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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Institut für Europäische Ethnologie

Jonas Tinius, Ph.D.

Curriculum Vitae | Publications | Teaching | Conferences/Talks
Jonas Tinius Ph.D.
Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter (Forschungsprojekt)
jonas.tinius (at) hu-berlin.de
Web Adresse

Einrichtung (OKZ)
Philosophische Fakultät → Institut für Europäische Ethnologie
Mohrenstraße 40/41 , Raum 402/403
+49 (0)302093-70887

nach Vereinbarung

  • Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter (post-doc) at the Centre for Anthropological Research on Museums and Heritage (CARMaH) in the research project „Making Differences in Berlin: 'Transforming Museums and Heritage in the 21st Century'

  • I am an anthropologist working on contemporary art, curatorial practices, and political theatre in Germany, particularly the postindustrial Ruhr Valley and Berlin. My ethnographic research explores the ways in which contemporary artists, curators, and art institutions (galleries, project spaces, museums, theatres) develop alternative strategies and concepts to deal with otherness and alterity. Since beginning at CARMAH in June 2016, I have been conducting comparative and collaborative research with the gallery of the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (ifa) in Berlin-Mitte, the artistic project space SAVVY Contemporary, and the municipal gallery of Berlin-Wedding.

  • As part of CARMAH’s “Transforming the Ethnographic” research area within its major Alexander von Humboldt-Foundation funded project Making Differences in Berlin: Transforming Museums and Heritage in the 21st century, my research follows the exhibition making and curatorial planning in these spaces to explore the boundaries and productive intersections of ethnographic, artistic, and curatorial work and the relations between art and anthropology more generally. This entails investigating how contemporary artists and curators generate and can contribute to new ways of addressing some of the contentious issues facing heritage projects like the Humboldt-Forum today, and how curatorial practices and artistic spaces mobilise critical theories and position themselves within Berlin to address the contested future of German and European identity and heritage in the face of rising nationalisms and migration movements. These issues include, but are not limited to, artistic research methods and alternative forms of knowledge production, the relation of the ‘West’ to the ‘non-West’, participatory and relational visitor engagement, institutional critique, postcolonial perspectives on shared heritage and cosmopolitanism.

    My approach is collaborative and recursive, since I consider artistic practices and institutions to be sites for kinds of reflexive theorising that are pertinent to core anthropological debates about subjectivity, political agency, alterity, and ethics. Among the central aims of my research are therefore, first, a rethinking of institutions as reflexive sites and public theorisers of difference and diversity in Berlin and Germany. Second, I seek to reposition contemporary art practices and communities as fields of expertise for the negotiation of Germany’s relation to European and non-European art and cultural heritage. In the process of working through these relations ethnographically, it may evidently turn out to be fruitful, and indeed necessary, to interrogate and find alternative concepts to the very categories of analysis that underlie the project, such as ‘contemporary’, ‘expertise’, or ‘anthropological/ethnological/ethnographic’.

    Prior to joining the Berlin team, I completed long-term ethnographic research on German public theatre institutions, freelance theatre collectives, and critical refugee theatre initiatives as part of my PhD at the Division of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge, UK (awarded July 2016). I continue to work collaboratively with these institutions and initiatives in Berlin and the Ruhr Valley on issues such as post-Fordist labour conditions in the arts, ethical self-cultivation, and artistic representations of otherness in contemporary theatre. I am currently preparing a book manuscript based on this research, entitled State of the Arts: Anthropology, German Theatre, and Political Self-Cultivation.

Selected publications 



  • ‘Awkward Art and Difficult Heritage: Nazi Art Collectors and Postcolonial Archives’, in: Thomas Fillitz. Ed. An Anthropology of Contemporary Art: Practices, Markets, and Collectors. London: Bloomsbury, pp. 130– 145. [LINK]
  • ‘Artistic Diplomacy: On Civic Engagement and Transnational Theatre’, in: Breed, Ananda and Tim Prentki. (eds.) Performance and Civic Engagement. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 269-300. [LINK]


  • 'Art as ethical practice: anthropological observations on and beyond theatre'. World Art 7(2). Special issue on Aesthetics and Ethics. [LINK
  • 'Anthropological observations on artistic subjectivation and institutional reflexivity: the theatre project Ruhrorter with refugees at the Theater an der Ruhr', in: Matthias Warstat et al. (eds.) Applied Theatre - Frames and Positions. Berlin: Theater der Zeit, pp. 205-235. [LINK].
  • ‘Prekarität und Ästhetisierung: Reflexionen zu postfordistischer Arbeit in der freien Theaterszene’, in: Ove Sutter and Valeska Flor (eds.) Ästhetisierung der Arbeit. Kulturanalysen des kognitiven Kapitalismus. Münster: Waxmann, pp. 139–156. [LINK]

