European Ethnology – in contrast to the more established humanities a young discipline – has from its beginning centred its analytical focus on the strange, the Other and the becoming Other in one’s own, familiar surroundings. European Ethnology is thus a very international discipline that thrives on the curiosity about and lively exchange with its neighbours – spatially, epistemically or temporally. Hence it is a discipline and an institute in Berlin that wholeheartedly and enthusiastically supports and furthers the Erasmus exchange programme.
The international exchange and translation cannot be overestimated in its importance for the genealogical development of the discipline. A couple of examples: The US American Sociologist Robert E. Park founded the Chicago School of Sociology within a climate in the 1920s of modern expansion. Park had studied with Georg Simmel in Berlin and the urban ethnographic studies he instigated back in Chicago remain an important intellectual orientation for European Ethnology today. As many other scholars that proved inspirational to the discipline, Park never restricted himself to the study of the unfamiliar and strange with his own cultural sphere. Rather, he travelled in order to educate his analytical glance on ways of thinking, languages and cultures of exchange. Similarly, Pierre Bourdieu – another key figure in the development of European Ethnology – evolved his thinking of field and practice theory through a study of social practices amongst the Kabyle people of Northern Algeria, which he conducted during the French colonial war. In an interview, Bourdieu describes this experience as a turning point, an ethnographic turn, that, as we know today, left crucial imprintings on the mind and research of this young French social theorist.
Every year we are looking forward to welcoming international guests at our institute: from students to visiting professors. We are particularly keen on creating a stay that fosters and broadens your specific interests while at the same time exposing you to an intellectual environment that will “estrange” you from your respective home institutions, thus forming the basis for a creative impulse upon your return.So as you can see: you are more than welcome at our institute! In fact, we need you as a critical outside perspective on our own educational and research practices and we are looking forward to having you. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any queries and comments you may have.