Kant, a Cosmopolitan in Königsberg: Idea for a local history with a Cosmopolitan Aim Abstract: This project provides a historical contextualist analysis of the relationship between Immanuel Kant’s theory of cosmopolitan law and his lectures on Physical Geography. The reformulation of Kant’s theory of cosmopolitan law into our present context has perhaps proved to be one of the most influential normative frameworks for analysing and evaluating the state of our globalized society. However, recent critics have suggested that the global order, proposed by Kant, does not simply rest on universal values but is rather historically rooted in a European centre with an imperialistic agenda. This criticism largely hinges on a reintroduction of Kant’s lectures on Physical Geography and Pragmatic Anthropology as the proper historical context for understanding Kant’s cosmopolitan right. The question, however, is how to understand this context. The objective of this project is to situate Kant’s lectures within the academic culture of his University in Königsberg. I propose to see the lectures as an active engagement with the inclusion of Königsberg into world society, and hence as a way of problematizing the process of globalization. This means that the lectures should not, as critics have suggested, be interpreted as the basis of Kant’s cosmopolitan law but rather the other way around: his theory of cosmopolitan law should be seen as critical answers given to questions identified and raised in the lectures. Despite the growing interest in these lectures there is still no comprehensive historical study of Kant’s lectures on geography and its role in his political philosophy. The ultimate aim of this project is to deliver such a study.
The chemical transformation of dinitrogen is one of the most important industrial processes. Thereby produced ammonia serves as nitrogen source for almost any synthetic nitrogen containing compound, such as fertilizers or many polymers and pharmaceuticals. However, despite forcing conditions associated with high energy consumption, the Haber-Bosch process gives low yields in NH3. Hence, homogeneous, bioinspired nitrogen fixation is a longstanding goal, yet with very limited success. In this proposal, we strive to circumvent the Haber-Bosch process for the synthesis of N-containing chemicals by direct N2 functionalization upon initial splitting into molecular nitrides at ambient conditions and subsequent C–N bond formation. Catalytic platforms will be developed based on late, electron rich transition metal complexes with functional pincer ligands, which represents a fundamentally new approach for this purpose. The overall N2 functionalization effort will be broken down into three elementary steps, i.e. N2 splitting, de-/hydrogenation of metal bound N-species, and C–N bond formation. These subprojects are examined individually with a combination of modern synthetic, physical inorganic, and computational methods. These results will finally enable the rational design of homogeneous catalysts. Hence, besides the primary goal to directly use N2 as chemical feedstock this project will also serve the secondary objectives of making important contributions to related timely and challenging topics, such as C–N coupling by nitrenoid transfer or the use of nitrogen compounds, especially ammonia, as chemical fuels in energy storage applications. The previous record of my group in the chemistry of electron-rich transition metal complexes with functional pincer ligands, N2 splitting/coupling, and the activation of other N-containing small-molecules provide a strong basis for the feasibility of these challenging goals.
How do putatively universalistic norms with global reach relate to politics of diversity and pluralism within national societies? By assessing the legal regulation of marriage and the family, ‘Marriage and Cultural Diversity in the German Empire’ (MARDIV) will advance significantly our understanding of the global diffusion of legal and social norms. The tension between global norms and cultural specificity has come to a head during the first decade of the 21st century. Not only has the presence of Muslim immigrants raised the profile of debates over the diversity of personal status law throughout Europe. The legalisation of same-sex marriage in many European countries has also pointed to a seachange in public views about the family and the role of the state in preserving it. How do legal transplants operate in family law? Can we discern particular patterns of diffusion in specific historical circumstances? And, how do 19th- and early 20th-century developments in family law remain relevant today? MARDIV addresses these questions by scrutinizing the historical roots of recent debates. 19th- and early 20th-century Germany offers a particularly relevant case study because it was a laboratory of both modernity and cultural diversity in which questions of global reach, national identity, regional particularity and local traditions came into especially sharp relief. MARDIV suggests that an understanding of Germany’s past experiences can enable us to better analyse Europe’s present. To this end, the project employs an innovative interdisciplinary methodology linking history and sociology and a novel theoretical framework. The main empirical aims are twofold: to shed light on the historical roots of contemporary European debates about the family, and to reflect on broader processes of the global diffusion of legal and social norms. The primary aim is the PI’s advanced training in historical sociology and project management so she can reach a position of research leadership.