Research Areas


Anthropology of Emotion

In recent years, the study of human emotion has become a subject of growing interest across diverse academic disciplines spanning the humanities and the natural and social sciences. Increasingly, it is establishing itself as an important field of interdisciplinary inquiry, a fact reflected in the work of the DFG-funded Cluster of Excellence “Languages of Emotion” (LoE) at the Freie Universität Berlin.


Medical Anthropology

Medical anthropology is by now an established sub-discipline of anthropology in German-speaking countries. In line with the approach of medical anthropology in the US and the UK, where the discipline is one of the most influential branches of social and cultural anthropology, it investigates illness, health and healing across societies and cultures world-wide.


Environmental Anthropology

The research area Environmental Anthropology is devoted to the pursuit of social-anthropological inquiry within the field of climate and natural disaster research. This is done with a trans-regional perspective, with a particular emphasis on African, Southeast Asian and European countries. Projects within this research area examine the cultural and social conditions of the imagination, construction and appropriation of nature and the environment, and analyze mitigation and resilience strategies in the context of natural risks.


Disaster Research Unit

The Disaster Research Unit (DRU), founded in 1987, is one of the pioneering institutions in Germany with a social-scientific and anthropological focus on disaster and catastrophe research. The field of research, teaching and consulting activity of the DRU covers the whole disaster and security cycle, ranging from the perception of risk, risk reduction and disaster prevention, to preparation, warning and disaster behavior, coping with disaster, and sustainable reconstruction in countries of the Global South as well as in industrialized countries. In recent years the research focus has been expanded to encompass sustainability, global environmental change—especially climate change mitigation, vulnerability and adaptation—and security research.


Visual and Media Anthropology

The research area Visual and Media Anthropology has as its focus the visual and medial aspects of cultures in comparative ethnographic perspective. In addition to dealing with constantly developing forms of methodology, visual anthropology also focuses on historical and contemporary artifacts and the increasing importance of images and films in transnational societies. Projects of this research area include three larger collective research projects: the EU-Project SPRING (ALFA III), the EU-Project WRITER (Lifelong Learning), and, the BMBF Project ANIK.

Orthodoxe Kirche_Fenster ueber Eingang

Religious Diversity in Transnational Contexts

Much of my current research is oriented towards the exploration of religious diversity in Eastern African cities, but I am equally interested in the way religious practice and organization have been affected and transformed by processes of globalization in rural and urban places in other parts of Africa and beyond. The main focus of my ongoing work on religion is on “new” Muslim and Christian organizations, but I am also concerned with the reconfiguration of ritual and “traditional” religious practice (including aspects of religious healing) in an interconnected world.


Research Area Political and Legal Anthropology

The critical investigation of political and legal processes and structures in their mutual entanglements constitutes the subject matter of the Research Area Political and Legal Anthropology at the Freie Universität Berlin. Against the backdrop of increasingly globalised in/voluntary mobilities, interdependencies and hybridisation, central fields of study include contested senses of belongings and legal entitlements (including rights to material resources), physical and symbolic violence, conflictual formations of individual and collective identities, attempts at legitimising domination and social inequalities, struggles surrounding the power to define values, norms and collective goals, as well as the evaluation, and sanctioning, of practices through reference to allegedly valid legalities and normative orders.