  • ‘The Porosity of Darkness: A Conversation on Architecture, Multimedia Arts, and the Venice Biennale’ (with Danish artist Kirstine Roeppstorff and curator of the Danish Pavilion Solvej Helweg Ovesen). Mousse Magazine. 13 September 2017. [LINK]

  • ‘Sparring Partners: An Introduction to the Gallery Reflections Series’, opening online column for ifa- gallery 2017-2018 one-year programme Untie to tie: Colonial Legacies and Contemporary Societies, ifa-Galerie, Berlin/Germany. [LINK]

  • ‘Bare Lives: A Conversation’ (Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung, Solvej Helweg Ovesen, Mario Rizzi, Jonas Tinius), in: Bare Lives, edited by Mario Rizzi, based on an exhibition curated by Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung and Solvej Helweg Ovesen.] Berlin: Archive books, pp. 68–75.


  • ‘Foreword: The charitable relation’, in: Art as a Medium for Action. [Exhibition catalogue, edited by Gyunel Rustamova, curated by Cinthia Willaman.] London: Langham Press, pp. 4–6. [LINK]
  • ‘Economy, Happiness, and the Good Life’. An Interview with Prof Edward Fischer (Vanderbilt) on The Good Life. King’s Review. 2016 (1): 90–102.
  • 'Palace coups: reconstructing history in the heart of Berlin' (with Khadija von Zinnenburg Carroll, Oxford). The Calvert Journal. June 2016. [Link]
  • ‘Institutions’ (with Lidia Rossner). Entry in GRAPA research group web dictionary, in collaboration with ‘Anthropology of Art’ interest group of VANEASA (Visual Anthropology Network of European Association of Social Anthropologists). June 2016. [Link]
  • Review: Sansi, Roger (2015): Art, Anthropology and the Gift. London: Bloomsbury. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. 22 (1): 215-216. [Link]
  • ‘Rehearsing detachment: refugee theatre and dialectical fiction’. Journal of Art and Anthropology Cadernos de Arte e Antropologia. 5(1): 21-38. [Link]
  • ‘Micro-utopias: anthropological perspectives on art, creativity, and relationality’ (introduction to special issue). With Ruy Blanes, Alex Flynn, and Maïté Maskens. Journal of Art and Anthropology/Cadernos de Arte e Antropologia. 5(1): 5-20. [link]

  • ‘Micro-utopias: connections in anthropology, art, relationality and creativity’ (Special issue, co-edited with Ruy Blanes, Alex Flynn, and Maïté Maskens. Journal of Art and AnthropologyCadernos de Arte e Antropologia. 5 (1). [link]


  • Anthropology, Theatre, and Development: The Transformative Potential of Performance, edited with Alex Flynn. Basingstoke/New York: Palgrave Macmillan. [link]

  • ‘Between professional precariousness and creative self-organisation: the free performing arts scene in Germany’, in: Mobile Autonomy. Organizing Ourselves as Artists Today, edited by Pascal Gielen and Nico Dockx. Amsterdam: Valiz, pp. 159-181. [link]

Recent/upcoming talks


  • Panel (as organiser): ‘The Future of Anthropological Representation: Contemporary Art and/in the Ethnographic Museum’. Chair and Convenor of Panel at Royal Anthropological Institute Major Conference ‘Art, Materiality, and Representation’, British Museum/SOAS, London/UK. 1-3 June 2018. [Link to CfP]
  • Lecture: Friedrich-Hölderlin-Gastvortrag in Allgemeiner und Vergleichender Theaterwissenschaft (invited): ‘‚Deep Hanging Out’: Über anthropologische Feldforschung und zeitgenössische Kunst’, Institut für Theater-, Film- und Medienwissenschaften, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt am Main/Germany. 23 January 2018. [LINK
  • Ringvorlesung: ‘Je est un autre.’ Ein anthropologischer Blick auf Fiktion, Identität und Alterität in der darstellenden Kunst’, in: Ringvorlesung ‘Tiere, Maschinen und andere Menschen. Zur anthropologischen Kritik in den Künsten, Freie-Universität Berlin / Free University Berlin. 9 January 2018.


  • Public Dialogue: ‘Décolonisons nos réflexions/Decolonise our reflections’ (with Alya Sebti). Part of EHESS Art-Anthropology residency programme ‘Concrete Mirror’ by Alex Ungprateeb Flynn and Noara Quintana. La Colonie, Paris/France. 5 December 2017.

  • Workshop (as organiser): Ethnografisches (Be)Schreiben in den Künsten – Methodenerweiterung’, Sonderveranstaltung (Blockseminar) für Mittelbauangehörige des Instituts für Theaterwissenschaft, Fachbereich Philosophie und Geisteswissenschaften, Freie Universität Berlin/Germany, 26 November 2017.

