Resilience is a term, originally from materials physics with use in various disciplines (systems ecology, psychology, environmental studies, sustainability; political economy, etc.). There is a controversial debate in research about using the term resilience as a substitute for a physical phenomenon from materials physics in cultural studies (Walker / Cooper 2011, Olsson et al. 2015, Bröckling 2017 etc. etc.). In a disciplinary perspective like archaeology, resilience proves to be a beneficial theoretical approach for large scales and for prehistory. Our Iranian Highlands research group is equally aware of the theoretical burden of resilience in a cultural studies perspective. In our international and interdisciplinary research group constellation as a priority programme, we are deliberately on the lookout for possible solutions to relieve this burden of resilience at the theoretical level. Therefore, in our understanding of Iranian Highlands resilience theory, we consciously accept the risk of the boundary concept (boundary objects; connected/entangled histories). With our specific Iranian Highlands boundary concept of resilience, we are at the same time linking to broad theoretical debates, e.g., in the sense of principle openness and incommensurability of the fields of interaction and operations between agency and system, or system-environment relation in network theory, system theory and of course also theoretical directions of risk and resilience such as in ecology, economics, archaeology etc.

With our specific Iranian Highlands -resilience concept, we thus represent an in-between theoretical position. On two levels, first on an individual basis, and second as a coordination programme as a whole, our aim is to construct a viable theoretical basis for an analytical descriptive category with normative action orientation under the umbrella organisation of the archaeological discipline. This is one of the objectives of the Iranian Highlands Data Repository / Thesaurus (e.g., joining RUB and DBM resources and infrastructure). Such a theoretical basis, which we would like to further integrate and develop within the Iranian Highlands Data Repository before a submission for extension (sept), will be extended to the other three central priority programme research fields: raw material regimes, institutional relationships and mobility of the inhabitants.

In the first three-year funding phase, despite the well-known political and covid-related obstacles, we have already achieved some foundational work: initial definitions of terms; outline of a glossary; Data Repository website; the individual publications of Iranian Highlands members and a conference book publication on resilience. In fact, we have already set up the website and technical infrastructure for the most part. Therefore, we will continue to develop this foundational work in the second funding phase of the CoPro with the aim of specifying the content of the concepts and terminology on a meta-level within the framework of our strongly interdisciplinary publications, as well as making the result available to the public in the form of a database. In concrete terms, this means that in the Iranian Highlands CoPro (RUB and DBM Bochum, DAI Berlin), in parallel to coordinating the research project, we also aim to contribute to the debates on theory in cultural studies by setting up and integrating an Iranian Highlands Data Repository. This would be a “by-product” of our main research in the 12 SPP projects for the conclusion of the second SPP funding phase, as a transdisciplinary offering to contemporary cultural studies, philology and historical studies.

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