Summer Semester 2024

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Module – Concepts of Asian Cultural Orientations and Decision-Making (10 ECTS)

Students are required to take two of the following classes. The examination form is a term paper with 12-15 pages.

Environmental Governance


Lecturer: Dr. Maria Bondes

Time and Place: Mon. 8:00 – 12:00 c.t., every other week (starting on 22.04.24), SDAC Seminar Room 


This course introduces students to the dynamics, complexities and decision-making processes of environmental governance. Drawing on the policy cycle model, the students will learn to investigate and evaluate environmental policy-making and implementation. Taking China as an example, we will take a closer look at China’s command-and-control system of environmental governance and discuss the opportunities and pitfalls of such “environmental authoritarianism” – promoted by China as a more effective alternative to democratic approaches.

Moreover, students in this course will be able to increase their methodological knowledge in the fields of policy analysis and case studies. The students will be organized in groups and conduct their own analysis of environmental governance in a specific issue field. These case studies will be developed throughout the course and be presented at the end of the semester. This is a work-intensive course. We will meet every two weeks and students will be required to actively participate in one of the case study groups throughout the entire semester.


Remapping Global China's Presences in Asia


Lecturer: Dr. Zezhou Yang

Time and Place: Mon. 8:00 – 12:00 c.t., every other week (starting on 15.04.24), SDAC Seminar Room 


Spanning from the Himalayan mountains to the islands of Southeast Asia, from global metropolises such as Dubai and Shanghai to scarcely known villages in Pakistan, from high-end stores in Tokyo to streetside pharmacies in Delhi, from temples to mosques, and from Chinatowns to films, the presence of China has grown increasingly prominent across various dimensions within Asian areas. This phenomenon is not a novelty but rather a continuation of historical, trans-regional, and global interactions. In these manifestations, nation-states—a foundational concept of modern, Eurocentric International Relations—remain pivotal actors, yet their significance does not overshadow the roles of other individual and societal entities. Furthermore, China’s presence transcends physical realms, permeating cultural products and shaping both individual and collective imaginations.

This course poses critical inquiries: What constitutes Chinese presences in Asia historically and presently? Which asymmetrical power dynamics at individual, societal, state, and global levels influence, redefine, and challenge these presences? How can the notion of presence itself be problematised? Beyond conventional area studies, how can we comprehend and analyse China? In what ways does examining China’s regional influences enable us to innovatively and critically reassess Asia, its regional dynamics, and its connections to the broader world, deviating from dominant Western-centric paradigms and drawing from (trans-)local, grounded narratives and experiences?

Embarking on these questions, the course explores China’s historical and contemporary presences in Asia. It is structured to commence with an examination of the concept of Global China, alongside several related concepts and theories. Following sessions will investigate various manifestations of Chinese presences and interaction within the inter-Asian context—such as empire, trade, pilgrimage, migration, decolonial cooperation, tourism, infrastructure development, cultural expression, and environmental change—through case studies in East, South, Southeast, and Central Asia, among other regions.

This course transcends mere acquisition of factual knowledge concerning China-centred international relations in Asia. It aims to equip students with the ability to critically analyse, moving beyond conventional Eurocentric narratives of cultural encounters and exchanges, and to discern the alternative connections and influences shaping our world.

Learning outcomes:
Upon completion of the course, students will be able to:

  • Identity the various individual, cultural, social, economic, and political dynamics that have historically and contemporarily shaped Asia and its global interconnections, with a particular focus on China’s role within the regional and global context;
  • Cultivate a comprehensive understanding of global and regional trends’ impacts on China’s development, and reciprocally, how China’s transformative processes have influenced other communities and regions;
  • Understand the historical complexity of Global China as an international and transnational process;
  • Employ transcultural and decolonial methodologies in their historical, theoretical, and empirical analyses.


Understanding Africa-China through Literature and Film


Lecturer: Mingqing Yuan, M.A.

