Technologie, Ressourcen & Neue Globale Dynamiken

Die ReCentGlobe-Jahreskonferenz 2024 hat zum Ziel, die Wechselbeziehungen zwischen technologischer Entwicklung und Globalisierung, insbesondere im Zusammenhang mit Ressourcenströmen, zu untersuchen.

Die Konferenz bietet eine Plattform für wissenschaftliche Diskussionen darüber, wie technologischer Fortschritt und globale Vernetzung historisch die Verteilung und Konzeptualisierung von Ressourcen beeinflusst haben, wobei auch die zeitgenössischen Herausforderungen berücksichtigt werden, die diese Beziehung verkomplizieren.

Wir möchten die doppelte Rolle von Technologie als Förderer der Globalisierung und als komplexer Akteur in ökologischen und sozioökonomischen Kontexten diskutieren. Darüber hinaus werden wir uns mit der historischen Perspektive auf Technologie als Mittel zur Nachahmung und Verbesserung der Natur zum Nutzen des Menschen befassen, sowie mit ihrer Umwandlung in eine Kraft mit erheblichen ökologischen und gesellschaftlichen Auswirkungen.

Im Rahmen der Konferenz wird der Anthropologe Richard Rottenburg am Donnerstagabend eine Keynote-Vorlesung zum Thema "Technisierung, Kolonisierung und Dekolonialität" halten. Außerdem werden wir am Donnerstag zwischen 13:30 und 14:30 Uhr zu unserer Mitgliederversammlung zusammenkommen (Nur für ReCentGlobe-Mitglieder. Eine separate Einladung wird Ihnen per E-Mail zugesandt. Wir bitten Sie jedoch, sich mit dem untenstehenden Formular anzumelden.).

Um sich für die Konferenz anzumelden, benutzen Sie bitte das Anmeldeformular unten.

Technology, Resources, and New Global Dynamics

Technological change has long occupied a prominent place in theories and histories of globalisation and global flows of resources. Whether as means of transport and communication that shrink time and open up spaces of contact, or as artefacts and media that create a common experience across cultures, technologies can be seen as enablers of globalisation and resource flows. At the same time, technological change is not an external process: The development and diffusion of technology follows economic, political, and scientific imperatives; its failure and success depend on the wider natural, social and historical context. It can be appropriated to ward off global influences or to advance projects of globalisation. The common project of entrepreneurs and revolutionaries to 'electrify the earth' (Carl Schmitt) – to make human life everywhere dependent on industry and technology – has created a vast, interconnected but highly uneven technological sphere.

The 2024 RecentGlobe Annual Conference seeks to rethink the relationship between technology and globalisation and their role in the shaping of resource flows at a time when both concepts seem to be losing their meaning. Technology used to mean the masterful imitation of nature, then its improvement, for human purposes. Even when the machines grew into systems, became big business, or spoiled the local environment – think railways or communication networks – it could still be seen as a 'productive force', a potential facilitator of human life. In the 20th century, industrialised wars and environmental crises challenged this life-affirming character of technology as it existed; global warming has finally confirmed it as a destructive force of planetary proportions. The technosphere is now so deeply intertwined with environmental and planetary processes that it even affects people whose lives have never been electrified.
Globalisation, in turn, used to mean a primarily economic phenomenon of market expansion, the emergence of global production chains, a global division of labour – with its attendant international institutions. While scholars have long argued that an understanding of global interconnectedness cannot be limited to the economic perspective, it now seems that the phenomenon itself is forcing a rethinking of the concept: With renewed geopolitical competition, the politics of green industrialisation, and the experience of failing supply chains during the Covid-19 pandemic, there is now talk of an end to globalisation and a reversal of global independence. While these claims should be taken with a pinch of salt, we may have entered an era of new global dynamics in which multiple globalisation projects take the form of cutting global links. This, in turn, has implications for the ways resources are imagined, distributed and contested.


  • How has the relation between technology and globalization changed under these conditions? How do technologies enable the refraction or reordering of the world (think payment infrastructures, censuring technologies, etc.)? How does this differ from uneven technological developments in the past?
  • How do new global dynamics affect technological change? Does this splintered globalization become inscribed in the technologies itself (the standards, protocols, etc.)?
  • How do these new global dynamics affect the flows of resources, their distribution and the ways resources mediate power relations and global hierarchies?


