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The Berlin Institute for Cultural Inquiry is an independent centre for research and culture dedicated to exploring how diverse cultures can be brought into productive rather than pernicious confrontation. It takes 'culture' in a broad sense to include cultures associated with different identities (such as age, class, ethnicity, gender, nationality, race, religion, sexuality), spaces (such as city, internet, work) or discourses (such as art, economics, law, media, politics, science). It understands 'culture' as a contested and problematic notion and remains open to its various meanings in relation to other terms (such as implicit knowledge, nature, signifying practice, structure of feeling, ways of life).

The ICI does not intend to confront such broadly conceived cultures with one another in an exhaustive and systematic manner. Instead, it operates in an exemplary fashion by inviting a multidisciplinary team of fellows to work through a common, focused project over a period of up to two years. As an integral component of its core projects, the Institute also organizes and hosts academic and cultural events.

The Institute’s mission is to join rigor and imagination to open up spaces of possibility and develop fruitful avenues of cooperation, transfer, and intervention. As an international platform for the cross-fertilisation of international research, cultural praxis, and local engagement, the ICI looks forward to co-operations and to hosting guest events and fellows.

The ICI chose and designed its location and architecture specifically in view of its mission. Berlin with its complex history, its experience of division, its dynamic and multilayered present and its high concentration of cultural, academic and creative activity is a particularly well-suited place for the ICI. The Institute is situated in Prenzlauer Berg on the border to Berlin-Mitte within the Pfefferberg complex, a former brewery developing into a vibrant cultural and social centre. The facilitation of a broad range of intellectual and cultural interactions was also a central concern of the institute’s architectural design.

Founded in autumn 2006 as a non-profit organization (gGmbH), the ICI launched its inaugural core project in October 2007.