Archive for the ‘social science’ Category

I’m so excited!

Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

… and I just can’t hide it. I know, I know, I know, you’ll be here!
I just got the news that my book has arrived in Darmstadt. Now I have to go up to the post office here in Oslo every other hour to check if it has arrived here, too!

Listen closely.

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007

Well, this is really and definitely troubling: BBC reports on a new forecast under the headline Arctic summers ice-free ‘by 2013’. So, I guess our so very responsible and wise policy makers should meet with their lobby friends, fly around a bit, talk some more, agree to talk some more next year and so on. Since it always was a good idea to do it like that, we should probably continue. We are part of the most powerful economic system, our scientists are the best, stock markets have gained grounds again, all is good. We conquer earth and space, and then we sell them. And slowly, but not as slowly as we hope, the ground we built upon gets brittle. A crack in the wall here, some strange noises in the cellar there. Just monsters, imagined, children’s fears.

Oppressive Surveillance in Germany.

Monday, October 22nd, 2007

More than two months ago I wrote an entry on the incarceration of the urban sociologist Andrej Holm. Luckily he has been released after several weeks of cellular confinement under particularly harsh conditions – has was labelled a terrorist, and as we learned from current US American practices, that seems to forfeit you of quite a few human rights. This week, on Wednesday, the German Federal Court will decide if the warrant issued against Andrej Holm was legal in the first place.
Remember: one of the main grounds on which he was arrested was that he wrote critically about such things as gentrification and that this and other terms were used in the pamphlets of the militante gruppe, who set fire to several German military vehicles. It seems he has met people who are suspected to be members of this group on several occasions. Using terms such as gentrification, being an outspoken critic of related urban developments, and having met people who may be arsonists seems to be enough to rid not only you of your rights, but also your friends and family, who are now all being observed, wiretapped and so forth. Now many people in the social sciences, critical or not so critical, fear that they might too be arrested as terrorists when they actually do their work, leave their ivory tower, engage with different people outside of academia, be they investors, everyday people, or militants – and how am I supposed to know if someone who I meet is a militant or not? How terribly far going these so-called anti-terrorist measures go is being witnessed on the weblog of Andrej Holm’s partner, with whom he has two children. A scary read indeed.
And what is also quite scary is that I really carefully have to judge my words writing this entry, because it has become obvious that all activity related to this case is being monitored very closely by Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office (the BKA). That is how far we have come: I feel afraid enough to not even dare to joke about this affair. I think it really is time to turn the wheel around and re-establish all those civil liberties that have been torn down over the course of the last six years. When I was young, reading Orwell’s 1984 and similar dystopian novels, I never thought that a distinctly similar scenario would become true when I am an adult. Dire times, and my Norwegian colleagues here in Oslo seem to be pretty shocked about the current state of interior affairs in Germany.

Buzzing around before settling down. (For a while.)

Tuesday, August 28th, 2007

Last week, I moved most of my everyday stuff to Oslo, where I will be a guest researcher at the University until the end of this year. The last days I was in Berlin, most of the time cleaning the apartment and packing the rest of my belongings. But I also took the time to participate in the performance festival Abwehr, organized by Svenja Moor and Shahram Entekhabi (officially as a discussant but in truth more as a photographer – which suited me fine). The locations of this festival Wachturm and Kunstfabrik were excellent and I think the whole thing worked out really fine. You can read more about this festival in Stralau-Blog (in German). You can also see more about this festival. In my ipernity album.
Tomorrow, I will buzz off again. This time going to the annual conference of the Royal Geographical Society in London. I’ve been there last year and enjoyed it quite a bit. This year, Katie Walsh and I will host a session, to which I am looking forward very much. Except for the fact that we have been put into the last time slot of the conference: Friday 16:50–18:30. I wonder how many people will make it through a whole week of dense and stimulating sessions, beverage-laden evening programmes and then still attend some session late Friday afternoon, when they shcould be heading home to tea and biscuit…
On Saturday, though, I will finally enter port: Oslo. *sigh* And there I will stay with only one interruption until the end of the year. That’s what I call a welcome prospect!

