Posts Tagged ‘darmstadt’

Teilnehmende Beobachtung und visuelle Methoden: Soziales sehen.

Saturday, February 6th, 2010

Im Sommersemester werden Lars Meier und ich zusammen ein Seminar an der TU Darmstadt unterrichten. Das letzte Mal, dass wir dort gemeinsam unterrichtet haben ist dann fünf Jahre her… Der Ausschreibungstext für das Seminar lautet folgendermaßen:

Die teilnehmende Beobachtung, also die bewusste und reflektierte Teilnahme des Forschenden an sozialer Interaktion, ist eine klassische Forschungsmethode der Soziologie. Sie findet Verwendung in vielfältigen Settings, die von Untersuchungen in Boxclubs oder Ghettos hin zu solchen an Arbeitsplätzen oder in Wohnungen reichen. Im Seminar werden in einem ersten Schritt die Grundlagen dieser Methode vermittelt, wobei ein besonderer Fokus auf die praktische Verwendung visueller Hilfsmittel wie Foto und Video gelegt wird. Im zweiten Schritt erstellen die Teilnehmenden dann eigene Beobachtungen und Aufnahmen, die sich auf für sie relevante Themenbereiche beziehen (oder auch auf Felder, zu denen die beiden Seminarleiter aktuell forschen). Die Schwierigkeiten und Ergebnisse dieser eigenen Kleinprojekte werden dann gemeinsam besprochen und in Hinblick auf mögliche Präsentationsformen (Text, Collage, Film, Internet, etc.) diskutiert.

Wir freuen uns schon sehr auf die Möglichkeit, zusammen mit den Studierenden der TU den Blick ins Feld zu wagen und mit visuellen Forschungshilfsmitteln zu experimentieren. Und darauf, alte FreundInnen und KollegInnen wieder zu treffen und gemeinsam Zeit im 603qm zu verbringen!

Last train to Darmstadt.

Thursday, November 27th, 2008

Strange. This is the last time I am driving the ICE route to Darmstadt. After almost six years of commuting back and forth between Berlin and southern Hessia, it feels strange to look out at the landscape passing by. The interior of the trains, even with their changes over the course of the last years, may not be home, but it is a well known place to be. Bye Darmstadt, bye ICE, bye bahn.comfort status.


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…!

Fußball-WM und Soziologie.

Sunday, May 7th, 2006

Auf gibt es Informationen zur spannenden, von Sybille Frank und Silke Steets organisierten Ringvorlesung unter dem Titel stadionwelten. Wer Mittwochs in der Umgebung von Darmstadt ist, sollte den Abend im großen Hörsaal des Residenzschlosses verbringen – Ohren spitzen und Augen schärfen. (Freunde der Schriftsetzung können eine schöne ſs Ligatur genießen.)

Darmstadt does the fest-thing.

Monday, October 10th, 2005

I was happy to be back in Darmstadt again, after a prolonged abscence over the summer. And I was again amazed about this city. There must be a fest or some similarly public place occupying activity at least every second weekend. They never stop. The Südhesse ist a festive person. A good thing. Even though I am not sure if I like the Nierenspießchen.

Seminar success.

Monday, July 18th, 2005

Last week Lars and I hosted the last session of our seminar Sehen, Hören Fühlen – Stadtethnografien erstellen (eng: Watching, Listening, Sensing – Doing Urban Ethnographies), which was – much to our relief and joy – a big success. Nine research projects had been performed by groups of up to three students. Almost all of them invested a substantial amount of time in their studies, they tackled with their position, impact, and responsability as academic observers, and they presented some really interesting aspects of the publicly accessible places they studied in Darmstadt and Heppenheim. They observed different plaza and park areas, a cafe, a cemetary, and a group of large-scale-chessboard players. Lars and I are now looking forward to getting the final results of the different studies in written form. All in all this seminar worked out at least as good as we hoped it would. Kudos to the students involved! It would be just perfect if one could teach more of these seminars, particularly if one could offer a two-semester practical seminar…

Proud and tired.

Sunday, April 10th, 2005

The conference is over. Preparations for the conference were the reason why I didn’t have any time to post during the last week. The conference was quite a success: people from all over the world (literally), people from a wide range of academic disciplines, and people from different non-academic backgrounds. And in spite of all these differences a very relaxed, friendly and productive atmosphere. It was even better than I would have hoped – all the work that we invested in the plannig and organization was definitely worth it.
Again, thanks again to the Studentischer Filmkreis Darmstadt, who made it possible to even offer a free movie for the participants of the conference!
*turns computer off to take a nap*

Conference getting closer.

