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Professorship for Comparative Cultural and Social Anthropology

The academic field of ‚Comparative Cultural and Social Anthropology‘ addresses dynamic cultural horizons of meaning production and social processes in contemporary societies, which we approach not only comparatively but also in their transnational dimensions and historical entanglements.

At many other German universities, this field can often be found under the disciplinary headings of ethnology or the older term ”Völkerkunde”. By foregrounding the concept of anthropology at the European University Viadrina, we emphasize that our field or discipline does not limit itself to the study of nationally or ethnically framed ‚cultures‘ in the plural, and aim to critically reflect upon and transform these problematic traditions. What is more, we conceptualize culture(s) not as stable, long-lasting ‚systems‘ of norms, values, ways of thinking etc., but rather as discursive fields in which norms, values and interpretations are contested, institutionalized but also challenged and transformed. Acknowledging the historical responsibility of the early discipline of anthropology and ethnology in its support for European colonialism and its long-lasting effects on Western knowledge production, we critically engage this legacy by drawing on post- and decolonial perspectives.

As a team at the professorship of Comparative Social and Cultural Anthropology, we are particularly interested in critically analyzing the power dynamics that enable to enforce particular cultural meanings as supposedly natural, god-given, morally required or without alternative, and that are involved in the production of structural, institutional and lifeworld-centered social inequalities. In our teaching and research, we focus on racism, antisemitism, islamophobia, class relations, gender orders and sexual diversity, and on how these structures and orders are produced, experienced and challenged. We understand these different dimensions of socially, politically and culturally effective inequalities as complex, interrelated, and intersectionally articulated.

Another central area of research within the team is represented by migration and border studies, which we study conceptually, historically and geopolitically mainly in reference to the EU and adjoining third countries, but also the post-soviet space. In different research projects, we address questions of migration and inclusion in multicultural societies, the transformation of European border regimes, with cultural change and political conflict in border regions, with international retirement migration, with migration and public health policies, with the dynamics of exile cultures, and with urban postmigrant youth cultures.

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