© Wissenschaftskolleg


Alice von Bieberstein , Ph.D.

Social Anthropology

Universität Cambridge

Born in 1981 in Darmstadt
Studied Social Anthropology at the University of Cambridge




Golden Ages: an Ethnography of Matter, Violence and Value

My project engages with questions of matter, violence and value through an ethnographic case of urban regeneration in provincial Turkey that involved a state programme of dispossession through debt and ended in the residents' hunt for gold and treasures believed to have been buried by Armenians during the 1915 genocide. My analysis addresses 1) the economic and material dimensions of histories of political violence; 2) the contingent ways that displacement and dispossession call up (possible, deferred, foreclosed) futures and (fetishized, absolute, denied) pasts through mechanisms of economic valuation and accumulation (debt, speculation, commodification of the past); and 3) the double register of biopolitical governance and its temporally discordant shadow, i.e. the phantasmatic life of treasures weaving together dynamics of desire and violence. I locate this project within broader contemporary concerns, both societal and academic, with economic and biopolitical governance in an era of austerity and debt, while I wish to draw attention to the temporal depths these policies are immersed in. Yet my concern with the historicities underlying the present moment is not aimed at reasserting a temporal logic of genealogical constitution. Rather, I wish to investigate how the historicities of matter and value at work in my ethnographic material have destabilising temporal effects. My theoretical goal is hence to explore the new materialist literature for its potential to open our thinking about matter to the future, yet also to probe its limits by arguing that the historicities of matter matter.

Recommended Reading

Bieberstein, Alice von. "Treasure/Fetish/Gift: Hunting for 'Armenian Gold' in Post-Genocide Turkish Kurdistan." Subjectivity 10, 1 (2017), forthcoming. online: http://rdcu.be/qrNV
-. "Surviving Hrant Dink: Carnal Mourning Under the Specter of Senselessness." Social Analysis 61, 1 (2017): 55-68.
-. "Not a German Past to be Reckoned with: Negotiating Migrant Subjectivities Between Vergangenheitsbewältigung and the Nationalization of History." Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (JRAI) 22, 4 (2016): 902-919.


Nach Raqqa - Rojeva zwischen Angriffen und Ausbrüchen


Dienstagskolloquium - Arbeitsbericht06.03.2018

Dienstagskolloquium - Arbeitsbericht, Tuesday Colloquium - Work in Progress