Donnerstag, 18.04.2024

08:30 – 09:00 Registrierung & Kaffee

09:00 – 09:30 Eröffnung

09:30 – 11:00

– Kaffeepause –

11:15 – 12:45

12:45 – 14:45

  • Mittagspause

13:30 – 14:30

  • Mitgliederversammlung (Intern)


14:45 – 16:15

– Kaffeepause – 

16:30 – 18:00

  • Panel 4 | Discussion on the joint Halle-Leipzig Transregio Initiative: Transformative Practices
  • Abstract & Participants

– Pause –

18:30 – 19:30

  • Keynote Lecture | Richard Rottenburg: Technicization, Colonization, and Decoloniality
  • Abstract | Moderation: Marian Burchardt

19:30 – 22:00

  • Abendempfang

Freitag, 19.04.2024

09:00 – 11:00

– Kaffeepause –

11:30 – 13:30


13:30 – 14:30

  • Mittagspause

Ground as Resource: State, Territory and Environment in East Africa

If the exploitation of something deemed to be a resource was fundamental to the logic of European colonial and imperial expansion, then the question of creating, owning, and benefiting from resources was also one that occupied the states and citizens that emerged from struggles for political independence in the mid-twentieth century. Projects of territorial sovereignty and of resource sovereignty overlapped (and continue to), both in symbolic terms in nation-making projects, and in practical economic terms for states. How is the ground – segments of the earth’s surface bounded by political borders – conceived as a resource? Which technologies, which human and non-human actors, are involved in making it so? Thinking through cases from the East African region, this panel draws on work on differentiated Anthropocenes (Yusoff 2018, D’Souza 2022) and histories of extraction (Peša 2023). Beyond recognising the importance of land for claims to autochthony, the papers consider projects of scientific knowledge production, infrastructure, and agriculture, in their global contexts.


  • Ismay Milford (FU Berlin): An Inventory of Resources: From Aerial Surveys to Remote Sensing Satellites in East Africa
  • Hassan Kochore (Independent researcher, Halle): (Re-)Claiming the Frontier: Mega Infrastructure Projects and Ground Realities in the Kenya-Ethiopia Borderlands
  • Emily Brownell (University of Edinburgh – online): (Para)sites of Development: Soil, Labour, and Foreign Exchange in Postcolonial East Africa


(Para)sites of development: Soil, Labour, and Foreign Exchange in Postcolonial East Africa

This talk will draw on examples from my current project on histories of soil in East Africa as well as earlier work on the effects of the 1973 oil crisis. East African states often shaped their development plans, particularly after 1973 around the need for foreign exchange. What sorts of continuities or transformations did this require in the relationship between bodies and soil as countries became further indebted? Did they offer a potential for liberation from parasitic relations or further entrenchment in such arrangements? And for whom?

Emily Brownell is Senior Lecturer in Environmental History at the University of Edinburgh. Her first book is Gone to Ground: A History of Environment and Infrastructure in Dar es Salaam (University of Pittsburgh, 2020). She is currently working on an AHRC-funded project, Stories from the Substrate, examining different histories of soil as a container for life in East Africa.

(Re-) Claiming the Frontier: Mega Infrastructure Projects and Ground Realities in the Kenya-Ethiopia Borderlands

The pastoralists-dominated lands in northern Kenya and southern Ethiopia, until recently considered marginalised, peripheral spaces have, in the recent past, become part of the central states’ political and economic agenda. The Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopian Transport (LAPSSET) corridor project has opened up this ‘frontier’ region to more traffic within the respective countries as well as across the state borders. The borders themselves have witnessed significant infrastructure investment, the One Stop Border Post (OSBP) at the border town of Moyale being the most prominent installation. Revisiting the framing of ‘Borders and Borderlands as Resources in the horn of Africa’ (Feyissa and Hoehne 2010), this paper highlights the integration of the OSBP at Moyale into various historical and contemporary discourses around mobility, governance and territoriality. In particular, it highlights, first, the intersection between the state’s visions of mega infrastructure development as an instrument of governance and commodification of the landscape and secondly, their effects on the people on the ground- the local understandings, claims and contestations. The paper shows that while antagonisms exists at various scales, the articulation of the border and the OSBP as economic and rhetorical resources are often reciprocal and complimentary as much as they are competitive and antagonistic.

