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Lars Frers (cv & background)

photographic portrait of Lars Frers

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(Looking for a brief bio? Check out my portrait at University College of Southeast Norway. For a list of academic publications and presentations check out the Cristin database or Google Scholar.)

Since 2012 I work in a full-time position at Telemark University College (TUC) which recently became University College of Southeast Norway (USN). In USN’s new Department of Culture, Religion and Social Studies I am responsible for teaching social sciences with a focus on sociology and human geography. In 2014 I was promoted to full professor. I am mostly involved in teaching master-level classes, with a focus on methods and history and philosophy of science. I also do some teaching on method (mostly video-based methods) at my former employer, NTNU. One of the best parts of my job is advising students, and I am currently main advisor for Liv Lofthus and Vibeke Sjøvoll and secondary advisor for Melissa A. Murphy (all at PhD level). I am proud to report that Marit Bøe, Karin Hognestad – for whom I acted as secondary advisor – have in 2016 completed their PhDs. Both are have a permanent position at USN.

Teaching Norwegian students for the first time was a challenging and very rewarding experience. Much of the teaching at USN is done in real-time online classes - quite different teaching setting for me, but my love for dabbling in technology did help a lot, so that I could focus on producing intelligible sentences for students distributed all over the country – and beyond, out into Africa, North America and Australia.
Other than teaching, my academic life is dominated by the usual article publications with addition of the effort spent on my next book with the working title: From meaning to sense – Social science in motion.

Before starting to work at USN, I completed the research project Geodata, Policing and Urban Development (developed by Jan Wehrheim and Susanne Krasmann) at the University of Hamburg. My job was to do a pre-study that generates an overview of how German police and urban development institutions use crime-related geodata. More specifically we looked at how they use GIS to visualize this data, and how these actors link different kinds of data with each other to produce meaningful graphs, live maps, and so forth. In this study I used a standardized survey for the first time – we then integrated the quantitative data with expert interviews and qualitative approaches.

In 2009 and 2010 I participated in the Norwegian research project Routes, Roads and Landscapes : Aesthetic Practices en route, 1750 - 2015. For this project I performed research on rest stops along the Norwegian Tourist Route – an exceptionally interesting and rewarding setting. The pecha kucha style video below provides an overview of my contribution to the Routes project:

My study for the Routes project had the title Impressive landscapes : Entanglements of nature and culture. I did ethnographic fieldwork at two rest stops/view points along the Norwegian Tourist Route which have been furnished by well-known designers and landscape architects. For this project, I explored new video-related methods (people at the site film specific aspects of the site while they talk about it). My goal was to get some insight into how nature and architecture and the relation between these two is perceived by people at the site, and thus how it enters into their local practices. I already gave a few presentations on this: you can find a recording of the presentation that I gave at the annual conference of the RGS-IGB: Route interruptus. A Study of Fatigue, Erosion and other material agencies. A chapter with the title Stop, rest and digest: Feeding people into nature has been published by Ashgate in the volume Routes, roads and landscapes.

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The tag cloud displayed below was generated with my bibliography software. It shows the 100 most frequent keywords that I have assigned to entries in my bibliography software:
tag cloud showing 100 most frequently used keywords

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Publications (contact me for questions & access: lars.frers@fu-berlin.de)

