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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - bologna.lab - Neue Lehre. Neues Lernen

Exploring Key Aspects of Berlin's Museological Landscape

Taught by Dr. Victoria Bishop-Kendzia 

Wednesday, 14:00 - 18:00 (iregullarly), Hausvogteiplatz 5-7, Room 0323-26

Dates: 15.10.15, 21.10.15, 28.10.15, 04.11.15, 11.11.15, 18.11.15, 16.12.15, 03.02.16

Language requirements: min. English B2



Course Description

This interdisciplinary course explores some key aspects visible in Berlin’s museological landscape. It will focus on issues of Self and Other constructions as attested in museums and exhibitions. The aim of the course is to use anthropological methods to explore the sites and critical analyses to reflect upon them. This thematic course touches on several disciplines. It is based in empirical social anthropology, especially in terms of theoretical framework and methodology. It does, however, involve a historical overview of the Jewish narrative in Germany from just before 1933 to the present and an overview of migration issues.
A reader will be available to purchase at Sprintout: S-Bahn-Bogen 190 Georgenstr./Universtitätsstr. Close to the Friedrichstr. U-S-Bahn. Open Mo-Fr 9-21, Sa 10-16. This reader contains all the required readings in

Course requirements

  • Active attendance and participation in class discussions and field trips.
  • Doing the readings and preparing two discussion/content questions on each reading in advance of the class as assigned.
  • Participation in group presentation about a field site/topic of your choice relevant to the course. Topic should be checked with the instructor in advance.
  • Two written assignments: 1: A conversation-walk text (3-4 pages) to be handed in and discussed in class as assigned. 2: A research report with bibliography (4-6 pages) to be handed during the final class in February.
  • Attendance Policy: You may not miss more than 2 sessions. If you do know you have to miss a class beforehand, let me know in advance and we can arrange a make-up task, if necessary. In the case of illness or other unforeseen situations, do e-mail me as soon as possible. I would also require some form of confirmation of the emergency. Do become familiar with public transport in Berlin and work out in advance how to get to the sites (addresses and public transport connections to them are given below.) Transportation difficulties are not an excuse for an absence. It is the students’ responsibility to get to the sites on time.
  • Plagiarism Policy: The presentation of another person’s words, thoughts, ideas, judgements, images or data as though they were your own, whether intentionally or unintentionally, constitutes an act of plagiarism. The penalty for this is failure of the course.


NB: This class is held in four hour blocks always on the same day of the week, with no classes in January 2016. Please note the actual dates! The first 6 classes are every week. Then there are longer breaks to allow for your own research projects and we meet up again for the student presenations in December and February.
  • Class 1- During the first week of the sememter (Oct. 14, 2015)
4-hour in-class session:
Intro to course, lecture on self-other constructions, lecture on the Jewish Narrative, intro to the field diary and “conversation walk” methods. The concept of the museum as a field site.
  • Class 2- During the second week of the semester (Oct. 21, 2015)
Field Trip to the Jewish Museum Berlin (JMB):
We meet there:
Jüdisches Museum Berlin
Lindenstraße 9-14, 10969 Berlin
U1, U6 Hallesches Tor
U6 Kochstraße
Bus M29, M41, 248
Task: Explore aspects of the museum using the ethnographic tool: the conversation walk. One half of you will prepare a conversation walk text.
Readings to prepare are:
  • Ostow, Robin. (2007). From Displaying ‘Jewish Art’ to (Re)Building German-Jewish History: The Jewish Museum Berlin. In Vijay Agnew (ed.). Interrogating Race and Racism. University of Toronto Press. 289-319.
  • Young, James, E. (2000). Chapter Six: Daniel Libeskind’s Jewish Museum in Berlin: The Uncanny Arts of Memorial Architecture. In James E. Young. At Memory’s Edge: After-Images of the Holocaust in Contemporary Art and Architecture. Yale University Press. New Haven. 152-182.
Focus on using the conversation walk method and prepare readings for next class as assigned.
Class 3- During the third week of the semester (Oct. 28, 2015)
4-hour in-class session:
Discussion of museum visit and readings
Relate visit experience to assigned readings. In addition to the two readings above done before your JMB visit (Ostow 2007, Young 2000), the following reading should be prepared in advance of this day:
  • Yurdakul, Gökçe and Bodemann, Y. Michal. (2006). “We Don’t Want to Be the Jews of Tomorrow” Jews and Turks in Germany after 9/11. German Politics and Society. 44-67.
Lecture on the migration narrative in Germany, intro to method: interview.
Class 4- During the fourth week (Nov. 4, 2015)
Field trip the German Historical Museum (DHM)
Use of field diary, conversation walk assigment for those who did not do theirs on the JMB, and a specific group assignment for this visit tba.
We meet there:
Deutsches Historisches Museum (DHM)
Unter den Linden 2, 10117 Berlin
S-Bahn-Hackescher Markt and Friedrichstraße
U6 Französische Straße, Friedrichstraße and U2 Hausvogteiplatz
Class 5- During the fifth week (Nov. 11, 2015)
Field Trip to a local district museum
here migration is particularly visible: Location tba. We will meet in class and go there together.
Use of field methods covered to date.
Class 6- During the sixth week (Nov. 18, 2015)
In-class session: Focus on comparing and contrasting the visits and the prevailing narratives. Presentation and comparison of all conversation walk texts. Recall half of you prepared yours on the JMB the other half on the DHM. Discussion of readings prepared in advance:
  • Matti Bunzl (2005) “Between Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia: Some Thoughts on the New Europe.” American Ethnologist 32.4. 499-508.
  • Shooman, Yasemin and Riem Speilhaus (2010). “The concept of the Muslim enemy in the public discourse” In Jocelyn Cesari (ed.) Muslims in the West after 9/11. Religion, politics, and law. Routledge: London and New York. 198-228.

Discussion of expectations and scheduling of student group research projects and presentations to take place in the final two classes in December and February. I will be available by e-mail to discuss the assignments even during the time when no classes are held.


Class 7- We meet again after a break on December 16, 2015 (the week before the Christmas break)
Student Presentations (and site visits, if time allows)
Class 8- We meet again after a break on February 3, 2016 (the penultimate week of the semester).
Handing in of research reports by all students. Please send me an e-mail version too. Summary dissussion of the aspects explored during the course.
Student Presentations (and site visits, if time allows)