Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology

Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology

The Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology is one of the world’s leading centres for research in socio-cultural anthropology. Common to all research projects at the Max Planck Institute is the comparative analysis of social change; it is primarily in this domain that its researchers contribute to anthropological theory, though many programmes also have applied significance and political topicality. Fieldwork is an essential part of almost all projects.

The Institute has three academic departments:
Anthropology of Economic Experimentation: Frontiers of Transformation (Director: Biao Xiang)
Anthropology of Politics and Governance (Director: Ursula Rao)
Law & Anthropology (Director: Marie-Claire Foblets)

Contact

Advokatenweg 36
06114 Halle (Saale)
Phone: +49 345 2927-0
Fax: +49 345 2927-502

Department Anthropology of Politics and Governance

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Department Anthropology of Economic Experimentation: Frontiers of Transformation

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Department Resilience and Transformation in Eurasia

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Department Integration and Conflict

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Research project presents ways of overcoming future immigration challenges

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The European Commission is currently negotiating with Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Mauritania to ensure that refugees do not even reach Europe's external borders - a current example of how the EU is outsourcing its responsibility for migration to third countries. Cooperation like this is increasingly taking place on an informal level. In an interview, legal scholar Luc Leboeuf from the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology talks about the risks, but also the opportunities that such agreements bring with them.

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Research Highlights 2018

June 27, 2019

The yearbook of the Max Planck Society collects the greatest science from last year

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How do moral and ethical convictions affect local economies and impact global capitalism? This is the fundamental question driving the projects of the new Max Planck Cambridge Centre for Ethics, Economy and Social Change.

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Astronomical observatories mostly require remote locations where human disruption is not a factor. That is why many are located in African countries. However, most of the research takes place in the global north. For a country like Madagascar, the prospect of hosting an observatory can nonetheless set education and science into motion, according to findings by Hanna Nieber of the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology.

The day-to-day life of the Wodaabe, a traditionally nomadic population group in Niger, has never involved staying in one place for long. But since the 1980s, an increasing number of them have begun to settle in cities to work. Florian Köhler, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle, has observed the effects this has had on the lives of the Wodaabe.

In Germany’s diverse society, law and order are not just overseen by the police and the courts. There are communities that have their own means of settling disputes: family clans with foreign roots, for instance, but also motorcycle gangs and so-called Reichsbürger (Reich citizens), who turn their back on the modern German state and long for a return of the days of empire. Hatem Elliesie of the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle and Clara Rigoni of the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Crime, Security, and Law are studying this phenomenon.

Terrorism awakens fear and anxiety. We feel particularly helpless because the perpetrators‘ actions seem so incomprehensible. But there is actually a certain logic behind the actions of terrorist groups. Carolin Görzig and her group at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle have set themselves the task of discovering the rules by which terrorists act. Their findings are shedding more light on the enigma of terrorist plots.

30 years after the fall of the Iron Curtain, the separation between Eastern and Western Germany is still not over. Quite the contrary: when it comes to political issues in particular, the differences between the formerly socialist East and the now as then capitalist West seem to have increased in recent times. Chris Hann and his students at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle are exploring the reasons for this development in their fieldwork in Hungary and Eastern Germany.

Doctoral Students (m/f/d) | Urban Anthropology of the Nearby

Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle (Saale) February 15, 2024

Postdoc position (m/f/d) | Anthropology of Common Concerns

Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle (Saale) February 02, 2024

Sleep and sleeplessness in Germany: rethinking knowledge, experience, and agency

2022 Vorhölter, Julia

Cultural Studies Jurisprudence Social and Behavioural Sciences

Sleep research is booming. With the help of apps and sleep laboratories, sleep seems to have become measurable. New pharmaceuticals and medical technologies promise to give us control over sleep. But how do these new worlds of knowledge affect the experience of sleep, especially for those who yearn for good sleep but fail to achieve it? What is the relationship between subjectively experienced and objectively measured sleep? What happens to sleep at the interface of human and machine? The project draws attention to the dilemmas of sleep knowledge production. 

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Understanding alienation processes

2021 Lems, Annika

Cultural Studies Jurisprudence Social and Behavioural Sciences

The refugee crisis, the environmental crisis, the coronavirus crisis – in recent years Europe has found itself in the thrall of transformation processes that are creating enormous rifts within society. But what are the socio-cultural roots that nourish such fragmentation? Why are more and more people choosing to identify with political ideologies that threaten the very foundations of liberal value systems? The research group “Alpine Histories of Global Change” examines these questions as they investigate the origins of ideas of belonging and alienation.

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Between civilizations: The fate of the Uyghurs

2020 Hann, Chris

Cultural Studies Jurisprudence Social and Behavioural Sciences

China’s minorities policy draws no distinction between tiny groups that can be exoticized through folklore and peoples such as Tibetans, Mongols and Uyghurs with long civilizational histories. The condition of the Uyghurs improved in the 1980s, but deteriorated rapidly thereafter. The ”freedoms” of socialist market economy have rendered minority citizens second-class and put them under extreme pressure to assimilate. We document these macro-level developments on the basis of rural field research in the oasis of Qumul/Hami between 2006 and 2013.

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Intimacy without privacy – being unhoused in Germany

2019 Schneider, Luisa T.

Cultural Studies Jurisprudence Social and Behavioural Sciences

More and more people are becoming unhoused and dependent on state support. My research addresses the need to include basic human rights in the development of a tailor-made aid system. Ethnographic research with those affected shows that fundamental rights to privacy and intimacy are linked to tenancy-protected housing and can therefore not be fully enjoyed by people without such housing. This knowledge about the life of unhoused people can be used to ensure respect for fundamental rights and to enhance the effectiveness of the aid system.

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Ways out of terrorism

2018 Görzig, Carolin

Cultural Studies Jurisprudence Social and Behavioural Sciences

Researching learning processes of terrorist groups, we have discovered a logic of deradicalization: groups do not change their objectives but question the means and norms that define those objectives. However, when terrorist groups deradicalize, more radical factions splinter off. Such radicalization, in turn, leads to the radicalization of countermeasures by states. The learning processes of terrorist groups illuminate the logic of (de-)radicalization mechanisms and can be used to break co-radicalization patterns between states and non-state actors.

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