Thematic and Regional Working Groups of the German Anthropological Association offer a forum for a vital exchange on certain topics, aspects and regions.
Thematic Working Groups
Cognitive and Linguistic Anthropology
How is cultural knowledge mentally and linguistically organised? How is it distributed within a community, how is it accessed and how transmitted? What is the relationship between language, cognition and culture? These are the interdisciplinary issues of cognitive and linguistic anthropology.
Research in cognitive anthropology focuses on mental processes such as the way of thinking and the modalities of perception. Cultural schemata, cultural models, decision making, ideas of causality, emotions, theory of mind and concepts of person are typical aspects of study. Linguistic anthropology is interested in the relationship between culture and linguistic forms or practices. In this field, topics such as linguistic classification or coding of ethnobotany (taxononies), kinship, person (honorifics, deixis), colour, time, space, numbers and items (classifiers) are examined, just as conversational behaviour, language socialisation, language change and language contact within the cultural context.
Both sub-disciplines are closely linked, which becomes particularly obvious in the studies on perception and description of colours, space, numbers, etc. At this interface, cultural anthropologists cooperate with psychologists (cross-cultural psychology), linguists (anthropological linguistics, cognitive linguistics) and other scholars of the cognitive sciences network (e.g. neuroscientists). Based on its wide-ranging object of research, cultural anthropology can make a valuable contribution to the issue of universal versus culture-specific processes. To what extent does cultural context influence human cognition and language resulting in diverging forms and practices?
This workgroup provides a forum for the interdisciplinary dialogue in the field of Cognitive and Linguistic Anthropology, discussing not only content-related theoretical aspects but also methodological issues.
Dr. Svenja Völkel (Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz, Institut für Vergleichende Sprachwissenschaft), firstname.lastname@example.org
Prof. Dr. Christoph Antweiler (Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn, Institut für Orient- und Asienwissenschaften), email@example.com
Daniel Kofahl, Kofahl@APEK-Consult.de
Economic anthropology shows how economic practice is embedded in social, cultural and political configurations. It examines differences and similarities in production, exchange and consumption among different societies as well as global interconnections, current developments such as economic crises, and the practices of key economic actors.
The working group on economic anthropology seeks to foster an understanding of economic anthropological insights both within and beyond our discipline. It holds regular working group meetings, which usually take place in alternate years to the congress of the German Anthropological Association. Since the foundation of the working group in 2017, one meeting took place in Cologne on the topic of “Economy and Morals”. The upcoming meeting on the topic of “Economy and Ecological Crisis” will take place in Konstanz in the fall of 2020. Both current members and other researchers with an interest in the working group are invited to attend.
The working group has a mailing list for the circulation of Call for Papers, publication announcements, and the like. In order to be included in the mailing list, please contact one of the spokespersons of the working group.
The Environmental Anthropology Working Group was founded in 2015, at the GAA’s conference in Marburg. The working group engages in key debates in the vibrant and fast-growing field of environmental anthropology. This includes approaches from political ecology, multispecies studies, environmental history, STS and the anthropology of landscape, and their diverse engagements with issues such as climate change, species extinction, deforestation, industrial pollution, the food crisis, industrial agriculture or global water management. The Environmental Anthropology Working Group aims at strengthening the network of environmental anthropologists in Germany and beyond.
The inaugural conference of the Environmental Anthropology Working Group takes place on 26 and 27 September 2016 at the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, LMU Munich.
On 25 September 2020 the workshop „Engaging anthropology for the future“ takes place in Berlin. Please find the invitation here.