Time and Place: Mon. 14:00 – 18:00 c.t., every other week (starting on 15.04.24), SDAC Seminar Room 


China’s engagement with Africa has caused many controversial reactions, ranging from accusations of “China’s neocolonialism in Africa” to a celebration of “win-win” cooperation. Yet, different from these grand narratives, with the increasing number of everyday interactions of Africans and Chinese, how do Africa and China relationships look like on the ground? How does historical, economic, socio-political and cultural context influence our understanding of these complexities? What are the roles of different agencies, especially African agency, in shaping these interactions and practices? Through a review and analysis of literatures, films, and art works, this course aims to demystifies the decision-making process in the Africa-China interactions on different levels, demonstrate how different agencies are involved in the decision-making process and how multiple frames of analysis can help us understand the ambiguity and multiplicity in China-Africa relations. During the course, the students will be able to screen documentary films with limited access and talk to film directors. It also welcomes students to bring their interested topics and materials to craft their own project, especially in generating a better understanding of Africa-China relationships on a cultural level.


Alternative Rationalities, Rituals and Practices in the Persian Gulf Area


Lecturer: Dr. Maryam Abbasi

Time and Place: Tue. 10:00 – 12:00 c.t., SDAC Seminar Room 


This seminar provides an introduction to the study of esoteric practices and alternative rationalities for students of Sociology and the SDAC program. This advanced seminar will examine various texts, rituals, and practices in the Persian Gulf area to address the following questions: What are some examples of alternative rationalities and practices in the Persian Gulf region? Which roles do they play in everyday lives? And how do these rationalities and practices relate to Islam?

No prior knowledge is required.


Decentering Gender and Sexuality in Asia


Lecturer: Dr. Ferdiansyah Thajib

Time and Place: Wed. 12:00 – 14:00 c.t., SDAC Seminar Room 


This course is intended for students with interest on the sociocultural study of multiple genders and sexualities in Asian contexts. It explores how vernacular forms of sexual and gender pluralism shape personhoods and lived-experiences that are differentially subjected to
hegemonic orders of oppression within, across and beyond the region. It maps out how the
dynamics of gender and sexuality shape and are shaped by colonial, postcolonial and decolonial entanglements. In this course we will also discuss how gender and sexuality in Asian regions have been ethically and epistemologically engaged with through academic practice; the ways they are problematised through sameness and difference in public discourse; how they are faced by moral policing and political contestations; and the processes in which they become sources of individual and collective agency.


Transforming China(s): Current Social and Cultural Dynamics in the Chinese World


Lecturer: Prof. Dr. Jean-Baptiste Pettier & Prof. Dr. Robert La Fleur

Time and Place: Wed. 10:00 – 12:00 c.t., SDAC Seminar Room 


What are the dynamics of present-day Chinese society in the 21st century, and where do they come from? What is “China” and what can “being Chinese” mean today? This course explores the internal complexities and dynamics of the Chinese social world. It will mainly focus on the ongoing transformations and challenges in the circumstances of the predominantly Han Chinese society in the People’s Republic of China, and examine the common historical and political trends which have contributed in shaping present-day trends. Calling into question the notion of a cultural discourse concerning Chinese national character, it will emphasize instead the political and economic choices which contributed to produce the current situation.



Module – Advanced Thematic and Regional Courses (10 ECTS)

Students are required to choose two of the following classes. The examination form is an oral exam.

Economy and Morality


Lecturer: Prof. Dr. Jean-Baptiste Pettier & Prof. Dr. Tijo Salverda

Time and Place: Tue. 12:00 – 14:00 c.t., SDAC Seminar Room 


The phases of crisis and of euphoria within global capitalism increasingly switch, moving debates between moral contestations of the system and celebrations of its successes. Yet is there anything intrinsically positive or negative about how our economic system works, and on which moral base are these convictions grounded? What do we really know about the relations between economy and morality? This course will analyse these relations from a historical and contemporary perspective. The aim is to better understand how morals influence and shape economic practices, from our own everyday actions to the operations of (global) markets and demands for new, just and more environmentally friendly economic models.


Introduction to African Popular Culture


Lecturer: Mingqing Yuan, M.A.

Time and Place: Mon. 14:00 – 18:00 c.t., every other week (starting on 22.04.24), SDAC Seminar Room


By looking at different cultural and art forms in Africa, such as films, hip hop music, political cartoons and stand-up comedies, this course aims to engage with African societies through theories and methodologies in studies of popular culture. It will review and discuss the basic themes and key debates within African cultural studies in relation to state politics and decolonization, tradition and modernity, language choice and gender issues. Through the course, students will be able to look at Africa from a more diverse lens and develop a critical and multidisciplinary approach in studying Africa-related topics. Students are welcome to bring their own examples and experiences in the field.


