Ulrike Zeuch: Cultural Studies

For Ulrike Zeuch, Humboldt is not a hero but a historical role model and spiritual father, whose clear attitude and upstanding ethos “can still inspire us today.” Zeuch is primarily impressed by his scrupulous and unbiased approach to other cultures, customs, manners and all that is foreign. “Despite his high status, he didn’t have a fear of contact. He let himself be enriched and taught by the unknown. His thirst for knowledge, his drive for research, his eagerness to learn were immense. At the same time, he also reflected on his own role as an observer, made nuanced judgments, did not shy away from confusion, and embraced strangeness, and he did all of this on a solid foundation of deeply felt humane values.” Zeuch, whose research interests include cultural transfer and intercultural hermeneutics, examined Humboldt’s cultural translation abilities by using his travel journals from Brazil. “It’s interesting to see how his writing changed both in terms of content and style. In order to adequately capture the realities of the tropics, he had to think in larger contexts and merge different forms of knowledge.” Interdisciplinary, innovative, international: Humboldt’s thinking already contained the seeds of what shapes our understanding of modern university and research culture. Ulrike Zeuch says that her work with Humboldt’s writings and research achievements has left its mark on her: “Humboldt has made my thoughts more nimble.” His famous statement – “All things are interrelated” (“Alles hängt mit allem zusammen”) – has also become her academic motto.

Alice Werner; English translation by Gena Olson