Enlightenment 2.0 – The Diversity of Thought

AGYA at the Salon Sophie Charlotte 2023

Enlightenment 2.0 was the theme of the prestigious annual open house event Salon Sophie Charlotte 2023 at the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences (BBAW). Hosted by Principal Investigator Prof. Dr. Verena Lepper and Co-President Prof. Dr. Konstantin Klein, AGYA presented a Science Walk through the BBAW garden featuring inspiring soap box talks by AGYA members along the way. In the AGYA offices, where usually Arab-German research cooperation is advanced, a thought-provoking interactive audiovisual installation welcomed curious visitors who followed the seductive smell of coffee into the AGYA Science Café. AGYA alumnus Dr. Sarhan Dhouib accepted the invitation of BBAW member Gudrun Krämer for a discussion with Frederek Musall to debate tolerance and enlightenment from an Arab perspective.

We have a crisis of naming, we need new terms to describe the current society practising Enlightenment 2.0.

Dr. Amro Ali, former AGYA Co-President

AGYA Science Walk – Fresh Knowledge in a Surprising Urban Biosphere

The Enlightenment extended the values of human reason, tolerance and liberty to gardens and their design. In search for fresh ideas, AGYA members invited the visitors to engage with the stations along the Science Walk within the BBAW garden. Visitors could find their very own answers using all their senses: from sugar tasting to current voices on Enlightenment(s), from urban vertical farming and food security to a quiz on plants with superpowers. The story of the botanical treasure trove of the BBAW garden began thirty years ago on the initiative of Susanne Fünfstück, Coordinator Property Management BBAW and collaboration partner at the AGYA Science Walk. 

The Art of Planting a Tree

Highlight of the Salon was a tree planting ceremony by BBAW President Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Christoph Markschies together with AGYA Co-President Prof. Dr. Konstantin M. Klein. The pomgrenate tree enriches the garden as a new highlight, and adds a spark of the Mediterranean to the BBAW garden.

Konstantin M. Klein traced the historical lineage of the pomegranate tree from the Mediterranean region to Berlin, where it enlarges the biodiversity of the garden. BBAW President Christoph Markschies followed up on these reflections and drew the analogy of the BBAW garden as a flourishing green space of enlightenment following Voltaire's approach to gardens. Markschies acknowleged that just like the pomegranate tree to the garden, AGYA contributes an international research perspectives and academic diversity to the BBAW.

AGYA Science Café – Coffee Tasting & Stand-up Science

From the smell of roses to the art of coffee, the audience was invited to refresh in the AGYA Science Café one floor up. Coffee was the engine that helped drive the Enlightenment. As centres of Enlightenment thinking, coffee houses flourished over the whole of Europe. Visitors were invited to explore the hospitality of Arab coffee cultures offered by the Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and by Berlin-based traditional Syrian baristas Ahmad & Abou Mohamad Joukhi. AGYA Co-President Konstantin M. Klein festively opened the AGYA Science Café and exchanged with Lebanese artist Abed Al Kadiri on the creation of a modern herbarium of the Mediterranean under the title “Portraying the Botanical – Writing Plant Biographies” (forthcoming).

The audience was inspired by stand-up talks from Arab-German perspectives on Enlightenment: 

  • Dr. Stefan Maneval and AGYA alumnus Dr. Sarhan Dhouib debated on the topic of faith with Prof. Dr. Schirin Amir-Moazami, Professor for Islam in Europe at Freie Universität Berlin.
  • AGYA managing director Dr. Sabine Dorpmüller exchanged with AGYA alumnus Dr. Jan Friesen on Blue-Green Awareness Raising.
  • Dr. Luise Fischer and Amro Ali discussed feminist and decolonial perspectives on enlightenment.

In critical research, we prefer not use the term ‘Enlightenment’ because it limits us. We need more inclusive terms.

Dr. Luise Fischer, AGYA member

The AGYA Science Café served as a platform for delving into the realm of Enlightenment 2.0 through the dynamic lens of Arab-German viewpoints. AGYA member Amro Ali brought the event to a brilliant conclusion with his stand-up comedy act ‘The Decolonial Construction Worker.’ In this entertaining performance, he artfully distilled the essence of three pivotal themes from this year's AGYA programme at Salon Sophie Charlotte 2023: decolonization, tolerance, and diversity leading to Enlightenment 2.0.

Islam, Enlightenment, and Tolerance

AGYA alumnus Dr. Sarhan Dhouib accepted the kind invitation of BBAW member Gudrun Krämer for a discussion with Frederek Musall to debate tolerance and enlightenment from an Arab Perspective. Watch the video here!

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Voices on Enlightenment(s)

Science Walk in the BBAW Garden

AGYA Science Café

Date and Venue

13 May 2023

Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities (BBAW), Germany