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The SALON is a new event format at the Cologne International Forum. It is designed as a get-together event on international research topics, bringing together international and local researchers, students and interested members of the general public.

The SALON takes place at the International House of the University of Cologne, in formats ranging from lectures to book presentations or film screenings.

Program Summer Semester 2024






  • LECTURE: The Power of Words - The Writer's Association in Iranian Politics // Siavush Randjbar-Daemi
    — Friday | July 5, 2024 | 6 p.m.

Venue & Registration

All events take place at the International House - Kringsweg 6, 50931 Köln – The venue is wheelchair accessible

Please register!

Nira Liberman
»Can Poor Access to Internal States Explain Obsessive-Compulsive Tendencies?«

13 June, 2024 — 6 p.m.

Nira Libermann

Some people easily know what they feel, what they like and what they want. Others, however, find it difficult to access such internal states. Together with Nira Libermann we will look at obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) as an example of this difficulty. Instead of reflecting on their inner emotions, people with OCD rely on external signs that are easier to recognize, such as strict rules or repetitive behaviorisms. Studies have shown that people with OCD often misinterpret signals from their bodies, struggle to understand their emotions, and have a distorted sense of control over their actions. This approach helps us to discuss and understand why people with OCD often have compulsive habits, persistent worries, and doubts. 

Mert Kocak
»Constructing the Deserving Refugee: EU Financial Aid to Turkey and Refugee Governance «

27 June, 2024 — 6 p.m.

Mert Kocak

During his multi-sited fieldwork with LGBTI+ asylum seekers and refugees, and the local and transnational organizations in Turkey, Mert Kocak made a consistently recurring observation: asylum seekers and refugees gain access to certain rights not because they are entitled to them under national and international laws, but because bureaucratic bodies deem them deserving of these rights.

In this talk, we will seek to answer the following questions: What constitutes the discourse of deserving asylum seekers and refugees? What local and transnational actors play a role in constructing this discourse? How does the 2016 EU-Turkey Agreement influence it? And finally, how does deservingness affect the daily lives of refugees and asylum seekers?

Past Events

Dan Smyer Yü & Franz Krause & Kate Rigby:
»Human Kinship with Nature in the Tibetan Plateau«

Rescheduled to May 14, 2024 — 6 p.m.

Ensouling the Mountain, directed by Dan Smyer Yü, chronicles a pilgrimage to Mt. Amne Machen (Amne Machin) in Qinghai Province, China, a sacred site for Tibetan communities. The film explores how the mountain embodies concepts of home, belonging, and the harmonization of nature. Pilgrims reflect on the significance of Amne Machen as a repository of collective memories, discussing themes of place-making and spirituality.

Dan Smyer Yü, an environmental anthropologist and scholar of religion and ecology, presents powerful insights into the cultural consciousness surrounding the mountain. His work delves into the intersection of landscape, memory, and sustainability, offering a profound understanding of humanity's relationship with the environment.

Simon Becker & Su Myat Thwe & Javier Revilla Diez:
»Insights into Myanmar’s Conflict-Induced Displacement and Livelihoods Situations of Post-Coup Displaced Communities in Mae Sot«

23 April, 2024 — 6 p.m.

Mural of the Myanmar-Thailand Region at the 'Help Without Frontiers Thailand Foundation' in Mae Sot Photo: Michaela Pelican

Since the 1948 declaration of independence, Myanmar has grappled with civil unrest, notably seen in the 2017 Rohingya exodus. The situation worsened after the 2021 coup, leading to increased violence and human rights violations, displacing approximately 2.4 million people by February 19, 2024.

This lecture will cover the current political climate in Myanmar, challenges faced by displaced individuals in Mae Sot, and their integration into the Thai labor market amidst demographic and economic constraints.

Presenters Su Myat Thwe and Simon Becker, members of the International Research Cluster “Conflict-Induced Displacement and Socio-Economic Resilience”, will share findings from their MA theses conducted at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, and the University of Cologne. The presentation will be followed by a moderated discussion and Q&A session.

Winter Semester 2023/24

Katajun Amirpur:
Women, Life, Freedom. What’s This All About?

