Katharina Hillmann: The Question of How to Transfer Knowledge is Fundamental to the Work of Research Institutions

The last two ReIReS trainings (April 2021 and June 2021) were organized by Katharina Hillmann from the University of Hamburg. We asked her about experiences. How was it for her as an organizer and as an attendant?

Who is Katharina Hillmann?

I am a research associate at the Institute for Jewish Philosophy and Religion at the University of Hamburg. For my PhD I do research in the field of medieval Jewish Iberian philosophy and its Islamicate context. I am interested in how thinkers from different religious backgrounds are part of one cultural and intellectual milieu – drawing from common sources of textual materials through different modes of adaptation.

Can you tell us a bit about your experiences?

It was certainly a challenge to organize two online trainings that were originally planned as physical trainings in Hamburg. I found it helpful to not just see them as replacements for in-person trainings but to acknowledge both the benefits and difficulties an online training offers.

Here I think the question of accessibility is important: On the one hand, we are already working with many online sources and resources, such as databases and digitized manuscripts. One the other hand, the materiality of documents and written artefacts is an indispensable aspect of our research. I believe that facing the possibilities but also the limits of an online format can help to sharpen our research questions going forward.

What insights did you gain during the training?

That we have a very lively and dynamic research infrastructure in Hamburg! In both trainings we were able to see how individual institutions or projects are connected to each other. Many trainers participated in different sessions, sharing their expertise and experience. And this structure goes beyond the University, extending to museums, schools, and the communities themselves.

The question of how to transfer and communicate knowledge should not be understood as a second, additional task of research institutions but is fundamental to our work. That has become especially important during the pandemic. Both during the DH Course and the School on Special Documents I have gained new perspectives that will certainly influence my own teaching.




Thanks a lot for this interview, Katharina! We wish you much success in your teachings, studies and research at the University of Hamburg.