Main Content

Ph.D. projects

Photos: Dittrich, Hautmann, Kriszio, Reichert, Schwarz, Wiemer

In the following, some current dissertation projects at the institute are presented in more detail.

The rediscovery of Viriditas? Or: Current human-plant relationships using the example of medicinal plants (working title)

Cosima Wiemer

Photo: Cosima Wiemer

Cosima Wiemer's Ph.D. project deals with human-plant relationships and focuses on medicinal plants and phytotherapy, initially using the example of a stinging nettle (Urtica dioica).
The stinging nettle (Urtica dioica): In everyday life, we encounter it at the roadside or in overgrown gardens and parks and, as a pain-inducing weed, it usually receives little attention or is rejected and regularly destroyed. On the other hand, it is traditionally highly valued as a medicine in phytotherapy, frequently used and cultivated for this purpose extra horticulturally, respectively agriculturally.
It changes consequently between the attributions of the unloved weed plant, the wild plant, the medicinal plant, and the useful plant and changes thereby between the alleged spheres of nature and culture. Depending on the attribution, it works differently in human-plant relationships.

The project is conceptually situated in the realm of "multispecies ethnography," which involves a recognition of the interconnectedness and inseparability of humans and other life forms. This work will consider "plants as ethnographic subjects" (Hartigan 2019), that is, to acknowledge that plants are intelligent, stimulus-perceiving and processing, powerful, and social living beings that relate, communicate, and actively interact with other living beings. The "agency" of plants is to be worked out in order to exclude "plant blindness".

Supervision: Prof. Dr. Ina Dietzsch (University Marburg)

Learning Skills with Media Instructions (working title)

Jan Dittrich

Photo: Jan Dittrich

Jan Dittrich researches how people use instructions to acquire skills. To do this, he compares the use of recipes for gluten-free baking with the use of instructions for programming. Instead of assuming a separation between planning and execution, it is assumed that this skillful action requires the coordination of attention and situation (Ingold, 2001) as well as reflection in the action itself (Schön 1982).

Supervision: Prof. Dr. Götz Bachmann (University Bremen) 

Experiencing the Shoah Digitally? Memory Practice in Tension between Technology, Emotional Politics and Temporality (working title)

Janina Schwarz


Janina Schwarz's Ph.D. project deals with experiences of remembrance that have become possible/necessary through technological innovations, starting from the thesis that the Shoah is presented specifically at different times and in different media for different target groups.

Digital projects with their implicit and explicit basic assumptions, goals, claims, their conceptions, and implementations as well as their use serve as a basis. The focus is on the Lebenswelten that have already been constituted by digitalization processes, in which people now act, learn, feel, and also remember. This work is particularly dedicated to feeling, because hardly any other field acts, uses, and produces emotions as strongly as the field of remembering the Shoah.

The relevance of temporality for this research project opens up, on the one hand, through the death of contemporary witnesses and, on the other hand, through the speed of technical development, whereby different drafts of a digital culture of remembrance of the future are formulated. The field is constituted between the 'race against time' and the call to 'keep up with the times'. The high speed with which corresponding projects are developed and researched interdisciplinarily as well as the connection between past, present, and future are understood as influencing factors that must always be taken into account, both conceptually and in terms of content.

Supervision: Prof. Dr. Ina Dietzsch (University Marburg)

Worldviews against vaccinations - an ethnological study on vaccination-critical practices (working title)

Vanessa Tirzah Hautmann


Vanessa Tirzah Hautmann is concerned with the question of how it comes that parents do not have their children vaccinated in infancy and early childhood. Hautmann examines the common practice of vaccination as a medical measure whose benefits are communicated by the media and which is partially enforced by legal measures. In asking about attitudes against vaccination, Hautmann is particularly interested in the perspective of parents:

Why do parents decide against vaccinating their children? What are their motivations? How does their decision influence their everyday lives? How do they experience the reactions of their environment?

In order to consider a lot of facets of the criticism of vaccination as a social phenomenon, actors are differentiated and assemblages are identified. Physicians, governmental institutions (research institutes, STIKO, health authorities), as well as vaccine-critical associations and activists will be presented and connected to each other. Current developments in the course of the Covid 19 pandemic will also be included in the research. Have there been changes in modes of argumentation and in whether and how vaccine critics organize themselves? In addition, historical developments will be highlighted that have an impact on the present.

The core of the dissertation is the empirical work through guided, narrative interviews with vaccine-critical parents. The research approach is inductive: By evaluating the empirically collected material using grounded theory, a theory anchored in the subject matter or theses oriented to the material is developed.