Kritische Nachhaltigkeitsforschung



Susan Thieme & Patricia Fry presenting at the Higher Education Summit 2020, Sept 1st



  • Thieme, Susan; University of Bern, Switzerland; Fry, Patricia; Wissensmanagement GmbH and ETH Zurich
    "Transformative Learning by Doing: Insights from Teaching the Social Learning Video Method"
    Challenges addressed:  4 – Professional development for sustainability competences; 5 – Students as agents of change; 6 – Co-producing actionable knowledge with society

  • Caviola, Hugo; University of Bern, CDE, Switzerland
    "The Language Compass: Language Reflection as Transformative Learning"
    Challenges addressed: 1 – Values in transformative teaching and research

In this solution room we will have two interventions, both focussing on transformative learning using distinct but nicely complementary tools. Susan Thieme and Patriciy Fry illustrate how the Social Learning Video method can be applied to bridge between actors from science and practice. Hugo Caviola in contrast uses language, more specifically the Language Compass, to make different disciplinary perspectives explicit. Bringing both interventions together, we want to explore how these two approaches can be related to each other, e.g. by pondering questions like what role plays language in videos, could videos help identifying and reflecting about language.

Link to Informations on the Solution Room Presentations


New political upheavals and women alliances in solidarity beyond “lock down” in Switzerland at times of a global pandemic

Thieme, Susan & Eda Elif Tibet (2020): New political upheavals and women alliances in solidarity beyond “lock down” in Switzerland at times of a global pandemic. Interface: A journal for and about social movements. 12 (1): 199 – 207.



Interface-12-1-full-PDF.pdf (PDF, 16.6 MB)


Call for Abstracts for the 18th Swiss Geoscience Meeting, 6 - 7 Nov. 2020, Zürich

This panel is part of the stream “Materials, nature, politics” (07.11.2020)

Geographies of waste and toxic pollution

Alexander Vorbrugg (University of Bern), Maaret Jokela-Pansini (University of Bern), Carlo Inverardi-Ferri (Queen Mary University of London)

Waste and toxic pollution are recurrently at the focus of academic interest and political controversies. Frameworks such as environmental justice and environmental racism, now fundamental both in political organizing and academic debates, emerged from movements against toxic waste dumps (Bullard 1990). In recent years, waste and toxicants have again become central concerns in the social sciences (Gabrys, 2011; Moore, 2012). Scholars have analysed dimensions of waste such as the emergence of particular material practices (Crang et al., 2013; Lepawsky & Mather, 2011), accumulation regimes (Inverardi-Ferri, 2018), and discourses (Pickren, 2014). They also used waste as a powerful device to bring to light alternative representations of value, labour, and development (Herod et al., 2014).

Research on toxic environments has examined the effects of toxicants on people’s health (Alaimo, 2010; Guthman and Mansfield, 2012), their mobilities (Davies, 2012), as well as the production and use of counter-expertise on toxicants (Boudia and Jas, 2014) and organised ways of resistance against pollution (Holifield et al., 2009). Scholars have called toxic pollution a form of slow violence (Nixon 2011) and argued that toxic sites are mostly located near low-income communities and disproportionally affect racialized and otherwise deprivileged social groups (Vasudevan 2019; Pulido 2017). In geography, there is a growing interest in people’s daily experiences and what living in toxic sites means to the residents (Balayannis, 2020; Tironi and Rodríguez-Giralt, 2017).

We invite theoretical, empirical, and methodological contributions that deal with issues of waste or toxicities or explore intersections between the two fields. Topics may include but are not limited to issues of toxicities/waste in relation to 

  • circulation and flows of waste and toxic substances
  • formal and informal waste economies and management
  • elusiveness and representational challenges of toxic pollution
  • labour, waste, and toxicants
  • questions of scale in what is increasingly framed as a planetary problem
  • activisms and questions of translocal/national responsibility
  • everyday and embodied experiences with toxins/waste
  • ecologies and landscapes
  • methodological approaches


Please send your abstracts (up to 300 words) to, and by 30th July 2020.


Call for Abstracts: For the 18th Swiss Geoscience Meeting - ETH Zürich (PDF, 45KB)
Link to the Homepage of the 18th Swiss Geoscience Meeting, 6-7 Nov 2020, Zurich
Link to Informations on the Stream "Materials, Natures, Politics"


Call for Contributions

Feminist research practice in geography: Snapshots, reflections, concepts

The Feministische GeoRundmail is a quarterly electronic newsletter which has grown into a DIY feminist geography journal. It has been initiated as a forum for feminist geographers in Germany, Switzerland and Austria and combines a theme issue format with general news and announcements around feminist geographies. Issues are sent out via an e-mail list (you can subscribe HERE) and available open-access on the AK Feministische Geographien WEBSITE.

For the summer issue 2020 (submission deadline August 15th), we invite short contributions around the topic of feminist research practice in geography. We are looking for interventions, reflection pieces, creative ways to communicate research experiences and conundrums, book reviews, calls for more attention to particular debates, concepts or problems – or any other format you may suggest. Creative writing and visualization are most welcome, but not mandatory.

What motivates us to compile this issue are the many and recurrent conversations on the beauty and rewards, but also the struggles and problems around conducting research in the social sciences. Again and again, these show the importance of upholding exchange on this fundamentally social and political practice. Creating platforms for such exchange is important not least since the stories surrounding the research process often remain invisible in academic texts. It is also important as many of the lively debates and elaborated contributions on questions of power, justice, responsibility, accountability and ethics in feminist geographies, postcolonial studies, participatory action research and other fields yet have to gain full influence on research practice.

