Psychologische Anthropologie

Members  |  Former members

Psychological anthropology played a crucial role in the early life of our discipline. The German “Völkerpsychologie”, the North American “Culture and Personality School”, and the British “Torres Strait Expeditions” of the late 19th and early 20th century all made important methodical, theoretical and transdisciplinary contributions to the broader anthropological project. Whether through furthering our understanding of human socialisation and the relationship between persons and sociocultural environments, or through illuminating the emotional-affective, cognitive and physical ways in which persons relate to self and others. Since then, methodological, theoretical and conceptual approaches of psychological anthropology have moved into rich new fields, becoming increasingly concerned with power asymmetries, critical epistemologies, and the social and human effects of universalising ‘Western’ psychologies. In the face of growing human and cultural interconnectedness, contemporary psychological anthropology has fostered important insights into new forms of inequality and structural violence in local and global contexts, into changing forms of human subjectivity, and into how different emotions, affects and behaviours are understood, managed and responded to in diverse settings. Today, the global political economy becomes more multi-polar and the assumption that psychological and bio-psychiatric ‘insights’, predominantly produced in the ‘West’, are to be imposed on other social groups, is itself open to question. This creates new tensions between universalising and relativising understandings of the human condition that psychological anthropology is uniquely positioned to address. Psychological anthropology has, in its more recent instantiations, broadly rejected the universalising tendencies of psychological discourse, preferring to illuminate historically and socio-culturally situated concepts of self, personhood and what it means to be human. In short, psychological anthropology avoids postulating the ‘psyche’ as an a priori given, rather understanding how different cultural understandings of ‘psyche’ and ‘self’ affect individual and social behavior and experience. This critical perspective at times conflicts with some of mainstream psychology’s key assumptions, according to which human beings are subjected to universal psychological patterns of feeling, thinking and socializing. However, rather than only aiming to refute such perspectives, psychological anthropology seeks to scrutinise, relativise and contextualise them, thereby encouraging fruitful dialogue and exchange with neighboring disciplines such as cultural psychology, transcultural psychiatry, neuro-anthropology, developmental psychology, philosophy, psychotherapy and bio-psychiatry (to only name a few).

The research and teaching area at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology predominantly focuses on affect and emotion, childhood and youth, education and learning, mental health and illness, stigmatization and marginalization, migration and mobility, postcolonial theory and decolonial thought. We have worked with street-related communities in Indonesia, in therapeutic spaces in India, and directed international research projects on the role of affect and emotion in fieldwork and ethnography; travelling concepts in mental health and illness; envy in transcultural perspectives, and critical perspectives on big data.

Currently, we are engaged in research projects in transregional contexts of mostly South/East Asia and Europe, such as:

  • gender, emotion, and womanhood from feminist perspectives
  • Global Mental Health and schizophrenia
  • therapeutic spaces in contexts of (forced) migration
  • femicide
  • transnational belonging
  • transformative pedagogies and methods in teaching anthropology
  • relationships between pedagogy, education and self-formation
  • permaculture in education and therapy
  • (outer) space, technology, and religion

We collaborate with the European Network for Psychological Anthropology (ENPA) and the Teaching Anthropology Network (TAN) at the European Network of Social Anthropologists, the working group Psychological Anthropology at the DGSKA, the blog anthro-metronom, and the Annual Winter School on Culture, Psychology, and Qualitative Research, in collaboration with Aalborg University, Sigmund Freud University Berlin and Sigmund Freud University Vienna.


Prof. Dr. Thomas Stodulka
Dr. Annika Strauss
Irina Savu-Cristea, M.A.
Florin Cristea, M.A.
Lauren Reid, M.A.
Annett Hofmann, M.A.
Jingyi Li, M.A.
Julia Baumann, M.A.
Raffaele Gallo, M.A.
Mona Behnke, M.A.
Sara El-Dayekh, M.A.
Panos Tsitsanoudis, M.A.
Jasper Singh, M.A.
Yura Hyeon, M.A.

Former members:

Dr. Ferdiansyah Thajib
Dr. Svenja Thornau