  • Panelist: ‘Sie verlassen jetzt den künstlerischen Sektor, oder: Der Trend zur Nützlichkeit / You are now leaving the artistic sector, or: On the trend towards usefulness in art’. Mit ALICE CREISCHER [Künstlerin, Berlin], MARIA-SIBYLLA LOTTER [Philosophin, Universität Bochum], MICHAEL LÜTHY [Kunsthistoriker, Universität Weimar], JONAS TINIUS [Anthropologe, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin]. Im Rahmen des UdK- Einsteinprojekts Autonomie und Funktionalisierung. ACUD MACHT NEU, Berlin/Germany. 24 November 2017.

  • Presentation and chair: ‘Anthropology, Museums, and Diversity’. Diversity. Jahrestagung des Landesverbandes der Museen Berlin e.V., organised by Diversity.Arts.Culture – Berliner Projektbüro für Diversitätsentwicklung, Landesverband der Museen Berlin, and Museumsdienst Berlin. Märkisches Museum, Berlin/Germany. 20 November 2017.

  • Public Discussion (as organiser): ‘Gallery reflection # 3: Art and (New) Intersectional Feminisms’ (with Prof Alanna Lockward, Prof Kathy-Ann Tan, and Federica Bueti), ifa-Galerie Berlin, Berlin/Germany. 16 November 2017. [Link to video]

  • Lecture: ‘Back to the Future Heritage: On Palatial Space and Anthropological Collaboration’, Anthropology Department, University of Manchester, Manchester/UK. 13 November 2017.

  • Chair and discussant: Opening keynote speech and panel discussions with Dr Christina Johansson (Malmö University, Sweden), Léontine Meijer-van Mensch (Jewish Museum Berlin), and Belinda Kazeem-Kamiński (Vienna Academy of Fine Arts). Future Memories. Remembrance Culture(s) of Migration Society, three-day workshop in cooperation with the Centre for Metropolitan Studies (Technical University Berlin), W.M. Blumenthal Academy, Jewish Museum Berlin, Berlin/Germany. 26-28 September 2017.

  • Chair and discussant: Exhibition Cabinet of the Unknown / Cabinet d’Ignorance with curators Dr. Michael Korey (Dresden) and Ece Pazarbasi (International Fellow Curator, Kulturstiftung des Bundes, Istanbul/Berlin), Museum der Dinge/Museum of Things, Berlin-Kreuzberg, Germany. 25 September 2017.

  • Keynote: Ethnography of the Arts: Perspectives on Theatre and Beyond’. Ethnographie der Künste, Künste der Ethnographie. Summer School at Villa Arson, jointly organised by FU Berlin and Université Paris Ouest Nanterre, 17-24 September 2017, Nice/France.

  • Tagung: ‘Das Politische in der Kunst: Anthropologische Betrachtungen’, Sektion VIII: Kunst-Medien-Politik, geleitet von Prof Christian Grüny, ‘Die Phänomenologie und das Politische’, Jahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Phänomenologischen Forschung, Institut für Philosophie, FernUniversität in Hagen/Deutschland. 13-16. September 2017.

  • Seminar: ‘Anthropologie in/und/mit künstlerischer Praxis: Zur Ethnografie als Methode’. Eingeladener Beitrag im Workshop Aufführungsanalyse vs. Ethnographie? Zur Transdisziplinarität von Analysemethoden in der Theaterwissenschaft, Institut für Film-, Theater- und empirischer Kulturwissenschaft (IFTeK), Johannes-Gutenberg-Universität Mainz, Mainz/Germany. 13 September 2017.

  • Congress: ‘'The projectual and the contemporary: thinking about artistic precarity across time and space'. Work with/out borders. Precarity and the performing arts conference, organized by Prof Katharina Pewny et al., Performing Arts & Media, Department of Art Studies, Ghent University/Belgium. 18-19 March 2017.
  • Conference: ‘Ethnographic methods in theatre studies’. Methoden der Theaterwissenschaft, Konferenz organisiert von Prof Christopher Balme, Institut für Theaterwissenschaft, LMU Munich/Germany. 3-4 February 2017. 


