The Research Group

"Defence" is a catchphrase which is in vogue, and not just in politics. The question here is not only, what has to be defended against and what is being defended, but also what the manifold strategies of defence can be.

The research group is dedicated to the term "defence" in the broad sense of its meaning and contexts: as a military defensive strategy, as a means of control and prevention in terms of security policy, as social exclusion, as a biological reaction of the immune system or a psychological form of protection against irritants. In the context of several public events, including international conferences in Irvine (USA) and Berlin, the research group brought together members of Die Junge Akademie with cooperation partners from the social and cultural sciences, from biology and psychology as well as art, the military and secret services for an interdisciplinary dialogue.

The research group Defence was concluded when Eva Horn and Claus Pias left Die Junge Akademie in the summer of 2006.


The list of the various fields in which defence plays a role reflects the diversity of the disciplines in which models of defence strategies and processes are developed. The fundamental question here is whether there is any transferability among the fields. Could, for instance, models of prevention in terms of security policy learn something from the mechanisms of immune defence?

Models. One of the research group's first goals was to evaluate the foundational elements of defence processes across all fields and disciplines. What properties does an organism, a group, an individual need to recognise something as an attack on its own vital functions? What can be interpreted as an attack? What are the overrun operations of enemy recognition and defence? What are the fundamental conditions for an organism to initiate defence? Is the threat that has to be defended against an internal or external one?

Strategies. While there is potential for the development of a foundational set of elements defining defence in an interdisciplinary comparison, at the same time this comparison reveals the diversity of the strategies that govern defence. At this point it is interesting not to capture the common denominator but the diversity of defence strategies and mechanisms such as immunisation, exclusion, projection, denial, prevention and pophylaxis, control and isolation. In terms of strategies, the forms of failure or of pathological forms of defence need to be investigated too. At which point does defence become a threat for the defending organism, as is the case with allergies, social stigmata or paranoia. How do defensive processes fail?

Media. Every defence requires the recognition and representation of the attacker, meaning it has to rely fundamentally on a medium of representation. It is therefore the goal of the researh group, not just to compare and describe models of defence and mechanisms of "enemy recognition" in the interdisciplinary exchange among biology, politics and psychology, but also to get in touch with projects and persons that realise and reflect "defence" aesthetically. What "images", what shapes and compositions of enemies and attack strategies are circulating? What media strategies are used in defence processes?

Documentation of Events

The research group Defence has organised two international conferences. After the first successful conference in 2005 at the University of California (Irvine), a second conference was held in Berlin the following year.

Other Events

Apart from the international conferences the research group organised a public evening lecture on the topic of "Networks – Net Wars – Narratives" as well as a panel discussion entitled "Terror in the Name of God? Islamic Violence and the Perspective of the Secret Services".



  • Eva Horn


    Eva Horn
    Study of Literature
    Universität Wien (Österreich)
    Eva Horn more
  • Oliver Grau

    Oliver Grau
    Art History
    Donau-Universität Krems (Österreich)
    Oliver Grau more
  • Julian Klein

    Julian Klein
    IKF - Institut für künstlerische Forschung, Berlin
    Julian Klein more
  • Claus Pias

    Claus Pias
    Media Science
    Leuphana Universität Lüneburg
    Claus Pias more