Hassan Kochore is an independent researcher interested in the Ethnography and Politics of mega infrastructure projects, with a regional focus on East and the Horn of Africa. He obtained his PhD from Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology and Martin-Luther-University, Halle-Wittenberg.

An inventory of resources: From aerial surveys to remote sensing satellites in East Africa

This paper examines the various applications (often competing or contradictory) of technologies that sought to produce an ‘inventory’ of national resources from the sky. Thinking through the case of East Africa, I draw a line of continuity between aerial surveys carried out using small aircrafts during the 1950s and remote sensing satellite imagery produced the 1970s-80s. While aerial surveys were conducted mainly by oil and mineral prospecting companies using post-war military equipment, they had applications from locust control to agricultural planning. By the 1980s, remote sensing had become a key technological point of reference in discourses of ‘sustainable development’, yet military and extractivist interests lay just below the surface. As well as pointing to entanglements between extraction and conservation, this paper asks how we can understand technologies whose applications were diverse and place-specific, given their importance was justified with reference to ‘unmapped’ and ‘unknown’ spaces. Users of imagery of the earth’s surface sometimes had to be convinced of its value, yet at other times the interests and agendas of potential users came into conflict. What purpose would an inventory of resources serve?

Ismay Milford is a Marie Curie postdoctoral fellow at Freie Universität Berlin. She is the author of African Activists in a Decolonizing World: The Making of an Anticolonial Culture (2023) and is currently developing a project about remote sensing technologies and environmental knowledge in East Africa.


Theorizing Technology and Digitization: Ethongraphic Approaches (Part I)

In the Global South, digitalization has emerged as the grand promise to address post-colonial legacies of poor infrastructures. The dream is to transform and create digital connected societies. With digital technologies and innovations such as medical drones and the Internet of Things (IOTs), among others, the promise of value creation, new revenue streams and changes in business modalities and access to public goods take shape.  Nation-states such as India have embraced these digital technologies and innovations to spur economic growth in a bid to transform themselves into competitive, innovative and knowledge-based societies. The transformative potentials of digital technologies and innovations have thus ushered in national digitization agendas  promising to revolutionize economies and accelerate sustainable development. Using ethnographic insights and multi-disciplinary approaches from sociology, anthropology and political science, our panel invites papers exploring digital technologies and innovations reconfiguring and redefining access to public goods. We seek to shade light to the digital dreams and entanglements that are a mainstay of ongoing transformative  digitalization projects largely in the global south.

Convenors: Prof. Dr. Marian Burchardt & Dr. Edwin Ambani Ameso

Discussants: Dr. Phillip Willians Leite (Leipzig University) & Dr. Kebene Kejela Wodajo (ETH Zürich)


  • Kim Chung (Leipzig University): Blood Collection and Storage in Northern Ghana: Observations at the Tamale Teaching Hospital
  • Evans Awuni (Erfurt University): Digitalization and the Future of Work and Policy in Sub-Sahara Africa: The Macro Picture
  • Edwin Ambani Ameso (Leipzig University): Digital Entanglements: Medical drones in African Healthcare Systems


Blood collection and storage in northern Ghana: Observations at the Tamale Teaching Hospital

Reliable blood supply and achieving one hundred percent unpaid voluntary blood donations, as it is recommended by the World Health Organization, remains a challenge in sub-Saharan Africa. In Ghana, only around a third of all donations in the country are made on a voluntary basis, with the rest consisting of family replacement. Research to date has focused primarily on the transportation of blood in Ghana by the drone company Zipline, with data mostly based on quantitative methods. However, the situation regarding the challenges of collecting, analyzing and storing blood units, which in turn marks the beginning of the blood supply chain, has not yet been investigated. Using ethnographic methods and expert interviews, and with a focus on temporalities, my research findings are intended to provide a preliminary insight into the situation in Ghana’s blood supply in 2022, 2023 and 2024. My study explores the Tamale Teaching Hospital (TTH), which is the largest referral hospital in northern Ghana and beyond. As the TTH currently manages the Northern Zonal Blood Center (NZBC), it is one of Zipline’s main blood product suppliers. My findings suggest that the current blood supply system in Ghana is proving extremely fragile in the face of the current economic crises. The strategies pursued at the NZBC towards achieving a sustainable system of voluntary blood donations could further reinforce existing dependencies, which in turn has a direct impact on the delivery of blood products by drone in the form of delivery delays and stockouts.