Jeanine Dağyeli (Nazarbayev Universität Kasachstan) , firstname.lastname@example.org
Gender & Sexualities | Queer Anthropology
How do people live, love and desire in different social, political and cultural contexts? In addition to this thematic focus, Queer Anthropology has questioned normative assumptions in ethnographic research, which have resulted in collaborative fieldwork designs as well as innovative modes of representing anthropological knowledge. Queer anthropologists also initiated a debate about methodological and ethical issues regarding anthropologists’ sexual desires and romantic relationships in the field. Even though discussions about sexuality and cross-cultural considerations of gender relationships form important aspects of anthropological inquiry, these areas of expertise are barely institutionalized in the German-speaking academy – neither in the form of Chairs in the Anthropology of Gender and Sexuality nor in the Departments’ syllabi. The Working Group “Gender & Sexualities | Queer Anthropology” has been established in October 2019 to address anthropologists, who
- conduct research on the topic of gender and sexualities as well as their intersections with other categories of difference (such as race, ethnicity, age and dis/ability) in various settings and geographical regions.
- conceptually draw on queer and feminist theory, for instance rethinking forms of ethnographic research and modes of representation.
- self-identify in terms of non-heteronormative sexualities and/or genders and, based on these identities, seek to reflect and engage their positionality in the field and in scholarship.
We hope to initiate a vivid exchange between scholars of different academic ranks, which is also why we explicitly encourage students and early career scholars to come forward and contribute to this Working Group with their interests, ideas and concerns. By organizing regular meetings and panels, we wish to exchange and publicly debate our research outcomes and questions. Through social media, we seek to inform both a scholarly and a wider audience about the outcomes of our members‘ research projects, also engaging in public debates on the topic of gender and sexualities with empirical findings. Finally, we hope to consolidate the position of this relevant research field within the discipline of Social and Cultural Anthropology in the German-speaking context.
On 19-20 March 2020, the working group will hold its inaugural workshop „Queer Openings“ at Freie Universität Berlin in cooperation with the Gay Museum Berlin. Find the call for papers here: https://www.polsoz.fu-berlin.de/ethnologie/termine/Queer-Openings.html
History of Anthropology
The Working Group “History of Ethnology and Anthropology,” in German: “Arbeitsgruppe Fachgeschichte (Geschichte der Ethnologie/ History of Anthropology)” was founded in 1993 and now has 66 members. Its aim is to promote exchanges and cooperation between individuals and institutions working on this subject. The Working Group researches all fields of anthropology, worldwide, since its origins – wherever and whenever they may be – and thus contributes to the theoretical and methodological development of anthropology as a whole.
Ethnology or Völkerkunde is the original name of the subject, which the Gesellschaft für Völkerkunde (Ethnological Society) adopted to designate itself in Leipzig on 1 October 1929; in 1938 this name was extended to: Deutsche Gesellschaft für Völkerkunde (DGV). At the general members’ meeting in Berlin on 6 October 2017, the DGV became the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Sozial- und Kulturanthropologie (DGSKA) or German Society for Social and Cultural Anthropology, in short: German Anthropological Association (GAA).
The Working Group was founded as the AG “History of Ethnology” at the DGV Conference in Leipzig (1993). Its first speaker was Hans-Jürgen Hildebrandt (1992-1993). The foundation was prepared with a meeting on „Ethnology and National Socialism“ in the margins of the DGV Conference in Marburg (1989), organized by Thomas Hauschild (Cologne), and a symposium „History of Ethnology“ at the DGV Conference in Munich (1991), organized by Han Vermeulen (Leiden). Since then, the AG has been led by Adam Jones (1993-1995), Bernhard Streck (1995-1997), Thomas Hauschild (1997-2001), Dieter Haller (2001-2007), Han Vermeulen and Udo Mischek (2007-2015), Peter Schweitzer and Han Vermeulen (2015-2017), Uwe Wolfradt and Han Vermeulen (2017-2019).
Topics thus far discussed at the AG Fachgeschichte include: 1. Discussing the questions “How and why should the history of anthropology be developed and who should write it?” (continuation of discussions at the founding meeting in Leipzig 1993, the workshop in Mainz 2013 and the interim conference in Vienna 2016); 2. Ethnology and National Socialism; 3. Ethnology and colonialism; 4. Exile research and exile literature; 5. Ethnological museums, associations and magazines; 6. Relations between ethnology and anthropology in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries; 7. The development of ethnography. Other topics on the history of ethnology and anthropology are always welcome in the Working Group.
