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Research Area B: Embodied Dependencies

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Giving Back the Voices to the "Silent" Actors of History

Photo by aussieactive, unsplash

In Research Area B, we approach the phenomenon of slavery and other types of strong asymmetrical dependencies by taking into consideration a pre-colonial perspective. We aim at establishing archaeology, art history, and object-based anthropology on an equal level with other disciplines of the humanities that focus on written sources.

Research Area B takes objects as its starting point and aims to capture human and non-human "bodies of dependency". We will establish an inventory of material evidence of asymmetrical dependencies and their range of expression and information equaling the written word in importance.

Relying on recent debates on environmental history and biohistory, this research area aims to relativize the Western focus on written culture from a pre-colonial perspective. Many societies that were not affected by Western colonization were oral societies. Here a verbal agreement could weigh heavier than a written contract – thus the normative or guiding effect of an object or image would be just as strong as that of a legal text elsewhere. The fact that many scholars tend to consider a lack of written traditions to be indicative of an inherently deficient source situation reflects a modern Western "inherited learning disability" in terms of reading artefacts.

Therefore, one aim of this research area is to correct the widespread asymmetry in the academic evaluation of written and non-written traditions. The deficit in terms of material evidence seems all the more crucial because social history has advocated giving back their voices to the "silent" actors of history, and examining the experiences of oppression and the scope of action within human communities. However, this research area will not concentrate on the "silent voices" but on the – supposedly – "silent bodies", which encompass written descriptions of bodies and objects of social dependency as well as purely material traditions.

We will examine "embodied dependencies" from archaeological, art-historical and anthropological perspectives as well as from the viewpoint of a praxeologically and body-historically oriented history and social science. Our goal here is expressly to foster the dialogue between object- and text-based disciplines and to render embodied dependencies "legible" (again) as multi-dimensional research objects. We therefore explicitly seek to examine dependent bodies not just as discursive constructs, but also as material, resilient and autonomous. They are not just regarded as objects of imagination and representation, but also as sites of social practices. We understand dependent bodies as "agents", "mediators", and "intermediaries" and analyze even dependencies between human and non-human actors as "agencements" and forms of "interagency".

Detailed Research Agenda


Download the detailed research agenda of Research Area B: Embodied Dependencies here.

Members of Research Area B


Nikolai Grube  Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Nikolai Grube
 Research Area Speaker
Bethany Walker  Prof. Dr. Bethany J. Walker
 Research Area Speaker
Mailk Ade  Mailk Ade, M.A.
 Secondary Affiliation
Dita Auzina  Dita Auziņa, M.A.
 Main Affiliation
Dennis M Beck  Dr. Dennis Mario Beck
 Main Affiliation
Jan Bemmann  Prof. Dr. Jan Bemmann
 Main Affiliation
Martin Bentz  Prof. Dr. Martin Bentz
 Main Affiliation
 Claire Conrad  Claire Conrad, M.A.
 Main Affiliation
Sabine Feist  Prof. Dr. Sabine Feist
 Main Affiliation
Paul Graf  Paul Graf, M.A.
 Main Affiliation
Julia Hegewald  Prof. Dr. Julia A. B. Hegewald
 Main Affiliation
 Sinah Kloss  Dr. Sinah Kloß
 Main Affiliation             
Christian Mader  Dr. Christian Mader
 Main Affiliation
Ludwig Morenz  Prof. Dr. Ludwig D. Morenz
 Main Affiliation
 Lena Muders  Lena Muders, M.A.
 Main Affiliation
Karoline Noack  Prof. Dr. Karoline Noack
 Secondary Affiliation
Jahfar Shareef-Pokkanali  Jahfar Shareef Pokkanali,
 M.A. & M.Phil.

 Main Affiliation
 Tanya Tagliati-Souza  Taynã Tagliati Souza, M.A.
 Main Affiliation
 Tamia Viteri Toledo  Tamia Viteri Toledo, M.A.
 Main Affiliation
Patrick Zeidler  Patrick Zeidler, M.A.
 Main Affiliation
Michael Zeuske  Prof. Dr. Michael Max Paul Zeuske
 Secondary Affiliation

Research Group "Marking Power: Embodied Dependencies, Haptic Regimes and Body Modification" of Research Area B and its Members


 Sinah Kloss  Dr. Sinah Kloß
 Researcher and Coordinator
 of the Research Group
 Marking Power: Embodied
 Dependencies, Haptic Regimes
 and Body Modification

 Research Area B             
 Lena Muders  Lena Muders
 Doctoral Researcher
 Tanya Tagliati-Souza  Taynã Tagliati Souza
 Doctoral Researcher

Research Group "The Archaeology of Dependency (ArchDepth): Resources, Power and Status Differentiation" of Research Area B and its Members


 Christian Mader  Dr. Christian Mader
 Researcher and Coordinator
 of the Research Group
 The Archaeology of Dependency
 (ArchDepth): Resources, Power
 and Status Differentiation

 Research Area B
 Claire Conrad  Claire Conrad
 Doctoral Researcher
 Tamia Viteri Toledo  Tamia Viteri Toledo
 Doctoral Researcher

Projects and Events


Collaborative Project: Exhibition "Slavery in Context: Materialities of Asymmetrical Dependencies"

In cooperation with the various collections and museums of the University of Bonn and of the region, a touring exhibition focusing on "Slavery in Context: Materialities of Asymmetrical Dependencies" will be developed. A scientific companion volume and a digital atlas with an interactive depiction of the archeological sites of the artefacts and bodies that constitute part of the exhibition and have been researched will guarantee long-term safeguarding of the research results. Moreover, a digital learning management system will be developed for use in (university) museums as well as in schools in order to familiarize museum workers, visitors, teachers and pupils with the social history of artefacts. This research area will thus contribute to the dissemination of research results achieved within the cluster into society. It will be embedded in and further the digitalization strategy of the University of Bonn, which is connected to the University's collections and museums to a considerable extent, and increase the international visibility of research done in the humanities.


Workshops and Seminars

Workshops and seminars of the Research Area B can be found on our events website.


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