Kim Chung is a Ph.D. student and research associate at Leipzig University and a former research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science. He studied Political Science, History (B.A., Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg) and Global Studies (M.A., Leipzig University/Roskilde University), focusing on temporality, health technologies and blood-related medical interventions in China and Ghana. In his dissertation project (currently titled “Medical Express on Demand: The Temporalities of Drone Deliveries in Ghana”), he is investigating the collection, processing and storage of blood products in northern Ghana and the associated supply chains. His ethnographic study aims to contextualize the delivery of blood products in northern Ghana by drone by examining the underlying temporalities of supply chains related to blood products.

Digitalization and the Future of Work and Policy in Sub-Sahara Africa: The Macro Picture

Digitalization is reshaping the socio-economic landscape of Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), charting new pathways for development and challenging traditional paradigms of work and social policy. A critical problem that emerges is how to harmonize the rapid technological advancements with the pressing need for employment creation and robust social policy frameworks capable of transforming SSA’s demographic dividend into tangible digital dividends while addressing both preexisting socio-economic challenges and the fresh complexities introduced by technological change. This paper provides a macro-overview of digitalization and the future of work and social policy in SSA, structured around two primary objectives: (1) examining the structural changes induced by digitalization and (2) assessing public priorities for social program investments. For the first part, I apply a dynamic panel data approach to macro-level data compiled from 36 countries in SSA to assess the structural economic shifts. For the second part, I apply multi-level modelling to data from the eighth round of the Afrobarometer survey—incorporating 45,684 respondents across 32 SSA countries. The results reveal a significant labor shift from agriculture to services-oriented employment and a pronounced public inclination towards policies that emphasize job creation and vocational training as opposed to other interventions. These findings reflect not only the evolving nature of work and demands of a digitally oriented economy but also a pressing need for closing employment gaps for SSA’s teaming youth.

Evans is a Research fellow at the German Institute for Global and Area Studies (GIGA), Institute of African Affairs (IAA), and a Doctoral Researcher at the University of Erfurt. His current research focuses on digitalization, automation, new forms of technologies and the future of work and policy in Sub-Saharan Africa. At the University of Erfurt, he is also affiliated with the research project “Politics and the Future of Work in Middle-Income Countries” (PolDigWork).

Digital entanglements: Medical drones in African healthcare systems

As African states seek to advance Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and actualize the health Sustainable development Goals (SDGs) for its citizenry, leveraging on digitalisation is critical to their national discourses on humanitarian and development contexts. With digitalisation, the proliferation of emerging technologies and innovations such as drones promise to catapult African health systems into the digital age revolutionizing health work. Through digital coups, African states envisage improved revenue collection, curbing corruption, redressing security concerns and delivering life-saving medical care. With digitalisation, futures and imaginaries of health access for disenfranchised citizens in remote and underserved places is espoused. Drones as transformative health technologies present an opportunity for African health systems to leapfrog decades-long structural bottlenecks e.g., postcolonial legacies of poor infrastructures, underfunding, rugged landscapes, and shortages of  healthcare workers. The fast-paced entanglement with drones by African states echoes the transformative potential embedded in the lofty promises of improved service delivery. Drones offer insights into digital entanglements to reconfigure healthcare for disenfranchised citizens to access essential medical products, vaccines and timely access to laboratory diagnostic technologies for patients’ care. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork from 2022-2023 in Ghana and Malawi on the use of drones, I explore how drones are absorbed and contextualised in African health systems reconfigure available health workforce. In this paper, I also aim to examine how drones potentially transform health workforce in practice and what these transformations mean in contexts of prolonged health worker shortages.

