Sara Talitha Merkes

Foto_Merkes, Sara Talitha

Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology

Disaster Research Unit (DRU)

Research Associate

BMBF-Project FloodEvac: "Vulnerability of Transportation Structures, Warning and Evacuation in Case of Major Inland Flooding" (Project Head: Prof. Dr. Martin Voss)

Carl-Heinrich-von Becker-Weg 6-10
Room 021
12165 Berlin


  • 2014-2017: M.A. International Relations, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Freie Universität Berlin and Universität Potsdam
  • Master's thesis: South African Disaster Management, Hydropolitics, and Development Perspectives in the 2016 Drought: Understanding Disaster Within the Societal Context of Its Emergence
  • 2016: Study and field research in South Africa, University of Pretoria
  • 2011-2014: B.A. Political Science, Freie Universität Berlin
  • Bachelor's thesis: Wissenssysteme in der Entwicklungspolitik: Eine Aussagenanalyse entlang von ‚Entwicklung‘ und ‚Wissen‘ anhand des Akteurs Weltbank


  • 2011-2017: Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes



  • 2015-2017: Editorial Board, IReflect – Student Journal of International Relations

Research focus

  • Disaster research from a social science perspective

  • Cultures of catastrophe and disaster genesis

  • Social cohesion and conflict during disasters

  • Mediation, peace and conflict research

  • National and international development policy

  • Societal negotiation of environmental resources


Merkes, Sara T.; Voss, Martin (2019): Researching Disaster from a Cultural Perspective: Insights into Disaster Meaning-Making, Presentation, 4th World Congress on Disaster Management, Mumbai, 29.01.-01.02.2019.

Merkes, Sara T.; Voss, Martin (2018): Staying or Leaving: Cultural Shaping of Evacuation Behavior, Presentation, The Culture of Too Much Water – Commonalities and Differences of Social and Cultural Dealing with Floods, Berlin, 22.-23.11.2018.

Merkes, Sara T. (2017): Green Gardens, Empty Dams: From Drought to Disaster in South African Society, Presentation, 2. Konferenz für Studentische Forschung, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, 21.-22. Sept. 2017.

Berlin Southern Theory Lecture