“Ethically Responsible Science”

At a digital ceremony, Professor Julia Borst received the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize 2021. It is the most significant German prize for early-career researchers. According to the reviewers, the Romance scholar is a role model of dialogue-focused, ethically responsible science.

A total of ten researchers from German universities were honored on May 4, 2021. “Dr. JuliaBorst carried out research in the field of Romance literary studies – with an extraordinary instinct for themes that have hardly been noticed to date,” says researcher Ute Berns from the Institute of English and American Studies at Universität Hamburg in her speech. “She discovers the artistic, cultural, and political significance of authors through highly intelligent analyses and makes them visible outside of their field,” states Ute Berns. “The reviewers of the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize not only hold great hope for the further development of Romance studies in Germany thanks to Ms. Borst’s research and initiatives, but also speak of a ‘role model of dialogue-focused, ethically responsible science’.” With several contacts and presentation trips, especially to Africa and the Caribbean, JuliaBorst maintains lively and highly productive research cooperations and also initiates cultural exchange by supporting readings.  

“This Award Motivates Me”

Thanks to the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize, JuliaBorst feels once more validated in her research topic. “This award motivates me to continue on the path that I have taken, to continually question the findings and thought patterns which we employ, and to carry on working on the topics that are close to my heart,” she states. “Of course, I hope at the same time that the award will also help me in the long run in finding a permanent position at a university.”

“I am extremely pleased about this great accolade for Ms. Borst and the University of Bremen,” says the President of the University of Bremen, Professor Bernd Scholz-Reiter. “She has made an excellent name for herself as an internationally renowned expert for diaspora research. The immense relevance and quality of her research on postcolonial literature and cultures, her innovative research approaches, and her scientific ethos really make her stand out.” Ms. Borst’s nomination also shows that the strategic support of the humanities with substantial funds from the University of Bremen’s future concept for the Excellence Initiative surrounding the “Worlds of Contradiction” research network is working, according to the President.

Dedication to Less Prominent Research Fields

At the university, JuliaBorst is the vice spokesperson of the Institute for Postcolonial and Transcultural Studies (INPUTS) and one of the founding members of the Bremen research group “Digital Diaspora: Presented Communities in a Digital Space” (“Digitale Diaspora: vorgestellte Gemeinschaften im digitalen Raum”) in the Worlds of Contradiction research network. The Romance scholar was a scientific assistant in Professor Gisela Febel’s working group within the Faculty of Linguistics and Literary Studies at the University of Bremen between 2015 and 2021. Since April 2021, she has temporarily taken on the “French Romance Studies: Literary Studies” professorship at the University of Bremen. Amongst other things, the literature and cultural studies scholar works on French and Spanish literature from the Caribbean, Africa, and Europe from a postcolonial viewpoint and that is beyond the western canon. She makes the cultural and humanitarian implications of the literature that she works on visible and gains respect and dignity for the authors, as well as their topics. She is currently leading a DFG research project that focusses on Spanish literature from authors with African heritage and on afro-diasporic communities in Europe, for example. In other projects, she has worked on the presentation of violence and trauma in the contemporary Haitian novel and the literary handling of the holocaust in the contemporary novel from the Global South. JuliaBorst studied at the University of Freiburg and completed her PhD at the Universität Hamburg.

Received Several Awards

The Romance scholar has been honored several times. In 2019, JuliaBorst received the Sibylle Kalkhof-Rose Academy Prize for the Humanities (The Academy of Sciences and Literature in Mainz). The 40-year-old also teaches: In 2016, together with the former Bremen scholar and private lecturer Dr. Natascha Ueckmann, she received the Berninghausen Prize from the University of Bremen for a joint study day and a class on Haiti. JuliaBorst studied Romance philology and economic policy at the University of Freiburg and subsequently completed her PhD in Romance philology / literary studies at Universität Hamburg.

Congratulations from Bremen Senator

“I would like to congratulate Ms. Borst on receiving the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize,” says the Senator for Science and Ports, Dr. Claudia Schilling. “A highly dedicated researcher has received the most significant award for early-career researchers in Germany. With her research at the interface between literary and cultural studies, she is making an important contribution to very current topics such as postcolonial culture, the holocaust, and diaspora.”

About the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize

As both recognition of and incentive for excellent achievements in research work, the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize has been awarded annually to outstanding young researchers since 1977. Named after the physicist and former president of the German Research Fondation (DFG) (it was awarded for the first time during his time as president), the prize is now seen as the most significant of its type for young scholars in Germany. In a survey by the “bild der wissenschaft” magazine, the big research organizations chose the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize as the third most important scientific prize in Germany after the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize from the DFG and the German Future Prize awarded by the German President.

Further Information:

A DFG video about Professor JuliaBorst:  (in German only)



Prof. Dr. JuliaBorst
Temporary Professorship for “French Romance Studies: Literary Studies”
University of Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-68424
Email: borstprotect me ?!uni-bremenprotect me ?!.de


Portrait of a young woman
Professor Julia Borst, a Romance scholar at the University of Bremen, has been awarded the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize 2021.