Edwin Ambani Ameso is a postdoctoral Researcher at the Research center Global Dynamics, Universität Leipzig, Germany. He is part of the “off-the-grid”: Infrastructures, processes of spatialization, and drones in Africa project. Currently, he has published a blogpost with London school of Economics on: "drones are not a panacea for africa's healthcare problems, but offer great opportunities.

Theorizing Technology and Digitization: Ethnographic Approaches (Part II)

Convenors: Prof. Dr. Marian Burchardt & Dr. Edwin Ambani Ameso

Discussants: Dr. Phillip Willians Leite (Leipzig University) & Dr. Kebene Kejela Wodajo (ETH Zürich)


  • Viddy Ranawijaya / Prof. Dr. Achim Kemmerling (Erfurt University): Navigating Digitalization on Work: Content Analysis on Indonesian Online Media
  • Sreya Dutta Chowdhury (Leipzig University): People as Data Infrastructures: Digitizing Villupuram's Health Centers
  • Dr. Gift Mwonzora / Prof. Dr. Achim Kemmerling (Erfurt University): Transcending the 'Jobs Gained and Jobs Lost' Duality: Mapping Digitalization and the Future of Work in Middle Income Countries


Navigating Digitalization on Work: Content Analysis on Indonesian Online Media

The socio-political consequences of the future of work gains in importance in many parts of the world. However, outside the OECD world research on the topic is still relatively scant. Indonesia emerges as a particularly intriguing case of our research: The country has undergone an apparent transition in recent years, pivoting from a labor-intensive, manufacturing-oriented economy towards a service-oriented paradigm, with an emphasis on digital entrepreneurship and informal economy. Our research is motivated by our interest in the interplay between digital technology, its impact on labor markets and how these changes are perceived in online media. Online media shapes public opinion and exerts influence, to some extent, on policymakers. Media outlets construct narratives, highlighting specific facets of the issue while diminishing others. Empirically, we analyze content from leading news sources such as,, or for the last 10 years. We use a mixed methods approach. First, we quantify keywords and search strings, then we code the information manually. We extract the general emotive tone of these articles, but also the main topics and narratives about new technologies in the field of work. And we differentiate this information between news sources. Our preliminary research shows a salient focus within online media discourse on artificial intelligence (AI) in recent years, closely trailed nowadays by discussions pertaining to e/social-commerce. In most instances, the media discusses more the beneficial impact of technology on work (e.g., in the form of heightened productivity), with potential dangers such as job loss or inequality feature less prominently. We also do find marked differences between news sources of various political inclinations. Our research on the future of work in Indonesia contributes to understanding the multifaceted aspects of the digital transformation. Our findings help understanding how the digital transformation is socially prepared, technically enabled, discursively negotiated, and socially managed.

Viddy Ranawijaya is a doctoral researcher specializing in public policy at the prestigious Willy Brandt School of Public Policy, situated at the University of Erfurt. Hailing from Indonesia, he delves into the intricates realm of digitalization and the future of work within his homeland for his PhD. His expertise aligns with his role as a research assistant for the Politics and the Future of Work in Middle-Income Countries (PolDigWork) project at the university, contributing valuable insights to the intersection of politics and evolving work landscapes.

Achim Kemmerling is the Gerhard Haniel Chair of Public Policy and International Development and currently the vice-director of Willy Brandt School of Public Policy, University of Erfurt. Before coming to the Willy Brandt School, Achim Kemmerling worked as a Professor of Political Economy at the Department of Public Policy, Central European University Budapest teaching courses on methodology, public policy and development. He holds a PhD in Political Science from Freie Universität Berlin, and an M.A. in International Political Economy from Warwick University. He has published in academic journals of various disciplines (e.g. World Development, Journal of Common Market Studies, Socio-Economic Review) on a wide range of issues from taxation and fiscal policies, to social and labor market policies, and official development aid. He has worked as a consultant to the German parliament, the German Society for Technical Cooperation (former GTZ, now GIZ), the Open Society Foundation and the European Investment Bank. Currently, he works on the consequences of digitalization in middle-income countries and is writing on a book about human progress and the role of public policy.