  • Seminar: ‘Reviewer meets reviewed’ (with Dr Roger Sansi). Seminar at the British Museum, organised by the Royal Anthropological Institute, British Museum, London/UK, 17 November 2016.
  • Workshop:'Beobachter unter sich: ethnografisches Forschen in der Kunst'. cobratheater.cobra Netzwerktreffen, Uferstudios für zeitgenössischen Tanz Berlin, 23-25 September 2016.
  • Conference: ‘Cultivating character: detachment in theatre and German society’. Anthropology of Character conference organised by Dr Adam Reed. Department of Social Anthropology, University of St Andrews/Scotland. 1-2 September 2016.
  • Conference (discussant): 'The Art of Slowing Down' (P086), at EASA 2016 (Conference of the European Association of Social Anthropologists), Milan/Italy, 20-23 July 2016.
  • Podiumsdiskussion: 'Kultur und Flucht - Möglichkeitsräume in der Krise?' mit Oliver Keymis (Landtagsvizepräsident NRW), Helmut Schäfer (Dramaturg, Theater an der Ruhr), Ulle Schauws (MdB, Sprecherin Kulturpolitik, Bündnis 90/Die Grünen), Theater an der Ruhr, Mülheim, 28 Juni 2016, 19.00h. (Link)
  • Conference: ‘Appropriating Universal Centrality: Containing the World in Berlin’s new Humboldt Forum’ (with Khadija von Zinnenburg Carroll, Oxford). ‘The Centre Cannot Hold’? New Monumentality, Neo-Modernism and Other Zombie Urban Utopias conference hosted by the UCL SSEES FRINGE Centre, The Calvert 22 Gallery, and the UCL School of Slavonic and Eastern European Studies, Calvert 22 Gallery London/ UK, organised by Dr Michal Murawski (UCL) and Dr Jonathan Bach (New School, NYU), 10-11 June 2016.
  • Conference: ‘Rehearsing conduct and gesture: notes on art as ethical practice’. The Ethics of Gesture conference organised by Dr Lucia Ruprecht at Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge/UK. 16 April 2016. Keynote: Prof Rebecca Schneider (Brown/USA).
  • Conference: ‘Engaging art: urban diversity, public institutions, and the ‘refugee crisis’’. Experiencing Difference and Diversity in Contemporary Germany conference organised by Prof Sharon Macdonald and Dr Jan-Jonathan Bock. Institute for European Ethnology, Humboldt University of Berlin/Germany. 14-16 April 2016.
  • Seminar (chair): ‘On Detachment and Relations’. Chaired discussion with Prof Hallvard Lillehammer (Philosophy, Birkbeck) and Dr Matei Candea (Anthropology, Cambridge) at the Centre for Research of the Arts, Social Sciences, and Humanities (CRASSH), Cambridge/UK. 25 April 2016.


  • Workshop (co-organiser): Re-Theorising the Avant-Garde Today: Interdisciplinary Perspectives. Co-convened with Prof Georgina Born (Music & Anthropology, Oxford) and Dr Chris Haworth (Music, Oxford). King’s College, University of Cambridge/UK. 12-13 December 2015. Keynote: Prof Branden W. Joseph (Art History, Columbia, NY/USA).


  • In January 2018, I joined the editorial board of the peer-reviewed interdisciplinary anthropology journal World Art and I became a Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland.

  • Since 2017, Roger Sansi and I convene the Anthropology and the Arts Network (ANTART) within the European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA). The objective of the ANTART Network is to advance the scholarship, discussion, and presence of anthropological approaches to the arts. It also seeks to build on its existing network of scholars, artists, and institutions to continue its exchanges with alternative cultural production venues in future EASA locations, thus building links between the university and other public or civil society initiatives.

  • In October 2014, I launched the independent Anthropologies of Art Network [A/A] with Dr Alex Flynn (Anthropology, Durham), which seeks to bridge the gap between artistic practice and ethnographic investigation, focusing on theory-building in contemporary art. Our inaugural conference took place at the University of Durham (‘Contemporary Anthropologies of Art’) in September 2015 with keynote speaker Prof Arnd Schneider (Anthropology, Oslo).

  • Since 2013, I have been accompanying the refugee theatre and arts collective Ruhrorterand document their projects and rehearsals. I am currently preparing a book chapter for Theater der Zeit on the aesthetics of the project, and have written about it in this special issue. The project has been based at the Theater an der Ruhr and has been funded by the Federal Government of North Rhine-Westphalia, the Fonds Soziokultur, and Interkultur Ruhr.

  • Between 2013 and 2016, I was founding co-convenor of the Mellon/Newton-funded Cambridge Interdisciplinary Performance Network based at the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences, and Humanities (CRASSH). Through bi-weekly seminars and through three major conferences, we explored the concept of ‘performance’ as a way to stimulate interdisciplinary conversations between scholars and artists on topics like visuality and archives, the digital future, city life and the public sphere. The seminar series 2015/2016 focused the theme InterActivity: Performing Relations with an opening talk by Prof Martin Puchner (Harvard). An interesting example for one of our sessions has been published recently: “Art and anthropology after relations”. A Conversation between Roger Sansi and Marilyn Strathern. HAU – The Journal of Ethnographic Theory. Vol. 6, No. 2 (2016).