Working Groups

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

Anthropology Education


Dr. Anita Galuschek,

Deputy Spokesperson
Verena Schneeweiß,

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),
Prof. Dr. Christoph Antweiler (Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn, Institut für Orient- und Asienwissenschaften),


Culinary Anthropology


Daniel Kofahl,

Deputy Spokesperson
Bettina Mann (MPI für ethnolog. Forschung, Halle),
Sebastian Schellhaas,

Development Anthropology


Prof. Dr. Frank Bliss,

Deputy Spokesperson
Prof. Dr. Christoph Antweiler,
Stefan Neumann,


Economic Anthropology


Deniz Seebacher,

Deputy Spokesperson
Mario Schmidt (Universität zu Köln),
Thomas Widlok (Universität zu Köln),

Environmental Anthropology

AG UmweltThe 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.


Jeanne Féaux de la Croix (Eberhard-Karls-Universität Tübingen),

Sandra Calkins (Freie Universität Berlin),
Heribert Beckmann (Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg),



Prof. Dr. Annette Hornbacher (Ruprechts-Karls-Universität Heidelberg, Institut für Ethnologie),

Deputy Spokesperson
Dr. Manuel Rauchholz (Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg, Institut für Ethnologie),

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.


Prof. Uwe Wolfradt (Universität Halle-Wittenberg),

Deputy Spokesperson

Dr. Han F. Vermeulen, Max-Planck-Institut für ethnologische Forschung, Halle/Saale,

Material Culture

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),

Media (Anthropology)


Anja Dreschke,

Deputy Spokesperson

Dr. Cora Bender (Universität Siegen),

Medical Anthropology

Foto_MedizineSince 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 (, the group is running a blog (, 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.


Dominik Mattes (Freie Universität Berlin),
Claudia Lang (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München), Claudia.Lang@ethnologie.lmu



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:


Dr. Monika Palmberger (Institut für Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie, Universität Wien),

Deputy Spokesperson

Eva Kössner (Institut für Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie, Universität Wien) ,


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.


Dr. Larissa Förster (Universität Köln),
Dr. Iris Edenheiser (Museum Europäischer Kulturen, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin),


Psychological Anthropology

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.


Prof. Thomas Stodulka (FU Berlin), 

Deputy Spokesperson
Dr. Anita von Poser (FU Berlin),

Visual Anthropology


Prof. Dr. Andreas Ackermann (Universität Koblenz-Landau, Institut für Kulturwissenschaft),

Deputy Spokesperson
Melanie Hackenfort (Universität Koblenz-Landau, Institut für Kulturwissenschaft),

Regional Working Groups



Prof. Dr. Michael Bollig (Universität zu Köln),

Deputy Spokesperson
Prof. Dr. Michaela Pelican (Universität zu Köln),


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),
Moritz Heck (Institut für Ethnologie/ a.r.t.e.s. Graduate School, Universität zu Köln),


RG_ChinaWe 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.


Verena Zimmermann (Institut für Ethnologie, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Xinan Universität Chongqing),

Deputy Spokesperson
Madlen Kobi (Völkerkunde Museum, Universität Zürich),
Jean-Baptise Pettier (Freie Universität Berlin),

Circumpolar and Siberia

Foto_Verena-Traeger-Nordgroenland-Mai-2000The 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),

Deputy Spokesperson
Dr. Gertrude Saxinger (Universität Wien),
Prof. Otto Habeck (Universität Hamburg),


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),

Deputy Spokesperson
Dr. Jelena Tošić (Universität Wien/Universität Bern),

Himalaya Area


Dr. Karin Polit (Universität Heidelberg, Institut für Ethnologie),

Indigenous North America


Regionalgruppe Indigenes NordamerikaDr. Susanne Jauernig (Goethe Universität Frankfurt, Institut für Ethnologie),
Dr. Henry Kammler (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Institut für Ethnologie),
Dr. Markus Lindner (Goethe Universität Frankfurt, Institut für Ethnologie),



Jun.-Prof. Dr. Martin Zillinger (Universität zu Köln, a.r.t.e.s Graduate School for the Humanities),

Deputy Spokesperson
Prof. Dr. Michaela Schäuble (Universität Bern),


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),
Prof. Dr. Eveline Dürr (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Institut für Ethnologie),

Near and Middle East and North Africa


Prof. Dr. Laila Prager (Universität Hamburg),
Dr. Katharina Lange (Zentrum Moderner Orient Berlin),


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.


Dr. Dominik Schieder (Universität Siegen),

Deputy Spokesperson
Dr. Almut Schneider (Goethe Universität Frankfurt),

South America


Dr. Carla Jaimes Betancourt (Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn),
Prof. Dr. Stephanie Schütze (Freie Universität Berlin),

South Asia

DGV_RG-SuedasienThe 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),

Deputy Spokesperson
Daniel Münster (Universität Heidelberg, Exzellenzcluster „Asia and Europe in a Global Context“),

Southeast Asia

RG SüdostasienThe 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),
Dr. Michaela Haug (Universität Köln),
Dr. Katharina Schneider (Universität Heidelberg),