Terrorizing critical sociology.

Friday, August 17th, 2007

You may already have heard about the affair in which four persons were searched by the police and one of them arrested on 32st July. One of them, Andrej Holm, is a fellow urban sociologist who is working the the Department for Sociology, Humboldt University Berlin. He writes on gentrification and participates in public meetings in which urban policy is discussed and critized. In short, he is involved in what a public intellectual should do: go out into society and discuss potentially or actually harmful or otherwise relevant political and societal developments. So why did they arrest him? Because he uses words and concepts (like the commonly used term gentrification), that are also used in writings of the militante gruppe, and because he has met these people on occasion – being a public and critical scholar – he is linked to them. And now he is in jail under very strict conditions.
This is a very serious affair and we should make sure that critical and engaged scholars do not get into a situation in which they will be afraid to utter criticism because they might sooner or later be labeled terrorist and thrown into jail. This is exactly what I and many others feared would happen when the so-called war against terrorism seeps into everyday life deeper and deeper.
Express your opposition to a process which would lead to people keeping their mouths shout when they should not and sign the open letter to the Generalbundesanwaltschaft: in English, auf Deutsch. The open letter has been organized and published by colleagues abroad, in particular Manuel Aalbers and other members of the comurb_r21 mailing list along with participants of the ASA meeting, which just took place in the United States. I am impressed by and happy about the many important and very highly regarded scholars that already signed the open letter. You will also find more information in the open letter and on the support website, to whose organizers I also pay my respect.

Norge, jeg kommer.

Saturday, July 21st, 2007

The semester is finally over, giving me time to spread the good news that have been brightening up my days for a while: beginning in September I will be a guest researcher at the TIK senter in Oslo. The TIK is a research institute that is part of the University of Oslo, mostly focusing on science and technology studies, the field that is commonly called by its acronym STS. This in itself would already fit my training and research agenda nicely – since my class with Tom Gieryn at Indiana University Bloomington and even more so since I worked at the Max-Planck-Institute for the history of science in Berlin, science and technology studies inform my theoretical and empirical work. However, the TIK senter fits my agenda even better, because there are several people who are involved in studies or beginning research projects on climate change and its relation to society. I am looking forward very much to participating in this setting for last third of the year.
As you may know, this is only one part of the story. I am also delighted by the fact that I can stay there because Kerstin and I will be able to actually live together again for the first time in about four years. If that isn’t fabulous, then I don’t know what is. And both of us will be working at the same place, for the University of Oslo, our offices only a two minute stroll away. Grand. I even have a glimmer of hope that I will be able to get rid of my diverse back related problems during my stay. Domus Athletica, Sognsvann and, depending on the weather, a bit of nordic skiing during the last weeks… that should help.

Dancing the evidence.

Wednesday, July 18th, 2007

Last week I had to leave the post-graduate college’s summer school Technologies and their Environments: The Circulation of Materials, People, and Knowledge at the St. Jakobsberg monastery early – to my regret, because there were quite a few people who were as charming as they were clever. However, the lure was big enough to make me leave: I was accepted as a participant who can show a video presentation for the conference InEvidence, hosted by CRASSH and the German department of Cambridge University. The conference was a big success – many excellent presentations by both big names and people working on their PhDs, and, in addition, we also had some art going on, in particular the very impressive and well done performance of the duo Martin Nachbar & Jochen Roller with mnemonic nonstop. A cartographic duet. The atmosphere between the participants was very relaxed and open, too.
The only drawback was the density of the program – the pauses were short. Too short for people to actually be able to take enough time to watch the video presentations that were offered. Therefore I decided to upload the video that I showed during the conference. It is called subtle. Evident. Encountering the materiality of the Potsdamer Platz. The video is almost 12 minutes long, the file 180 MB big and formatted as .mp4. It can be played using recent versions of QuickTime Player, VLC, Real Player and probably also a few others. I hope you enjoy watching it.

