Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Institut für Europäische Ethnologie



Wintersemester 2019/20

How do you do 'the future'? News from the Anthropology of Time
Dr. Felix Ringel (Anthropology, Durham University)
16.12.2019, 14 - 18:00 & Tuesday 17.12.2019, 9 - 12:00

Anthropology has recently undergone what some refer to as a 'temporal turn'. One outcome of this turn was that, finally, the future emerged as a topic of ethnographic and theoretical relevance in its own right. This workshop explores what it means for our discipline to take the future seriously, in theoretical, analytical, methodological and political terms. Given that most human activity is focused not on the past but on the future, it is about time that we refine our approach to what our informants, wrongly or rightly, predict, anticipate, expect, dread, fear, hope for or imagine. For that, we will discuss a small sample of recent contributions to the anthropology of the future on the first day. On the second day, students are encouraged to answer the workshop’s guiding question: How do they do, if at all, the future in their own work?


Preparatory Readings

Bear, L. 2017 "Anthropological futures: for a critical political economy of capitalist time” Social Anthropology 25(2): 142-158.

Ringel, F. 2018 Back to the Postindustrial Future: An Ethnography of Germany’s Fastest Shrinking City New York, Oxford: Berghahn. (Introduction: Anthropology and the Future)

Bryant, R. and D. Knight 2019 The Anthropology of the Future Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (Introduction: The Future of the Future in Anthropology)

Felix Ringel is Lecturer in the Department of Anthropology at Durham University. His work on time, the future, and urban regeneration has been published in leading anthropological journals such as The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Critique of Anthropology and Anthropological Theory. He is the author of Back to the Postindustrial Future: An Ethnography of Germany’s Fastest-Shrinking City and the coeditor of The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology’s special issue on “Time-Tricking: Reconsidering Temporal Agency in Troubled Times”.



Ethnographic Writing in Practice: Little Routines and Deep Breathing
Ethnographic Writing in Practice: Little Routines and Deep Breathing
Dr. Maxime Le Calvé (Cluster of Excellence “Matters of Activity”)
6 Februar (9:00 - 17:00) & 7 Februar 2020 (9:00 - 13:00)

Location: Zentrallabor. Cluster of Excellence "Matters of Activity"
Sophienstrasse 22a (second courtyard). D-10178 Berlin


By way of this immersive workshop, my first aim is to offer techniques and tools to overcome the obstacles that occur in ethnographic and more generally academic writing, and in particular that of the dissertation. More importantly, I will suggest a heuristic posture in which the dissertation is experienced as a process of continuous and possibly playful experimentation on one’s own writing habits. Writing will be presented as both a mental and physical process requiring appropriate conditions and a conducive environment.

There is now a considerable literature on procrastination and blocking for academic writers 1. This research shows that the introduction of effective work routines, i. e. counteracting blocking conditions, requires, in particular, the fragmentation of working time, as well as the implementation of practices aimed at overcoming negative thoughts and loneliness. Hence, the days of the workshop are structured into sequences of short sessions: writing group exercises, moments dedicated to individual projects, activation and relaxation sessions for the body and the mind. The major challenge is to shift the mindset of young scholars from a results-centered approach to one that focuses on the writing process itself. In addition, we will borrow tools and methods from fiction writers to trigger and enrich text production though writing prompts2.

By providing an alternative framework, this workshop allows young researchers to initiate an investigation into their own practices, and toward a sustainable balance that will contribute to a good quality of life and a high quality of writing. As a follow-up, writing and sharing sessions will be offered within the Cluster of Excellence "Matters of Activity".


1 See in particular Robert Boice, Procrastination and Blocking: A Novel, Practical Approach(Praeger, 1996); Paul J. Silvia, How to Write a Lot: A Practical Guide to Productive Academic Writing, 1st ed. (Washington, DC: Amer Psychological Assn, 2007); Peg Boyle Single, Demystifying Dissertation Writing: A Streamlined Process from Choice of Topic to Final Text(Sterling, Va: Stylus Pub Llc, 2009).


2 We will rely on Kirin Narayan, Alive in the Writing: Crafting Ethnography in the Company of Chekhov(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012).




Sommersemester 2019

The liberation of culture: anthropology and after - Alberto Corsín Jiménez (Monday 3.6.2018 10-2pm & Tuesday 4.6.2018 9-12)

Anthropology has long been regarded as the study of culture and social relations.  So what happens to anthropology when challenged by “free culture”?  How does the contemporary culture of liberation—free intellectual property licenses, open source infrastructures, open data archives—affect the liberation of culture, in anthropology and beyond? During the first day of the workshop, we are going to discuss the practical and ethico-political challenges brought by free culture and review current anthropological projects that respond in exemplary ways to these questions. During the second day, we are going to reflect on how these challenges can be made productive to ‚liberate' your PhD projects.

Preparatory Readings

Alberto Corsín Jiménez is Reader in the Department of Social Anthropology at the Spanish National Research Council in Madrid. He is co-founder of the open access collective Libraria and the open source urban infrastructure of apprenticeships Ciudad Escuela.  His publications include Prototyping cultures: art, science and politics in beta (ed. Routledge, 2017), An Anthropological Trompe l’oeil for a Common World (Berghahn 2013), Culture and well-being: anthropological approaches to freedom and political ethics (ed. Pluto, 2008), and The anthropology of organisations (ed. Ashgate, 2007) and ). He is currently writing an ethnographic history of the free culture movement in Spain.