PhD Position at the University of Kassel

Doc­to­ral can­di­da­te (m/f/d), EG 13 TV-H – In­sti­tu­te of So­ci­al Work and So­ci­al Wel­fa­re
Faculty of Human Sciences – Prof. Dr. Mechthild Bereswill – fixed-term, part-time (currently 26,67 hours/week)
link to the website

  • deadline for submission: 26.02.2020
  • start of recruitment : as soon as possible
  • reference number: 32864
  • applications to:

Part-time position with two-thirds of the regular full work time; fixed-term, initially for three years (Qualifikationsstelle gem. § 65 HHG i. V. mit § 2 Abs. 1 Satz 1 WissZeitVG). The successful candidate can qualify for a doctoral degree.


  • Independent research to write a doctoral dissertation
  • Teaching within the Institute of Social Work and Social Welfare
  • Contribution to research and a third-party funding application of a post-doc researcher working on disability and assistant animals (Dr. Birkan Tas)


  • Excellent or very good Master’s degree or equivalent in a relevant field (such as sociology, social sciences, social work, social anthropology, cultural studies)
  • The degree required for this position must have been obtained by the starting date at the latest.
  • Ability to work in a team and carry out independent research under supervision
  • An excellent command of the English language

Desirable skills:

  • Theoretical knowledge of human-animal studies, disability studies or queer studies
  • Interest in employing qualitative research methods in social sciences
  • Organizing skills
  • Experience in interdisciplinary research
  • For further information or questions please contact Dr. Birkan Tas at

The protection of your personal data is important to us. We will therefore handle your data carefully. If you provide us with your data, you allow us to save and use them in line with the Hessian data protection and freedom of information act. You may file an objection at any time. Your personal data will then be deleted.

The University of Kassel is an equal opportunity employer and aims at a clear increase of the proportion of women in research and teaching. Qualified women are therefore expressly requested to apply. Under the precondition of equal qualification, disabled persons will be preferred. Applications indicating the Position Number, which may be in digital form, should be sent to the President of the University of Kassel, 34109 Kassel, Germany or, quoting the applicable reference number in the subject.

Melt, Rise and Hydrological Globalization – An Origin Story 

ASCA Political Ecologies Workshop announces: Masterclass and Public Lecture with Dr. Cymene Howe (Rice University)

Public Lecture: Friday, March 6th @ 17:00-19:00 (Location PCH 1.05)

The masterclass on March 6th from 10-12 will be in PCH 5.08

Melt, Rise and Hydrological Globalization – An Origin Story 

Around the globe glaciers and ice sheets are losing their mass, oceanic thermal expansion continues and populations are seeing landscapes denuded of ice while others are becoming flooded by seawater. Rapidly transforming cryo- and hydrospheres promise misery to millions. But these elemental state-shifts are also locations of material connectivity where places and people are becoming linked through their water. In this presentation, I juxtapose the loss of Icelandic glaciers with rising seas in lower latitude coastal cities impacted by Arctic melt. A theoretical proposition that I call “hydrological globalization” forms the analytic infrastructure for the presentation and highlights a new NASA model that determines which glacial basins are contributing to sea level rise in the world’s coastal cities. I close with reflections on my recent public-facing work to memorialize the first major Icelandic glacier to be lost to climate change, Okjökull.

Cymene Howe is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Rice University and author of Ecologics: Wind and Power in the Anthropocene (Duke University Press) and Intimate Activism: The Struggle for Sexual Rights in Postrevolutionary Nicaragua, also at Duke University Press. Ecologics is one half of the duograph Wind and Power in the AnthropoceneEngergopolitics, by Dominic Boyer, is the other half.


Masterclass: Friday, March 6th @ 10:00-12:00 (Location PCH 5.08) (1 EC)

Ecologics: Wind and Power in the Anthropocene

For the masterclass, Dr. Howe will discuss political ecologies in conversation with her recent book, Ecologics: Wind and Power in the Anthropocene (Duke UP). Students can access the book as open access (PDF download) here:

Participants should read 1) the introduction, 2) the chapter on “wind,” and 3) Cristián Simonetti and Tim Ingold’s “Ice and Concrete: Solid Fluids of Environmental Change,” Journal of Contemporary Anthropology 5.1 (2018).

