Prof. Dr. Theresa Wobbe

Senior Fellow (Heinz-Heinen-Fellowship)

Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies
April 2024–May 2024

University of Potsdam, Germany
Title of current research project: "Parasitism in human power relations: Re-reading Carsen McCullers fiction on the topic of black women’s domestic work"
Theresa Wobbe
© Theresa Wobbe

Academic Profile

Taking Orlando Patterson’s concept of human parasitism as a starting point, my project deals with forms of human dependency. In Slavery and Social Death, Patterson proposes to conceive of slavery as a specific case of parasitism. I argue that the study of parasitism offers a clear explanatory potential for exploring different forms of dependency. Human parasitism provides a powerful cultural pattern to which female domestic work and other kinds of servitude bear witness.

Suggesting that parasitism has outlived slavery, Fiona Greenland lent Patterson’s argument novel impetus. Greenland considers parasitism an orientation to the world that regards some people – women, black and brown people, and the working poor – as existing primarily to support the lives of others. Using the example of Afro-American domestic workers in the U.S. South, where parasitism persists in the day-to-day racialised segregation institutions, my project aims to bring Patterson’s and Greenland’s approaches to fruition.

During my short-term fellowship, I aim to re-read Carson McCuller’s novel 'The Member of the Wedding' while condensing the basic arguments about representations of parasitic dependence in a short paper. In doing so, I hope to share issues of intersectionality associated with gender, race, status, class and age with colleagues in Research Area E. 

since 2017
Professor Emerita of Sociology

Professor of Sociology & Gender Sociology, University of Potsdam

Professor of Sociology & Gender Sociology, University of Erfurt

Professor of Sociology, Technical University Berlin

Research Fellow, Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften

Exchange Professor (DAAD), Duke University/NC

Lecturer of Sociology (Wiss. Assistentin), Free University Berlin

Lecturer of Sociology (Wiss. Mitarbeiterin), Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster

Lecturer of Sociology (Wiss. Mitarbeiterin), Free University Berlin

"Habilitation," Faculty of Philosophy and Social Sciences I, Free University Berlin

Dr. phil., Department of Sociology, Free University Berlin

Graduation "Staatsexamen," History and German Studies, Free University Berlin 

Edited Volumes

  • 2024. With M. Braig and L. Renard. Sklaverei, Freiheit und Arbeit: Sozio-historische Beiträge zur (Re-)Konfiguration von Zwangsarbeit. De Gruyter.
  • 2019. With I. Berrebi-Hoffmann, O. Giraud, and L. Renard. Categories in Context. Gender and Work in France and Germany, 1900–Present. New York: Berghahn Publishers. 



  • 2023. "Imperiale und nationale Logiken des Kaiserreichs: Migrationsregulierung und Ansiedlungspolitik." In Polarisierte Welten. Verhandlungen des 41. Kongresses der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Soziologie 2022.
  • 2023. With L.Renard, N. Schalkowski, and M. Braig. "Deutungsmodelle von Arbeit im Spiegel kolonialer und geschlechtlicher Dimensionen: Kategorisierungsprozesse von 'Zwangsarbeit' während der Zwischenkriegszeit." In Zeitschrift für Soziologie 52(2). 
  • 2022. With L. Renard. "Free Versus Unfree Labor. Challenging Their Boundaries." In Shifting Categories of Work. Unsettling the Ways We Think about Jobs, Labor, and Activities, edited by L. Herzog and B. Zimmermann, 105–118. New York: Routledge.
  • 2021. "Die Differenz Haushalt vs. Markt als latentes Beobachtungsschema. Vergleichsverfahren der inter/nationalen Statistik (1882–1990)." In Soziale Praktiken des Beobachtens: Vergleichen, Bewerten, Kategorisiere und Quantifizieren, edited by B. Heintz and T. Wobbe, 195–222. Kölner Zeitschrift für Soziologie und Sozialpsychologie Sonderheft 73. Wiesbaden: Springer. 
  • 2019. With L. Renard. "La statistique internationale comme instrument de globalisation? La carrière de la catégorie 'travailleurs familiaux' au sein de l’Organisation internationale du travail (1919-1982)." In Revue française de sociologie 60(4): 595–619.
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