Thursday, January 20th, 2005

Today, Sergej has finished the website for our upcoming conference Negotiating Urban Conflicts. The conference will take place in Darmstadt, April 7th-9th. Yours truly will talk about Pacification by Design: An Ethnography of Normalization Techniques.

(Yes, the html has been generated by Dreamweaver and there are lots of ugly font tags – if I find some spare time, we’ll see if we can fix this.)

Singing the hymn.

Thursday, January 13th, 2005

What would life in Darmstadt be without the 603qm? A bleak and frustrating experience. This Sunday, for example, we enjoyed the Österreichspätstück. The employees of the 603 served Austrian food, and they even created a mountainscape out of cardboard to adorn part of the interior. Lars and I spent a happy afternoon there, lounging, listening to good and unobtrusive tracks, looking at the cardboard alps, and scrutinizing other customers – as every sociologist who is sincere about his or her calling has to.

Conservatism and critique.

Saturday, December 11th, 2004

This week we talked about Richard Sennett‘s Corrosion of Character in our seminar on the diagnosis of capitalism in the 21st century. It has been a while since I last read Corrosion of Character, and over the course of the last years I seem to have forgotten some of the central arguments he made and some of the terms into which he molds his critique. Here, I want to focus on two terms in particular:

drift. I think this term describes the feeling many people experience living their lives without a firm anchor very well. Some kind of unknown but forceful current takes you into a direction, carrying you to a place that is not known, and, although appearing on the horizon, might never be reached because the currents have changed again, taking you to through murky waters to some other place. Will I be working in Berlin or in Darmstadt in 2006? Or maybe in some other city or even some other country? How long will I be there, what will I have to do there, whom will I (still) know and work with? What will my perspective be then? Will it actually be connected to what I am doing today, or will I have to work in a different sector? I will surely try to row and set sail to get to particular places, and I may know how to hold a certain course. But I am not sure if the drift will bring me to where I will go, or if it is me, and I know that the drift will have a much stronger influence on other people than it has on me.

corrosion. I realized how well this term works today, especially if one imagines the corrosion of character as the corrosion of a car’s body: it will begin slowly, eating away the metal structure under the finish. After a while the finish cracks, the fabric of the masks we want to wear and play with (comp. Sennett The Fall of Public Man) becomes threadbare, making it hard to maintain the images we want to create of ourselves. If the corrosion proceeds the structure itself becomes more and more fragile, and finally prone to collapse. Such an imperiled character might not have the strength to build up enough resistance to the forces of a capitalist economy that pushes and tears in several different directions.

In the discussion it also became very clear that Sennett is not formulating his critique from a postmodernist perspective. He wants to argue for a stabilization of characters, for anchoring them in some firm ground, for providing them with a coherent narrative that enables them to formulate their own desires, norms and positions; he does not argue for an urban guerilla that is always changing it’s shape, that is radically localized and fluent, appearing at unpredictable times and locations. I think that there are some convincing reasons for doing this, for taking this conservative position – a position that is probably based on his conception of the antique greek polis as he develops it in Stone and Flesh and some of his other works. The postmodern position probably also has its place. However, to me it also seems to be an elitist and group specific perspective: it relies on a group of actors who have to be highly qualified, highly mobile, independent, skilled with modern technologies and generally living a life-style that by its definition is restricted to a small minority of the population (a group, it might be added, that also relies on distinction from “the rest” of the population to a very high degree, even if it may sympathize with the poor, the homeless, and the disadvantaged.)

Ein nachträgliches Geburtstagsgeschenk?

Friday, August 20th, 2004

Man weissetnichsogenau. Auf jeden Fall hab ich mich gefreut, als ich zwei Tage nach meinem Geburtstag von Ludger Fittkau (der für den Deutschlandfunk über unser Graduiertenkolleg berichtet) eine E-Mail in meinem Posteingang fand, in der er schrieb, dass am vorigen Tag ein Beitrag über mich ausgestrahlt worden sei. Das Ganze lief unter dem Titel Der Bahnhofsforscher im Doktorandencamp. Doktorand untersucht das Verhältnis von Technik und Menschen an Bahnhöfen. Netterweise hat der DLF auch diesen Beitrag als mp3 Audiodatei zur Verfügung gestellt. Ich habe diese Datei auf den Seiten des Kollegs abgelegt, sie kann also von Euch heruntergeladen und angehört werden.

