NatureCultures and Maritime Anthropology


Ifek covers a broad spectrum of subjects in both teaching and research, including topics related to the environment, energy and resources; medical anthropology, science and technology studies (STS); as well as social and cultural research in the field of the anthropology of the oceans. We draw inspiration from the insights that non-human actors (animals, plants, microorganisms, or other entities) bring to research and draw in particular on the heterogenous field of STS, which analyses how culture, social processes and politics play an equal part in the production of knowledge and technology in everyday life, as well as in the making of knowledge and technology itself.   

The separation of the world into distinct natural and cultural spheres has been subject to severe criticism over the course of the past decades and calls into question the legacies of structuralism and Western modernity. Current social and ecological challenges such as global warming thus need to be grasped at the nature-culture interface. The discovery of plastic particles in the oceans, for example, accounts for the growing trend to frame problems in terms of the environmental impacts of consumer culture, while also yielding new knowledge on ocean current dynamics. Such entanglements of nature and culture are the focus of nature-culture research, which explores the impacts and politics of their mutual interpenetration as well as constitutive demarcations.

The Bremen Nature Culture Lab  offers scholars, students and (international) guests a forum for debate and experimental research ever since 2014.

Our departmental focus on maritime anthropology groups together an array of research interests devoted to a broad spectrum of human-ocean relations. Previous research ranged from questions of Bremen’s maritime culture in the 19th Century and the theorization of coastal societies; to transnational and local dimensions of offshore wind power; to interest in port infrastructures, plastic waste in the ocean or interdisciplinary approaches to marine research.