Einhüllende Materialitäten – bald bei Ihrem Buchhändler.

Friday, June 22nd, 2007

Einband des Buches Einhüllende Materialitäten von Lars FrersWer den Herbstkatalog des Transcript Verlags sorgfältig studiert hat, wird es schon bemerkt haben. Für alle anderen (also quasi alle) gibt es die Ankündigung jetzt auch im Internet: Einhüllende Materialitäten : Eine Phänomenologie des Wahrnehmens und Handelns an Bahnhöfen und Fährterminals. Mit kurzem Werbetext und – vor allem – dem hier gezeigten kleinen Vorschaubild des Einbands. Es ist so spanned, man glaubt es kaum! Dann will ich mal gleich weiter machen mit meinen Überarbeitungen, Kürzungen und Korrekturen, damit das Büchlein im November auch wirklich in Topform erhältlich ist.

Siegfried Lenz über das Sehen.

Saturday, June 16th, 2007

Bei meinem Aufenthalt auf Juist am vergangenen Wochenende habe ich mich nach einigem Stöbern dazu entschlossen, die Deutschstunde von Siegfried Lenz zu kaufen und zu lesen. Ich bin darauf gekommen, weil ich auf dem Videoworkshop, an dem ich vor ein paar Wochen teilgenommen habe, Charles Goodwin bei einem Gespräch über Schiffe von Lenz’ Feuerschiff erzählt habe – eines meiner Lieblingsbücher. Während ich ihm davon erzählte, hat mich die Dramatik der Handlung so sehr gepackt, dass ich eine Gänsehaut bekam. Deshalb also der Griff zum Lenz im Buchladen.
Ein guter Griff, wie sich bald herausstellte. Besonders hat mich die folgende Passage erfasst, denn sie spiegelt ein Verständnis von Wahrnehmung, das nahezu deckungsgleich mit dem ist, das ich in Anlehnung an Merleau-Ponty in meiner Dissertation verwende. Hier das entsprechende Zitat:

[S. 409] Weißt Du was Sehen ist? Vermehren. Sehen ist Durchdringen und Vermehren. Oder auch Erfinden. Um dir zu gleichen, mußt du dich erfinden, immer wieder, mit jedem Blick. Was erfunden wird, ist verwirklicht. Hier, in diesem Blau, in dem nichts schwankt, in dem keine Beunruhigung steckt, ist auch nichts verwirklicht. Nichts ist vermehrt. Wenn du siehst, wirst du gleichzeitig auch selbst gesehen, dein Blick kommt zurück. Sehen, herrjeh: es kann auch investieren bedeuten, oder Warten auf Veränderung. Du hast alles vor dir, die Dinge, den alten Mann, aber sie sind es nicht gewesen, wenn du nicht etwas dazu tust von dir aus. Sehen: das ist doch nicht zu den Akten nehmen. Man muß doch bereit sein zum Widerruf. Du gehst weg und kommst zurück, und etwas hat sich verwandelt. Laß mich in Ruhe mit Protokollen. Die Form muß schwanken, alles muß schwanken, so brav ist das Licht nicht.
Oder hier Witt-Witt, dies Bildchen, warm durchsonnt: Balthasar hält mir auf ausgestreckter Hand eine Mühle hin, und ich beachte ihn nicht. Da siehst du, wo ein anderer ist, wo etwas anderes ist, da muß eine Bewegung zu ihm hinführen. Sehen ist so ein Tausch auf Gegenseitigkeit. Was dabei herausspringt, ist gegenseitige [S. 410] Veränderung. Nimm den Priel, nimm den Horizont, den Wassergraben, den Rittersporn: sobald du sie erfaßt hast, erfassen sie auch dich. Ihr erkennt euch gegenseitig. Sehen heißt auch: einander entgegenkommen, einen Abstand verringern. Oder? Balthasar meint, das alles ist zu wenig. Er besteht darauf, das Sehen auch Bloßstellen ist. Etwas wird so aufgedeckt, daß keiner in der Welt sich ahnungslos geben kann. Ich weiß nicht, ich habe etwas gegen das Enthüllungsspiel. Man kann der Zwiebel alle Häute abziehen, und dann bleibt nichts. Ich werde dir sagen: man beginnt zu sehen, wenn man aufhört, den Betrachter zu spielen, und sich das, was man braucht, erfindet: diesen Baum, diese Welle, diesen Strand.