23 January, 2024 at 6 p.m.

At our last SALON event for the winter semester of 2023/24, Prof. Katajun Amirpur will enrich our series with an insight into the struggle of the Iranian society. Prof. Amirpur will present her book “Iran without Islam – The Uprising against the theocracy” published in march 2023.

Women burn their hijabs, Mullahs have their turbans torn off their heads. Katajun Amirpur places the uprising against the theocracy, which has been underway since September 2022, into the context of a development that has so far barely been noticed by the West: not only the Iranian society is increasingly turning away from Islam, but also the regime itself. National greatness even publicly takes precedence over the Quran. It is not the Mullahs who rule, but the police and military forces. This stirring book allows us to see Iran with different eyes.

Katajun Amirpur has been Professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Cologne since 2018. She previously taught at the Universities of Hamburg and Zurich. Her research focuses on Shiite Islam, Iranian intellectual history, reform thinking in Islam and the theory and practice of gender movements. 

Alice A. Salamena & Stephan Michael Schröder:
Fan Mail to Danish Film Stars in the 1910s

December 6, 2023 at 6 p.m.

During the 1910s, the film fan came into being. But all we know about the establishment and formation of early film fan practices we know from heavily biased third-party accounts such as press articles, portrayals in literature and film or later memoirs of film stars. However, several newly discovered collections of fan mail to Danish film stars, totalling up to about 2,900 letters, not only makes it possible for the first time ever on a worldwide scale to reconstruct the agency and practices of early film fans and their sociological, cultural, gender and age diversity. At the same time, the difference to the media representation of ›the‹ fan and his/her fandom provides insights into the functionalization of the discourse on fans and fandom in the respective cultural, social and media-historical context.


Meltem Gürle: Resistance, Repetition, Retreat: Turkey and the Bildungsroman


We are happy to announce that Meltem Gürle will talk to us about the Turkish Bildungsroman on November 24, 2023 at 6 p.m.

Meltem Gürle is a comparative literature scholar whose focus is on the genre of the Bildungsroman, with a particular interest in the relationship of post-1950 twentieth-century Turkish literature to the modernist masterpieces of the West in the volatile context of recent Turkish political history. She was a Fritz Thyssen-Fellow at the University of Cologne until September and is presently working on her book, The Turkish Bildungsroman, in which she considers the Turkish influence on the development of the genre.

In this talk we look closely at the dialectical process involved in the formation of subjectivity within the Turkish Bildungsroman. The focus of this analysis centers on themes of stagnation, stasis, and trauma, which diverges notably from the conventional interpretation of the Bildungsroman genre as a narrative of reconciliation. Instead of focusing on the reconciliation of the individual with the society—the ultimate goal of the conventional Bildungsroman— our approach shifts its focus to the challenges encountered in the journey, which eventually evolve into patterns of resistance, repetition, and retreat.

Gagaku - Traditional Japanese Music 

Kölner Gagaku Ensemble — Monday, 6 November 2023, 6.30 p.m.

Gagaku, which means "elegant music" in Japanese, has been practiced since the 7th century, especially in the imperial court and in religious contexts. Originally, the music goes back to the ceremonial music of China and Korea. Japanese gagaku was designated an intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO in 2009. The highly traditional Japanese music has been "transplanted" to Cologne and cultivated in an experimental way since 2000 by the Cologne Gagaku Ensemble, which is the only gagaku group in Europe.

Since the beginning, the Cologne Gagaku Ensemble has been dedicated to perform traditional music and to contribute to the promotion of cultural understanding between Japan and Germany. The Tenri Japanisch-Deutsche Kulturwerkstatt e.V. Köln, a non-profit  cultural association, has not only provided rehearsal space since 2006, but also all instruments of the ensemble. The director of the ensemble, Dr. Yoshiro Shimizu, is also a representative of Tenri University, a partner university of the University of Cologne.

The gagaku concert takes place on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the city partnerships between Kyoto and Cologne.

We are looking forward to experiencing an important piece of Japanese culture within the SALON series of the Cologne International Forum.