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Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology

Anthropology of Emotion

Thielallee 52
14195 Berlin

About the research area

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 Collaborative Research Center (CRC) 1171 “Affective Societies: Dynamics of Social Coexistence in Mobile Worlds”(Director Prof. Dr. Birgitt Rötter-Rössler) and the interdisciplinary research projects “The Researcher’s Affects” and “Knowledge Complexity” (K-PLEX)” (both directed by Prof. Dr. Thomas Stodulka) at FU Berlin.


The task of social and cultural anthropology within this broad interdisciplinary venture consists in investigating the culturally specific aspects of emotional behavior, centering on the fundamental question of the relationship between emotion and culture—the question, in other words, of the degree to which emotions are shaped by cultural and social factors. This entails a focus on the rich cultural multiplicity of emotional rules and semantics, which can be analyzed on the levels of language, performance or media, and illuminated through both inter- and intra-cultural comparison.



A special emphasis, particularly within psychological anthropology, is placed on the relationship between culture, emotion and the psyche. At issue are the ways in which psychological health and illness are constructed in various social and cultural contexts, as well as their correlation with specific models of emotional competence. A further focus consists in analyzing, from a firm social-theoretical perspective, the affective dynamics of social and political movements, in an effort to gain insight into the role emotions can play in processes of social disintegration and cohesion. In connection with the work of the CRC „Affective Societies” the relation between emotions (semanticized, codified feelings) and affects (non-semanticized, pre-conscious feelings) has become an explicit research subject within this research area in recent times. These research questions are expanded by the projects “The Researcher’s Affects” and “Knowledge Complexity” in regard to the affective dimensions of social and cultural field researches and the difficulties of codifying human emotionality as part of data management.


The activities of this research area currently center on the following topics.


  • Emotion and socialization
  • Emotion and migration
  • Emotion und affect
  • Emotion in the context of social and ethnic minorities
  • Emotion und affect as scientific epistemology
  • Emotion und affect in the context of Big Data-Discourses


The book series „EmotionsKulturen / EmotionCultures (transcript), emerged in this context, consists of monographies and collective volumes, which are based on the latest social and cultural anthropological and transdisciplinary emotion research. The book series is edited by Prof. Dr. Birgitt Rötter-Rössler and Dr. Anita von Poser.

Berlin Southern Theory Lecture