Contributions to this issue address  the broader question of politics of field-work or personal snapshots orreflections. Topics may include

  • Surprises in research and the potential of the unforeseen
  • (Im)Possibilities of navigating risks and contingency   in the research process (e.g. with regard to corona)
  • Risks for research participants and responsibilities
  • Positionalities, participation and politics (e.g. who are the ones conducting research, who speaks, who is being represented and how?)
  • Fieldwork and power (e.g. in studying powerful institutions or working with marginalized groups)
  • Fundamental tensions and problems (e.g. what are the limits to (self-)reflexivity and individual coping strategies?)
  • Emerging research styles and methods


The call is open for everyone and we encourage submissions by early career researchers and graduate students. We are happy to provide peer-feedback if asked for. There is no strict word limit, but we suggest 1,500 - 3000 words as a useful target for a standard contribution.

For further questions and indications of interest (till July 1st), please send an e-mail to the issue editors and


Call for Contributions: Feminist research practice in geography - Snapshots, reflections, concepts (PDF, 622KB)


Film VerORTen: Film als Forschungs- und Kommunikationsmedium in der Geographie

Thieme, Susan; Eyer, Philipp; Vorbrugg, Alexander Benjamin (2019). Film VerORTen: Film als Forschungs- und Kommunikationsmedium in der Geographie. Geographica Helvetica, 74(4), pp. 293-297.



Abstract (nur in English)

In this “positioning” we discuss current developments, possibilities and challenges around working with film in and for geography. We describe possibilities that certain conscious and collaborative ways of employing film offer: They point beyond film analysis and are more than a mere add-on to communicate research results, but rather can stimulate new forms of reflexivity and creativity along different steps of research and teaching processes. We further show how the emergence of new digital and physical platforms can enable and support exchange on film and other digital media, using the example of our new media laboratory (mLab) at the University of Bern.

Thieme_Eyer_Vorbrugg_Film_GH_2019.pdf (PDF, 134KB)


Tunnel mit Geleisen

17th Swiss Geoscience Meeting. Fribourg, Switzerland

Teaching visual methodology: Social Learning Video Method as a collaborative practice of learning



Konferenzbeitrag von Prof. Dr. Susan Thieme (GIUB) und Dr. Patricia Fry (Wissensmanagement Umwelt GmbH) im Symposium "Human Geographies: Bodies, Cultures, Societies" anlässlich des Swiss Geoscience Meetings 22./23. November 2019 in Fribourg.


Abstract (nur in Englisch)

Our newly established mLab (medialab) at the Institute of Geography (Bern) is a platform where we explore jointly with students the potential of audio-visual research methodologies. The aim of our presentation is a critical reflection on our last semester first time run course on the social learning video method. Our presentation is based on a critical analysis of material 15 generated in the seminar: a content-based video-analysis of the entire course (video records of each meeting), written reflections of the students on the method with specific questions regarding the “visual”, and an in-depth evaluation of the course in exchange with all involved partners. The central idea of the social learning video method (Fry, 2017, 2018; Fry and Thieme 2019) is to address socially relevant problems and work out solutions together (co-production) with civil society, administration and the private sector. The purpose 20 of the SLV method is to map the different actors and to identify, visualize and make accessible their perspectives and their transformation knowledge. In the seminar the students went through a transdisciplinary work process and produced a social learning video on the topic "Access to and practices of mobility using the example of the Thun railway station". The production of the SLV initiated a very strong exchange between the students, the practice partners and the lecturers. The ongoing discussion of the aim of the video, the process of filming (what, whom, when), the discussion of raw material at 25 different stages of the seminar, and the production of the final video (what becomes part of the video and what to leave out) initiated a constant reflection of the process and adaptation whenever needed. One of the main challenges in the seminar was to keep a balance between the introduction to technical skills, a critical reflection on visual methodology and deepening other topical aspects (e.g. mobility, sustainability, transdisciplinary). For the students the biggest achievement was that the practice partners not only closely collaborated throughout the whole seminar but now 30 also use the 12 min video for further processes in their institutions.


Mehr Infos zur Konferenz


Tagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Sozial- und Kulturanthropologie zum Thema “Das Ende der Aushandlungen?”





Workshop zu "The (contested) primacy of neoliberal thinking"

Carole Ammann (GIUB), Marina Richter (Fachhochschule Westschweiz) und Susan Thieme (GIUB) präsentieren Resultate aus ihrer Forschung zu Arbeit und sozialen Differenzen im Schweizer Gesundheitssektor.


Details zum Workshop

8. The (contested) primacy of neoliberal thinking

Janina Kehr (Universität Bern)

Stefan Leins (Universität Konstanz)

30.09.2019, part 1: 14:00-15:30 p.m. / part 2: 16:00-17:30 p.m., Raum D434

Since the neoliberal turn in the 1970s, concepts of efficiency, productivity, competition, and individual merit have gained importance within and far beyond the realm of economic thought. This trend has been further accelerated by the financial crisis and national as well as supra-national interventions directed toward the implementation of austerity measures, the deregulation of labor markets, and the overall cutting of social welfare. Neoliberal economic thinking and its consequences have thus become an intrinsic part of the organization of everyday lives and the ways societies are conceived of. As a specific body of knowledge, neoliberal thinking has almost become a “natural” and thus non-negotiable way of seeing and understanding the world.

