Bewegte Zeiten

The history and future of travel

Graphic of the theme year »Bewegte Zeiten. Zur Geschichte und Zukunft des Reisens«

The world seems to spin faster and faster. The feeling of boundless mobility is one of the defining characteristics of our way of life today and is sometimes defined as a basic prerequisite for personal freedom. On the Internet, we surf around the world and into its most remote corners within seconds. But we can also get physically from one end of the world to the other in a matter of hours. And on our doorstep is an automobile that will take us to the North Cape or the southern tip of Italy in no time at all. All this is a matter of course for us. And we are annoyed when our mobility is hindered, when the ICE is delayed, when we have to stand in traffic jams or when the Internet is throttled. We have naturally built our lives around this claim to limitless mobility and therefore often live hundreds of kilometres from our workplace, travel thousands of kilometres on holiday or fly halfway around the world to attend a congress for three days. And an end to this development is far from in sight. New types of propulsion are being developed at full speed and innovative fuels are being tried out to keep this development going and to prevent mobility acceleration from slowing down at any price. Against this background, it is not surprising that we have the feeling of experiencing turbulent times. The annual programme of the Francke Foundations for 2018 took this as its motto and dedicated itself to a special form of organised mobility: travel.

The occasion was August Hermann Francke's famous trip to the Reich, which he undertook 300 years ago. In 2018, it was the starting point for the annual exhibition of the Francke Foundations, but it was not the focus of attention. Instead, it was organised alongside other journeys and expeditions that shaped the history of the Francke Foundations and of Pietism, under the title »Durch die Welt im Auftrag des Herrn. Reisen von Pietisten im 18. Jahrhundert« . The worldwide echo of the reform efforts pursued by August Hermann Francke from Halle was not possible without a structured network. Its nodal points were branches modelled on Halle's and Francke's Pietist followers, distributed throughout Protestant Europe and beyond, and connected both with Halle and with one another by letter, exchange of goods and travel. Since it was indispensable as a constitutive element of the Pietist world reform plans, attempts were made to systematise travel in many respects, for example through an organised exchange of experience and the collection of information on particularly important routes, means of transport and travel techniques. This ranged from recommendations for clothing, luggage and food for overseas travel. This information was collected and passed on over generations, which not only made travelling easier but could sometimes save lives.

In addition, the annual programme for 2018 once again covered the thematic arc to the present and even to the future. Numerous highly interesting and renowned guests were invited. Ilija Trojanow, travel writer and bestselling author, was enthusiastic about the opening of the annual Francke celebration programme with his keynote lecture  »Über das Reisen«. He contrasted tourism and travel in a humorous and clever way and took up the cudgels for remaining curious about the world despite all the travel and tourism criticism:  »Im Gegensatz zu manch einem Zyniker glaube ich weiterhin an die möglichen Segnungen des Reisens. (...) Ich bin überzeugt, dass wir noch reisen können, auch wenn die Welt geschrumpft ist und alle weißen Flecken ausschraffiert sind. Nur müssen wir uns darum bemühen.«  Throughout the travel year we met the stranger, the future, the challenges of our time and above all ourselves in numerous events. Thus, the theme evenings accompanying the annual exhibition took up current debates: The migration expert Prof. Dr. Jochen Oltmer spoke about historical and current migration movements, while the Syrian YouTuber Firas Alshater reported on arriving in Germany. Prof. Dr. Alfred Schäfer, Professor of Systematic Educational Science, analysed the tourist longing for authentic experiences. And the publicist Alfred Grosser was also a guest and discussed with the audience about the identities of people. On the night of the museum, we ventured on a journey into foreign lands. In the Freylinghausen-Saal, an elaborate video mpping by court illuminator Bernd E. showed the audience the way to the museum. Gengelbach with pictures of the far-travelled photographer Thomas Meinicke showed the momentariness and everyday life in other cultures. The installation was accompanied by live music from the Dresden band Marmitako. At the same time, the popular cult program »Alltag anders«  (»Different Everyday Life «) by Deutschlandfunk Kultur invited visitors to immerse themselves in everyday habits around the globe. In contributions on making blue, public diapers or the handling of folk songs, it became clear that globalization stops at everyday things. In the »Persönlichkeiten«  series, the audience was able to get to know the adventurous side of travelling. The »Mars traveller«  Christiane Heinicke reported on her life »on Mars« , which she simulated for one year during a NASA experiment on an active volcano. Polar explorer Arved Fuchs spoke about his expeditions to the eternal ice and what they told him about the state of the climate.