Theories and Practices of Decoloniality


Lecturer: PD Dr. Viola Thimm (she/her)

Time and Place: Tue. 8:00 – 10:00 c.t., SDAC Seminar Room


“Decoloniality” is currently being opened up as a new field both inside and outside academia. Colonialism, coloniality, postcolonialism, decoloniality – what are the differentiations and what relevance does decoloniality has (not only) for the Western university landscape? The aim of “decoloniality,” which originated in Latin America, is a critical production of knowledge that strives for liberation from a Western hegemony of knowledge. In “decoloniality,” colonisation is not only understood economically and politically, but also culturally and epistemically: while Europe became the place of “modernity” from which the world was classified and described, coloniality marked the margins where this modern world demonstrated its power of definition.
In this seminar, we will look at how representatives of decoloniality such as Walter Mignolo, Aníbal Quijano or María Lugones search for alternatives to powerful Western knowledge. Since colonialism, strategies of demarcation from the “other” and the related hierarchisation of knowledge systems, social and economic forms of organisation or ideas and practices of “race” and gender have had a lasting impact on the relationship between the “old” and the “new” world. Especially decolonial perspectives on feminist thinking show, for example, that the heteronormative distinction between men and women in Latin America only became effective through Spanish colonialism.
Apart from dealing with theoretical knowledge, students will also do a small field project “Decolonize Erlangen!”. The aim of the seminar is to get to know new forms of knowledge, to learn to question one’s own systems of thought and to understand the history of science under world political conditions.


Introduction to Psychological Anthropology


Lecturer: Dr. Ferdiansyah Thajib

Time and Place: Wed. 8:00 – 10:00 c.t., SDAC Seminar Room


This course discusses foundational assumptions, core themes, and potentials of Psychological Anthropology. It considers why Psychological Anthropology has thrived in US anthropology but seems marginalized elsewhere. Potential reasons explored include an anti-psychologizing disciplinary ethos, the role of early psychological anthropologists in nationalist and colonial agendas, and a lack of postcolonial theory.  The course then takes the recent emergence of psychological anthropologies outside the US as an opportunity to reflect on current debates. It elaborates on approaches concerned with power asymmetries and universalizing “Western” psychologies. Contemporary psychological anthropology fosters insights into new forms of inequality, violence, and human subjectivity. Hence, imposing psychological or bio-psychiatric “insights” on human experience is open to question. This creates productive tensions between universalizing and relativizing understandings of humanity that can be addressed ethnographically. The course also highlights significant work rejecting universalizing tendencies in psychology. It prefers illuminating historically, politically, and socio-culturally situated concepts of self, personhood, affect, sociality, health and well-being.


Preparing for the Job Market: How to Make Use of Sociology/Anthropological Insights and Skills in your Job Field


Lecturer: Prof. Dr. Tijo Salverda

Time and Place: Wed. 14:00 – 18:00 c.t., every other week (starting on 24.04.24), SDAC Seminar Room


It can, at times, be difficult to envision how the theories and skills you learn in your studies can be applied in – or are relevant to – a future job. This course aims to assist you in this process. It will start from exploring the professional fields you are interested in and what knowledge and qualities may enhance your chances to obtain employment. Through discussions, assignments, and engagement with professionals in your respective fields (whom you will select yourself), the course intends to contribute to better understanding the applicability of your academic strengths.


Interdisciplinary and International Summer School - Malaysia: Social Inequality through the Lens of Area Studies


This program is a collaboration between us SDAC / FAU – Ferdi, Oleg, Viola & Prof. Giovanni Maltese from the Theology Department, and Albukhary International University (AIU), Malaysia, represented by Assoc Prof Frederik Holst.

The summer school will take place in the city of Alor Setar, Malaysia.


Program Overview:

This compact fundamentally interdisciplinary course aims to investigate concepts of Social Business as a means to battle social inequality, mainly global poverty, unemployment and climate change. A social business, as our working definition puts it, is a business created to solve social issues in a financially sustainable way.  While the concept of Social Business has been introduced and implemented across various regions, its impact and effectiveness vary based on local circumstances. This program aims to delve into these differences, examining the influence of political, economic, historical, cultural, and societal structures, as well as aspects of identity like gender, religion, or ethnicity, on addressing social inequality.


