Interview

Annika Lems
Annika Lems
Head of Research Group
Phone: +49 (0) 345 29 27 360

C.V. | Publications


Research Interests
Existential and phenomenological anthropology; placemaking practices; processes of social inclusion and exclusion; lived experiences of displacement and alienation; refugee and migration studies; im/mobility; rurality; everyday histories and temporalities; memory; visual and narrative storytelling; violence and the everyday

Research Area(s)
Australia; Somali diaspora; Switzerland, Austria and the German-speaking Alpine region

Profile

I am a social anthropologist working on the ways people experience, negotiate and actively create place attachments in an age of rapid global transformations. In my past research I have done so by looking at the placemaking practices of refugee and migrant groups. In my dissertation I explored existential questions surrounding the lived experiences of place and displacement in the lifeworlds of Somali refugees living in Melbourne. By zooming in on the particularities of the placemaking practices of three individuals, I took a critical look at the use of the figure of the refugee as a metaphor for alienation and estrangement from society. For this work I was awarded a doctorate in social anthropology at Swinburne University in Melbourne, Australia in 2013.

After completing my dissertation, I worked as a postdoctoral researcher in the final phase of the ARC funded research project "Home Lands" (based at Swinburne University and La Trobe University in Melbourne), before joining the Institute of Social Anthropology at the University of Bern in January 2015. I was a postdoctoral research fellow in the project "Transnational Biographies of Education". As part of the project I explored the educational pathways of young unaccompanied asylum seekers in Switzerland. Throughout my time in Bern, I also taught courses on ethnographic methodologies, refugee studies and anthropological theories.

In January 2019 I joined the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology to head the independent research group 'Alpine Histories of Global Change: Time, Self and the Other in the German-Speaking Alpine Region'. In the project I examine the role of local, everyday engagements with history in social processes of inclusion and exclusion. The project extends my interest in placemaking practices to the field of history and has a close look at the links between lived temporality, place attachment and alienation. It plays into my long-standing scholarly interest in the question of how people experience and make sense of the tensions and paradoxes of globalisation in their everyday lives.

 
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