Anthropology: Joint Doctoral Programme in Halle, Leipzig, and Erlangen

June 01, 2023

In Fall 2023, the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology (MPI), together with Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, Leipzig University, and FAU in Erlangen, will inaugurate the International Max Planck Research School (IMPRS) “Global Multiplicity: A Social Anthropology for the Now”. With an initial funding period of six years, the IMPRS will provide structured training for up to 40 doctoral students, making this jointly hosted programme one of the largest research schools for early-career social anthropologists in Europe. The spokesperson of the IMPRS is Ursula Rao, Managing Director of the MPI.

Providing Optimal Conditions for Doctoral Studies
The International Max Planck Research Schools (IMPRS) are an integral part of the Max Planck Society’s commitment to creating excellent conditions for the next generation of researchers. The schools enable exceptional young scholars to pursue a doctorate within the context of a structured graduate programme that includes a wide range of training formats and opportunities, from research seminars to soft skills workshops. A particular feature of the schools is the integration of their members in international networks and debates, as well as the close cooperation between the host Max Planck Institute and one or more universities. The focus is on conducting independent research on an interdisciplinary topic leading to the completion of a dissertation. In addition, the doctoral students benefit from regular opportunities to exchange views and discuss ideas at workshops, summer schools, or conferences.

Shared Investment in the Future of Anthropology
The participating institutions are looking forward to welcoming the first cohort of seven doctoral students. The call for applications will be available shortly on the website of the MPI. “We are very pleased to be able to invest in the future of anthropology together with our partner universities in Halle, Leipzig, and Erlangen”, says Ursula Rao, Managing Director of the MPI and spokesperson of the IMPRS “Global Multiplicity: A Social Anthropology for the Now”. “With the Research School, we can establish a strong network that brings together young scholars and experienced researchers and imparts the competencies crucial for modern, ethical, and independent science capable of tackling the challenges of the world today.” The number of participants will gradually be increased once the IMPRS is established. Rao: “Doctoral students with funding from third-party projects can also be integrated into the Research School and ensuring fertile interdisciplinary dialogue will be a priority. This is not limited to merely training and improving the ability to communicate with colleagues from other subject areas: we also want our doctoral students to learn how to communicate their research with the public.”

A Global Phenomenon: The Transformation of All Spheres of Life
The topics of the research school respond to the current challenges faced by people around the world: climate change, environmental destruction, and species extinction; health crises; social inequality and the legacies of colonial rule; geopolitical tensions, nationalism, wars and civil wars. The vehemence and simultaneity of these phenomena has resulted in an increased sense of crisis everywhere in the world. “This leads to a prolonged, intensive debate about what these changes mean, how to shape the future, and who bears the responsibility for doing so”, Rao explains. While investigating processes of societal change and transformation has always been a key concern of the social sciences, there is still much that is not yet known about how reactions to current global transformations differ regionally and how they influence one another. The IMPRS doctoral students will therefore dedicate themselves to investigating the strategies and paradigms that people are developing to grapple with the challenges of the present.

Interdisciplinary Fields of Investigation: Economics, Politics, Law
The desire for change or a better life is not always expressed in major social movements or state transformation processes. “Often it starts with scarcely noticeable interventions at the micro-level that gradually lead to societal change”, Rao explains. “One example of this is urban gardening. In the beginning, it was just a few people who wanted to make concrete-filled spaces greener, more liveable, and more beautiful. This was initially a provocative idea. But it helped bring about a change in thinking, and today it is taken for granted in many cities that there should be meadows, wild green spaces, and other spaces left as natural habitats.” The Research School is concerned with precisely these forms of change – small and seemingly insignificant actions that come to have a far-reaching influence – in the context of economics, politics, and law. Rao: “Social science research has paid little attention to such modest, small-scale processes that have the power to change the world. We want to redirect attention to such phenomena.”

Cooperation Partners of the IMPRS “Global Multiplicity: A Social Anthropology for the Now”
The Research School has an initial funding period of six years and is a joint programme of the following institutions:
•    Max Planck Society
•    Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology
•    Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg
•    Leipzig University
•    Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

Contact for this press release
Prof. Dr. Ursula Rao
Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology
Department ‘Anthropology of Politics and Governance’
Advokatenweg 36, 06114 Halle (Saale)
Tel.: 0345 2927-100
E-mail: rao@...

PR contact
Stefan Schwendtner
Press and Public Relations
Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology
Advokatenweg 36, 06114 Halle (Saale)
Tel.: 0345 2927-425
E-mail: schwendtner@... (English)

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