Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Institute for European Ethnology



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November 18, 2016

Together with the Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft (HTW) as part of the HTW Lecture Series, CARMaH welcomed Wayne Modest, who gave a thought-provoking and well-received talk on Ethnographic Museums and the Question of the Postcolonial at the Department of European Ethnology to a packed auditorium. Dr. Wayne Modest is the Head of the Curatorial Department at the Tropenmuseum. He was previously the Keeper of Anthropology at the Horniman Museums and Gardens in London and Director of the Museums of History and Ethnography in Kingston, Jamaica, and has held visiting research fellowships at the Yale Centre for British Art, Yale University and the School for Museums Studies, New York University. The talk was followed by a panel discussion with Wayne Modest as well as Heike Hartmann and Sebastian Gottschalk, curators of current exhibition „German Colonialism. Fragments Past and Present“ (German Historical Museum), which takes a closer look at ethnographic, historical and scientific collections acquired during the colonial era.


November 1, 2016

The Centre for Anthropological Research on Museums and Heritage (CARMaH) together with the Department of European Ethnology (IfEE) hosted a lecture by Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Chief Curator of the Core Exhibition at POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews and University Professor Emerita and Professor Emerita of Performance Studies at New York University, on the topic of "Curating Between Hope and Despair: Creating POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews". The talk explored the challenges for Jewish museums in Europe today as well as ensuing questions through the unique perspective of the newest of them, the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw, which opened its multimedia narrative exhibition, a journey of a thousand years, in October 2014. The talk took place as part of the IfEE's Tuesday Colloquium on November 1st, 2016 from 6pm to approx. 8pm.


August 10, 2016

CARMaH has launched a new page on its website called Reflections. Here, researchers who have attended our events - including those not open to the general public - have the opportunity to reflect upon the experience and share their insights with a broader audience.


July 4, 2016

Report on the Talk "What are Museums Good for in the 21st Century"

The Centre for Anthropological Research on Museums and Heritage (CARMaH) hosted a well-attended panel discussion on the subject of What are museums good for in the 21st Century? Around the world, new museums are being built and older ones are being revitalized. Many are interrogating and redefining their roles and purpose; and are positioning themselves as significant actors in public culture, aiming to prompt social reflection, inspire creativity and foster senses of cosmopolitan citizenship. The discussion centred around such questions as: Are museums really good at playing their self-chosen (public) roles? Do other institutions do it better? Are collections a help or a hindrance? How productive are notions such as ‘curiosity’, ‘inclusion’ and ‘dialogue’? And what else are museums good for in the 21st Century?

After an insightful impulse by Nicholas Thomas, Director of the Museum of Anthropology and Archaeology at the University of Cambridge and author of his recently published book The Return of Curiosity. What Museums are Good for in the 21st Century (2016, London: Reaktion Books), a lively discussion amongst panelists and audience ensued. Chaired by CARMaH Director Sharon Macdonald, panel members Inka Bertz (Head of Collections, Jewish Museum Berlin), Verena Lepper (Curator for Egyptian and Oriental Papyri, Egyptian Museum of Berlin), Sven Sappelt (Curator, Humboldt Lab, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin) and Bernd Scherer (Director, Haus der Kulturen der Welt) introduced further diverse perspectives from their own museum experience that reflected their own very different outlooks on museums in Berlin and beyond.

A review of the talk and discussion can be found under Reflections.


June 28, 2016

Podium Discussion: Kultur und Flucht - Möglichkeitsräume in der Krise?

The Theater an der Ruhr, an international forum for intercultural theatre and political communication in the Ruhr valley, hosted a podium discussion on "Kultur und Flucht  - Möglichkeitsräume in der Krise?" with the vice president of the federal parliament in North Rhine-Westphalia, Oliver Keymis; cultural political representative of the Green Party in the German parliament, Ulle Schauws; founder and dramaturg of the Theater an der Ruhr, Dr Helmut Schäfer; and one of CarmaH's post-doctoral fellows, Jonas Tinius, who completed his PhD on the theatre and its political engagement, e.g. for refugees and migrants. He also spoke about the role of museums in dealing with representations of diversity in Germany today. A full report will be published soon.


June 24, 2016

Job application

The Faculty of Arts and Humanities I, Department of European Ethnology at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (HU Berlin) and the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin (MfN) invite applications for a

S-Junior Professorship (Sonder-Juniorprofessur) of Europäische Ethnologie / Social Anthropology for six years (three years + three further years following a positive evaluation), starting as soon as possible (approx. January 1st, 2017).

For more information on position profile and required qualifications please see the full advertisement.


June 11, 2016

4. Tag der Offenen Baustelle

The Humboldt Forum, a unique centre for art, culture, science and learning that will be housed in the Berliner Schloss (under construction until 2019), opened its gates on June 11-12, 2016 for the fourth time. Berlin citizens and guests were invited to inspect the construction progress and learn more about the plans for the building and its exhibitions. Amongst the various public engagement activities was the Speakers' Corner - Akteure des Humboldt-Forum erzählen on the 1st floor of the site. Here, Sharon Macdonald shared her perspectives on the topic Ausstellen für die Zukunft: Transformationen des Museums im 21. Jahrhundert (Exhibiting for the Future: Museum Transformations in the 21st Century) as well as introduced CARMaH to Berlin audiences.


April 15-16, 2016

Report on the Workshop “Experiencing Differences and Diversities in Contemporary Germany” by Dr Jan-Jonathan Bock

Since its reunification in 1990, Germany has been grappling with definitions of national identity, belonging, and citizenship. Memories of the horrific legacies of Nazism and the Holocaust intersect with new political and social realities, such as the addition of the socialist East, the role of ongoing and high migration, globalisation, Islam and Muslim hybrid identities, and citizenship legislation. Since the summer of 2015, the arrival of over one million refugees has intensified debates about what it means to live with cultural difference and how Germany ought to respond to poverty and suffering exploding in Europe’s richest country. Young and old Germans launched an unprecedented number of civil society initiatives. At the same time, reactions to assaults on hundreds of women in Cologne and to terrorist attacks in France and Belgium revealed xenophobia and political radicalism.

More on the Workshop

Having spent one year in Berlin – to examine the impact of crisis perceptions on trust in state institutions and in heterogeneous community life – it was time to take stock of how people in Germany were experiencing differences and diversities in the wake of the so-called refugee crisis. Together with Sharon Macdonald – currently Alexander von Humboldt professor at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin – I organised an academic workshop at the Institute of European Ethnology. Leading researchers from US, UK, and other European and German universities presented their latest findings and discussed the consequences of growing heterogeneity for German society. Panel contributions and discussion concentrated on such themes as 'Contesting Diversities', 'Politics and the Reconfiguration of Identity', 'Experiencing Belonging and Exclusion' as well as 'Emergent and Future Forms of Action and Activism'.

The two days were fascinating, productive, and insightful. Reflecting on how cultural differences are experienced in contemporary Germany reveals a range of understandings regarding diversity and heterogeneity. The so-called refugee crisis has produced new societal alliances and forms of social action, but it also revealed inadequacies regarding the capacity of German society and at least some state institutions to be truly inclusive. More research is needed in this field. For those interested in the topics our workshop debated, Sharon Macdonald and I plan to publish all papers in an edited volume in the near future.

The full report can be accessed here.



Alle Abbildungen: Katherine Walker


December 4, 2015

There is a job posting for two postdoctoral fellowships at the Institute of European Ethnology for scientific contributions to the research of CARMaH. Employment duration is until September 30, 2020. The application deadline is January 8, 2016.

For further information, see the detailed job posting.