Institute of Historical and Cultural Anthropology

Protest movements

At the Ludwig Uhland Institute (LUI), there is a small-scale, fascinating tradition of research on protest movements within the field of the ethnography of political mass protest movements. The focus is on the cultural aspect of the protest movements. Researchers examine how public statements of discontent and the need for change have been communicated and developed by non-hegemonic groups in the past and at the present. The “how” of the political activities, their specific forms and shapes, their symbols, their communitarization practices and formats that are employed to occupy public space provide information regarding conformity with and dislocation from everyday culture, political culture, popular culture and the culture of political parties (Bernd Jürgen Warneken).
This school of research achieved success in the 1980s with ethnographically dense studies of women in the “pre-March” and Revolution of 1848, as well as on the history of the peaceful mass demonstrations by people in the workers’ movement. Subsequent research and study projects, for the most part concomitantly with the political times or engaging in historical reflection, examined the specific activity formats of the new social movements of the 1970s and 80s, and during the transitional period in the GDR (former East Germany). Currently, within the framework of the German Research Foundation’s Collaborative Research Center “Threatened Orders,” researchers are examining the emotional practices of outrage and humor as important modes of communication in protest movements.