Opening Doors on Anthropology – Exhibition at Martin Luther University in Halle

April 04, 2024

What happens when anthropologists spend months in a foreign place, immersing themselves in the lives of others? Where does their research take them and what insights does it bring? In the exhibition “Wechsel Deine Perspektive – Ethnologie öffnet Türen”, researchers of the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle (MPI) and the Institute for Social and Cultural Anthropology at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg open doors into their work. The exhibition will be on display from 17 April to 7 July 2024 in the main building of the university (Löwengebäude, Universitätsplatz 11). It is open Wed–Sun between 13:00 and 18:00; admission is free.

A change of perspective – from outsider to insider
Anthropological research begins with what one does not understand: this might be the confusion connected with everyday life in another country. But it might also be the lifeworlds of people from other walks of society. “When we attempt to orient ourselves in a foreign world, we are forced to change our perspective and learn what the local people know as competent members of their community”, says Ursula Rao, Director at the MPI. “We must therefore become insiders, in order to make sense of what often seems to us from the outside to be exotic, alien, irrational, or incomprehensible.”

Finding the exotic right around the corner
How exactly this change of perspective happens, what anthropologists do, what they discover through their work, and why it matters – all of this is illustrated in the exhibition using examples from six research projects. They investigate homelessness in Germany, digitalization in India, the transformation of the central German coal-mining regions, the role of money in Buddhism, land reform in South Africa, and the effects of globalization in Alpine villages. Rao notes, “We selected these projects in order to show how, as anthropological researchers, we overcome the distance that separates us from people about whose lives we know very little. And we don’t necessarily have to look all that far away to find the unfamiliar. For example, we conduct research in Leipzig among people who lack a fixed abode. Or we attempt to understand why villagers in the Alps strive to hold onto their traditions and are concerned about globalization.”

The opening of the exhibition will take place on Monday, 15 April 2024, at 18:00 in the auditorium of the Löwengebäude. Prof. Dr. Ursula Rao will give a welcome address on anthropological research and the concept of the exhibition. This will be followed by a presentation in German by Prof. Dr. Asta Vonderau, Institute for Social and Cultural Anthropology, MLU, and Felix Schiedlowski, Centre for Interdisciplinary Regional Studies, MLU, on how anthropological perspectives can shed light on the social and structural changes connected with the end of coal mining in central Germany.

Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg
Zentrale Kustodie
Universitätsplatz 11
06108 Halle (Saale)
Tel. (0345) 5521733

PR contact
Stefan Schwendtner
Press and Public Relations
Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology
Advokatenweg 36, 06114 Halle (Saale)
Tel.: 0345 2927-425

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