Volkskunde (Cultural Anthropology)
In contrast to the popular and often populist notions of identity and culture as essential and fixed, our aim is to understand that culture as a whole is man-made, thus socially constructed and hereby open to change, process and the dynamics of life. Tzvetan Todorov captured the essence of culture much more appropriately by describing it as an "alluvial plain". Culture is man-made, and thus changeable, but always ambivalent between perseverance and dynamism, freedom and constraint, authority and innovation. Every human being is born into a culture that they cannot choose; but they can deal with it, shape it and change it. As a task of Cultural Anthropology, Clifford Geertz has identified a challenge that is enriching in every way and constantly relativises one’s self, namely "to make us acquainted with the answers other people (...) have found, and to record these answers in the archive of human forms of expression that is accessible to everyone".
Such an understanding of "Volkskunde" as a transdisciplinary discipline endows it with invigorating points of contact and productive proximity to other human sciences such as sociology, history, psychology, art history, philological studies, media sciences, and many others. The fields of our research also reflect this: differing modes and ways of life (homes, clothing, eating, etc.), human-nature relations, everyday life and festivities/rituals, the alien and the familiar, cultural identities in complex societies, genders, generations, kinship, society, faith and superstition, material culture, rural and urban cultures, historical anthropology, etc.
Thus, the scientific focus here is mostly on specific living environments, experiences and the everyday life of people. Therefore, "Volkskunde" / Cultural Anthropology is predominantly based on qualitative ethnographical methods that allow proximity to the field - participant observation (field research), interviews, historical craftsmanship, as well as hermeneutic methods of image and object analysis.