People as data infrastructures: Digitizing Villupuram's health centers

This paper is about digitality as a condition that becomes folded in procedural bureaucracy and health workers who navigate the frequent slips between the paper and the digital as they assemble people, objects and programs together.

In July 2022 I am sitting in Villupuram’s ‘Block War Room’ where the health staff are showcasing a PowerPoint presentation on a digital health project called the Tamil Nadu Population Health Registry. It is a dashboard, a mobile app, a web portal, depending on who is looking at it, but most importantly it is a ‘single source of truth’ that records and profiles health data of residents in Tamil Nadu, India. ‘Digital India’ as an emerging political form is an instantiation of lively capacities into the ‘idle’ archives of data by linking, networking, interoperating for ‘comprehensive governance’ (Cohen 2016) This has not come about, yet, but the idea of surfacing all existing data onto a plane of legibility and forging an interactive collective that emits the right kinds of prompts and predictions changes things. It shifts an understanding of population data from a repository of identities and categories to the expansive circuits of databases that can materialize new relations between people, technologies and government programs. This paper is about digitality as a condition that becomes folded in procedural bureaucracy and health workers who navigate the frequent slips between paper and digital as they assemble people, objects and programs together. I argue that as old and new regimes of state work get entangled, digitisation, digital truths, databases refashion local and national hopes for health security with technology, for modern health centers, and this changes how care is distributed and sought in these spaces.

Sreya Dutta currently is a PhD candidate at the SFB 1199 Project A05 on 'Digital Respatialisation of the Indian Nation-state' and also associated PhD candidate at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle. Her research project uses an anthropological lens to look into everyday aspects of digitizing and datafying bureaucracies in India. She is currently in hear third year, having finished 15 months of fieldwork in India. She has previously published on databasing aspects of the Covid-19 Pandemic.

Transcending the ‘Jobs Gained and Jobs Lost’ duality: Mapping Digitalization and the Future of Work in Middle Income Countries

In recent years, there has been a significant rise of policy and academic literature on digitalization and AI. While such a corpus of literature is evident in the Global North, some strands of literature are also emerging in the Global South. This is in response to the embrace, adoption and use of new digital technologies (such as robots and AI) within these contexts. Granted the literature is still in its embryonic stages, it is illuminating insofar as it parses out the role, contribution and impact of digitalization on job market dynamics, security, labour and social protection, income generation, economic growth, job prospects and the entrenchment of gender, social, education, skills and digital divides. We contend that there is still a lacuna in the existing literature as the lion’s share of attention is largely focused on industrialised countries. In response to this obtaining void in the literature, we focus our analytic gaze on MICs, an area that has not yet elicited sustained policy and academic interest. Our analysis derives from a systematic review of policy literature from reputable international organisations, think tanks and (multi-lateral) institutions focusing on digitalization and the future of work (FoW). We make a plea for a sustained enquiry transcending beyond the all-too-easy narratives confined to the dualism of job gains and job loss to uncovering the variegated impact and effect of digitalization in (re)shaping employment and labour market dynamics. The study contributes to a deeper and fine-grained understanding of the literature terrain on digitalization and its impact on the world of work in contexts hitherto underexplored. Such articulations provide a solid basis for policy and academic articulations about/on digitalization and its impact on the future of work in MICs.

Dr. Gift Mwonzora is a Post-doc Research Fellow at the Willy Brandt School of Public Policy at the University of Erfurt,Germany working under the PolDigWork Project on Digitalization and the Future of Work in MICs covering South Africa, Mexico and Indonesia. His area of research interests include labour and social transformation, unionization and precarity, informality and political and public reception to new digital technologies in emerging economies.

Panel Discussion on the joint Halle-Leipzig Transregio Initiative: Transformative Practices

The panel will provide an insight into the joint Halle-Leipzig Transregio application initiative on "Transformative Practice, Crises, and the Politics of Matter".

Transformative practices refer to activities aimed at radical socio-ecological change, especially in those historical or contemporary phases in which established routines of production and consumption that are highly endangering the basis of life for all living beings. Transformative practices aim to change technologies and materials, the way resources are used, as well as the division of labor and the treatment of living beings - both human and non-human. The Transregio initiative is dedicated to transformative practices as a key element for understanding social change, especially with regard to historical and contemporary experiences of crisis and the role that raw materials and resources play in this. For a comprehensive view of the topic, scholars from numerous disciplines are involved in the initiative, with expertise covering different historical periods and regions of the world. The panel will discuss the central approaches of the Transregio Initiative in dialog with the respective disciplinary approaches involved in the development of the research program.

