Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Institut für Europäische Ethnologie

Research projects

A list of my research projects

Museums and Society: Mapping the Social

(2020-2024) funded by the Berlin University Alliance

 

Why do people visit museums, who feels addressed, who is excluded? Can collections that are primarily dedicated to the preservation of cultural and natural heritage and the communication of knowledge also foster social relationships? In order to understand the role of museums as institutions at the center of virulent social debates, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Technische Universität Berlin, the Museum für Naturkunde – Leibniz Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity Science and the Research and Documentation Centre at the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin have joined forces to form the interdisciplinary research association "Museums and Society: Mapping the Social" (formerly "Museums as spaces of social cohesion"). Historical perspectives are combined with empirical case studies, research-based teaching and practical interventions in order to reflect on museums and society in a fundamental and innovative way.

 

The project team comprises:

Prof. Dr. Tahani Nadim, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, PI

Dr. Lukas Fuchsgruber, Technische Universität Berlin
Dr. Ina Heumann, Museum für Naturkunde
Dr. Roos Hopman, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and Museum für Naturkunde Berlin
Prof. Dr. Meike Hopp, Technische Universität Berlin
Dr. Andrea Meyer, Technische Universität Berlin
Dr. Patricia Rahemipour, Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz
Prof. Dr. Bénédicte Savoy, Technische Universität Berlin
Dr. Mareike Vennen, Technische Universität Berlin

 

User imaginaries in digital natural history

(2022) pilot study funded by Innovationsfonds, MfN

The digitization of collections transforms the MfN in many ways. It shapes and is shaped by heterogenous actors, some present (digitization staff, specimens), some imagined (users), some absent (source communities). Moreover, digitization is laden with promises: global access, pluripotent usability, data integration as well as the acceleration of biodiversity discovery and the democratization of knowledge and heritage. In short, collection digitization is both a sociotechnical and a sociopolitical phenomenon and therefore represents an important research field also for the social sciences. This project wants to contribute to an understanding of digitization and its far-reaching effects by analyzing a central figure of this field: the potential user. Specifically, the project will draw on qualitative research methods to investigate how and what kind of users become mobilized in the diverse sociotechnical practices that constitute the digitization of natural history collections.  In doing so, we want to productively expand the currently very technology-driven figuration of the user.

 

Project team:

Prof. Dr. Tahani Nadim, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, PI
Freia Kuper, MA, and Museum für Naturkunde Berlin

 

Zoological Gardens and Natural History Museum Berlin, 1810 to 2020

(2018-2021), BMBF-funded cooperative research project

“Animals as Objects. Zoological Gardens and Natural History Museum Berlin, 1810 to 2020” is a cooperative research project funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research between the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, the Humboldt-University of Berlin and the Berlin Zoo plc. It investigates the processes by which animals are turned into objects – living zoo attraction, museum exhibits, diplomatic matters, teaching tools and data sets. The project investigates four, in many ways related scientific collections: the Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, the Zoological Garden, part of which are also the Aquarium and the Tierpark, as well as the Teaching Collection of the Zoological Institute of the Humboldt University Berlin. Focus of the research are the traffics and transformations of animal-objects within and between these Berlin-based sites of knowledge in their global, political, scientific and cultural context. Investigations of the animal-objects center on their material, data and discursive ecologies which form and inform their care, conservation and sustainability.

https://animalsasobjects.org

The project team comprises:

Prof. Dr. Tahani Nadim, HU Berlin and Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, PI
Dr. Ina Heumann, Museum für Naturkunde Berlin
Dr. Filippo Bertoni, Museum für Naturkunde Berlin
Dr. Mareike Vennen, HU Berlin
PD Dr. Britta Lange, HU Berlin
Dr. Clemens Maier-Wolthausen, Zoo Berlin