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Mobility and Hospitality in Monastic Networks (German-Croatian DAAD-CIH-Partnership)

Project Managers: Cristina Andenna, Jadranka Neralić (Croatian Institute of History, Department of Medieval History, Zagreb), Gert Melville

Project coordination: Katrin Rösler

Two important elements of monastic culture are at the core of this proposed binational collaborative project: mobility and the closely related cultural principle of hospitality. Although they have been essential ingredients of the vita religiosa since the very beginnings of monastic culture in Late Antiquity, scholarship has not yet paid adequate attention to the conditions under which mobility and hospitality were able to be realised, to how they functioned, and to their broader impact.

The guiding thesis of this research proposal is that it was exactly mobility which constituted both a principle and a precondition for communication and the formation of networks between monastic communities throughout the European continent. From the point of view of cultural history, monasteries and monastic networks can be understood as the nucleus out of which a trans-European identity was formed, long before Europe was conceived in terms of a political entity.

Monastic orders were typically transnational organisations. To their members this offered a unique possibility to move across the European continent and even to move beyond it. But more than just in the transnational character of these communities, the mobility of their members was grounded in their homelessness within the earthly world.

Unlike most of the population, a monk who called nothing in this world his own could readily move, or – though bound by vow to a specific place – transfer his way of life and spiritual ideas anywhere. A basic prerequisite for this kind of mobility was the intercultural principle of guest reception. A traveller within the monastic network was at once both guest and foreigner. It was thus necessary to create the material prerequisites and concrete conditions to receive guests and offer shelter and lodging and, at another level, to establish rules that regulate interrelations and interactions with the monastic community. Against this transcultural and trans-European background of the research topic, a transboundary European effort within the framework of a German-Croatian partnership seems only logical.

The workshops planned are:

A) Systems, ways, and means of mobility; Zagreb, 13 June 2016 (Programme)

B) Perceptions of the "other": guests and foreigners

C) Accepting and receiving guests and foreigners

D) Impacts, influences, and consequences for monastic networks and for "European" society

Project duration: January 2016 to Decembre 2017

Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Gert Melville

Academic Manager and Research Coordinator:
Priv.-Doz. Dr. Cristina Andenna

Technische Universität
D - 01062 Dresden
Email: fovog-dresden(at)

Tel: +49 (0) 351 4793 4180
Fax: +49 (0) 351 4793 4189

The FOVOG is a centrally incorporated institute of the Technical University of Dresden
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