop methodological and theoretical tools which are suitable to describe the transformation of historical and contemporary formations in terms of their relative "weakness" or "strength". The diagnosis of the weakness of a single actor or governmental organizations carried out in political debates as well as in historical analyzes often goes largely unreflected. The reconnection of the respective discourses of weakness on the availability and organization of resources can help us sharpen the concept of weakness analytically and make it heuristically fruitful.

Common to the projects is an open concept of resources which encloses tangible as well as intangible resources. In this way we focus on socially productive resources like knowledge, law, and information, which are examined in two institute projects: “The Knowledge of the Pragmatici” and "Information as a resource for juridical decision-making processes. Early modern papacy and the emergence of a modern information regime".

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