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Asymmetries of Knowledge

15.04.2019 - 16.04.2019


International workshop organised by the projects C08 “Teaching Early Modern Routines of Everyday Communication within Contexts of Linguistic Diversity” (Head: Prof. Dr. Horst Simon) and C09 “Knowledge Transfer in the Context of Differentiation and Institutionalization in 16th and 17th-century Korea” (Head: Prof. Dr. Eun-Jeung Lee)

Knowledge asymmetries can exist on a qualitative as well as on a quantitative level. Qualitative knowledge asymmetries can rather be described as differences in knowledge – as, for example, an early modern cloth merchant relies on a different kind of knowledge than a well-trainedgrammatical scholar. This workshop focuses on quantitative knowledge asymmetries, in which a substantialquantitativedifference in knowledgethat has the same claim to validityexists. In other words, knowledge is spread unevenly within the same field.

If such a knowledge asymmetry attains an objectively quantifiable status, the need to overcome the asymmetry through a range of diverse methods and processes can arise. Oneexample isthe didactical aspect of a knowledge asymmetry between a language instructor and students in the context of early modern foreign language study. This leads to another aspect – the legitimization and delegitimization of knowledge asymmetries: Different configurations and factors exist that can be usedto justify the preservation of aknowledge asymmetry. This is especially connected to the relationship of power and knowledge. Endeavoursto concealexistingknowledge asymmetriescan also often be observed. During the rituals of some Confucian academies in East Asia, for example, the most important positions are not given to the highest officials who have proved their knowledge of the Confucian teaching through their success in the civil service examinations. Instead, they are awarded by seniority to respected elders. On the other hand, the authority of women with a quantifiable higher amount of knowledge in a certain field is often not acknowledged or is even devaluated.

The objective of the workshop is to survey knowledge asymmetries and their manifestations within different contexts and from diverse angles as well as to document the process of their emergence, legitimizationand dissolution. Knowledge asymmetries are not only to be viewed from a pedagogical perspective, but also with explicit references to other factors, such as social correlatives (age, power, money, etc.). Special focus is placed on different theoretical and/or comparative approaches to ‘cultural specific’ (East – West) or ‘historiographical’ (historical – modern) aspects. The interdisciplinary orientation of the workshop invites multifaceted treatments of the topic of knowledge asymmetries from all perspectives.


 Monday April 15, 2019



Horst Simon, Eun-Jeung Lee (FU Berlin)


Didactics – Transfers – Asymmetries. The illustrated broadsheet and the depiction of knowledge(s) in early modern times

Kerstin te Heesen (University of Luxembourg)





Asymmetries in Han Fei’s Art of Persuasion

Scott Cook (Yale-NUS)


Smuggling Histories: Asymmetry in historical knowledge between Traditional China and Korea

Song Jaeyoon (McMaster University)





Knowledge, Public Enlightenment and the Justification of Asymmetries – Johann Georg Schlossers Katechismus der Sittenlehre

Sebastian Engelmann (University of Tübingen)


Uterus, speak! Clash of Gender Knowledge Asymmetries between Cooperation and Competition

Patricia Gwozdz (University of Potsdam)




Tuesday, April 16, 2019


Absolutist monarch as technology expert: Knowledge asymmetries in the late 17th-century Russia

Oleg Rusakovskiy (Higher School of Economics,  Moscow)


Power as Knowledge and Resistance to It: Taoism as Alternative Temporality in Chinese Culture

Hsien-hao Liao
(National Taiwan University/
Gent University)





Asymmetry of Knowledge in Responsa

Nicola Kramp-Seidel
(University of Münster)


Asymmetry and Deaf Education: A Historical Perspective

Josef Fulka
(Charles University Prague)





Concluding Discussion


Horst Simon, Eun-Jeung Lee
(FU Berlin)





Zeit & Ort

15.04.2019 - 16.04.2019

Sitzungsraum, SFB-Villa, Schwendenerstraße 8, 14195 Berlin

Weitere Informationen

Contact: julia.huebner@fu-berlin.de