The summer school is structured into two parts: The first week focuses on theoretical frameworks related to social inequality such as gender, sexuality, citizenship or religion and global implementations of Social Businesses, facilitated by a team of lecturers from both AIU and FAU. This approach promotes a transregional and transdisciplinary learning environment, enriched by practical experiences in the field. During the second week, participants will engage in field trips to Social Business sites in rural Northern Malaysia, gaining firsthand insights into their operations and the challenges they face within their economic, political, and societal contexts. These field trips, prepared by student groups from AIU and FAU, encourage collaborative learning and offer diverse perspectives, fostering mutual understanding and knowledge exchange.


Schedule and Credits:

The summer school spans 10 working days, from the 5th to the 16th of August (Mondays to Fridays), followed by an additional excursion from the 16th to the 19th of August (Friday until Monday). Participation in this program grants 5 ECTS. For 7th cohort students, this can be accredited towards the “Advanced Thematic and Regional Courses” module. 6th cohort students may use this to replace a previous course grade. Further details will be provided to selected students at a later date.



Accommodation and food expenses for all students will be fully covered by AIU, from the 5th to the 16th of August. We are also negotiating with the faculty for additional funding to partially support flight costs, subject to approval. Moreover, selected students can apply for the DAAD-Promos (period for application 1.6.-15.7.2024) scholarship and the FAU-Reisestipendium (period for application 1.6.-8.7.2024).


Application Process:

We have 5 open slots for SDAC students. Interested candidates are required to submit a letter of motivation (max. 2 pages), highlighting your interest in the topic, reasons for participation, and how the summer school could benefit your studies or career aspirations.

Please send your applications via email to by the 7th of April 2024.



Module – Introduction to Research Methodologies (5 ECTS)

Students are required to attend both the CAS Colloquium and all workshops. It is required to hand in a 2 page report.

Students can also attend the guest lectures of the “Moral Anthropology Advanced Seminar” instead of the CAS Colloquium (See below under “Additional Offers”). Information about the guest lecturers will be provided one week in advance on the website. 

CAS Colloquium & Workshop Series II


Lecturer: TBA

Time and Place: TBA





Module – Specific Approaches of Selected Academic Disciplines II (5 ECTS)

Students are required to choose one of the following classes. The examination form is a term paper with 12-15 pages.

Ethnographic Reading and Writing


Lecturer: PD Dr. Viola Thimm (she/her)

Time and Place: Tue. 14:00 – 16:00 c.t., SDAC Seminar Room


In this course, we will read ethnographies, i.e. the presentation of fieldwork results in book form. Ethnography is the very specific, academic writing genre of anthropology that has changed and continues to change throughout the history of the discipline, as it is strongly linked to the political-academic debates in the discipline. Depending on the size of the course and the student’s interests, we will deal with ethnographies from the early 20th century, from the 1980s and from the contemporary.
In this course, we will firstly deal with the classics of anthropology – including those that have not necessarily become part of the ethnological canon due to their socio-structural position, socio-critical viewpoint or ethnographic writing style. These works, e.g. by Margaret Mead, Zora Neale Hurston or W.E.B. Du Bois, have significantly influenced the history of science by, for example, refuting the prevailing racist basic assumption at the time, which legitimised colonialism, among other things. In addition, Margaret Mead (1935), for example, published ground-breaking findings on the construction of gender (roles), which did not (yet) correspond to the zeitgeist of the time and only found their way into scientific currents from the 1980s onwards.
In order to gain a better understanding of forms of ethnographic representation and scientific writing style, we will secondly read later ethnographies that have emerged since the so-called “Writing Culture Debate” in the 1980s. In this debate, the classical ethnographies written up to that point were criticised for ignoring any individual and subjective element and for following the so-called “positivist ideal of science”: Titles and introductions to the works read like novels; the researcher recounts the first contact with the “strangers” or describes the village idyll. In the main part, however, it remains completely unclear how the researcher obtained their own data. Furthermore, problems that arise for the ethnographer in the course of the field research, such as power hierarchies, loneliness and conflicts, are omitted. Maintaining neutrality seems to have been the top priority for classical ethnographers. This neutrality cannot and should not (!) be guaranteed according to Writing Culture representatives. Representatives of this debate have also experimented heavily with the ethnographic writing style itself. In this sense, we will read, for example, the feminist interventions of Ruth Behar and Lila Abu-Lughod. We may thirdly also look at contemporary ethnographies written by Alpa Shah, Tom Boellstorff or Scott Stonington, for instance.
Familiarisation with the lively history of the discipline, ethnographic writing styles and rhetorical possibilities of ethnographic representation through reading and discussing ethnographies will also be experienced in this course through small writing exercises. Parts of Van Maanen’s book “Tales of the Field” (2001 [1988]) will serve as a basis for becoming aware of various writing conventions within the discipline and the power of a writer.

