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Lydia Haustein New Head of Literature and Humanities at the House of World Cultures

Starting 1 February 2005, Lydia Haustein will head the Department of Literature and Humanities at the House of World Cultures. During the past few years, the acknowledged historian has been working in the fields of media theory, art, and art history in the age of globalisation as lecturer and professor at Göttingen, Berlin and Karlsruhe. Her work has taken her on extended research trips to Asia, Latin America and Africa, where she has also accepted guest lectureships.

Lydia Haustein, who currently has an honorary professorship at the Kunsthochschule Berlin Weissensee, has already worked for the House of World Cultures as an author, speaker and project consultant. In May 2004, she directed the Global Icons conference within the framework of the international research project “Global Icons – the Role of Images in the 'Production' of Cultural Identities in the Media”. Lydia Haustein initiated this project, which was supported by the Volkswagenstiftung.

What interests her most about her new position is the social significance of the transcultural work done by the House of World Cultures, pointing out that “Catchphrases such as ‘the clash of civilisations’, ‘integration and emergence of parallel societies’ and ‘religious fundamentalism’ drastically oversimplify crucial cultural and political issues. The – sometimes unscrupulous – instrumentalisation of images for political and economic purposes is nowhere more clearly analysed than in the areas of art and culture.” The House of World Cultures, she adds, has been working on a more differentiated model of culture for several years now – experimenting with contemporary positions and putting them to the test. Lydia Haustein considers it a privilege to be able to take up these questions because “it is a great challenge to understand the Other without monopolising that Other.”

In assuming this position, Lydia Haustein will be replacing Peter C. Seel, who has served since September 1999 as Head of Literature and Humanities and Deputy Director of the House of the World Cultures.