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In the first part of the discussion series "Kant – A Racist?", co-organized by the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, a panel of experts, including Cengiz Barskanmaz from the Department "Law & Anthropology" at the MPI, discusses whether Kant's writings about non-European peoples and people should be considered racist. In his lecture, Barskanmaz examines whether Kant's statements should be regarded today as an attack on human dignity and would thus be liable to charges under criminal law, or whether they are protected by the fundamental right of freedom of expression. more

In an interview with the radio station WDR 5, Carolin Görzig talks about her research on international terrorism. She explains why there have been four major waves of terrorism since the end of the nineteenth century and what events have triggered and facilitated them. more

Floramante S.J. Ponce is this year’s winner of the annual award granted by the Anthropology of Food Network of the European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA) for the best paper by a postgraduate student. Ponce is a member of the research group “Electric Statemaking in the Greater Mekong Subregion” headed by Kirsten W. Endres in the Department ‘Resilience and Transformation in Eurasia’. more

Since January 2020 our lives have been defined by the waxing and waning of infection numbers, the media reports on the pandemic, and by the scientific research attempting to manage and explain it. For anthropologists, whose research takes place in the “laboratory” of social life, there is no ignoring the crisis that COVID-19 has brought with it. In ordinary times, the central activity of their work is immersing themselves in the world of the everyday, in rituals, customs, and habits. But for nearly a year, the limits placed on social interaction have been limiting their possibilities to conduct research. Even in lockdown, however, anthropologists remain keen observers of social behaviour and change. During the past weeks, MPI researchers Ursula Rao, Biao Xiang, Günther Schlee, and David O’Kane have reflected on the effects of the pandemic around the world. Their podcast and blog contributions look at greeting customs, new forms of mobility and migration, and the value of local communities in the face of international threats. more

Max Planck Director Chris Hann has been elected a foreign member of the Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences (PAU) by the Academy’s General Assembly. more

The climate crisis, wars, and poverty often leave people no choice – they flee to Europe to escape violence and hunger. But fleeing often brings them into new life-threatening situations. At the 78th Zeit-Forum Wissenschaft, Günther Schlee and other experts explored the question of how migration conditions can be made more humane. more

Sally Engle Merry (1944–2020)

September 29, 2020

The members of the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology wish to express our deepest sorrow at the news of the passing of Sally Engle Merry. more

During the lockdown and the weeks that followed, Chris Hann and his colleagues examined the coronavirus pandemic and its repercussions in a series of blog posts. The 20 texts, written by members of the REALEURASIA project and colleagues around the world, provide an anthropological perspective on the responses of countries across Eurasia, illuminating the political and historical contexts of the current situation. more

At irregular intervals we publish interviews with alumni of the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology. We find out where they are living and working now, what they are conducting research on, and how their time at the MPI shaped their subsequent careers. In closing they share their advice for young anthropologists and name a book that has impressed them recently. more

In a full-page German newspaper article, Carolin Görzig discusses the development of modern terrorism and how David Rapoport’s model of “waves” of terrorism helps us understand it. While individual stories vary widely and make it difficult to draw any reliable conclusions about how terrorism has changed over time, a generational analysis offers much more meaningful insights. For example, it allows us to identify a pattern in which ideologies and ideas of the enemy are repeated every second generation. Terrorist groups change through learning processes that involve more than just the use of violence. For example, around the world, groups such as the IRA (Northern Ireland) and Gamaa Islamiya (Egypt) have come to the conclusion that it can be more productive to renounce violence and turn instead to political means to advocate for their interests. more

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