Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology

Max­Planck­Research Magazine

Issue 2018

MaxPlanckResearch 2/2018

Max Planck scientists cooperate with partners in more than 110 countries worldwide. Here they relate their personal experiences and impressions. Lale Yalçın-Heckmann, who works at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle, is studying values and moral ideas surrounding commercial transactions – taking traditional rose farming in Turkey as an example.

MaxPlanckResearch 1/2018

At the Margins

It’s easy to overlook the marginalized. Social exclusion can have very different causes and consequences – also in the context of migration. Six Max Planck Institutes have now joined forces for a cross-institute project focusing on the topic. The project examines, among other things, the question of why immigrants often lose their good health. It explores what prompts Somalis to move from Europe to Kenya, and what consequences the deal between the EU and Turkey might have for the rights of asylum seekers in Greece. Their common aim is to uncover exclusion and develop fair rules to regulate migration.

MaxPlanckResearch 1/2018

A Model for Greater Togetherness

La Convivencia is viewed as a golden age of tolerance – a period of peaceful coexistence between Muslims, Jews and Christians in medieval Spain. The myth surrounding this period persists to this day. Researchers at the Max Planck Institutes for Social Anthropology in Halle and for the History of Science in Berlin are studying the history of the Convivencia and considering its possible function as a model for today’s world.
Issue 2016

MaxPlanckResearch 4/2016

An Ocean of Connectivity

Ships were long the fastest means of transportation, capable of carrying people and goods in large quantities. As a result, the seas became a medium through which a variety of nations made contact and carried out trade. To this day, ports serve as hubs and cultural melting pots. Taking the Indian Ocean as their example, Burkhard Schnepel and his team at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology are studying how diverse networks developed across the waters.

MaxPlanckResearch 1/2016

How Terrorists Are Made

Terrorist attacks like those in Paris leave us fearful and horrified, but above all, bewildered. We’re unable – and usually even unwilling – to understand what motivates people to kill others indiscriminately. However, our author believes we should try to understand terrorists. Only then can we combat the causes of violence.

Issue 2014


The Difficult Birth of a State
States don’t emerge from a void, but are always the result of political decision-making processes among not only the people who live in them, but also a complex array of external players. The case of South Sudan, the newest member of the international community of sovereign states, is one more example of such a process taking a violent turn, since the divergent interests are far from being balanced, and institutional methods of dealing with conflicts are weak or not generally accepted. Many of the complex patterns of emergence and models involved here strike Katrin Seidel and Timm Sureau from the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology as being extremely familiar.


No Network, No Business
For visiting tourists, market traders and street vendors embody much of the flair of Asian countries, and their stalls and pitches teeming with colorful consumer goods or fresh fruit and vegetables are photographed countless times. Yet Vietnamese markets aren’t just places for goods to change hands; they also comprise complex webs of social relationships and political structures in which power struggles are played out. These aspects are a key focus of Kirsten Endres and her research group at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle.
Issue 2012

MaxPlanckResearch 4/2012

Law and Anthropology
Many different conceptions of law exist side by side in multicultural societies – a reality that formal legal systems have ignored for far too long, according to Marie-Claire Foblets. As Director of the new Department for Law and Anthropology at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, she hopes to help change this situation.

MaxPlanckResearch 1/2012

Traditional Burials Are Dying Out
Forest burial sites are taking the place of cemeteries, urns replacing oak coffins, headstones are now “Made in India” – over the past two decades funerals in Germany have become much more multifaceted; the stolid dignity of old-style interments is out of fashion. These are the findings of a study headed by Dominic Akyel of the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in Cologne.
Issue 2011

MPR 3 /2011

Field Studies in the Family Album
How strong are the ties that bind families in Europe? To answer this question, around 30 scientists set out on field studies in eight European countries.
Issue 2010

MPR 4 /2010

Between Theory and Intuition
How important are social scientists’ forecasts for political decisions? A critical analysis.

MPR 2 /2010

Conflicts in the Wake of Catastrophe
In December 2004, a giant wave hit the coasts of the Gulf of Bengal, wreaking catastrophic damage. But the destruction from this tsunami affected more than just nature: it also threw the economic and social order into disarray.
Issue 2009

MPR 3 /2009

Mothers-in-Law on the Doorstep
Ethnologists are studying wedding rituals and family traditions in Kyrgyzstan.
Issue 2007

MPR 3 /2007

How Enemies Are Made
There is a mistaken perception that many conflicts are caused by ethnic differences. Günther Schlee, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, is an analyst of armed conflict. In most cases, resources are the cause of war. In the ensuing struggle for water, oil or grazing land, members of one’s own ethnic or religious grouping become obvious allies.

MPR 1 /2007

The Restless Continent
Africa is in motion. Conflict, as in Sudan or Somalia, is not the only thing that forces people to leave their homes. There is, however, almost always confl ict where they arrive. These conflicts and their potential solutions are the subject of research being carried out by scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology. In the process, they are learning much about the mobile lives that many people lead as a matter of course. And about the opportunities that mobility offers: for the gold diggers in northern Benin, Burkina Faso, for example; or in Mali, for the Fulbe, nomadic herdsmen who crisscross the whole of West Africa; or for the migrants from Ghana, who are seeking a new future in Europe.
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