Anthropology is the comparative study of cultures and societies across time and space. Using a grounded perspective, it is primarily concerned with human relationships in context and with dynamics of social change. The methodological hallmark of the discipline is ethnography, the anthropologist’s work of immersing in the everyday realities of people and communities over long periods of time to understand how larger processes and power relations are at work in their lives.

In a globally connected world, social anthropology is ideally positioned to contribute to the understanding of our diversity and similarity as human beings as well as the global forces that bring us together or set us apart. Students of social anthropology are trained to acquire the tools and concepts that allow them to identify critical social, economic and political patterns in mundane social and cultural artifacts and practices.

Social anthropology is closely related to sociology. While there used to be clear distinctions between the two disciplines, their mutual deployment of concepts, methods and research interests in recent decades indicates an increasingly blurred boundary. Indeed, social anthropology and sociology complement each other very well in advancing knowledge on human societies and social behavior.

As part of the Transnationalisation and Development Section in the Faculty of Sociology, Social Anthropology at Bielefeld University is home to a dynamic and devoted group of social anthropologists. Our current work features the following cross-cutting themes:

  • Care and Belonging (Nguyen, Pfaff-Czarnecka, Hölzle)
  • Knowledge Production and Dissemination (Pfaff-Czarnecka, Hölzle)
  • Mobility and Migration (Pfaff-Czarnecka, Nguyen, Wilcox)
  • Institutions and Networks (Pfaff-Czarnecka, Wilcox, Nguyen)
  • Space and Sociality (Nguyen, Pfaff-Czarnecka, Wilcox, Hölzle)
  • Life and Violence (Hölzle, Pfaff-Czarnecka)