29 July 2022

Humbolt Residency Programme

Humboldt Residency Programme 

Humboldt Residency Programme

Illustration of crowd protesting for human rights with blank signs and flag

The numerous challenges facing us today – such as climate change, the emergence of zoonoses and the current COVID-19 pandemic – clearly demonstrate that the benefits to society as well as the visibility of scientifically generated knowledge partly depend on sharing ideas with other sectors of society.

Headed by annually changing hosts, the Humboldt Residency Programme seeks to bring together Humboldtians and other researchers with actors in civil society, journalists, entrepreneurs and artists to work on a common topic during the residency.

In the form of media formats, events and publications, this programme aims to generate tangible new impetus in academia, society and politics. The programme reinforces innovation by transdisciplinary cooperation beyond the boundaries of science.


Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (Berlin Office)

Humboldt Residency Programme

Markgrafenstr. 37

10117 Berlin



Humboldt Residency Programme 2022

Creative Lead of the Cohort: Cynthia Miller-Idriss // Alumni*ae of the Humboldt Foundation: Julia Elad-Strenger, Cristóbal Rovira Kaltwasser, Richard Mole, Mala Pandurang, Christa Rautenbach // Junior Researchers: Meili K. Criezis, Pasha Dashtgard, Nikola Karasová, Lea Kuhar, Alexander Stagnell // Civil Society Actors: Ronen Steinke, Angela Saini, Gayatri Parameswaran, Amina Atiq

Cohort 2022 (PDF, 2 MB): Humboldt-Residency-Programme_Cohort

Social cohesion

What is it that holds the world together? If we follow current developments around the globe, this question seems more urgent than ever. The rise in populist and authoritarian activity, increasing polarisation in the media, hate speech, right-wing radicalism and religious conflicts are eroding democratic life and social cohesion. At the same time, science, art and politics bear a special responsibility for explaining anti-democratic structures and connecting knowledge for the benefit of the community as a whole.

The Humboldt Residency Programme is designed not only to sound out current trends in social division but also new forms of (digital) communitarisation in its academic contexts and, at the same time, to address them in a creative and communicative fashion. By launching the Humboldt Residency Programme in spring 2022, the Humboldt Foundation is sending a signal on behalf of communality and cross-disciplinary collaborations both on the level of content and structure.


Creative Lead of the Cohort:

  • Prof. Dr. Cynthia Miller-Idriss, American University, Washington D.C.

Alumni of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation:

  • Dr. Julia Elad-Strenger, Bar Ilan University, Tel Aviv
  • Prof. Dr. Cristóbal Rovira Kaltwasser, Diego Portales University, Santiago de Chile
  • Prof. Dr. Richard Mole, UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES), London
  • Prof. Dr. Mala Pandurang, Dr. BMN College, Mumbai
  • Prof. Dr. Christa Rautenbach, North-West University, Potchefstroom

Junior Researchers:

  • Meili K. Criezis, American University, Washington D.C.
  • Pasha Dashtgard, University of California-Irvine
  • Dr. Nikola Karasová, Czech Academy of Sciences
  • Dr. Lea Kuhar, Scientific Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts Ljubljana
  • Dr. Alexander Stagnell, Södertörn University, Huddinge
Journalists, Authors, Artists:
  • Dr. Ronen Steinke, Germany
  • Angela Saini, USA/UK
  • Gayatri Parameswaran, India/Germany
  • Amina Atiq, Yemen/UK

Humboldt Residency Diary

Every week, the participants of the Humboldt Residency Programme report on their personal highlights of living and working as an international and interdisciplinary team in Berlin.

23rd International Roundtables for the Semiotics of Law - Global Semiotics and Everyday Legal Claims Intercultural Use of Law, Interreligious Dialogue and Translation Ethics



23rd International Roundtables for the Semiotics of Law – IRSL 2023 

24-27 May 2023 – Roma (Italy) 

Organizer: Mario Ricca Hosted by Pontificia Università Antonianum 

Via Merulana, 124 – Roma 

Auditorium Antonianum, Viale Manzoni, 1 – Roma 


IRSL President: Anne Wagner 

Global Semiotics and Everyday Legal Claims

Intercultural Use of Law, Interreligious Dialogue and Translation Ethics 

Postponement notice due to COVID-19 

In view of the prolonged effects of the pandemic, we have decided for security reasons to postpone the 23rd IRSL initially planned for May 27-29, 2021 to the new date of May 24-27, 2023, so as to be able to host all participants in Rome and make possible face-to-face encounters. We will take advantage of the postponement to enrich the call by adding a number of sub-calls. We also strongly encourage the submission of workshop proposals. Our aim is to organize a series of webinars in May 2023 featuring the presentation of papers that we hope will pave the way for a genuine interdisciplinary dialogue among participants from different research areas and disciplines during the conference. To achieve this hybrid and diachronic conference plan, we will set up a web page with links to the sub-calls and the webinars to be organized. 


The relationship between legal rules and the spaces where they become effective is gradually morphing. This change is precipitated by semantic or cognitive—rather than exclusively political— circumstances. The meaning of legal rules is continually challenged by the transformation of their spatial projections and their cultural coordinates. Law can no longer assume that discrete spatial circuits and particular cultural backgrounds coincide. Conversely, each territorial frame, sometimes even those that are most distant from metropolitan areas, can function (at least potentially) as a hub of innumerous threads of actions and interests. All these connections impinge on the significance of legal rules and, especially, the prognosis for their effectiveness. The daily life of law is affected by this spatial-semantic turmoil. 

