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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - IRI THESys

Modelling complex systems in the environmental sciences – Approaches from anthropological Science and Technology Studies between Co-laboration and Intervention

Anja is a research associate and doctoral student at IRI THESys and the Department of European Ethnology at Humboldt University Berlin. Her main research interests are anthropological Science and Technology Studies, environmental anthropology and anthropological perspectives on complex systems theory.


Photo: https://commons.wikimedia.org


This project aims at articulating practices of knowing human-environment-relations in anthropology and in the environmental sciences, particularly in the modeling of socio-ecological systems as complex systems. The central question is: How and what can anthropology and the modelling of complex systems learn from each other? This is grounded in a clear-cut concern for its application to knowledge production in interdisciplinary environmental sciences. Further questions are:

  • How do concepts and theories in anthropology, environmental sciences and complex systems theory work together and against each other?
  • How are theories of complex systems situated? How are they put into practice?
  • What kinds of data and knowledge are being produced by various methods of interrogating human-environment relations such as modelling or ethnography and possibly their combination? What kinds of inferences can be made and what specific problematizations are possible?

To situate complex systems theory comparative ethnographic fieldwork in two or more research institutions will be central, consisting of participant observation over the course of several months, semi-structured interviews and expert interviews. Furthermore, I will attend more broadly to the theory of complex systems, related models and its mathematical foundations in order to be able to discuss theoretical and empirical insights in collaborative settings, which will serve to test and empirically sharpen the notions of co-laboration (Niewöhner 2016) and intervention (Zuiderent-Jerak 2015, 2016) as new modes of interdisciplinary knowledge production.



Anja received her Master of Arts from the Institute of European Ethnology, HU Berlin, in May 2018 where she since works as a research associate and is part of the Laboratory: Anthropology of Environment | Human Relations. Before, she studied social and cultural anthropology at Freie Universität Berlin and Aix-Marseille Université. Since October 2018 Anja is also a guest researcher at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research where she will collaborate with the flagship project COPAN.


Photo: Michèle Kretschel


Anja Klein, Doctoral Researcher
THESys Graduate Program
Tel.: +49 (030) 2093-66326
E-Mail: anja.klein@hu-berlin.de