Institute of Sociology

About us

Richard Ballard is a Principal Researcher at the Gauteng City-Region Observatory. He is an academic working in the fields of Geography and Development Studies, with a particular interest in Urban Studies. He has published on the dynamics of race and urban desegregation, gated communities, social movements, participatory processes, local democracy, cross border migrants, urban developers, megaprojects in the human settlement sector, the middle class and development, cash transfers, governance and development and industrial restructuring.

Claire Bullen is a researcher at the Chair of Migration and Diversity at the Institute of Sociology, Tübingen, with a special focus on urban anthropology and sociology. She is currently exploring urban transformations around the Mediterranean and takes diverse streets as entrypoints through which to examine the production of socio-spatial difference and diverse forms of urbanity. Collaborating with scholars south and north of the Mediterranean Sea, the ‘Mediterranean’ is an idea and a place from where to decentre binary categorisations such as north/south, migrant/non-migrant, coloniser/colonised...Previous research includes investigations of the production of ‘Euro-Mediterranean‘ urban heritage in Oran (Algeria), and comparisons of changing social and cultural relations in Liverpool (UK) and Marseille (France) around the time of their European Capitals of Culture programmes. She is also an associate researcher at the Institute for European, Mediterranean and Comparative Ethnography at the University Aix-Marseille.

Manuel Dieterich is a researcher at the Institute for Sociology, Tübingen. I am particularly interested in the nexus that emerges from the interplay of different social processes around diversity, social inequality, and urban coexistence. In order to research this nexus, I find it useful to draw my analytical attention on situations of threat, conflict or polarization, but also on moments of solidarity and social cooperation. Such situations are particularly instructive for reconstructing the underlying moralizations and implicit social imaginaries that express themselves in criticism, justifications and emotionalizations. I am currently working on my dissertation project at the University of Tübingen, in which I am ethnographically studying the dynamics – changes and stabilities – of a neighborhood configuration in Johannesburg. The two adjacent neighborhoods in the west of the city are unequal and diverse. Different threats figure the relations of the residential population in and across the two neighborhoods. It turns out that the relations are far more complex than the obvious description as segregated residential neighborhoods would suggest. Beyond the description of individual cases, I find it particularly fascinating to understand which social mechanisms are also relevant in other – far away – urban settings, for which case comparisons are key.

Dr. Bani Gill is a Junior Professor at the Institute for Sociology, University of Tübingen. She is a qualitative sociologist grounded in ethnographic sensibilities and a regional focus on South Asia and contemporary Africa- India encounters. As chairholder for ‘Urban Futures in the Global South’, her research interests include urbanism, migration, race and racialization, gender, and the sociology of law, bureaucracy, and the state. Her scholarship has examined contemporary patterns of transnational mobility from the African continent, particularly West Africa, to Delhi, India, as an entry point to engage with questions of social difference and identity in relation to urban futures. Her upcoming project examines migrant deportation, infrastructures, and policing by attending to the complex relationship between urban space, identity and identification for different subject populations located in Delhi. Dr. Gill received her PhD from the University of Copenhagen. She is also a Research Affiliate at the Centre on Migration, Policy, and Society, University of Oxford.

Yewon Andrea Lee is a Junior Professor at the Department of Korean Studies at University of Tübingen. As a political and labor sociologist and urban ethnographer, Yewon is broadly interested in how speculative real estate interests increasingly dictate the shape and character of urban landscapes and urban lives. Currently, Yewon is preparing a monograph that examines a fascinating case in which tenant shopkeepers in South Korea are challenging the formidable power of property-ownership-based citizenship. The activism of tenant shopkeepers in Korea against eviction from their shops is debunking the idea that these so-called micro-entrepreneurs or petit bourgeoisie are either shielded from capitalist exploitation or destined to be unrevolutionary and individualistic. Yewon’s ethnographic work on tenant shopkeepers’ activism both reveals the urban inequalities that are driven by rentier capitalism and analyzes the on-the-ground efforts to counter them.

Polina Manolova is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Collaborative Research Center 923 “Threatened Order – Societies under Stress” at the University of Tübingen. She is a sociologist and ethnographer interested in urban migration, border regimes, labour exploitation and multiple precarities. Currently, Polina is working on a project that explores the technologies of urban governance of racialized migrant populations in segregated urban districts in Germany. To understand how heterogenous and entangled forms of internal bordering come to terms with politics of space and scale, she deploys the notion of urban ‘non-spaces’ as an analytical optic for uncovering the intersection between labour geographies, regimes of mobility control and capitalist supply chains and their spatialised productivities. She is also interested in the autonomous spatiality of ‘non-places’ and the politics of resistance that oppose and transform established configurations of power. This account develops at the backdrop of her direct activist participation in social struggles in Duisburg-Marxloh and ongoing preoccupations with the tensions and productivities between the academic, ethnographic, and activist fields. From July 2023, Polina commences work on the project: “Discrimination beyond categories: experiences of Eastern European migrants in urban social spaces (DjeKa) in the Institute for Work, Skills and Training, University of Duisburg and will examine mechanisms of multiple discrimination and their material effects in segregated urban social spaces in Germany.

Damián Omar Martínez is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Department of Sociology, University of Murcia (Spain), and at the Viodemos Center for Research on Violence and Democracy (Chile). Trained in Philosophy and Social Theory, he works at the ethnographic intersection between anthropology and qualitative sociology. He has conducted ethnographic research in Murcia and Santiago de Chile, on topics such as urban diversity, ethics, politics and morality, temporality, and more recently, environmental future-making.

Carlos Nazario Mora Duro holds a PhD in Social Sciences from El Colegio de México (El Colmex). Between 2018 and 2021, he was a research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, conducting a project on the migration experience of Mexicans in the city of Berlin. Afterwards, he was a research associate at The Centre for Advanced Studies in the Humanities and Social Sciences: “Multiple Secularities - Beyond the West, Beyond Modernities” at the University of Leipzig. Currently, a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute of Sociology at the University of Tübingen, within the Global Encounters Platform. His recent study analyses the incorporation of migrants in the post-pandemic period, focusing on recent Mexican migration to Germany. Member of the National System of Researchers in Mexico, level 1. He is also part of the International Graduate Program “Between Spaces” of the University of Berlin, of the International Research Network for the Study of Science & Belief in Society, and of the International Society for the Sociology of Religion.

Boris Nieswand is a sociologist interested in social theory, the sociology of knowledge, reflexive migration and diversity studies, urban studies and the sociology of morality. His research perspectives can be characterized as reflexive and ethnographic.