Convenor: Jonathan Everts (Halle University)

Input by:

Nina Mackert (LeipzigLab Global Health)

Nina Mackert is a historian and working as a research fellow in the interdisciplinary project "Leipzig Lab - Global Health". Her research is located in the fields of North American and transatlantic cultural history and history of knowledge, in the history of bodies, eating, and health, in critical ability studies, and the new history of capitalism. She is currently finishing her second book, a US and transatlantic history of the calorie. Her work has been supported by the VolkswagenStiftung, the German Historical Institute in Washington, D.C., the Organization of American Historians, the Fritz Thyssen Foundation as well as the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation. She is a member of the editorial board of the journal "Body Politics" and co-founder as well as -editor of the academic blog "Food, Fatness, Fitness—Critical Perspectives."

Dirk Hanschel (Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg)

Dirk Hanschel holds the Chair of German, European and International Public Law at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg as well as Global Law Professor (visiting professorship) at the University of Connecticut Law School and Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology. His work focuses on human rights protection, environmental and energy law, the law of international organizations and comparative constitutional law.

Caroline Meier zu Biesen (LeipzigLab Global Health)

Caroline Meier zu Biesen is a social and cultural anthropologist and sociologist specializing in Medical Anthropology and Global Health. She is a research associate at the interdisciplinary LeipzigLab "Global Health" research project at Leipzig University. Until 2019, she worked as a visiting lecturer at the Free University of Berlin, and between 2015 and 2017, she served as a postdoctoral researcher in the ERC-Project "Globhealth" at Cermes3 in Paris. Currently, she is working on her habilitation project on "Non-communicable diseases" (NCDs) and environmental health risks in the context of Global Health. Her research has been supported by the European Research Framework Program ERC, the German Research Foundation (DFG), the Research Commission of the Free University, the Academic Exchange Service, and the Friedrich-Ebert Foundation.

Christoph Zielhofer (Leipzig University)

Christoph Zielhofer is professor of Physical Geography at the Institute of Geography, University of Leipzig. His main foci in teaching and research are the analysis of geohazards and environmental crises, fluvial geomorphology, soil geography, hydrogeography and (palaeo)limnology. He coordinates the DFG Priority Programme SPP 2361 "On the Way to the Fluvial Anthroposphere". In his studies he analyses long and short-term environmental changes due to climatic and anthropogenic forcing. He also looks at processes in the past (especially the Holocene) and analyses environmental dynamics and tipping points under the current influence of Global Change.

Martin Bauch (GWZO, Leipzig)

Martin Bauch has been a junior research group leader at the GWZO since 2017. He has studied history, political science and public law in Potsdam, Florence and Berlin and obtained his doctorate from the Technical University of Darmstadt (TU Darmstadt) in 2012. He has held research positions at the TU Darmstadt and the German Historical Institute in Rome. His main research interests are the late medieval history of East Central Europe and the Mediterranean with a focus on Bohemia and Italy, pre-modern environmental and climate history, medieval epidemics, pre-modern infrastructures as well as the history of piety, relics and pilgrimages.

Christoph Brumann (MPI for Social Anthropology, honorary Professor at Univesity Halle-Wittenberg)

Christoph Brumann’s research has focused on urban anthropology, the political economy of cultural heritage, international organisations, economic aspects of contemporary Buddhism, the culture concept and its public life, utopian communes and their survival conditions, and Japanese society and culture. After studying Social Anthropology, Japanese Studies, and Chinese Studies at the University of Cologne and Sophia University, Tokyo, he obtained his doctorate (1997) and habilitation degrees (2005) from the University of Cologne. Since then, he has published monographs on the townscape conflicts of Kyoto and on the UNESCO World Heritage arena and a number of edited volumes. After visiting professorships at the universities of Düsseldorf, Cologne and Tübingen, he joined the MPI as a Heisenberg Fellow, fully coming on board as a Head of Research Group in 2010. He also is an Honorary Professor of Anthropology at the University of Halle-Wittenberg and a member of the Academia Europaea.

