Collaborative Research Centre 600 “Foreignness and Poverty

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The Collaborative Research Centre (SFB) 600 “Strangeness and Poverty. Changes in Forms of Inclusion and Exclusion from Antiquity to the Present” was a Collaborative Research Centre at the University of Trier. The research network was designed to run for ten years (2002 to 2012) and examined from an interdisciplinary perspective how different societies encounter strangers and the poor. In addition to the subject of history, German studies, art history, media studies, political science, legal history, sociology, ethnology and Catholic theology participated.


The research association, which was part of the Forschungszentrum Europa (FZE), began its work on 1 January 2002. The spokesperson of the SFB 600 was Andreas Gestrich until the end of 2004. The inspection for the 2nd funding period, in which the office of spokesperson passed to Lutz Raphael, took place in October 2004. The third funding period (2009-2012) was approved by the DFG in November 2008 and funded with 9.2 million euros.[1] Herbert Uerlings took over the function of spokesperson in 2009. With a poverty exhibition and a didactic DVD production for school lessons, the SFB realised two major public relations projects. Another novelty in the third phase was the IT service project “Research Network and Database System (FuD)”, which maps the entire research process and thus simplifies cooperation within the project network. FuD is one of the first software solutions of its kind in the humanities. To support and promote younger researchers, the SFB 600 had an integrated Research Training Group.

Research programme

The research interest started from the question of which forms of dealing with strangers and the poor were formed in societies of different types from antiquity to the present. The analysis of the changes in forms of inclusion and exclusion was intended to lay the foundations for a social and cultural historical description of European and Mediterranean societies that focuses in particular on the problems associated with the organization of social solidarity and its limitation. The broad temporal and spatial horizon was intended to expose commonalities and differences as well as ruptures and continuities. At the center of the theoretical perspective was the concept of inclusion/exclusion: it refers to those social processes that mark the boundaries of belonging and participation. The studies on the ambivalent forms of “inclusive exclusion” and “exclusionary inclusion” are particularly useful in this context.[2]
An attempt was made to operationalize the originally sociological concept of inclusion/exclusion as a theory of cultural studies. For this purpose, system-theoretical, but also deviance- and inequality-theoretical approaches were consulted and discussed towards a cultural-scientific synthesis.[3]

Project areas

The research network was divided into four project areas

Project Area A: Foreignness

In the joint work of the project area, fundamental patterns of inclusion and exclusion have been explored in the perspective of long duration, which have shaped the definition, evaluation, and concretely the status of foreignness since antiquity

Project area B: Poverty and poor relief

In the field of historical and social science research on poverty, the SFB 600 investigated the continuity and change of the Christian-Jewish pattern of interpretation of poverty since late antiquity, the practices and organizational forms of poverty relief and poverty policy, as well as religious, philosophical, and political ways of speaking about poverty

Project Area C: Collective Representations and the Historical Semantics of Poverty and Foreignness

This project area dealt with representations or semantics that produced or accompanied the inclusion or exclusion of strangers and the poor. It was primarily concerned with the questions of what role traditional images, texts and ideas play in the dynamics of social relations, what functions different media assume and to what extent inclusion/exclusion of the poor and foreigners is inscribed in the sign systems of these media. In addition, the political dimension of making the interests of foreigners and the poor visible in the media and representing them institutionally was investigated

Knowledge transfer to the public

The SFB 600 presented selected research results to the general public. In addition to radio contributions and articles in print media, this was done by means of formats such as the campaign ‘Geistesblitze’ (2007)[4]the cultural summer of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate (‘Straße der Wissenschaft’, 2005), productions with Laterna Magica, contributions to the Children’s University, events for teacher training and participation in regional science fairs such as the ‘Science Night’ in Trier. In the third funding period (2009-2012), two major projects were realized: an exhibition on the topic of “Poverty – Perspectives in Art and Society” and the production of a didactic DVD for school lessons on the topic “Egypt in Antiquity. One Population – Many Cultures”.


From 10 April to 31 July 2011, the Stadtmuseum Simeonstift and the Rheinisches Landesmuseum Trier presented the special exhibition “Poverty – Perspectives in Art and Society”, conceived by the SFB 600.[5] On the basis of 250 exhibits, including works by Jörg Immendorff, Käthe Kollwitz, Picasso and Rembrandt, the exhibition showed how art has dealt with the topic and was and is itself part of the debates about belonging and exclusion of the weak. The exhibition thus offered an overview of 2500 years of poverty history in Europe, albeit not chronologically, but transversely from different perspectives: documentary, appellative, idealizing, stigmatizing, and reformist/revolutionary. In a reduced form, the exhibition was on view from September to November 2011 at the Museum der Brotkultur in Ulm. Speakers at the opening in Trier included the President of the DFG, Matthias Kleiner, and at the opening in Ulm the patron, Federal Minister of Education Annette Schavan. The exhibition in Trier attracted around 60,000 visitors.[6] For schools, the SFB 600 designed a didactic booklet with accompanying material for teachers in the subjects of history, social studies, German, religion, ethics and art.[7]
The exhibition found an echo in the regional and national feuilleton (e.g. Trierischer Volksfreund[8], Süddeutsche Zeitung[9], Die Zeit[10]) as well as on radio and television (e.g. Deutschlandfunk[11], WDR 3[12], SWR2[13]SR[14]). Also in the neighbouring countries France[15]Luxembourg[16] and Belgium[17] were reported. The accompanying volume “Armut – Perspektiven in Kunst und Gesellschaft” (Poverty – Perspectives in Art and Society), edited by Herbert Uerlings, Nina Trauth and Lukas Clemens (Primus, Trier 2011), sold around 1,600 copies by the end of the exhibition. The Süddeutsche Zeitung spoke of a “milestone in poverty research”,[9] werkstattGeschichte praised the “well-founded, comprehensive and differentiated presentation of the topic of poverty”.[18]

