Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Institut für Europäische Ethnologie



Abgeschlossene Workshops und Conference panels:


  • FINAL WORKSHOP: "Approaching chronicity in mental healthcare: the doings of a classification and its infrastructures"

Berlin, Friday, November 20, 2015
09:30 a.m. – 06:00 p.m.

Guest discussants: Michele Lancione, Henriette Langstrup, Jeannette Pols

This workshop aims at presenting and discussing the central interpretations of our ethnographic research project titled “The Production of Chronicity in Mental Healthcare and Research in Berlin” (2010-2016, funded by the German Research Foundation DFG). Dedicated to the field of Science and Technology Studies we investigated the classification “chronically mentally ill” as an actor in a variety of mental healthcare services in Berlin, reaching from psychiatric wards and day hospitals to therapeutic day care and contemporary housing programmes, among others. Additionally we followed the classification in the lives of people with psychiatric diagnosis and in both current psychiatric research and healthcare services research in Germany.

Participating in these diverse settings, we have focused on the socio-material activities of classifying with special emphasis on the infrastructures implicated. For instance we engaged with the daily challenges and routines in tuning therapeutic and organizational tasks and got into administrative and legal papers for scrutinizing their relation to the daily healthcare practices.

Drawing upon our ethnographic material, we will discuss the meanings the classification “chronically ill” acquires in mental healthcare through institutional, regulative and private practices. We will debate examples of classifying subjects or phenomena as “chronic” in clinical and community mental health care services. Additionally we will bring to discussion how medical and legal classifications co-articulate in policy affords to regulate the mental healthcare system. Finally we will present how mental healthcare support has been experienced by clients and how these experiences inform our ecological understanding of care.

Laboratory: Social Anthropology of Science and Technology
Institute for European Ethnology, Humboldt-University of Berlin
Mohrenstraße 41, 10117 Berlin

Registration is free, but places are limited. Please register till Oct 30, 2015 by sending an Email to Milena D. Bister.

We are looking forward to your participation!

The organizers
Milena Bister, Martina Klausner, Jörg Niewöhner


  • Session Resources in the making. Konferenz des Institute for Advanced Studies on Science, Technology and Society, Graz. 05. - 07.05.2013

Organisation: Michaela Mayrhofer und Milena D. Bister.

A resource is often defined as a source from which benefit is (potentially) produced or as a means to undertake an enterprise to achieve a desired outcome. Resources range from natural resources such as ground water to human resources such as labour. Perceived as (un-)limited, (un-)accessible, (non-)commercial, (non-)renewable, etc., debates about the proper use or access to resources take place in various fields such as biology, economics, land management or computer science. Depending on the context, resources are linked to concepts such as competition, sustainability, conservation or stewardship.


The aim of this session is to better understand both what resources are and how resources come into being in particular times and places, as well as across contexts and disciplines. We invite papers that empirically approach the making of the concept („resource“) in discourses and practices. Theoretical contributions will also be considered.


  • Session Mutual exchanges of concepts and practices. Konferenz der European Association for the Study of Science and Technology, Copenhagen Business School, Kopenhagen. 17.10.-21.10.2012

Organisation: Milena D. Bister und Emily Kuria.

The relationship between theoretical concepts and hands-on practices is a well established topic of investigation and thought to STS scholars. While concepts might be privileged over practice and/or vice versa, STS perspectives have challenged those views in favor of exploring mutual processes of stabilization and destabilization of the both in general.

Consequently, the focus of our panel is threefold: First, we ask how concepts (e.g. classifications as “chronically ill” or categories such as “gender”) shape professional practices, and how they influence artifacts and infrastructures in workplaces. Second, we aim to grasp how infrastructures and everyday practices (e.g. in laboratories and clinics) including objects involved, make concepts present or absent or provoke their relocation. Last but not least we also wish to expound on the methodological challenges of an ethnographic engagement that takes the interdependency of concepts and practices seriously. We would be very interested in papers that demonstrate empirical investigation of the above-mentioned focus of study, however, theoretical reflections will also be considered.

Our own research tackles the issues mentioned above in the professional fields of psychiatry and synthetic biology respectively. Scholars engaged in ethnographic studies of other professional domains with similar questions at the center of their research are welcomed!


"Producing the Ordinary in the Face of Crisis"

Convenors: Martina Klausner & Milena D. Bister (Humboldt-University), Livia Velpry (CESAMES/Université Paris 8)

The workshop will focus on examples where crisis does not pass by butpersists as a matter of permanent threat (e.g. persistent mentalillness) and demands continuous practices of integrating the uncertain into the daily routines. We will explore what happens when crisis becomes "a way of living".
Daily routines and habits are usually characterized as seeminglyimplicit and self-evident and repetitious in nature. At the same time they are understood as highly important  to organize everyday life and generate a sense of predictability. Usually through the  experience of crisis and fundamental shifts in life those routines become challenged.  Such circumstances lay bare the continuous work that has been needed to make them run smoothly. The workshop intends to focus on examples where the ordinary becomes radically unstable, that is crisis does not pass by but rather persists as a matter of  permanent threat. Such forms of ongoing, persistent crisis - be it e.g. through the experience  of chronic illnesses and respective relapses or of social and geographical displacement  due to migration – demand continuous  practices of integrating the uncertain into the daily routines of life.
In the workshop we aim to attend to these examples to scrutinize firstly, how a sense of  the ordinary (e.g. in social relationships, mobility, time structures) needs to be continuously adapted and re- organized in order to establish routines. Secondly, those cases encourage examining how the constant process of anticipating potential subsequent crisis reshapes the meaning and value of daily habits.
Drawing from our own empirical research with people experiencing persistent mental illness we invite scholars from other fields who are interested in exploring what happens when crisis becomes "a way of living" to join our workshop.