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About the research area

This research area provides a platform for the debate and ethnographic study of gender, the human body and sexualities in the field of Social and Cultural Anthropology. It is anchored in feminist and queer anthropological approaches that engage in an analysis of the cultural and place-specific dynamics of gender, body and sexuality. The research area seeks to strengthen an ethnographic approach within transdisciplinary Gender and Sexuality Studies on the one hand, and critical approaches to gender and sexualities within (German-speaking) Social and Cultural Anthropology on the other.

We are particularly interested in debates on the material formation of gendered bodies and norms as well as the sensual and affective underpinnings of gendered and sexual subjectivities. Our approach of thinking-with bodily matter draws on new materialist scholarship and is grounded in the idea of the malleabilty and relationality of the human body.

Moreover, the configuration of gendered and sexual selves needs to be seen in the context of global divisions of labour and social inequalities that foster the outsourcing of care and intimate services to gendered and racialized postcolonial subjects. These processes are intricately linked to intersectional oppression along the lines of race/racism, class, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, dis/ability and age.

Research foci include the ethnographic inquiry of feminized and racialized forms of care work and intimate labour; transnational formations of ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ selves in everyday lives and amidst the transnational circulation of particular body images; and the politics of gender and sexuality, the racialization of bodies, and the negotiation of citizenship and belonging in postmigrant urban contexts.

We approach these topics from an understanding of ethnography as an embodied, relational, multisensorial and reflective process of knowledge-making. Highlighting conceptual notions of affects, care, desire, and intimacy, we also wish to engage in more collaborative and decolonial forms of doing ethnography.


Freie Universität Berlin
Landoltweg 9-11
14195 Berlin