Darmstadt goes Berlin. Later, Berlin will go Leipzig.

Thursday, June 10th, 2004

During the next week or so I won’t have much time to spend writing entries to this blog – today the post-graduate college’s excursion to Berlin starts (they already arrived at Zoo station), and I will have visitors and a tight program until Sunday. We will be visiting the Cargolifter site in Brandt, Brandenburg, the concentration camp Sachsenhausen, the Lange Nacht der Wissenschaften; I will be the guide for a tour through eastern part of central Berlin and so forth.

On sunday or monday I will go to Leipzig to do field research at the main railway station – to this I am really looking forward, the Leipziger Hauptbahnhof is quite an impressive building.

Low price contest Berlin – Darmstadt.

Tuesday, May 4th, 2004

A single ticket for one of the public pools in Berlin is 4 €. However, they also offer an unbelievably great deal: 10 tickets for just 36 €! Isn’t that great? A single ticket for a public pool in Darmstadt is 2 € and 10 tickets for students are … tada! … 10 €! That’s a fair price.

With the price barrier being not existent here in Darmstadt I went swimming with Tina an hour ago. For the first time for several years I did some serious swimming. After 1200 meters strength and spirit left me though. And I did not manage to do the dolphin for more than 30 meters. Well, there we have a goal!

This wasn’t much of a contest so far, wasn’t it? Alas, typing is exhausting for the athlete.

Life in and around 603qm.

Sunday, May 2nd, 2004

After a longish wait the opening hour finally draws near: in 5 minutes I will hop over to the 603qm, where the Spätstück is waiting. Me hungry for food and lounging time.

Tanz in den Mai – Yoho!

Sunday, May 2nd, 2004

Well, that was something. Friday night we went to the 603qm here in Darmstadt and participated in the Tanz in den Mai party. After a perfect, lazy Friday afternoon with soundchecks, sun, and an impromptu picknick with a few stray raindrops in the air the sounds of the event finally lured a few people from our post-graduate college and me to the place.

The evening opened with a live performance by Stahljustiz called Dance Baader, Dance. First, I just perceived the performance as a somewhat blatantly weird but still funny act, but when the kidnapped victim was portraied as a person, not just a victim, the atmosphere changed for me, and I actually got involved with the performance, giving up some of my distance as an observer.

Turbulenzia, the first band to enter the stage, did not really get me on the hook. Their songs did not have a real profile, were not straight enough, and did not seem to really let loose and rock.

Pornophonique has a new fan. Too bad I missed the opportunity to buy a T-Shirt, since they don’t sell them on their website. I am no music geek, but for me their sound was fresh, funny, and not too ironic. The mixture of gameboy, acoustic guitar, and C64 sounds was a new thing for me. Covering both Britney Spears and AC/DC is cool enough, but their own songs were even better. Sad, Sad Robot already entered my mind during their soundcheck in the afternoon. Felix Hauser is the Vince Clark of the Nintendo Age, while Kai Richter successfully took the difficult route between cute boy and rock’n’roller – together they made a great team on stage. For their future gigs I envision crying girls being carried away because they totally passed out.

Die Türen from Berlin were great. I was surprised that they were playing here in Darmstadt for this party. During the soundcheck I sat with my back to the stage and did not see that they were playing, wondering where and when I heard this cool sound before, asking the waiter if he knew the name of the band which we were hearing. Well, he pointed behind me and said it was them, playing live a few meters behind me. Call me Clint. They got the crowd moving! I just love it when a band is standing on stage, all of them frontally rocking, playing their guitars, everybody singing into their mikes and giving what they got. Which was a lot. Their tracks are very danceable, their German lyrics sometimes even irritatingly good Wenn Du willst, dass alles so bleibt, steh auf. Wenn Du willst, dass alles so bleibt, klatsch in die Hände. NDW meets breakbeat meets punkrock – great band with a website that sucks.

Man glaubt es nicht.

Tuesday, April 27th, 2004

Wie schwer es ist, ein Surf&Rail Ticket zu bekommen, wenn eine der Verbindungen zu den typischen Pendlerzeiten sein sollte. Doch heute ist’s mir gelungen! Ich bin also von Mittwoch bis nächste Woche Freitag in Darmstadt. Hoffen wir mal auf einen schönen ersten Mai in Südhessen…

Gilbert, malt and classic hits.