The present law’s dynamic involves the conflation of different spatial and semantic frames merging reciprocal ‘elsewheres’ and giving social phenomena and the consequences of their legal regulation a kind of ubiquity—at least in potential terms. This means that the understanding of what is ‘here’ and ‘now’ should be unmoored from any reification or thinghood attached to empirical events, objects, situations, etc. On the contrary, to grasp the ‘real’ phenomenality of events/objects/situations, namely what they are, and the consequences of the application of one legal rule rather than another, each of these should be considered as a sign. A semiotic gaze allows for the remolding of the meaningful connections underlying what we call ‘things’ and ‘events’ so that they might be readjusted to align with the new scale of spatial implications between the multi-sited and worldwide determinants of what happens and is evaluated in each ‘here.’ The interpenetrations between multiple ‘elsewheres’ call for a global semiotic understanding that makes the legal interpreter (and even the lawmakers) cognizant of the semantic and spatial web underlying any ‘fact’ to be ruled. The ability to grasp the threads of meaning comprising what is perceived as a ‘fact’ is also a prerequisite to envisaging the consequences of the application of each legal rule as well as the legitimacy of such application with regard to its axiological and teleological prerequisites. 

All this implies an effort to translate the ‘other’ spaces of experience implied in the understanding of the ‘present facts’ to be ruled, followed by an intercultural translation between the different circuits of experience this understanding involves. Furthermore, insofar as culture enshrines the anthropological and historical projections of religious horizons of meaning, any attempt to give course to intercultural translations implies and intersects with the promotion of interreligious dialogue. The anthropological schemas rooted in religious imageries, on the other hand, mold even the secularized spaces of experiences and the related categorical schemas that people use to define them. Spatial and semantic Otherness, from this point of view, is therefore to be translated as an ingredient already involved in the production of the present and daily experience of people. In this sense and beyond any identitarian reification of culture, the ability to realize the semantic and pragmatic closeness of what is physically remote can be consistently enhanced by engaging with experiential elements as signs able to be reconfigured/aggregated in new categorical frames.

The aim of the conference is to bring together semioticians, anthropologists, geographers, law theorists and legal practitioners (experts in civil law, business law, family law, international law, legal anthropology, etc.) to show how the semiotic approach can function as a powerful support to face the present challenges of legal experience and transform legal practices into an outpost for an emancipatory and “bottom-up” intercultural use of law. 

In line with the above, multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary proposals will be welcomed in the hope that they can help trigger a transdisciplinary collaboration aimed to give legal practitioners new instruments to attune people’s experience with their renewed understanding of the real spatial/semantic coordinates shaping their lived environments. 

Contributions are requested for—but not limited to—the following topics: 

- Local actions, global meanings: the spatial threads and legal relevance of facts. 

- The embodiment of language and the worldwide spatialities of human rights. 

- Language and Spaces in Global and Contextualised Human Rights Discourse. 

- Justice for work: intercultural communications and the semiotics of worldwide economics. 

- Legal assistance and the ubiquitous omnipresent: the connections of the legal subject. 

- The facticity/normativity divide when faced with intercultural dynamics: critical and renewing approaches. 

- Beyond the Anthropocene: the legal semiotics of ecological sustainability and human subjectivity. 

- Translating multi-dimensional/multi-sited ordinary life experiences and the intercultural semiotics of rights. 

- Legal practitioners (lawyers, notaries, accountants) and the intercultural use of law. 

- Against exotic legality: cultural difference as cognitive diffraction in daily legal experience. 

- Secularization and religion: is the secularization of law a limit to the understanding of the interpenetration between religion and cultures? 

- Secularization and religion: is it possible to envisage a legal intercultural secularization as a remedy to the cognitive/cultural defectiveness of the idea of the political ‘neutrality’ of institutions? 

- Interreligious dialogue and semiosic translation as an anthropological means of molding an intercultural legal lexicon. 

- The intercultural use of law and semiosic translation/transaction beyond the multiculturalism/interculturalism divide. 

- Global healthcare programs, cultural behavioral patterns and intercultural schemes of body/environment relationships. Is it possible to avert, or monitor in a timely way, future global pandemics? 

Abstracts of 300 words (max.) should be submitted by January 6, 2023 to both Mario Ricca (Organizer: mario.ricca@icloud.com) and Anne Wagner (valwagnerfr@yahoo.com) with decisions made by January 20, 2023

The proposals regarding sub-calls, workshops and webinars can be submitted from now on. 

Selected papers will be invited for publication in a Special issue of the International Journal for the Semiotics of Law (Springer: https://www.springer.com/journal/11196) and/or for inclusion in an edited volume of the Law Book Series (Law and Visual Jurisprudence – Springer: https://www.springer.com/series/16413). 

Respecting the tradition, the roundtable languages will be English and French.

Organizational Committee: Mario Ricca, Anne Wagner, Lluis Oviedo, Peter Petkoff, Paolo di Lucia, Paolo Heritier, Alessandro Saggioro, Giancarlo Anello, Silvia Zorzetto, Giuditta Bassani, Riccardo Bertolotti, Kay Lalor, Jenny Ponzo, Melisa Vazquez.