All interested in participating should email ASCA Political Ecologies Workshop organizers in advance:

Jeff Diamanti
Joost de Bloois:




Call for Papers: 2.1 ‘Contamination’Contribute to the third issue of our research journal

Originating from the Latin contaminare “to touch together,” “corrupt,” “defile,” contamination is commonly framed as the presence of an undesirable element which effectively alters, spoils, harms, or destroys lifeforms, matter or other entities. Beyond thinking in terms of disease or invasion, the scope of globalised capitalist production affords us to consider that we live in a state of ubiquitous contamination. From microplastics to heavy metals, and radioactive compounds, the accumulation of strange molecules in the atmosphere, waters, and land, contribute to climate change and the melting of permafrost – potentially leading to the release of more greenhouse gases and millennia-old pathogenic viruses. Yet, not only physical materialities are concerned but also the immaterial and intangible, such as digital spam, moods, rumours, or protestor’s demands becoming viral. Like microbes and bacteria, computer viruses are trespassers, pervasively moving around the world and seeking to evade detection by filters and border controls.

While contamination assumes the possibility of non-contamination, Alexis Shotwell argues that “we have never been pure” (2016). Neither, we could add, have we ever been just human. As porous beings, the most part of our bodies constitutes a multiplicity of bacteria, microbes, fungi, and added chemicals. Thus, thinking that we are always already contaminated troubles notions of purity, as well as the stigmatisation of contaminated bodies, objects, or environments. Echoing Anna L. Tsing, without underestimating the real damage caused by environmental pollution, epidemics, and nuclear waste: quarantine is not an option. In her writing about the livelihoods of Matsutake mushrooms, Tsing proposes the alternative approach of “contamination as collaboration” (2015). She invites us to consider contamination and disturbance more productively and openly, as “transformation through encounter,” implying that “contaminated diversity is everywhere,” for better or worse.

For this issue, we encourage contributors to think contamination differently from rigid conceptualisations and prefigured connotations, as a concept that travels over neat categories, harbouring the potential of undoing borders, stimulating even ‘dead’ matter with velocity, and linking together supposedly separate and stagnant beings. This means attending to relationality and difference, on every scale, from molecular frictions to planetary movements. Along this line, contamination is about the in-betweenness, the liminality of the ‘ish’, the ‘not quite this or that’ – the process found in such entanglements. How, then, does thinking with contamination reconfigure conditions of knowing and being? What is at stake, for actors (human and nonhuman) and objects alike, in troubling our understanding of contamination? Who gets to decide what is defined as ‘toxic’ or ‘impure’ and what is designated as ‘clean’?

We encourage submissions in the direction of, but not limited to, the following topics:

  • Contagious relationality in the form of crowds, mobs, protest, and state violence
  • Nationalism, identity, colonialism, and questions of assimilation
  • Uncontained, intrusive, and ‘abnormal’ subjects and subjectivity
  • Infiltration and sabotage: contamination as a political subversive strategy
  • Contamination and failure: corrupted files, collapsing (eco-)systems
  • ‘Sublime’ landscapes: nuclear aesthetics, waste
  • Immunity and sickness: epidemics, contagion, protection
  • Contamination in a biopolitical regime: hygiene and sterility as normative forces
  • Molecular unruliness: para-legal agency of bacteria, microbes, and spores
  • Infectious bodies: porousness and permeability, devious sexuality, phantasies of infection
  • Affect (for instance, noise and chaos theory) & emotions (for instance, contagious happiness, sadness, laughter)
  • (Im-)purity: matters of the sacred and profane; nature/culture and similar dichotomies
  • Spreading of language or communication practices
  • Algorithmic or digital contamination (SPAM, computer viruses, crowdsourcing)

Please submit your abstract (maximum 300 words) or already written paper (maximum 5000 words) to by February 3. If you hand in an abstract, please consider that the full papers (3000 to 5000 words) are due March 2. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

Soapbox also welcomes short essays, book/film/exhibition reviews, experimental writing and multi-media on for our website, all-year-round – send full drafts of 1000 to 1,500 words to

Please get in touch to pitch new ideas or existing projects for us to feature there.