In: Lenz, Siegfried ([1973] 2006): Deutschstunde. München: dtv.

Video research in the open – researcher, camera, and others.

Monday, April 30th, 2007

Next week I will participate in the workshop Video Interaction Analysis – and how to do it (program (PDF)). Here is my abstract:

In this presentation I will put the actual presence of researcher and camera in the field into focus. After positioning the actant bundle researcher-camera in the hierarchically structured social field of the railway terminal, I will present several video sequences. These sequences demonstrate techniques employed both by the people in the camera’s perspective and by the researcher-camera – techniques in which distance and the controlled normality of the terminal are maintained. However, other sequences show how this normality is frequently broken and challenged. People are getting closer than is expected, they approach, inspect, conspire with, and question the bundle researcher-camera. Taken together, an emergent set of practices is being analyzed: strategies and tactics that make video research in the open an exciting but also ambivalent process.

The workshop is organized by the DFG research project The effect of computerized knowledge in the operating theatre, from a gender perspective, which is based at Humboldt-University Berlin, Institute for Social Sciences.

Schlechte Herstellung im Campus Verlag.

Saturday, March 17th, 2007

Lieber Campus Verlag, ich finde die Umschlags- und Titelgestaltung von Deinem Buch wirklich ganz ansehnlich. Aber, um ehrlich zu sein, ich habe noch nie ein dermaßen mies gesetztes Buch von einem großen, eigentlich angesehenen Verlag in der Hand gehabt. Ich fühle mich nicht wegen mittelprächtiger Typografie zu diesem Eintrag genötigt, zwei bestimmte Dinge lassen mir den Kamm schwellen, wenn ich Dein Buch in die Hand nehme:

  1. Wenn ei ne Wort tren nung über ei ne Sei ten gren ze hin weg geht, fehlt der Bin de strich. Und zwar im mer.
  2. Am Ende von mehreren Kapitelüberschriften scheint jemand ein Sonderzeichen gesetzt zu haben, das sich im Druck als ungefähr n-breite, graue Fläche über die gesamte Zeilenhöhe erstreckt.

Das sind Fehler, die einem derart in die Augen stechen, dass es mir vollkommen unverständlich ist, wie so etwas in den Druck kommen kann. Über die vielen Rechtscheibfehler wollen wir mal den Mantel des Schweigens breiten. Von Zeichensetzung, Groß-, Klein- und Getrenntschreibung hab ich zum Glück keine Ahnung, so dass mir solche Fehler nicht auffallen würden. Würde ich bei einem solchen Verlag ein Buch veröffentlichen wollen? Eigentlich nicht. Wenn da nicht so inhaltlich wundervolle Bücher wie Alain Ehrenbergs Das erschöpfte Selbst : Depression und Gesellschaft in der Gegenwart erscheinen würden… Ein Buch, dass in jeder anderen Hinsicht überzeugt, wichtig ist und sich gut liest.

Getting the research back to the name of this blog.

Friday, March 16th, 2007

photo of razorclamsFinally. I am currently spending my first research week on the island. My main objective during this stay is to arrange future stays, check out the general way things have changed in the course of the last 10+ years, get back into touch with people, and take a lot of photographs of the island’s coastline, nature, buildings, places, and people. Some of the photos serve more or less aesthetic purposes, documenting the attractions and peculiarities of this place, others serve as a background for future assessments or comparisons.
Time passes both more slowly and more quickly here. To keep a grip on this and the many other things and thoughts that I encounter here, I have started writing a more thorough log than I did for any of my past research projects. I am pretty sure solid logging practices (as recommended by Lofland & Lofland in their great book Analyzing Social Settings) are a very good idea for a long-term project such as mine. I can only recommend OmniOutliner to those of you using a Mac. It is as useful for keeping a log as it is for writing outlines.