Didactic DVD

Within the framework of the sub-project Ö 2 “Hellenes and Romans, Jews and Egyptians in the multicultural society of Egypt in antiquity”, a didactic DVD for school lessons was produced in cooperation with the Institute for Film and Image in Science and Education (FWU) and the Multimedia Kontor Hamburg. The 23 film clips and three picture galleries provide insights into the history and society of Egypt in the course of time through original recordings, charts and expert interviews

IT infrastructure for the humanities

To network research materials and results, the SFB 600 developed the Internet-based “Research Network and Database System (FuD)” as part of the IT service project INF in conjunction with the Competence Center for Electronic Cataloguing and Publication Methods in the Humanities. The integrated work, publication and information platform is used by various projects at academies, universities and research institutes and can claim to be a model for the historical sciences.[19]

Publication of results

Central results of the research work are published in the series supervised by the publishing house Peter Lang “Inklusion/Exklusion. Studies on Foreignness and Poverty from Antiquity to the Present”, published by Peter Lang[20]. In addition, numerous other publications appear in other publishing houses. A complete research bibliography can be found on the publication platform of the SFB 600.[21]

Web links

Individual references

  1. Science Information Service.
  2. Lecture by Franz-Xaver Kaufmann: “What can welfare state theory learn from Collaborative Research Centre 600?” on the occasion of the opening of the third funding period on 23 April 2009(online, last accessed 2 April 2012).
  3. Description of the working group(Memento of the Originals march 5, 2012 on the Internet Archive) Info:The archive linkwas automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check original and archive link according to instructions and then remove this note.@1@2Template:Webachiv/IABot/, last accessed March 30, 2012.
  4. Geistesblitze project page, retrieved 29 March 2012.
  5. Homepage of the exhibition, report in the Unijournal of the University of Trier, PDF, retrieved on 30 March 2012.
  6. Article in Trierischer Volksfreund, last accessed 2 April 2012.
  7. Didactic materials(Memento of 13 December 2014 in the Internet Archive), retrieved 29 March 2012.
  8. Dieter Lintz: A mix of art, science and politics. In: Trierischer Volksfreund, 8 April 2011(online), retrieved 29 March 2012.
  9. a b Rudolf Neumaier: Citizen, peasant, beggar. In:, 8 June 2011(online), retrieved 29 March 2012.
  10. Susanne Mayer: History of Poverty. Das Stigma der Not – An impressive exhibition in Trier shows the history of the poor. In: Zeit Online, 20 April 2011(online), retrieved 29 March 2012.
  11. Deutschlandfunk, Deutschlandradio Kultur. Studio Time – From Culture and the Social Sciences. “The many faces of poverty”. An exhibition of the Collaborative Research Centre “Strangeness and Poverty” in Trier. Broadcast by Peter Leusch, 14 April 2011(online), retrieved 29 March 2012
  12. WDR 3 Resonanzen, 19 April 2012 (@1@2Template:Dead link/ no longer available, search web archives: online) ), retrieved 10 April 2012
  13. Journal In the Evening. Exhibition “Poverty” in Trier – How do we deal with the weak? Report by Marion Dilg, broadcast of 8 April 2011 by Tatjana Wagner(online), retrieved 29 March 2012.
  14. SR Fernsehen, Kulturspiegel, 13 April 2011 (@1@2Template:Dead link/ no longer available, search web archives: online) ), retrieved 10 April 2012.
  15. Emmanuel Bouard: Actu Decalee Art Et Pauvrete. In: France 3, broadcast on 14 June 2011.
  16. Marcus Stölb: Enriching perspectives. In: Letzebuerger Journal, 23 April 2011(online(memento of 12 September 2012 in web archive archive .today)), retrieved 18 April 2012.
  17. Large poverty exhibition on poverty in Trier. In: Belgischer Rundfunk, 8 April 2011(online), retrieved 18 April 2012.
  18. Franz Zimmer: Expo critique “Poverty – Perspectives in Art and Society”. In: WerkstattGeschichte. Vol. 58, 2012, Issue 3, p. 99.
  19. “The Trier FuD system can be seen as a model for a local research environment, providing collaborative services for the complete Humanities research process: data collection and analysis; preparation of publications; and publishing and archiving.” European Science Foundation (2011): Science Policy Briefing. Research Infrastructures in the Digital Humanities, p. 20 (@1@2Template:Dead link/ no longer available, search web archives: research_areas/HUM/Strategic_activities/RIs_in_the_Humanities/SPB42_44p-5oct_FINAL.pdf online, PDF) , as of 11 January 2012).
  20. Publisher’s website(Memento of 10 December 2014 in the Internet Archive), retrieved 3 April 2012.
  21. Publication platform(Memento of Originals april 27, 2012 on the Internet Archive) Info:The archive linkwas automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check original and archive link according to instructions and then remove this notice.@1@2Template:Webachiv/IABot/