Dr. Katja Geisenhainer (Universität Wien), email@example.com
Dr. Mag. Peter Rohrbacher (Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften), firstname.lastname@example.org
The term „material culture“ represents a specific approach to culture. During the initial phase of cultural anthropology as a discipline, this term was coined as a counter-position to the then prevailing view, dominated by the intellectual approach to culture. Although culture never can be something simply „material“, the emphasis on things, artefacts and objects constitutes an autonomous anthropological perspective. Material culture is linked to everyday life, to the often unconscious aspects of culture and to the entanglements of life-worlds.
After a certain period in the history of anthropology, when of things played only a minor role, in recent decades dealing with things has experienced a boom. More and more anthropologists become aware that things constitute a relevant epistemological approach and a specific method of culture description. In the work of the AG, material culture in this broader sense is dealt with. Its topics cover a broad spectrum, ranging from everyday objects to ritual objects and from consumption to art.
Perceptions, ways of dealing and meanings of things are a central aspect of all cultures of the world. We can expect from these fields that they will provide evidence for the relevance of material culture, but also regarding the links toward about other fields of culture. In life-worlds things are intermingled with politics, religion and economy. Thus, material culture renders possible new perspectives on cultures as such.
Prof. Dr. Hans Peter Hahn (Goethe Universität Frankfurt am Main), email@example.com
Gerhard Böck, firstname.lastname@example.org
Since its foundation in 1997, the Work Group Medical Anthropology has been researching and discussing a wide variety of themes in relation to health, illness, healing, and the body from an anthropological perspective. The group is interested in the multiple social and cultural modalities that are shaping these areas of individual and collective human experience. It further explores how dynamics of medicalization and technologization as well as multilayered inequalities and power relations impinge on bodily and mental well-being in an interconnected world. The work wroup organizes 1-2 conference panels, workshops, or international conferences per year and appreciates the assistance and cooperation of everyone who is interested in medical anthropology. Aside from its own website (www.medicalanthropology.de), the group is running a blog (www.medizinethnologie.net), which publishes thematic contributions, but also individual research reports, which gives scholars – including students and junior researchers – the opportunity to provide the public with an insight into their current work.
The Working Group Migration is a network of social and cultural anthropologists studying different forms of migration and mobility of people and the social-cultural phenomena related to it. Different forms of migration, mobility and diversity are studied through the investigation of social practices, places, identities, and socio-cultural networks situated in and between old and new places of residence and framed by specific “mobility regimes”. The research thereby provides insights into ongoing wider societal changes (local and global), often, although not solely, by taking a bottom-up approach.
If you wish to be informed about the working group’s activities, please subscribe to the following mailing list: https://lists.univie.ac.at/mailman
The working group ‚Museum‘ covers the thematic fields of museums, collections and exhibitions in the German Anthropological Association. It offers a forum for everybody, who deals theoretically and practically with museological-ethnological questions, exhibition concepts, research on things/objects and collections, the anthropology of art and related subjects and contents. The working group connects museum and university ethnology and serves as a platform for discussions about current developments in the ethnological museum landscape as well as in the museum & material culture studies. It takes up on-going political debates in the fields of culture and museums and therefore also invites interested persons from other disciplines to engage in its activities.
At the biannual conferences of the GAA the working group ‚Museum‘ hosts its own panel – beyond the GAA-conferences it organizes regular in-between-meetings. Both formats are equally open to members and non-members alike. The members meetings also take place at the conferences.
Membership in the working group ‚Museum‘ is free of charge. People interested in (ethnological) museum issues can also be included in the increasingly popular mailing list. Please send an informal message with the request for membership in the working group or inclusion in the mailing list to the speakers. Content-related suggestions for up-coming conferences and meetings are also very welcome.