Workshop on video analysis.

Wednesday, March 7th, 2007

On May 11-12th I will participate in the workshop Video Interaction Analysis – and how to do it (PDF) which is organized by Ulrike Tikvah Kissmann. As she writes: The aim of the workshop is to bring together video analysts with different methodological backgrounds and to discuss how their approaches differ. For that purpose, the presenters have been asked to make the stages of their analysis as transparent as possible. I will try to dive into the transparency or openness and offer those video sequences for discussion in which people display their stance (scepticism, interest, evasion…) towards me and my camera. The title for my presentation is Video research in the open – researcher, camera, and others. I am really looking forward to the workshop and I am confident that the atmosphere and setup of the workshop will be allow for fruitful, non-defensive discussion of methods in practice.


Sunday, February 18th, 2007

montage showing a blackboard, a foggy mountain valley and nordic skiingDer Strategieworkshop der Darmstädter Stadtforschung im Kleinwalsertal war inhaltlich und dynamisch ein voller Erfolg – Stadtforscher der Republik: haltet die Augen und Ohren auf und bereitet Euch innerlich auf das vor, was da so kommen wird…!

Motivationen und Ausgangspunkte für ein neues Projekt.

Sunday, January 14th, 2007

Am vergangenen Freitag habe ich im Rahmen des neuen Graduiertenkollegs das erste Mal mein zukünftiges Forschungsprojekt vorgestellt. Vom Vortrag habe ich mit Hilfe meines Laptops einen Audiomitschnitt angefertigt. Diese Tonspur habe ich nun unter die gezeigten Folien gelegt und die Übergänge entsprechend synchronisiert, so dass der Vortrag jetzt als Film zur Verfügung steht. Die Gliederung des Vortrags und ein Link zum Film finden sich auf der dazugehörigen Seite: Gezeiten und Ströme, Erholung und Erosion – Motivationen.

Wie schreibe ich meine Dissertation?

Thursday, January 11th, 2007

Da ich in meiner neuen Position als Postdoktorand am Graduiertenkolleg Topologie der Technik auch für die Betreuung und Beratung der neuen Doktoranden zuständig bin und da ich auch von ein paar anderen Leuten angefragt worden bin, habe ich in den letzten Wochen einen Teil meiner freie Zeit dafür genutzt, ein Mischwesen aus Erfahrungsbericht und Ratgeber zusammenzustellen. Gestern bin ich damit fertig geworden: Dissertation schreiben – Anregungen und Erfahrungen. Für Anmerkungen und Korrekturen bin ich sehr dankbar.

Dissertation is done & defended.

Saturday, December 2nd, 2006

wine and pretzel leftoversI guess the last entries displayed the change in lifestyle that occurred in the last week: I am finally done with the dissertation! This has generated more than a few sighs of relaxation.
The defense (or disputatio) of my dissertation has been tougher than I expected. After talking about my thesis in a thirty minute presentation – in which I did not use any fancy multimedia things at all – I was probed and questioned for one looong hour. The fact that I knew all of the professors on the committee did not make their questions less inquisitive and difficult. Just to point out the degree of concentration that was necessary to work my way through this trial: I had a full glass of water standing next to me, two times during the 90 minutes I thought about taking a sip, but it doing so would have distracted me too much. I did not drink anything from this glass… However, now it is over. And it went very well enough: magna cum laude. Afterwards we had sparkling wine and pretzels; the leftovers are displayed on the photo.
Even though we celebrated the successful finishing of my dissertation it has only been during the last few days that I started to realize that I am actually done. My deeply felt thanks go to all those who supported me during the last three and a half years – both intellectually, personally, and financially: Ihr wißt, wenn Ihr gemeint seid: Dankeschön!

Die letzte Prüfung.