Note: This reading course therefore involves a relatively large amount of reading and also writing. Reading competence is a basic tool in anthropology. The seminar participants must read and present a self-selected ethnography in its entirety and read excerpts from the other works in preparation for the individual seminar sessions. Seminar participants must purchase the ethnography of their choice – each suggested book is available for purchase on the Internet for less than 25 Euros. The requirements may seem high to you. However, the high proportion of reading and the written work will compensate some of the sessions in the classroom.


Culture and Company


Lecturer: Prof. Dr. Tijo Salverda

Time and Place: Wed. 14:00 – 18:00 c.t., every other week (starting on 17.04.24), SDAC Seminar Room


In this course we will explore how culture (broadly defined) shapes the operations of companies, which in economics, with its focus on objective’, economic rationality, is largely ignored. We will invite guests and visit several companies in the Erlangen area to learn first-hand how culture is dealt with at various levels, such as in human resources, international management and collaboration, strategy, research and design, sustainability, etc. In combination with theoretical insights gained from key texts, this will allow students to obtain a better understanding of the (everyday) realities of cultural dynamics, opportunities, but also risks within companies.



Additional offers

Moral Anthropology Advanced Seminar


Lecturer: Prof. Dr. Jean-Baptiste Pettier

Time and Place: Tue. 16:00 – 18:00 c.t., SDAC Seminar Room


Morality remains the great question of human life. How do we split the good from the bad, how do we associate with others, and how do we make these decisions? The study of moral phenomena is a core issue for the understanding of how society and culture work. What is the role of ethics in human life? How do people deal with their moral sentiments in complex situations, and how can we distinguish individual moral sentiments from collective and socially-induced moral representations? But moral phenomena goes beyond questions of distinguishing the good from the evil. It includes all dimensions of life concerned with beliefs, symbols, and how we tie ourselves together. This research colloquium will work on the study of moral phenomena from an anthropological perspective. Based on the discussion of early or recent publications, as well as presentations of on-going research by guest lecturers, it will particularly focus on the personal and collective dimensions of moral phenomena by examining the social dimensions of individual personality.

The seminar is conceived as a space of exchange on ongoing research. It is reserved to second-year MA students working on their dissertation and opened to all researchers with an interest in the issue. In order to register, please write to


MA Thesis Writing Seminar


Lecturer: Prof. Dr. Robert LaFleur

Time and Place: 2-week intensive course starting on June 6th, 16:00 – 19:00, until June 21st (several “work from home” days in between), follow-up sessions once or twice per week in July


This seminar, which has been taught to all cohorts since the inception of the SDAC program, will focus on moving from the planning and early research stages of thesis projects to the outlining, organizing, and writing process (while providing skills for ongoing research and reading all the way through submission of the thesis). The course materials plot a path from getting the first drafts underway to final editing on the eve of submission. This work is intended to build lifelong skills in research and writing that are transferable to a wide array of situations in the future, from further academic study to work in a wide variety of sectors in the corporate and non-profit worlds.

There will be an introductory Zoom meeting in April or May (exact date TBA) where further information will be given. This course is intended for 6th cohort students starting on their thesis, but other students are welcome too.