Books / Special Issues
From meaning to sense. Social science in motion in preparation
work in progress
Special issue: The limits of resistance in public space, in Space and Culture forthcoming 2017
guest editor, together with Lars Meier
Special issue: Absence. Materiality, Embodiment, Resistance in Cultural Geographies 2013
guest editor, together with Lars Meier and Erika Sigvardsdotter
Einhüllende Materialitäten – Wahrnehmungshandeln an Bahnhof und Fährterminal, Transcript [PDF 89,6 MB] 2007
series Materialities
citations on Google Scholar
reviewed by:
Editor: Encountering Urban Places – Visual and Material Performances in the City, Ashgate 2007
series Re-Materializing Cultural Geography, together with Lars Meier
citations on Google Scholar
reviewed by:
Editor: Negotiating Urban Conflicts – Interaction, Space and Control, Transcript 2006
series Materialities together with Helmuth Berking, Sybille Frank, Martina Löw, Lars Meier, Silke Steets and Sergej Stoetzer (also co-authored introduction)
citations on Google Scholar
reviewed by:
Thesis: Den Marlene-Dietrich-Platz erleben – Konstellationen im Stadtraum 2001
diploma thesis in the subject of sociology – written at the FU Berlin
Journal articles
Borderlands of Materiality : New Realism or: The desire for clear categories [Open Access: PDF] 2014
in: Arch+ 217: 136-139 (translation of the following article)
Grenzregionen der Materialität : Der neue Realismus oder: Vom Wunsch nach klaren Verhältnissen [Open Access: PDF | ebook] 2014
in: Arch+ 217: 132-135
Geopolicing und Kriminalitätskartierungen : Wie Polizeien sich ein Bild machen 2013
in: Kriminologisches Journal 2013(3): 166-179
The importance of absence in the present – Practices of remembrance and the contestation of absences 2013
with Lars Meier and Erika Sigvardsdotter, in: Cultural Geographies 20(4): 423-430. DOI: 10.1177/1474474013493889
The matter of absence 2013
in: Cultural Geographies 20(4): 431-445. DOI: 10.1177/1474474013477775
Ethnografie und Aufmerksamkeit – Zur phänomenologischen Perspektivierung der Feldforschung [Open Access: PDF | ebook] 2012
in: Geographica Helvetica 67(4): 213-219. DOI: 10.5194/gh-67-213-2012
Herausfordernde Materialitäten – Gegenstände, Methoden, Konzepte [PDF | ebook] 2009
in: Berichte zur deutschen Landeskunde 83(2): 177-191
Space, materiality, and the contingency of action – A sequential analysis of the patient’s file in doctor-patient interactions [PDF | ebook | citations on Google Scholar] 2009
in: Discourse Studies 11(3): 285–303. DOI: 10.1177/1461445609102445
Chapters and other Articles
Confronting absence : Relation and difference in the affective qualities of heritage sites 2016
in: Torgrim Sneve Guttormsen and Grete Swensen (eds) Heritage, democracy and the public : Nordic approaches, Ashgate: 285-296
Sinnreiche Bewegungen 2015
in: Hanna Göbel and Sophia Prinz (eds) Die Sinnlichkeit des Sozialen. Wahrnehmung und materielle Kultur, Transcript: 243-266
Stop, rest, and digest – Feeding people into nature [PDF | ebook] 2011
in: Mari Hvattum, Brita Brenna, Beate Elvebakk, Janike Kampevold Larsen (eds) Routes, Roads and Landscapes, Ashgate
Abfall & Eleganz – Materialität vs. Kultur? [PDF | ebook] 2010
in: Sybille Frank and Jochen Schwenk (eds) Turn Over. Cultural Turns in der Soziologie, Campus: 107-123
Automatische Irritationen – Überlegungen in Video zur Initiativentfaltung der Dinge [PDF | ebook] 2010
in: Gesellschaft für Ethnographie e.V., Elisabeth Tietmeyer et al. (eds) Die Sprache der Dinge : Kulturwissenschaftliche Perspektiven auf die materielle Kultur, Waxmann: 195-202
Video research in the open – Encounters involving the researcher-camera [PDF | ebook | citations on Google Scholar] 2009
in: Ulrike Tikvah Kissmann (ed.) Video interaction analysis : Methods and methodology, Peter Lang: 155-177
Encyclopedia entry: Ibn Khaldun 2008
International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences 2nd edition, volume 3, Macmillan Reference USA: 545-546
Encountering Urban Places – Visual and Material Performances in the City 2007
with Lars Meier, in: Frers, Meier (eds) Encountering Urban Places – Visual and Material Performances in the City, Ashgate: 1-7
Perception, Aesthetics and Envelopment – Encountering Space and Materiality [PDF | citations on Google Scholar] 2007
in: Frers, Meier (eds) Encountering Urban Places – Visual and Material Performances in the City, Ashgate: 25-45
Working with the Visual 2007
with Lars Meier, in: Frers, Meier (eds) Encountering Urban Places – Visual and Material Performances in the City, Ashgate: 171-181
Pacification by Design – An Ethnography of Normalization Techniques [PDF | ebook | citations on Google Scholar] 2006
in: Berking, Frank, Frers, Löw, Meier, Steets and Stoetzer (eds) Negotiating Urban Conflicts – Interaction, Space and Control, Transcript: 245-258
Normalization and Constraint – Socio-Spatial Constellations at the Marlene-Dietrich-Platz in Berlin [PDF] 2003
in: Jutta Allmendinger (ed.) Entstaatlichung und soziale Sicherheit. Verhandlungen des 31. Kongress der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Soziologie in Leipzig, Leske&Budrich
Globalisierung und Steuerung der Stadtentwicklung – Ein Konflikt 1998
together with Jan Hebecker und Stefan Wiese – report of the project seminar on urban development HU Berlin (organized by Hartmut Häußermann)
Kenneth Liberman Husserl’s Criticism of Reason – With Ethnomethodological Specifications (Lanham/MD: Lexington Books, 2007) 2008
in: Husserl Studies 24(2): 159-166. DOI: 10.1007/s10743-008-9037-3

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Academic interests

I can name some of the fields or aspects of the social sciences that are of particular interest to me. Classical social theory was at the beginning of my interest in sociology: Reading works by authors of the Frankfurt School, and reading Marx; using them to put Weber and other social theory into a critical light was central for me during the first semesters of my university career. Now, I am still interested in the wider context of critical theory and, as many others, I would love to find some more time to involve myself in Benjamin’s Passagenwerk. Furthermore, I am convinced of the importance of post-structuralist writers like Foucault and de Certeau, and I am constantly inspired by French social theory between Bachelard, Serres and Bourdieu. A strand of philosophy that has become particularly important during the work on my dissertation is phenomenology, mainly in accordance with Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology of the body and the senses. Sometimes, I enjoy to browse through real classics like Ibn Khaldūn’s Muqaddima (a work from the late fourteenth century) or Michel de Montaigne’s Essais.