Monday, February 2nd, 2004

A short report of Saturday Night: The Sumpf is definitely a very pub-ish pub; with aged rockers working behind the bar, a nice selection of beers and whiskies (including a “malt of the week” for € 2.70 – which was a Bushmills in our case) and a relaxed clientele between 23 and 50, most of which were probably between 27 and 35. The music was excellent and quite diverse, as Saturday was an event featuring the Nathalie Bar. Steffen and I stayed until about two o’clock, then we checked out the 603qm which was already closed. We decided to go home and get some sleep. Alas, on my way home I rode past the Schloßkeller, another location which is related to the AStA of the TU Darmstadt. Well, there I stayed late and enjoyed the usual serving of “classic hits”. Sunday was a day of sleeping, relaxation and web site actualization for the post-graduate college’s homepage.

Darmstadt, office, home.

Saturday, January 31st, 2004

This weekend I will stay in Darmstadt. It has been a while since I did this the last time. It might have been during last year’s fall, and it seems to me that the weather must have been nice enough to go to the Biergarten and enjoy outdoor sociability. This weekend the program will have to be different. Much lounging in the common office of our Kolleg; tomorrow night will be spent with a few other collegiates in the Sumpf (engl. swamp or marsh) – an institution in Darmstadt’s pub landscape I was told. Perhaps I’ll report on this event. Other than that? Not much I guess. Some work on my project, perhaps an ethnographic field visit to the train station here in Darmstadt, some online gaming on the Avengers of Coramir server, perhaps a Linux install on one of the college’s machines here in our common office?

Baking bread.

Saturday, January 24th, 2004

Today I presented the provisionary first results of my fieldwork. The thing went reasonably well. The technological setup worked, the projector projected, the PowerBook booted, the external harddisk revolved and the video clips that I recorded at the Darmstädter Hauptbahnhof (main station) and cut during the last weeks stuttered over the screen. My trusty old Pismo Powerbook is a bit underpowered for this kind of high-quality DV movie material presentation, and I am hoping to be able to upgrade its processor during the semester break. Getting back to the point: what kind of video clips did I present though?
The first half of the session was to be about my involvement as a participant observer in the field, or, to be more precise, my impact as a DV camera wielding researcher on the people walking through the station. This went quite well and got a few laughs (I hope to be putting some of the sequences online as soon as I have figured out a way to hide the identity of some of the people that could be identified). The only thing that irritated me was that several people asked me what the sequences which I presented have to do with technology, since we are in a post-graduate college with the title “technology and society.” Well, as I said before I started the presentation, technology in the form of ticket selling machines would be the focus of the second part of the same presentation that they currently witness. Mpf.
I had less time for the second part than I would have liked. Quickly scratching trough the two remaining clips I wanted to demonstrate the first (micro-)sociological result of my work so far: it appears that ticket selling machines generate some ambiguity after the transaction should be finished, that is after the tickets have been printed. I will be analyzing this in more detail, but I want give you some kind of hint of what is happening. After people extract their tickets (which in itself is not always an easy process) it seem to be unclear if the interaction with the machine is actually finished. People turn to leave the machine but then look over their shoulders, even going back to the machine (sometimes in spite of displaying signs of being in a hurry) to check if the interaction is actually finished. Why is that? A possible explanation would be, that the machine does not obey the rules of personal interaction that demand a recognizable token of completion of the interaction and/or a closing remark similar to a verbal or gestual good bye.

What does all of this have to do with baking bread you might ask yours truly. Well, as I was sitting in the local train from Darmstadt to Frankfurt I found a nice introduction for the letter which I have to write to the DB AG (German Railway) representative who has to grant me the right to make further video recordings at train stations: As the mills of science grind slowly I can not yet offer you much. However, I have produced enough flour to bake a small roll for you. With more time in the field I will be able to produce enough flour to bake a bread. Perhaps we can even add a cake as dessert. I am not sure if this is the absolutely appropriate form to address these people. Whatever.

Tomorrow I will be teaching.

Thursday, November 6th, 2003

Excitement starts to build up. Tomorrow morning at 8 a.m. I will teach my first university level class. “Geschichte der Soziologie” (“History of Sociology” – es gibt auch einen Seminarplan). The class was originally offered by Sybille Frank alone and will now be split in two since there were almost one hundred people in it. I will do the class with one half, Mrs. Frank with the other. I guess it will be an interesting experience. Hopefully also a good one–

And yes, 8 a.m. is too early.