Oliver Lueb (Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum, Köln), email@example.com
Karoline Noack (Rheinische Ludwig-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn), firstname.lastname@example.org
Psychological anthropology already played an important role in the early stages of our discipline. Both, the German „Völkerpsychologie“ and the North American Culture and Personality School gave important methodical, theoretical and transdisciplinary impulses in understanding humans in their sociocultural environment, during their development over the life course, as well as in their emotional-affective, cognitive and physical ways of relating to self and other. Since then, research foci, methodological, theoretical and conceptual approaches have moved into new fields and become more sophisticated. In the face of increasingly interconnected worlds and life experiences, contemporary psychological anthropology fosters important insights into changing human subjectivities, new forms of belonging and care, as well as psycho-social suffering, inequality and structural violence in local and global contexts.
Psychological anthropology assumes that psychological knowledge is not necessarily universally applicable. It discusses the historically and culturally specific concepts of self, personhood and what it means to be human, rather than postulating the ‘psyche’ as an a priori given. This critical perspective tends to conflict with some of mainstream psychology’s key assumptions, according to which human beings are subjected to universal psychological patterns of feeling, thinking and interacting. Rather than simply refuting such perspectives, however, psychological anthropology aims to scrutinize, relativize and contextualize them and to enter into critical, but fruitful, dialogue and exchange with neighboring disciplines such as cultural psychology, transcultural psychiatry, neuroanthropology, developmental psychology, the sociology of emotions, or philosophy.
The aim of the DGSKA Psychological Anthropology Group is to establish a forum for recent psychological-anthropological research and related theoretical, methodological and empirical debates.
Dr. Victoria Kumala Sakti (MPI for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity), email@example.com
Dr. Julia Vorhoelter (Georg-August Universität Göttingen), firstname.lastname@example.org
Edda Willamowski (FU Berlin), email@example.com
Mailing list: firstname.lastname@example.org
The working group Public Anthropology stands for a socio-politically engaged social and cultural anthropology committed to the usage of various communication media, including those close to everyday life. The aim is to increase the visibility of anthropology in public discourse and utilize the potential of direct forms of interaction with non-scientific public spheres towards integrating ethnographic research and anthropological perspectives within social debates and processes. Based on ethnographic research and engaging projects, Public Anthropology can thus have a transformative effect on social relations, and the discipline can have a more pronounced public role.
Mailing list: email@example.com
Regional Working Groups
The term “Afroamerica” does not refer to a region in a geographical sense, but rather to the numerous entanglements mainly within the Atlantic world that originate in the enslavement and displacement of millions of Africans to the Americas.
In the context of slavery and colonial domination, social, religious, cultural, linguistic and culinary practices have developed on the basis of African origins and evolved into “Afroamerican” or “Afroatlantic” traditions. They are important in all parts of the Americas today – not only for Afroamerican populations, but transcending ethnic, religious and social boundaries.
Research on “Afroamerica” studies the historical and contemporary transformations of Afroamerican traditions, as well as social, legal and political struggles of Afrodescendants for recognition and against multiple forms of inequality.
We address the meaning, appropriation and constructions of “Africa” in the realms of everyday practice, religion, artistic production, knowledge construction, identity politics and social movements and study the mutual interactions of actors, practices and ideas between the Americas, Africa and Europe under the premise of transatlantic entanglements.
The RG Afroamerika was founded in 1997 by Bettina E. Schmidt (then Uni Marburg) and Lioba Rossbach de Olmos (Uni Marburg). From 2005 to 2015, Heike Drotbohm (then Uni Freiburg) has acted as speaker of the group with an interim by Ingrid Kummels (2009-2011).
Since 2015, the group is led by Claudia Rauhut (FU Berlin) and Moritz Heck (Uni Köln).
Since 1999 the group has organized workshops at all DGV conferences, at meetings of German-speaking scholars on South America and the Caribbean, and occasionally at the European Association of Social Anthropologists. We reach our members through a mailing list and a part of a variety of networks.
The group has published four conference volumes with Curupira, as well as the Special Issue
„Afroatlantische Allianzen“ in the Zeitschrift für Ethnologie. Vol. 136 (2011), Heft 2.
Dr. Claudia Rauhut (Lateinamerika-Institut, Freie Universität Berlin), firstname.lastname@example.org
Moritz Heck (Institut für Ethnologie/ a.r.t.e.s. Graduate School, Universität zu Köln), email@example.com
Central Asia and the Caucasus
The regional group “Central Asia and the Caucasus” was founded during the DGSKA-Conference in Konstanz in October 2019.