Saturday, November 18th, 2006

Donnerstag nächste Woche wird die letzte benotete Prüfung meines Lebens stattfinden. (Ich glaube jedenfalls, dass nach Abschluss der Doktorarbeit keine weitere Prüfung kommt, bei der man benotet wird.) Spannend ist es aber auch ganz unabhängig davon ob es die letzte Prüfung ist – wie man sich leicht vorstellen kann. Das Promotionsverfahren ist mit der Prüfung, der sogenannten Disputation, abgeschlossen und die Note steht fest. Bevor ich aber den Doktortitel führen darf, muss die Arbeit veröffentlicht werden. Da ich die Arbeit als Buch über einen guten Verlag veröffentlichen will, wird sich das noch etwas hinziehen – mit etwas Glück ist es in sechs bis zwölf Monaten so weit…
Doch vorher will noch am Vortrag gefeilt werden. Die Disputation findet am kommenden Donnerstag um 16 Uhr im Residenzschloß in Darmstadt statt und ist öffentlich. Nach dem zwanzig- bis dreißigminütigen Vortrag folgt eine Diskussion von ungefähr einer halben bis einer Stunde. Meine GutachterInnen sind Prof. Dr. Helmuth Berking und Prof. Dr. Martina Löw (beide Soziologie). Die PrüferInnen sind Prof. Dr. Petra Gehring (Philosophie) und Prof. Dr. Dieter Schott (Geschichte). Danach ist dann alles vorbei. Und das wird begossen!

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

Thursday, October 19th, 2006

So, who’s who? First, there are the people from Darmstadt. They sent me a letter today. If you were listening to the sounds of the rumor mill you might have already guessed what is inside… Yes! It did work out as I hoped. 11 a.m. September 22nd I handed in my Dissertation. Two hours later I had my job interview for a postdoc position in the new post-graduate college Topology of Technology. Today I received the written approval of the college. Yay! Beginning sometime in November or December, I will not be dependent on the totally incompetent and not-so-subtly cruel social workfare system. That, I can tell you, is a relief in itself. However, it is of course much better than that because I really wanted to work exactly in that position: a post-doc in a Graduiertenkolleg, and even better, a post-doc in a Graduiertenkolleg that consists of people that are intellectually brilliant, socially competent and personally likeable. More about all of this in later posts.
But – as the title of this post hints – this is not all the news that I got. The above was, quite easily guessed, the good part. Now comes the bad. Last week, construction work has begun right across on the other side of the street. Yes, that is also right in front of our beloved balcony. Meow. We’ll see how the construction site develops but it appears as if the greatest and most marvellous part of the whole Choriner Straße will be left standing: the huge Cherry tree that astounds everyone when it becomes a world of blossoms in the spring. It would have been a grievous loss indeed. This was the bad.
Now comes the ugly. As usual, it has something to do with our Landlord. The property management firm Kirchner & Freund, which manages the building we live in, is not exactly shining in the bright light of competence. This in itself could be bearable. However, their letters also hint at a certain vice that is fostered by what one may quite righteously call capitalism. Thus they raised the rent by about ten percent a few years ago. We complied grudgingly. This year, they again wanted to raise the rent by roughly nine percent. We did not agree and sent them the necessary objections. They did not accept. (No surprise there.) We agreed to a partial raise by a bit more than one percent and paid the respective sum. To this partial agreement they never replied. Instead, I found a letter in our letterbox yesterday. It was utterly official and sent from the local court. They actually sued us! Sadly this is a joke but the ugly truth. We’ll see how things go. Since all the prior steps had been made in accordance with the Berliner Mieterverein, we will be financially supported by the renter’s association. I already contacted a lawyer and sent all the documents to his office. Ugly business. But better have the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly than ride with the trio of the apocalypse…
*starts playing the harmonica*

University of Oslo’s Library.

Friday, October 6th, 2006

reading desks in empty library during the eveningThis is the place where I like to catch up with work. Bit by bit, in a quiet and relaxing atmosphere.
During the day there are people sitting at the desks, of course. But I did not want to shoot them with my brand new digital camera (more on that in one of the next posts), even though they tend to forget turning their mobile phones off.