In this workshop, we wish to discuss papers that deal with empirical examples in which the imperative of neoliberal economic thought is shaping the ways our interlocutors think, speak, work, organize themselves and interpret the world around them. Contributions from the realm of the study of markets, healthcare, migration, welfare, the household or any other field are welcome. Conceptually, the workshop aims to draw upon inputs from feminist economic anthropology as well as from the history of knowledge and science. Combining these fields, we hope to develop an understanding of the contested primacy of neoliberal economic thought as a mode of governance that influences most spheres of social life, independent from whether they are perceived as “economic” or “non-economic” in the first place. We thereby wish to gain new empirical insights of how the primacy of neoliberal economic thought seeps into diverse life projects, social relations, and institutional settings. Also, we wish to interrogate how neoliberal knowledge and its consequences distinctly affect individuals and groups as well as their possibilities of negotiation taking into account inequalities along racial, gender, nationality and class lines.

Julia Pauli (Universität Hamburg):
Never enough. Neoliberal intimacies in Namibian middle class marriages

Veronika Siegl (Universität Bern):
Free to choose? The fragile truths of commercial surrogacy

Andri Tschudi (The Graduate Institute Geneva):
For-profit with a heart? Neoliberal reforms, charity and ethical business in private hospital care in South India

Carole Ammann (Universität Bern), Marina Richter (Fachhochschule Westschweiz) und Susan Thieme (Universität Bern):
“I am a physician, not a scribe” – Impacts of neoliberalism on nurses and physicians

Johannes Lenhard (Max Planck – Cambridge Centre for Ethics, Economy and Social Change):
Champions that disrupt and scale – How VCs are trying to make the new economic world order (and are not always succeeding)

Agathe Mora (University of Sussex):
Rule of law on the dark side of neoliberal accountability in post-War Kosovo

Jon Schubert (Brunel University London):
The fantasy of neoliberal efficiency and frictionless imports in an oil-dependent economy

Stefan Leins (Universität Konstanz)


Alexander von Humboldt, Marx und die Integrative Geographie

Rist, Stephan (2019). Alexander von Humboldt, Marx und die Integrative Geographie. GeoAgenda, 2, pp. 42-45. Association Suisse de Géographie (ASG)

Eine disziplinär organisierte Wissenschaft kann auf die Probleme der globalen Armut, Ungleichheit, Gewalt, Ressourcendegradation und den damit verbunden komplexen und unvorhersehbaren Veränderungen der Mensch-Naturbeziehungen keine handlungsrelevanten Antworten geben. Die Geographie reagiert darauf mit der Integrativen Geographie. In deren Zentrum steht die inter- und transdisziplinäre Forschung zum Verständnis und der Veränderung gegenwärtiger Gesellschafts-Umweltbeziehungen. Neben der Physischen Geographie und der Humangeographie steht diese dritte Säule der Geographie konzeptionell, theoretisch und methodologisch jedoch am Anfang ihrer Entwicklung (Weichhart 2003). Mit diesem Beitrag wird erstens gefragt, welche Beiträge sich aus der Rückbesinnung auf die Anfänge der ganzheitlich und heute als transdisziplinär verfassten geographischen Humboldtschen Wissenschaftsmethode ergeben (Ette 2002). Zweitens wird aufgezeigt, wo der Humboldtsche Ansatz zu kurz greift und wie die aufgezeigten Lücken durch marxistisch orientierte Ansätze der kritischen Geographie angegangen werden können.

Geoagenda_2019 02-PaperRist.pdf (PDF, 444KB)


Konferenz der Schweizerischen Gesellschaft für Geschlechterforschung: Violent Times, Rising Protests. Structures, Experiences, and Feelings


Of Things not Seen and Heard. Addressing and Denaturalizing Intersectional Violence

Dr. des. Vanessa Thompson, Dr. des. Alexander Vorbrugg

Abstract (nur in Englisch)
Our presentation draws on and brings into conversation two rather different research projects and activist fields: One is concerned with the coloniality of policing and its intersectional implications in Germany, Switzerland and France, the other with the concurrence of open military confrontation and more drawn out, less spectacular forms of social, economic and political crisis and gendered violence in contemporary Ukraine. Rather than comparing forms of violence, we explore common ground by bringing together the conceptual, representational and political challenges in these projects. In both of them, we encounter forms of violence that often seem to remain strangely elusive for those who do not encounter or experience them directly, and sometimes difficult to communicate in political work. We reflect on different forms of elusiveness here, and elaborate on the ways in which activist projects address them as a representational and political challenge. We discuss different ways and means of addressing violence, and focus particularly on digital technologies and methods, intersectional forms of memory making and witnessing, and their potential to turn violence visible and to connect intersectional stories and struggles across time and space. Finally, we discuss in how far such struggles and analyses do and should reach beyond violence in order to not further naturalize it, and to work towards nonviolent possibilities and futures.
Keywords: racism, police violence, militarism, slow violence, representation, intersectional political strategies, nonviolence
Research Discipline: Gender Studies, Sociology, Human Geography
Research Theme: Political Violence, Symbolic and Epistemic Violence
Vanessa E. Thompson is a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Sociology at Goethe-University Frankfurt, and a visiting lecturer at GeStiK (Gender Studies) at the University of Cologne
Alexander Vorbrugg is a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Geography at the University of Bern.