McNation: State Branding in and Beyond Russia

McNation: State Branding in and Beyond Russia

May 19, 2020, 3-6pm |  Spui25 |  PhD Candidates and RMa Students | Credits: 1EC | Instructor: professor Ellen Rutten (the University of Amsterdam)

Institutional support: Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study, Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis, Netherlands Institute for Cultural Analysis

Description: In McNation, we examine recent theorizing of the new nationalist turn of the 2010s as a largely commercially driven social shift. Scholars in nation branding argue that, now that ‘national governments around the world are turning to branding consultants,’ ‘the social, political and cultural discourses constitutive of the nation have been harnessed in new and problematic ways’ (Aronczyk 2013). With a team of internationally renowned expert scholars, writers, and artists, we explore nation branding and popular geopolitics by zooming in on Putin-era Russia – a place and time that allow us to study neo-nationalism as a vivid joint interest (and, in some cases, object of mockery) of both official institutions and rappers, poets, designers, and other ‘other’ voices.

In short talks (3-5pm), followed by a group discussion (5-6pm), we analyse both the local and national scale (recurring myths & memes; actors of nation branding) and the transnational scale (self-branding against ‘the West’; the influence of global media flows) of nation branding. With this seminar, we aim to encourage critical thinking about nation branding and the consumerist logic on which nation-branding practices build.

Among other topics, in the joint discussion we will ponder the following questions:

  • What are the potential bonuses and/or pitfalls of using nation-branding studies to understand neo-nationalism and the new nationalist turn?
  • How do various media and cultural practices (social-media debates, rap/literary cultures, fashion cults) constitute, intervene in, or otherwise negotiate nation-branding processes?
  • How to boost public awareness of nation-branding and its reliance on ‘stranger fetishism’ (Ahmed) and local and global cultural stereotypes?

The meeting targets PhD candidates and RMa students, but is also a public event. We warmly welcome guests both from within and outside academia.


Readings: required readings for students who attend the meeting as a seminar are:

Assignment: a. Please select one quotation from each required reading that you find particularly relevant to the discussion of nation branding; and b. connect a case study (in a short description or in key words) to one of the selected quotations. Please share your quotations and the case study before May 14 with Dianne Teunisse ( NB the case study does not need to relate to contemporary Russia. At the seminar, students can be asked to explain why they chose a citation, or how, for instance, a citation relates to the text as a whole. Students can also select passages that they find important but do not understand fully. The student explanations will form the basis for joint discussion.

Further readings in case of interest:

  • Melissa Aronczyk, Branding the Nation: The Global Business of National Identity. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.
  • Sarah Ahmed, Strange Encounters: Embodied Others in Post-Coloniality. NY: Routledge, 2000.
  • Maureen A. Eger, Sarah Valdez, ‘Neonationalism in Western Europe.’ European Sociological Review 31 (1) (2015), 115-130.
  • Metahaven, Uncorporate Identity. Zürich: Lars Müller, 2010.
  • Robert Saunders & Vlad Strukov, Popular Geopolitics: Plotting an Evolving Interdiscipline. NY: Routledge, 2018.

Transmission in Motion Seminar (2019-2020)

Transmission in Motion Seminar (2019-2020): “Expanded Practices of Knowing: Interdisciplinary Approaches”

Technological developments inform the ways information travels through media, turn archives into ‘dynarchives,’ and set knowledge cultures in motion. Such developments foreground the performativity of practices of sharing knowledge and the materiality of mediation; moreover, they point to the sensory, movement and embodiment as important aspects to take into account. This year’s seminar will investigate the potential of radical interdisciplinary collaborations between media and performance studies, science and the arts for understanding and developing ways of sharing information,  knowledge and expertise.  What can interdisciplinary collaboration bring to understanding the role of old and new technologies in these processes? How is interdisciplinary collaboration itself technological or at least a technique? How can it foster the development of new insights, technologies and practices?

TiM Seminar Programme (2019-2020)

*Session organized with the support of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Utrecht University.

The Transmission in Motion Seminar is a more-or-less monthly gathering of researchers and students from across disciplines. To participate, please send an email to to receive additional information and readings. RMA Students can acquire 3 EC if they attend all meetings and write blog posts after each meeting. Please register at For more information, contact Maaike Bleeker at m.a.bleeker[a]

Image credits: ”Sense of Motion” by Mr. Nixter is licensed under CC BY 2.0