The other main area of interest for me is space, materiality and the body in movement. Originally, this interest comes from my occupation with urban sociology. The three authors who woke my interest in concrete stuff as it displays itself in space, materiality and the body are Richard Sennett, Henri Lefèbvre, and Maurice Merleau-Ponty (in biographical order). They offer particularly insightful, and often contentious perspectives on space, the body, material objects, social control, and social change. With my postdoctoral research project, I also started to engage myself with nature. For me, materiality and the social are intertwined in many subtle, intriguing, and politically/socially highly relevant ways. The connection to movement originates in all of the new research on mobility – it is the starting ground for my current book project.

Finally, I am interested in two particular research traditions – science and technology studies (STS) and ethnomethodology. Authors like Andrew Pickering and Bruno Latour opened up a new perspective on the production of science in its everyday practices – a perspective which is put into use in other areas of the social sciences more and more every day. Regarding ethnomethodology: I keep being fascinated by the amount of information that can be recovered through the use of the analytic tools offered by this approach, particularly in its guise of conversation analysis (CA). I also am intrigued by the way in which CA and ethnomethodology in general show the skill with which people master the enormous and continuous complexities of everyday interaction, and by the respect ethnomethodologists have for their subjects’ own interpretations of reality. This tradition, however, seems to have failed to leave its mark in the wider social sciences.

By now, you might be wondering why I put all this stuff online – there are, of course, several reasons: one of the most important is that I want to document at least part of the process that will eventually produce science. Doing research, orienting myself in the field, changing directions, getting distracted – all this plays a part in the production of knowledge. Usually, these dirty and confusing aspects of doing science are cleaned away before the final product is presented, showing off a nice, pure, and sophisticated work of science. Since part of my motivation is to show what role the dirt and grub of everyday life plays in society, I do not think it would be appropriate to ignore the dirtier aspects of doing research. This, however, is almost impossible in the tightly restricted world of official, peer-review based publishing, as I had to learn the hard way. The other main reason is what I learned at the Max-Planck-Institute for the History of Science: if my research is funded by the public, it should be freely available (and accessible) to the public and not hidden away on some library shelves or only available for money. The internet is a wonderful resource, we should participate in making it even better. Engage yourself in similar efforts: support OpenAccess, the Creative Commons, and the Wikipedia project.

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Curriculum vitae

Education and Research
Researcher, project Geodata, Policing and Urban Development April – Sep 2011
Universität Hamburg
Researcher, KULVER program, Routes project first half 2009
Oslo School of Architecture and Design
Guest researcher, TIK center Fall 2007, Fall 2008
Universitet i Oslo
Postdoc, DFG research training group Topology of Technology Dec 2006 – Nov 2008
Technische Universität Darmstadt
degree: Ph.D. in sociology Nov 2006
(grade: very good)
Ph.D. candidate, DFG research training group Technology and Society April 2003 – April 2006
spokesperson, Technische Universität Darmstadt
degree: Diploma in Sociology Feb 2002
(grade: very good)
Indiana University Bloomington Sep 1999 – May 2000
graduate program in sociology
Freie Universität Berlin Oct 1996 – March 2003
main subject: sociology; minor subjects: political science and psychology
Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel April 1995 – Sep 1996
main subject: sociology; minor subjects: political science, psychology, and law (also visited courses in: philosophy/logic, contemporary German literature and Scandinavian studies)
Fellowships / Externally Funded Projects
application grant ERC Starting Independent Researcher Nov 2009
for the Ideas program in the 7th Framework, grant provided by NFR and the University of Oslo
research project Routes, Roads and Landscapes – Aesthetic Practices en route 1750 – 2015 Jan – July 2009
guest researcher scholarship, Oslo School of Architecture and Design / Norges Forskningsråd (Norwegian Research Council), KULVER program
Graduiertenkolleg Topology of Technology Dec 2006 – Nov 2008
postdoc scholarship, Technische Universität Darmstadt / DFG
Graduiertenkolleg Technology and Society April 2003 – April 2006
dissertation scholarship, Technische Universität Darmstadt / DFG
Indiana University Bloomington Sep 1999 – May 2000
direct exchange scholarship, IU Bloomington – FU Berlin
Collaborations with Artists
Theaterminiatur 2008
contributed text passages for the performance/installation of Alexander Schellow and David Weber-Krebs at Sophiensäle Berlin
Abwehr 2007
discussion participant & photographic documentation of the event organized by Shahram Entekhabi and Svenja Moor at the Kunstfabrik Berlin
Mobiles Wohnen 2005
urbanist/sociological counselor for the performance/installation project of Hannah Groninger at X-WOHNUNGEN SUBURBS 2005 in Berlin
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Contact me

If you have any feedback regarding these pages (both content and html-wise) feel free to contact me. If you have any questions regarding my work, literature etc. just e-mail me. My address is: lars.frers@fu-berlin.de. I’ll enjoy reading and answering your mail!