Contact: or

Konferenzbrochüre (PDF, 396KB)
Schweizerische Gesellschaft für Geschlechterforschung


Migration and Sustainable Mountain Development: Turning Challenges into Opportunities

Bachmann, F., Maharjan, A., Thieme, S., Fleiner, R., & Wymann von Dach, S., eds. 2019. Migration and Sustainable Mountain Development: Turning Challenges into Opportunities. Bern, Switzerland, Centre for Development and Environment (CDE), University of Bern, with Bern Open Publishing (BOP). 72 pp.








People living in mountain areas have long used migration as a strategy to make optimal use of natural resources, ensure food security, strengthen their social and economic networks, and fulfil personal aspirations. Even today, migration continues to be an adaptive response to environmental, societal, economic and political pressure. Experience from around the world shows that labour migration can help to reduce poverty and diversify livelihoods in mountains and beyond, but its success is determined by several factors. Which member of the household is migrating and under what conditions, and how effective is the transfer, management and investment of remittances?

Across the globe, migration from rural mountain areas has reached such a scale that depopulation and the seasonal absence of people of working age are widespread. This can have far-reaching consequences for the lives of those who stay behind, for the social fabric of mountain communities, and for the management of mountain ecosystems. Understanding why people migrate as well as the social, economic and ecological consequences of their action is key to enhancing the benefits and addressing the downsides of migration in mountain areas.

This issue of the Sustainable Mountain Development Series focuses on the situation in rural areas, where about 70 percent of mountain people still live. It seeks to provide insights into the complex migration processes and the resulting opportunities and challenges for mountain communities and regions. It also presents a selection of good practices that contribute to sustainable development in rural mountain regions, either by reducing people’s distress at leaving the mountains or by facilitating positive outcomes of migration. The publication concludes with a set of policy messages that outline how migration can be integrated into policyand decision-making effectively, to promote the sustainable development of rural mountain areas.

We hope that with this publication we can contribute to strengthening the benefits and reducing the drawbacks of migration for rural mountain people.

The editors Felicitas Bachmann, Amina Maharjan, Susan Thieme, Renate Fleiner, Susanne Wymann von Dach

Also in this publication: 

Thieme, Susan and Asel Murzakulova (2019): Migration, multilocality and the question of return in Kyrgyzstan. In: Bachmann, F. et al. eds. Migration and Sustainable Mountain Development: Turning Challenges into Opportunities. Bern. CDE and Bern Open Publishing: 30-31.


publication as full-text file (PDF, 76 pages, 8.4 MB)


Study of Marc Weisbrod and Jeffry Sachs: Sanctions of US on Venezuela caused + 40'000 deaths





Worried, as I suppose (hope) many of you are about the coup attempt in Venezuela, I came across the attached interesting scientific study about the death-toll of the sanctions imposed by the US on Venezuela. The study titled: “Economic Sanctions as Collective Punishment: The Case of Venezuela” was carried out by the CENTER FOR ECONOMIC AND POLICY RESEARCH (CEPR). Co-authors are Mark Weisbrot and the well-known Jeffrey Sachs, also prominently advocating sustainable development. As the disrespect of international law and human rights has become an important new dimension of sustainability, I think this study allows to infer that sanctions are also a major threat to sustainability. We should consider this as an argument when referring to the difficulties South America is facing right now.

The authors’ main conclusion is:

“We find that the sanctions have inflicted, and increasingly inflict, very serious harm to human life and health, including an estimated more than 40,000 deaths from 2017–2018; and that these sanctions would fit the definition of collective punishment of the civilian population as described in both the Geneva and Hague international conventions, to which the US is a signatory. They are also illegal under international law and treaties which the US has signed, and would appear to violate US law as well.”

Unfortunately, this important information doesn’t get any coverage in the mainstream media, so that the dissemination is up to us!

April 2019, Mark Weisbrot and Jeffrey Sachs


Podiumsdiskussion am 20. Mai an der Universität Zürich: Was alle bewegt – Zur heutigen Debatte über die Migration




Daniel Binswanger, «Republik»
Doris Fiala, Nationalrätin
Prof. Dr. Sitta von Reden, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
Prof. Dr. Susan Thieme, Universität Bern
Prof. Dr. Andreas Victor Walser, Universität Zürich
Christian Wenaweser, Botschafter des Fürstentums Liechtenstein bei der UNO, New York

Organisation: Kommission UZH Interdisziplinär (UHZ-i)

Universität Zürich, Zentrum
Rämistrasse 69
Raum SOC-1-106
Montag, 20.05. 18.15 bis 20.00 Uhr
Eintritt frei


Rinvorlesung Migration Universität Zürich (PDF, 386KB)


Social Differences among Nurses and Physicians in Switzerland: An Intersectional Perspective

Ammann, Carole; Thieme, Susan; Richter, Marina (2019). Social Differences among Nurses and Physicians in Switzerland: An Intersectional Perspective. GeoAgenda(2019/1), S. 18-21. Verband Geographie Schweiz (ASG)



The specialisation of physicians but also of nurses is steadily increasing. What kind of tasks a person accomplishes within a hospital does not only depend on formal qualifications, but also on social categories such as gender, age, and migration as well as informal skills like work experience, language knowledge or one’s assertiveness.




