The "Western Project" at JGU Mainz Receives German Research Council Funding

German Research Council Funds the Project "The Global Western: Intercultural Transformations" over a Three-Year Period for c. 200,00 Euros

Researching the genre of the western film beyond its U.S.-American origins is a project that Dr. Thomas Klein has worked on since 2008 within the framework of the Center for Intercultural Studies at Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz. The project was initially allocated funds from the University of Mainz for research carried out within the University of Mainz (Förderlinie 1). Starting in July 2010, funding from the German Research Council (DFG) of roughly 200,000 Euros was granted over a three-year period.

Research on the U.S.-American western’s enormous influence on other national cinemas, due to its worldwide distribution, has until now largely been neglected except for studies of Italian and German westerns. For this reason, this project, “The Global Western: Intercultural Transformations of an American Genre par excellence,” concentrated until 2010 on culturally specific transformations of the western in other European countries, Africa, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Australia, Japan, and China.

This funding by the German Research Council enables the project to research films such as the Charro (Mexico), the Cangaceiro (Brazil), the Bushranger (Australia), and Samurai films (Japan). These nationally specific genres have contributed to a myth-based national identity formation in each of their respective countries that is created with reference to the western. 

The research project “The Global Western: Intercultural Transformations of an American Genre par excellence” led by Dr. Thomas Klein conceives of itself as a pioneering study of a form of intercultural practice that has not been researched until now. The project was initiated in August 2008 at the University of Mainz as a collaboration between Film Studies/Media Dramaturgy and the Dept. of Anthropology and African Studies. The first phase of the project was financed by the Center for Intercultural Studies at Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz (ZIS). That was followed in 2009 with start-up financing procured within the framework of funds from the University of Mainz Förderlinie 1. In addition to a project presentation at the ZIS stand at the Science Fair organized by the Mainz Research Alliance in 2009, the project team also organized an international symposium in November 2009 on “The Western: Intercultural Perspectives,” which focused on the European western. An English-language publication based on the conference was edited by Thomas Klein, Peter W. Schulze, and Ivo Ritzer.