It wants to serve as a platform for the scientific exchange among Social/Cultural Anthropologists and representatives of other disciplines working on the less established regional context of Central Asia and the Caucasus. The group also aims to consolidate the impulses and insights from this research area and contribute these to the wider national and international debate in Social/Cultural Anthropology.
Furthermore, we are interested in joint activities with already existing regional and thematic groups within the DGSKA. Possible themes in this regard are: post-Socialist change and continuity, labour migration (with destination Russian Federation), trends in Muslim societies or regional integration projects such as China’s initiative of a “New Silk Road”.
The regional group advocates an inclusive understanding of territoriality and area, i.e. we also want to take into account those translocal entanglements that exist between former Soviet Republics and their neighbours such as Russia, Afghanistan, China, Iran, Mongolia or Turkey.
Philipp Schröder (Universität Freiburg), firstname.lastname@example.org
We deal with Greater China, a region beyond the People’s Republic of China and Taiwan, that includes Chinese societies elsewhere, and the Chinese diaspora. In the last few years more and more anthropologists in the german-speaking world have started working on China. The RG China represents this regional interest in german-speaking anthropology, and offers a point of contact for students, researchers, and anyone else interested in the anthropology of China. Our research foci include moral change, ethnic minorities in the People’s Republic, family and kinship, the differences between countryside and city, ecological questions, agriculture, and the Chinese diaspora. The RG was founded in autumn 2015.
Jean-Baptiste Pettier (Freie Universität Berlin), email@example.com
Circumpolar and Siberia
The Circumpolar and Siberia group has been reinstated in 2009 and has by now grown to more than 40 members from a range of countries. This includes cultural and social anthropologists that view the DGV as an important professional representation, as well as numerous experts from museums, publishing houses, the media and various NGOs. This professional mix allows for a synergy of competence in the realization of current projects.
The main goal of the group is the strengthening of the Circumpolar and Siberian research field and to highlight contemporary problems and topics of the North by reaching out to an academic and public audience. National and international cooperation, as well as the recruitment of new members are hereby important aims.
Andreas Womelsdorf (Universität Heidelberg), firstname.lastname@example.org
The Regional Group Europe was established in the members assembly 2009 in Frankfurt a. M. when members of the Working Group Social Anthropology of Europe decided to rename their network. At the moment, the RG has around 50 members.
The RG does not understand „Europe“ as a territorial entity. Rather, we stress historical and economic relations between world regions and the manifold symbolic politics around „Europe“ as idea and discourse in historical persepctive.
Past workshops at DGC conferences:
2007: Minorities and their significance for the ethnology of Europe
2009: Honor and shame
2011: Wild Europe
2013: Borders and overstepping boundaries
2015: Socio‐economic and moral blueprints on the rise: Euro-Mediterranean comparisons
For more information please contact the speakers of the Regional Group Europe.
Andreas Streinzer (Universität Wien), email@example.com
Dr. Jelena Tošić (Universität Wien/Universität Bern), firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Karin Polit (Universität Heidelberg, Institut für Ethnologie), email@example.com
Indigenous North America
The GAA regional group „Mediterranean area“ was founded in 2009 at the GAA conference in Frankfurt a. M. by Dieter Haller, Lale Yalçin-Heckmann, Thomas Hauschild, Michaela Schäuble and Martin Zillinger.
Today, the regional group consists of a growing circle of active members who carry out fieldwork in, around and across the Mediterranean Sea. We understand the Mediterranean and the Mediterranean area primarily as a conceptual frame of reference, defined by a long common research tradition and a lively, sometimes controversial scientific exchange. Our approach does not consist in the attempt to grasp a closed region in its heterogeneity, but rather, we are interested in exploring the manifold social, political, economic and religious connections in and across the Mediterranean area. Accordingly, since the very beginning of the regional group, the contemporary and historical relations and interconnectedness between east and west coasts as well as south and north coasts have been among the central research interests.