Geoagenda_2019 01.pdf (PDF, 3.4 MB)


Bolivien hat geringe Staatsverschuldung dank Umverteilungspolitik

Beitrag von Prof. Dr. Stephan Rist zur wirtschaftlichen Situation von Bolivien und den «proceso de cambio»





Ausschnitt aus dem Artikel

Die Ökonomische Kommission für Lateinamerika und die Karibik (CEPAL) hat auf die in der Region seit 2016 steigende Staatsverschuldung hingewiesen. Die öffentliche Verschuldung auf der Regionalebene ist von 2016 bis 2018 von 29.6 auf 41 Prozent des Bruttoinlandproduktes (BIP) gestiegen. Diese Daten umfassen sowohl die internen wie auch externen Staatsschulden. In ihrem Rückblick auf die wirtschaftliche Situation im Jahr 2018 hebt die CEPAL hervor, dass Bolivien durch eine vergleichsweise niedrige Staatsverschuldung von lediglich 33 Prozent des BIP die positive Ausnahme darstellt - trotz massiver Investitionen in den Ausbau von Infrastruktur und Sozialleistungen. Mit 33 Prozent Staatsverschuldung liegt Bolivien nicht nur deutlich unter dem regionalen Durchschnitt, sondern rangiert auch deutlich unter dem Richtwert der Gemeinschaft Andiner Länder (CAN), welche eine maximale Staatsverschuldung von 50 Prozent empfehlen. Die deutlich angestiegene Gesamtverschuldung wird mit dem überproportionalen Anstieg der Staatsverschuldung der grossen Wirtschaftsmächte Brasilien und Argentinien erklärt: Deren Gesamtschulden beliefen sich 2018 auf 77 Prozent des BIP. Berücksichtigt man, dass in den Jahren 2015 und 2016 sowohl Dilma Rousseff als auch Christina Kirchner die Macht an die neuen, neoliberal orientierten Präsidenten abgeben mussten, ergibt sich eine interessante Schlussfolgerung: Die Daten bezeugen eindrücklich, dass die umverteilungsorientierte Wirtschafts- und Sozialpolitik von Bolivien viel besser zu einer nachhaltigen Wirtschaftspolitik passt, als die drastische neoliberale Austeritätspolitik, die in den Volkswirtschaften von Brasilien und Argentinien – vor allem zu Lasten der ärmeren Bevölkerungsteile - durchgezogen wird.

Vollständiger Artikel unter:



Newsletter UNESCO Chair

Der UNESCO Lehrstuhl «Natur- und Kulturerbe für nachhaltige Gebirgsentwicklung» fördert die Forschung und den Erfahrungsaustausch u.a. auf den Gebieten Naturschutz, erneuerbare Ressourcen, Schutzgebietsmanagement, nachhaltiger Tourismus, Kultur, Traditionen und Regionalentwicklung. Der Lehrstuhl wird vom Managementzentrum UNESCO-Welterbe Jungfrau-Aletsch (SAJA) gemeinsam mit dem Geographischen Institut (GIUB), dem Zentrum für Entwicklung und Umwelt (CDE) der Universität Bern sowie dem Forschungszentrum für Raumentwicklung (CETRAD) in Nanyuki, Kenya betrieben. Die Aktivitäten konzentrieren sich auf die Welterbe-Regionen Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch und Mount Kenya sowie auf ein potentielles Naturerbe- oder Park-Gebiet in Coyhaique, Chile.


Die kritische soziale Praxis des Forschens: Positionen zum Verhältnis von Feldforschung und Verantwortung




Feldforschung ist eine für die Hochschulgeographie konstitutive Praxis, auf der Kollaborationsprojekte etablierter Forscher*innen ebenso aufbauen wie Studien- und Qualifikationsarbeiten Studierender und Promovierender. Zum etablierten Bestand gehören neben Interviews auch Forschungsreisen und teilnehmende Forschungsmethoden, zu dem sich in jüngerer Zeit auch neue Verfahren wie etwa digitale Ethnographien und Untersuchungsfelder wie das Gerichts- und Gefängniswesen gesellen. Dabei entstehen soziale Situationen die nicht selten zu Widersprüchen, Enttäuschungen, Ängsten oder Konflikten führen. Gerade Nachwuchsforscher*innen nehmen diese häufig als sehr grundlegende Herausforderungen oder Momente des `Scheiterns´ wahr. Zwar thematisieren Debatten zu feministischer Forschungspraxis, partizipativ/aktivistischen Ansätzen oder postkolonialer Kritik solche Spannungen explizit. Solange Feldforschung jedoch `einfach gemacht´ wird und ein individualisiertes Anliegen bleibt, kommt ein (kollegialer) Austausch darüber häufig zu kurz.
Mit dieser Fachsitzung möchten wir zu einem solchen Austausch einladen und fragen: Wie können `wir´ ethischen und politischen Ansprüchen gerecht werden, ohne dabei die Forschungspraxis mit Regelungen, Erwartungen und weiteren Hürden zu überladen? Welche Risiken birgt die Feldforschung – und für wen? Welche Verantwortung ergibt sich aus der Zusammenarbeit mit vulnerablen oder benachteiligten Gruppen? Wie verändern sich Risiken und Möglichkeiten, wenn wir machtvolle Akteure und Institutionen beforschen? Wann wird es zu `unserer´ Verantwortung, genau das zu tun? Wann sind Aushandlung und Reflexion elementar und wann stoßen sie an Grenzen? Wer repräsentiert wen auf welche Weise, und wer produziert welches Wissen mit welchem Wahrheitsanspruch?