Critical Fieldwork


Lecturer: Oleg Vasilchenko M.A., Sabrina Heilmann M.A., Bhagya Wickramawardhana

Time and Place: Wed. 8:00 – 12:00 c.t., starting on 17.04.24, session dates: 24.04., 08.05., 22.05., 05.06., 19.06., 03.07., 17.07.;
Place: PSGIII (Kochstrasse 6a), Room: 00.4


The course “Critical Fieldwork“ is offering students an in-depth engagement with ethical, practical, and moral complexities faced by social scientists (especially anthropologists, but also sociologists) in various types of challenging fieldwork environments. These environments may include settings where scholars engage for example with the vigilante groups, street gangs, extremist political factions, or state institutions such as the military, police and intelligence services, but also situations where they are working with – and potentially harming – vulnerable groups. The course aims to prepare students for challenges they may face in future research projects (e.g. in their theses) and increase their awareness for certain ethical and practical problems, also in much less dramatic/extreme research situations. We will read a diverse array of case studies, some of which have sparked heated debates within anthropology and wider publics. Parallel to looking at various case studies, we will together reflect at a conceptual level about different forms of positionality, asymmetrical power relations and ethical dilemmas in the field.

Approaches taken by scholars may include, for example, solidarity and engaged or activist forms of scholarship but also a conscious choice for “empathetic distance” (Schneider) in the process of navigating difficult relationships in the field. Our conceptual discussions will also include examples of postcolonial perspectives on fieldwork methods. Students will be encouraged to delve into these themes, both through the engagement with our literature in the course discussions and in the form of written reflections.

The seminar will include a demanding reading and writing program. Participants are strictly required to fulfill weekly writing tasks and engage in substantive literature-based discussions with peers.


Homelessness and Poverty in a Global Context


Lecturer: Bhagya Wickramawardhana

Time and Place: Tue. 8:00 – 10:00 c.t., LS für Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie, Glückstr. 10, Seminarraum (Ground Floor)


This seminar examines homelessness and poverty from an anthropological standpointintegrating both classical and contemporary ethnographic studies. Students will explore the complex nature of these social issues in various global settings by drawing on a wide range of ethnographic studies from researchers like Irene Glasser, Rae Bridgman, and Luisa Schneider. The class explores how ethnographic research on homelessness and poverty has developed over time, from its early works to its present day uses. It focuses on the practical and ethical aspects of doing research “with” marginalized communities.

Throughout this seminar, students will critically analyze the root causes, lived experiences, and socio-cultural implications of homelessness and poverty. The course is open to both B.A. and M.A. students.


Legal Anthropology


Lecturer: Sabrina Heilmann, M.A.

Time and Place: Mon. 10:00 – 14:00 c.t., every other week (starting on 22.04.24), LS für Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie, Glückstr. 10, Seminarraum (Ground Floor)


This course introduces students of Sociology and the SDAC program to the field of legal anthropology, with some additional references to broader socio-legal studies (“Law and Society“). Addressing the history of the anthropology of law alongside various contemporary themes and exemplary empirical case studies, the course aims to enable students to understand and participate in debates of the field by acquainting them with some of its key literature, concepts and methods. No prior knowledge of Law and/or Anthropology is required. The course is open to both B.A. (Sociology) and M.A. (SDAC) students.


Advanced Seminar of the Chair for Cultural and Social Anthropology (“LawTech Ethnographies”)


Lecturer: Oleg Vasilchenko M.A., Sabrina Heilmann M.A., Bhagya Wickramawardhana

Time and Place: Please contact:


This semester’s advanced seminar will adopt an alternative format. A reading group will convene approximately every two to three weeks on Thursdays from 12:30 to 14:00. During these sessions, participants will engage with a range of articles/books related to the research focus “LawTech,” which encompasses legal anthropology, digital anthropology, socio-legal studies, and ethnographic methodology. Members are encouraged to contribute their own written work for group discussion and feedback. We warmly invite all interested students to join.
Please note that there will be no graded examination for participation in the seminar this semester.

For additional details, such as the start date, initial readings, or any other inquiries, please contact


This advanced seminar is open for advanced BA students, MA students, and PhD candidates whose research focus is related to the Chair of Cultural and Social Anthropology, or who are interested in pursuing related research. During the sessions, we will discuss research projects which are being conducted within the group “LawTech Ethnographies.”

Students who are interested in writing an (under-) graduate thesis or PhD dissertation in the field of legal, political and/or religious anthropology,  are encouraged to join this advanced seminar to discuss and present their ideas.