In our future work, we would like to focus on collaborating with our colleagues from the neighbouring regional groups “Africa”, “Europe” and “Near & Middle East” in order to strengthen scientific exchange and research cooperation and, therefore, be able to tackle current political challenges and entanglements in overarching projects.
The aim of this network is to promote communication between interested researchers from our and other disciplines and to stay informed about current research in the Mediterranean region.
For interested parties and members of the RG Mediterranean we now offer an email distribution list and newsletter, which can be subscribed to here. We kindly ask you to include your name as well.
Christoph Lange (Universität zu Köln), firstname.lastname@example.org
The regional focus group, starting in 2011, is dedicated to study the past and the present of human societies within the cultural area called ‘Mesoamerica’ – a concept defined by Paul Kirchhoff in 1943. Geographically it encompasses the modern states of Mexico and its neighbors to the south as Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, as far as Costa Rica, and characterizes this area as a region of cultural commonalities, recognizable in its archaeological and historical development as well as in wide spread common language families. However, as Kirchhoff already noticed, there can be no fixed geographical boundaries for the concept of ‘Mesoamerica’ because of its cultural dynamics in history. This is of much more importance in the present, since economically driven mobility forces people to migrate to North America, Europe and beyond, where they frequently form diaspora cultures with close relationships to their home countries.
The individual research topics of the group‘s members take those manifold spatial and temporal dynamics into account. Additionally, the common research area brings together different disciplinary approaches as archaeology, epigraphy, ethnohistory, ethnography, social and cultural anthropology, linguistics and more.
Group’ members are students, post-graduates, academic staff and amateurs, working at universities, museums, research institutions as well as in adult education, funding agencies and international cooperative organizations.
During annual and academic meetings current research projects are discussed and the exchange is fostered.
As member of the German Anthropological Society (= DGV), the group aims at the integration of its regional research perspective into current anthropological discussions. Further aims are to strengthen the exchange between its members, museums and research institutions as well as to promote young academics in the DGV.
If you are interested in joining the group or in learning more about its current activities, please contact the spokeswomen.
Dr. Antje Gunsenheimer (Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn, Institut für Archäologie und Kulturanthropologie), email@example.com
Prof. Dr. Eveline Dürr (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Institut für Ethnologie), Eveline.Duerr@ethnologie.lmu.de
Near and Middle East and North Africa
The RG Ozeanien is a sub-group of the German Anthropological Association (GAA). It is an open forum for anthropologists and scholars from neighbouring disciplines in the German-speaking world who specialize in the societies and cultures of Oceania. The RG Ozeanien aims to foster research dialogue and serves German-speaking Oceanists as a platform for international networking and collaboration. It also promotes museum exhibitions and discussions of contemporary issues relating to Oceania.
Currently the RG Ozeanien consists of 99 members (last update in June 2016). Please feel free to contact the representatives of the RG Ozeanien via email if you are interested in becoming a member.
The Regional DGV Group South Asia comprises social/cultural anthropologists specialized on South Asia. The individual members vary greatly regionally, linguistically, thematically, and methodologically. Therefore, they do not form a coherent group with a specific agenda but loosely meet at DGV conferences, some of them presenting papers on their research.
The mailing list has some 40 members (2016). At the last DGV meeting at Marburg five papers have been read, with an attendence of about 25 people.
Ulrich Oberdiek (Universität Heidelberg, Institut für Ethnologie), Ulrich.Oberdiek@t-online.de
Daniel Münster (Universität Heidelberg, Exzellenzcluster „Asia and Europe in a Global Context“), firstname.lastname@example.org
The Southeast Asia regional group serves as a platform for the exchange information on current research and activities in Southeast Asian anthropology. Furthermore, we want to inform the public about topics and areas of concern in Southeast Asia through our activities. Most recently, joint projects initiated by group members have focused on religion, ritual and the environment.
Dr. Kristina Großmann (Universität Passau), email@example.com
Dr. Michaela Haug (Universität Köln), firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Katharina Schneider (Universität Heidelberg), email@example.com