Die kritische soziale Praxis des Forschens I: Positionen zum Verhältnis von Feldforschung und Verantwortung (Sarah Klosterkamp, Alexander Vorbrugg)

Jennifer Steiner, Karin Schwiter (Zürich): Erfahrungen und Herausforderungen ethischer Forschungspraxis in der Zusammenarbeit mit einem Netzwerk organisierter Care-Arbeiter*innen in Basel, Schweiz

Svenja Keizel (Frankfurt a.M.): Von der Theorie ins Feld? (Un)mögliche Ansprüche, Herausforderungen und kreative Wege – Am Beispiel von Racial Profiling

Jenny Künkel (Berlin): Es gibt kein richtiges Forschen im falschen… – Zur Unumgänglichkeit von Machtverhältnissen im Feld und ihrer Überwindung

Discussant: Jan S. Hutta (Bayreuth)


Die kritische soziale Praxis des Forschens II: Positionen zum Verhältnis von Feldforschung und Verantwortung (Alexander Vorbrugg, Sarah Klosterkamp)

Sarah Nimführ (Wien): Wissenschaft nur der Wissenschaft? Ein Plädoyer für engagierte und kollaborative Wissensproduktionen

Birgit Hoinle (Tübingen): Dekolonialisierung der Feldforschungspraxis – Ja bitte! Aber wie?

Nora Küttel (Münster): Das Feld im Kopf oder der Kopf im Feld? Eine Auseinandersetzung mit einem gewohnten Begriff

Discussant: Shadia Husseini de Araújo (Brasília)




Programm der Fachsitzungen zum Thema: Geographien in kritischer Perspektive


Critical Military Geography II: Roundtable on Critical Military Studies

Sonderveranstaltung am Deutschen Kongress für Geographie in Kiel 2019 unter der Leitung von Alexander Vorbrugg (GIUB, Bern) und Veit Bachmann (Frankfurt a.M.)




 Teresa Koloma Beck, München/Hamburg; Kathrin Hörschelmann Jena; Matthew Rech, Plymouth; Philip Steinberg, Durham


Abstract (nur in Englisch)

Following up on the preceding paper session “Kritische Militärgeographie I” this roundtable discusses militarism as a constitutive component of spatially differentiated everyday worlds. Even in supposedly peaceful places, military institutions, financial actors and research institutions are involved in military affairs (Woodward 2004). In other places, militarism articulates in daily threats and (often sexualised) violence. Militarization also includes the strengthening of armed non-state groups, the militarization of the police, and the return of national power politics and realpolitik. Militarization can jeopardize democratic structures, but it also provokes political counter-reactions. 
The neglect of military geography in German-speaking geography is on the one hand connected with the history of the discipline (Lacoste 1976, Michel 2016), but on the other hand also with „our“ privileged position of not (yet) being immediately confronted with these developments. However, this supposed distance from the „military“ stands in contrast to the extensive entanglements between the everyday and military infrastructures, which are often closer to „us“ than we may assume (hidden militarism). In this session, we question this neglect. Following debates on the geography of violence (Korf and Schetter 2015) and critical military geography (Bachmann and Stenmanns 2018, Rech et al 2015), this session offers a platform for critical perspectives on the military, militarism and militarization.

Programm Sonderveranstaltungen


Transnationale Hochschul(t)räume: kritische Perspektiven auf Märkte, Wissen und Macht in globaler Hochschulbildung

Fachsitzung beim Deutschen Kongress für Geographie 2019 in Kiel von Dr. Jana Kleibert, Leibniz-Institut Raumbezogene Sozialforschung (IRS) und Prof. Dr. Susan Thieme, Geographisches Institut Universität Bern





Hochschulbildung ist einerseits eine ökonomisch bedeutende Dienstleistung geworden, anderseits spielt Hochschulbildung eine wichtige Rollein der sozialen Reproduktion. Universitäten sind somit Orte der Produktion sowie der Reproduktion der globalen „Wissensökonomie“. Insbesondere im globalen Süden ist internationale Bildung zum Entwicklungsversprechen geworden, was eine kritische Beleuchtung der Geometrien der Macht in Nord-Süd Bildungsbeziehungen herausfordert.

Geographische Perspektiven können den Blick auf die Entstehung von transnationalen Räumen der Hochschulbildung lenken, die geprägt sind von ungleichen Mobilitäten von Wissen, Studierenden, Forschenden und Lehrenden, und ökonomischem Kapital. Dies beinhaltet, zum Beispiel, eine Problematisierung des Wissenstransfers durch „internationale“ Curricula in post-kolonialen Kontexten und der Diskurse zu „globaler Bildung“ und der „Wissensökonomie“ , das Aufzeigen der Geographien von Studierendenmobilität, den Zugang zu Informationen über soziale Medien oder Vermittlungsagenturen, vergleichende Analysen von Vermarktlichungs-und Internationalisierungsstrategien von Hochschulen, sowie der Errichtung von Universitätszweigstellen im Ausland und internationalen Universitätsstädten als „knowledge hubs“, und vieles mehr.

Die Vortragssitzung zielt darauf ab, sich kritisch mit der Rolle von Universitäten in der Wissensökonomie aus unterschiedlichen Perspektiven der geographischen Migrationsforschung, Wirtschafts-, Entwicklungs- und Stadtgeographie auseinanderzusetzen.

Für die Fachsitzung sollen empirisch fundierte und/oder konzeptionelle Beiträge eingereicht werden, die sich mit diesen Themen auseinandersetzen.


