Interdisziplinäres Zentrum für die Erforschung der Europäischen Aufklärung

Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg Siegel

Interdisciplinary Centre for European Enlightenment Studies

The IZEA was founded in 1990 as a central scientific institution of the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg. As a research institution for the history of culture and ideas, it explores the foundation of modern Western societies through the study of ideas and cultural patterns developed in the 18th century.

18th century studies

The research program includes research and publishing projects dedicated to a wide variety of themes, such as the history of universities, societies and communication; anthropology, aesthetics, culture and knowledge transfer, scholarly culture and literary forms of representation in the 18th century; the development of cultural patterns; the Enlightenment in global networks; and the Garden Kingdom of Dessau-Wörlitz.

Connected with the region's research institutions

The IZEA is located in the Red School, built in 1896, which was formerly the Higher School for Girls of the Francke Foundations. The IZEA houses a public library containing primary sources and research literature related to the Enlightenment in regional and European contexts. The Alexander von Humboldt Chair of Modern Written Culture and European Knowledge Transfer and the Immanuel-Kant-Forum also have their offices in the building.

Enlightenment studies in international networks

Thanks to its outstanding library, its publishing projects, its geographic proximity to important historic sites related to the Enlightenment (including extensive archives, libraries and art collections), and its partnerships with major cultural and scientific institutions,  the IZEA is now one of the most important international research institutes dedicated to the study of the Enlightenment, and is an essential meeting point for scientists from around the world.

6. Enlightenment in Global Networks

European culture is connected with the different areas of the world, and not only since the colonial era. Besides the missions and colonies in the Americas, in both Indias as well as in other parts of the world, a significant strain on the traditional powers and cultures, as well as hegemonic claims, can also always be found.

What can, aspires to or should be considered enlightened in the face of this global constellation? What should not? The topic “Enlightenment in global networks” will accordingly resituate these questions in relationship to missionary endeavours and colonialism.


[] „Unión de Martín de Loyala y la ñusta Doña Beatriz, y de Don Juan Borja la ñuesta Lorenza“, Peru, Cuzco school, 1718, Oil on canvas, Museo Pedro Osma, Lima, Peru.   This was painted by Marco Zapata in the mid-18th century, and illustrates the

‘The best thing we can do for our Indians is to Anglicise them in all agreeable Instances’: Missions to the New World and the Enlightenment

Catherine Ballériaux

My project explores and compares writings about Native American peoples by European thinkers and missionaries in roughly the first half of the eighteenth century. The study of the complex relationship between religious and Enlightenment thought in the Atlantic world brings to light the intellectual and political processes which shaped the Enlightenment's conception of Man and religion.

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[] Ein gebohrener Malabarischer... Franckesche Stiftungen

“Mission” and Halle’s International Relations in the Sources of the 18th Century

Daniel Cyranka

At the beginning of the 18th century, a number of institutions were established in Halle to maintain the international public relations and the informal and personal networks of the so-called Francke Foundations.

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Enlightened Colonialism

Andreas Pečar, Damien Tricoire

For several decades, historians of ideas, philosophers, historians and philologists have discussed the question as to whether the origins of modern colonialism are to be found in the Enlightenment.

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[] Karte von Hermann Moll, Anfang des 18. Jahrhunderts

Enlightenment in Spain, Portugal and Latin America

Thomas Bremer

The project aims to study the peculiarities of Enlightenment culture and literature in the Iberian Peninsula and in its colonies (Latin America).

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Lumières vs. Illuminismo: the French and Italian Enlightenments in Conflict

Robert Fajen

The relationship between French and Italian Enlightenments can be described - at least at first sight ­- as the archetype of the conflict between center and periphery. Their respective importance seems clear: in the decades between 1740 and 1790, Paris is regarded across Europe as the imaginary center stage of an epochal discourse that reevaluates and reorganizes the knowledge of the world.

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