Two HU professors win €250,000 prizes

German foundation awards Israeli researchers for their contribution to humanities and social sciences.

Germany’s Alexander von Humboldt Foundation has awarded two Hebrew University of Jerusalem faculty members the Anneliese Maier Research Award and granted each a 250,000 euro prize to continue their research. The award will fund the Israelis’ collaboration with their German research partners over a five-year period.

Prof. Michal Biran

Michal Biran, the Max and Sophie Mydans Foundation Professor in the Humanities and director of the Louis Frieberg Center for East Asian Studies, is an internationally renowned specialist in the field of Eurasian history from the 10th to 14th Centuries. Her research collaboration with the University of Bonn is intended to promote academic exchange between Germany, Israel and Mongolia and help strengthen Eurasian history as a research topic.

“I welcome the opportunity to build collaborations with leading researchers from around the world,” said Prof. Biran. “In addition the award will allow me to build a school for comparative studies of empires together with Prof. Yuri Pines from the Department of East Asian Studies, and colleagues in Berlin and Bonn.”

The second winner was Eva Illouz, a professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology who is currently serving as president of the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design. Illouz is one of the world’s leading sociologists, examining the influence of modern culture and capitalism on relationship behavior. With colleagues at Frankfurt University she will be conducting research into the philosophical and sociological aspects of “authenticity” in present-day culture.

Prof. Eva Illouz

“This is a wonderful surprise,” said Prof. Illouz. “The award will allow me to expand the scope of my research, but the main significance for me is the opportunity to work closely with Prof. Dr. Axel Honneth, the heir and most significant representative of the Critical Theory of the Frankfurt School, and together we hope to offer a new perspective on the sociological and philosophical significance of the concept of authenticity.”

The grants are funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education and Research, to contribute to the internationalization of the humanities and social sciences in Germany.

“These awards reflect the continued flourishing of the vital cooperation between Israel and Germany in research and higher education,” said Hebrew University president Prof. Menahem Ben-Sasson. “The cooperation between outstanding Hebrew University researchers and their German counterparts brings tangible benefits to both our countries and the world.”

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About Viva Sarah Press

Viva Sarah Press is an associate editor and writer at ISRAEL21c. She has extensive experience in reporting/editing in the print, online and broadcast fields. She has jumped out of a plane, ducked rockets and been attacked by a baboon all in the name of a good story. Her work has been published by international media outlets including Israel Television, CNN, Reuters, The Jerusalem Post and Time Out.