Programm Fachsitzungen Leitthema 7: Gesellschaft, Bevölkerung und Wirtschaft in Bewegung


Evaluating the contributions of One Health initiatives to social sustainability

Ifejika, Chinwe Ijeoma; Wüthrich, Tamara; Rüegg, Simon; Zinsstag, Jakob; Keune, Hans; Boillat, Sébastien; Blake, Lauren; Thieme, Susan; Degeling, Chris; Rist, Stephan (2018). Evaluating the contributions of One Health initiatives to social sustainability. In: Rüegg, Simon R.; Häsler, Barbara; Zinsstag, Jakob (eds.) Integrated approaches to health. A handbook for the evaluation of One Health (pp. 86-125). Wageningen: Wageningen Academic Publishers




One Health is an approach that integrates perspectives from human, animal and environmental health to address health challenges. As the idea of One Health is grounded in achieving sustainable outcomes, an important aspect is the contribution of One Health to social sustainability. In this chapter we ask, what social sustainability is, what the indicators of social sustainability related to One Health are, and, through what measures we can evaluate the contributions of One Health to social sustainability, in terms of its operations, its supporting infrastructures and outcomes. We adopt a wider conceptualization of social sustainability and propose an approach based on basic needs, capabilities and emancipation, environmental justice, solidarity and social cohesion. First, we identify indicators used in literature to capture social sustainability in human, animal and environmental health and propose ways to integrate them into a framework for the evaluation of One Health initiatives. Second, we formulate questions that can be used to evaluate the social sustainability of One Health initiatives. Third, we discuss the viability of operationalising the indicators, the trade-offs that might arise and identify how they can be minimised. We then discuss methodological issues and highlight the importance of transdisciplinary deliberative approaches for adapting the framework to specific contexts.


African Cities and the Development Conundrum

This event marks the launch of International Development Policy (DevPol) journal’s latest issue: African Cities and the Development Conundrum. Africa is urbanising faster than any other region on the planet, challenging its long-held rural image. The diversity and complexity of African cities contest conventional understandings of the urban as well as standard development policy responses. What governance and policy measures are needed to ensure a sustainable future for African cities for all stakeholders?




9:00 Welcome and Introduction 

Ugo Panizza, Editor in Chief, International Development Policy
Carole Ammann, Guest Editor, African Cities Thematic Issue
Till Förster, Guest Editor, African Cities Thematic Issue

9:10 The Rural vs. Urban Conundrum
What governance arrangements can be made to address the gravitation to urban centres, the development of industry, and the preservation of local cultures and peoples?

Moderator: Filipe Calvão, Graduate Institute

Karen Büscher, University of Ghent
Sebastian Prothmann, Nuremberg, Germany, 
Florian Stoll, University of Bayreuth, Germany

9:50 10-minute break
10:00 Governing Urbanisation
Finding the right mix for Africa’s diverse urban landscape to ensure sustainable development in policy and planning is vital. How do we go about it when so many actors are involved and so much is at stake?

Moderator: Dennis Rodgers, Graduate Institute

Claudia Baez-Camargo, Basel Institute on Governance 
Lucy Koechlin, University of Basel
George Owusu, University of Ghana
10:40 Commentary by Nicolas Kerguen, Service de la Solidarité Internationale (SSI), Geneva
Followed by a Q&A with the audience
11:20 Final word 
Ugo Panizza, Editor in Chief, 
International Development Policy Journal


Not about land, not quite a grab: Dispersed dispossession in rural Russia

Vorbrugg, Alexander Benjamin; Trotsuk, I. V. (2018). Не только о земле и о ее захватах: дисперсное лишение прав в сельской России [Not about land, not quite a grab: Dispersed dispossession in rural Russia]. Russian Peasant Studies, 3(3), pp. 19-47. RANEPA 10.22394/2500-1809-2018-3-3-19-47.



In most literature in geography and agrarian studies, rural dispossession is neatly related to land rights or access, a trend that increased with debates about the recent wave of farmland investments worldwide. This paper critiques this focus and the assumed nexus between rural dispossession and farmland, as they prevent us from understanding widespread but more dispersed stakes, modes and temporalities of dispossession. I draw on long term fieldwork in rural Russia in which I traced the lasting effects of historical devaluation and systemic disadvantage, and the disintegration of sustaining institutions and infrastructures. I introduce the concept of dispersed dispossession which contributes to the broader conceptual debates on dispossession by bringing complex stakes, modes and temporalities of dispossession into view. For the empirical case, it allows to better understand forms of dispossession that occur rather slowly and silently, and concern social and relational goods rather than natural resources as such.



Worüber wir reden, wenn wir mit jemandem nicht reden wollen. Zum Spannungsverhältnis von Rassismuskritik und Meinungsfreiheit an der Universität

Hoppe, Katharina; Klingenberg, Darja; Thompson, Vanessa Eileen; Trautmann, Felix; Vorbrugg, Alexander Benjamin (2018). Worüber wir reden, wenn wir mit jemandem nicht reden wollen. Zum Spannungsverhältnis von Rassismuskritik und Meinungsfreiheit an der Universität. Movements : journal for critical migration and border regime studies, 4(1), pp. 167-177. Transcript



Public discussions concerning the cancellation of a planned lecture by the controversial chairman of the German Police Trade Union (DPolG), Rainer Wendt, at the Goethe-University Frankfurt provides an example to reflect on current discursive-political shifts towards the right in Germany. We develop this reflection along three motives, namely the non-performativity of antidiscrimination proclamations, the (re)normalization of racism, and the liberal insistence on the privileged role and value of freedom of expression vis-à-vis other democratic values. We insist that debates on the relationship between antidiscrimination and freedom of expression must not privilege the latter against the former, and approach the question of who is provided access to a public scene itself as a subject of political dispute. Furthermore, we argue that such debates should be understood against the backdrop of a current swing to right-wing politics and its implications for public discourse and political argument.



