“What is the Human?”— Anthropological Perspectives

“What is the human?” This question has been foundational for the social sciences and humanities and for sociocultural anthropology (Ethnologie) in particular. On the one hand, these disciplines have been grounded in distinctions of the human from animals, plants, things, machines, and gods. In current debates about the “Anthropocene,” they discuss the special role and responsibility of humanity for our planet. On the other hand, the very same disciplines have frequently questioned the epistemics, politics, and singularity of “the human” and attempts to specify a human nature have met with strong criticism. In addition, the social sciences and humanities have been both complicit in and critical of further dividing “humanity” into races, sexes, ethnicities, etc.

As part of the 50-year jubilee of the discipline Ethnologie at the University of Zurich, this lecture series engages current approaches in sociocultural anthropology and neighbouring disciplines in a conversation on how to think “the human” today.

Herbstsemester 2021

Dienstags, 16.15-18.00 Uhr

Ort: Völkerkundemuseum, Pelikanstrasse 40, 8001 Zürich, Raum PEA-E-23

Organisation: Katyayani Dalmia und Stefan Binder, Kontakt:

Registration: or, +41 (0)44 634 90 11

21. September Semesterbegrüssung
28. September Prof. Dr. Johannes Quack, University of Zurich, and Prof. Dr. Moritz Ege, University of Zurich
«Was ist der Mensch?» – Anthropologische Perspektiven
5. Oktober
Dr. Daniela Cerqui Ducret, Université de Lausanne, and Dr. Anne Stefanie Aronsson, Yale University
Humans and Machines: Erasing Boundaries?
19. Oktober Prof. Dr. Eben Kirksey, Deakin University, and PD Dr. Tanja Krones, University of Zurich
Genetic Relations: Human Reproduction in Times of CRISPR
26. Oktober Prof. Dr. Naisargi N. Dave, University of Toronto, and Prof. Dr. Hans-Johann Glock, University of Zurich
Humans and Animals
9. November
Prof. Dr. Marie-Bénédicte Dembour, Ghent University, and Prof. Dr. Matthias Mahlmann, University of Zurich
Human Rights
16. November Prof. Dr. Peter Finke, Prof. Dr. Jörg Rössel, University of Zurich, and Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Bruno S. Frey, University of Basel
Vom «homo oeconomicus» zur «human economy»: Gedanken zum Verhältnis von Mensch, Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft
30. November Prof. Dr. Gregor Dobler, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, and Prof. Dr. Philipp Sarasin, University of Zurich
Der Mensch als Thema? Ethnologie auf dem Weg zur Anthropologie
7. Dezember Prof. Dr. Miriam Ticktin, City University of New York, and Dr. Kijan Malte Espahangizi, ETH Zurich and University of Zurich
Human (Im)mobilities: Borders, Racism and the Politics of Immigration
21. Dezember Prof. Dr. Mareile Flitsch, University of Zurich, and Prof. Dr. Gesine Krüger, University of Zurich
Mensch-Ding-Beziehungen. Über die Rückbindung von Objekten aus ethnologischen Museen in Geschichte und Praxisgemeinschaften