How do people live with contradiction and against it?

In which social fields and with which effects are contradictions bound to the imperative of their resolution?

To what extent is it important to develop ways of describing the negotiation of diversity and incompatibilities that do justice to the contradictory in scenarios of living together?

How can contradiction be critically questioned and decentered as part of the foundations of Western/Northern knowledge production?

DFG Research Training Group Contradiction Studies

The Research Training Group (RTG) »Contradiction Studies« explores the formation, negotiation, and explanatory limitations of contradiction. We start from the assumption that the ordering figure of contradiction which includes the imperative of resolving contradiction often stands in a relationship of tension to experiences of the contradictory in everyday life.

The position of our RTG and its fellows is contradictory as well. European universities are themselves a privileged part of the established orders of Western-Northern modernity. The RTG is situated at the intersection of multiple overlapping societal contradictions and conflicts. These range from contradictions of capitalism and political contradictions to the co-existence of anti-discriminatory diversity programs and simultaneously continuing mechanisms of exclusion and discrimination along “race,” class, gender, sexual orientation, and other categories of difference and their intersectional effects. The RTG »Contradiction Studies« encourages its fellows and faculty to reflect on such contradictions together and to take them as a starting point for developing other forms of un-learning and learning, of collaboration and recognition of diversity. “Doing Difference in Good Faith Together” (Helen Verran) may serve as an orientation.

Constellations of contradiction, the avoidance of contradiction, and practices of contradicting are systematically studied and established as objects of research in the humanities, social sciences, and law.

The RTG carries out conceptual and theoretical work on the basis of case studies and projects that are genealogically or analytically oriented. This aims at re-evaluating contradiction, contradictions, and the contradictory in empirical constellations, heuristic functions, and ontological dimensions—not least in response to demands for a cosmopolitanization and pluralization of knowledge production informed by struggles against the dominance of Western/Northern epistemologies.


“According to Niklas Luhmann, space is a ‘special facility to negate contradictions’”.

Julia Lossau

problem to be solved

“Contradiction is not primarily a problem to be solved but a motor we cannot do without.”

Martin Nonhoff

“Contradictions are an important driver of scientific practice and knowledge.”

Norman Sieroka
Is contradiction eurocentric?

“Is contradiction a eurocentric concept, operational phenomenon, and instrument of power?”

Kerstin Knopf


“The city is a laboratory not only of modernity, but also of contradiction.”

Julia Lossau