Klaus-Mehnert-Preis der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Osteuropakunde

Alexander Vorbrugg wurde für seine Dissertation Dispersed Disposession. New Agricultural Players, Local Political Economies and De/structural Violence in Rural Russia mit dem Klaus Mehnert-Preis 2017 ausgezeichnet.



von Alexander Vorbrugg
Konträre Bilder prägen die mediale Darstellung des ländlichen Russlands. Häufig werden ländliche Orte und Bevölkerungsgruppen als vermeintlich hoffnungslose Verlierer der postsowjetischen Transformation dargestellt, gezeichnet von Verfall und Alkoholismus. An anderen Stellen wird ein riesiges landwirtschaftliches Potenzial betont, das perspektivisch relativen Wohlstand für die ländliche Bevölkerung, Profite für Unternehmen und Ernährungssicherheit für den Staat versprechen soll. Kritische Stimmen warnen jedoch gerade vor diesem Hintergrund vor der Gefahr eines Landraubs ungekannten Ausmaßes. Auf der Grundlage mehrmonatiger Feldforschung beschreibt Alexander Vorbrugg in Dispersed Dispossession Wandlungsprozesse und Lebensrealitäten, die in keines dieser Bilder passen. Armut, relative Perspektivlosigkeit, Verlusterfahrungen und strukturelle Benachteiligung gehören für viele Bewohner*innen ländlicher Orte
seit vielen Jahren zur Alltagsrealität. Die Entwertung des Agrarbereichs und der Verfall von Produktionsinfrastrukturen und sozialen Unterstützungsfunktionen, die weiterhin stark mit dem Zusammenbruch des sowjetischen Agrarsystems assoziiert werden, bleiben vielerorts prägend. Gleichzeitig bringen für sie Investitionsprojekte häufig wenig unmittelbare Verbesserungen mit sich. Das macht die ländliche Bevölkerung jedoch nicht zu passiven Opfern dieser Umstände. Dispersed Dispossession beschreibt solche Ausgangslagen auf der Grundlage von ethnographischer Forschung und historischer Kontextualisierung. Das resultierende Bild ist nicht nur komplex und vielschichtig, es bietet auch einen fruchtbaren Ausgangspunkt, um Theorien und Debatten um ländliche Enteignung kritisch zu hinterfragen und zu erweitern. So hat beispielsweise die „Land Grabbing“-Debatte mit ihrem Fokus auf
Ackerland als Subsistenzgrundlage und umkämpftes Gut das Bild der „typischen“ ländlichen Enteignung nachhaltig geprägt. Auf die Situation in Russland lässt sich ein solches Schema schwer übertragen. Mehr als um Land geht es hier häufig um den Verlust sozialer Güter wie etwa Formen lokaler und staatlicher Absicherung und
Unterstützung, um prekäre Infrastrukturen und Institutionen sowie längerfristige Prozesse, die das Nachdenken
über Enteignung vor Herausforderungen stellen. Der Autor erarbeitet Konzepte, die es ermöglichen sollen, Enteignungsprozesse in solchen Kontexten adäquater zu erfassen. Hierfür bringt er die von ihm interviewten Dorfbewohner*innen in einen fruchtbaren Dialog mit theoretischen Debatten unterschiedlicher wissenschaftlicher Disziplinen. Der Enteignungsbegriff wird dabei in mehrfacher Hinsicht dezentriert und erweitert: Über privates Landeigentum und Subsistenzwirtschafthinaus und hin zu sozialen Gütern und den institutionellen Bedingungen lokaler Subsistenz; über ereignishafte Enteignungsmomente hinaus, um verwobene zeitliche Verläufe und verstetigte Prekarität als Zustand des Enteignet-Seins analytisch fassen zu können; und nicht zuletzt auch hin zur erneuten Auseinandersetzung mit der Frage, in welchen Weisen der historische Kontext postsowjetischer Transformation für die gegenwartsbezogene Analyse und Kritik ländlicher Enteignungsprozesse relevant bleibt.
Die Dissertation wurde von Prof. Dr. Peter Lindner betreut und 2017 am Fachbereich Geowissenschaften der Johann-Wolfgang-Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main eingereicht.


EURAXESS Konferenz: Integration of Refugee Scholars in Switzerland

Die Konferenz wird vom International Scholars Center der Universität Zürich und der Abteilung Internationale Beziehungen von swissuniversities organisiert. Prof. Dr. Susan Thieme wird einen Keynote-Vortrag halten.


Prof. Dr. Stephan Rist an Stakeholder-Workshop in Chile

Prof. Dr. Stephan Rist hat im Rahmen des Projekts «First protected area 100% energy self-sustaining in Chile» im südchilenischen Coyhaique zusammen mit Akteuren aus Politik, Wirtschaft und Zivilgesellschaft einen partizipativen Management-Workshop durchgeführt. Gemäss Zielsetzung des Projekts soll das Coyhaique Reservat der erste Naturpark mit einem 100%igen energetischen Selbstversorgungsgrad in Chile werden.

Diario El Divisadero: Realizan taller para que Reserva Coyhaique sea ''Área Protegida 100% energéticamente autosustentable''