Christian Tietje (Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg)

Prof. Dr. Christian Tietje is Professor of Public Law, European Law and International Business Law as well as Director of the Institute for Business Law and Head of the Research Center for Transnational Business Law at the Faculty of Law and Economics of the Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg. He holds the Jean Monnet Chair for Value-Based EU Neighborhood and Trade Policy. The Jean Monnet Chair is dedicated to teaching about the European Neighborhood Policy and the EU's value-based foreign trade as well as transnational research on the EU's legal, economic and political relations with a focus on the Caucasus region, Central Asia and Ethiopia.

Melanie Schmidt (Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg)

Melanie Schmidt is a research assistant at the Department of Systematic Educational Science at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg. She completed her doctorate at Goethe University Frankfurt/M. in 2018 with an interview study on discursive practices of using school inspection findings. Her research interests include practice-based discourse and subjectivation research, pedagogical address and authorization, post-structuralist educational research, school reform, school development and school theory as well as empirical school orders and qualitative research methods.

Jörg Dinkelaker (Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg)

Jörg Dinkelaker is Professor of Adult Education and Continuing Vocational Education at the Department of Education at the University of Halle. His research focuses on forms of adult learning, history of adult education as well as the transfer and translation of knowledge, professionalization of education and the methodology of qualitative research. In his most recent publications, he discusses how learning is induced by climate communication and how ecological knowledge is translated across different contexts of knowledge production. 

Richard Rottenburg: Technicization, Colonization, and Decoloniality

Moderation: Marian Burchardt

Modernity's inescapable "question concerning technology" is currently being controversially reframed in light of the high probability of an ecological and social collapse of the planet. The question today is no longer what technology is. Rather, it has become more practical: who, what, when, where, why, and how to change technology's role in shaping the planetary future. In this talk, however, I will propose to revisit the more fundamental question of what technology is in order to gain a different approach to answering the 5W1H questions, which seem simpler than they are. First, I will explain what it means to speak of traveling technology and translating technology. Second, I will explain how the use of technology is part of any form of routinization of action, as implied by the notion of lifeworld, which is characterized by its self-evidently given meanings and their archives. Third, I will introduce the notion of technicization, which serves to show how technology, routinization, lifeworld, and sense-making are intertwined. Fourth, after these clarifications, I will ask how translating technology depends on technological archives and how together they shape meaning-making. This will lead me to my fifth and central point, which is to show that modern meaning-making must navigate an aporia. Technicization pushes toward the infinite, even though the human condition is necessarily understood only within finitude. With this redefinition of technicization as aporetic, I can finally suggest how a planetary decolonial technicization might be conceived.


Biographical Note

Richard Rottenburg is Professor of Science and Technology Studies at WiSER at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg (SA). His research foregrounds the development of material-semiotic orders and their (de)institutionalization. Methodologically, he seeks to contribute to a post-foundational understanding of empirical research conceived as translation. In this vein, he is currently editing a series of volumes on "Translating Technology in Africa" with Brill Publishers. He has recently completed a collaborative research project on "Technoscapes in Africa" and one on "Vaccine Inequity" and the role of mRNA technology.

Trained as an anthropologist at the Free University of West Berlin in the 1970s, Richard Rottenburg conducted his first fieldwork in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan between 1978 and 1983. The findings from this extended fieldwork resulted in a monograph on aspects of the monetization of the subsistence economy of the Moro community of Lebu. With the onset of the final phase of apartheid in South Africa between 1984 and 1987, Richard Rottenburg became more deeply involved in issues of modernization and development, with a particular focus on organization, technology, and future-making. In the early 1990s he turned to Science and Technology Studies (STS) and introduced this then new field to German anthropology. As a result of this engagement, he published the monograph Far-fetched Facts in 2002. The book examines the construction of objectivity in a heterogeneous trading zone in Tanzania embedded in the global arena of development cooperation (published in English by MIT Press in 2009). At his home university in Halle, Germany, he founded the research network LOST, which focuses on the social study of law, organization, science, and technology.

For more information and a full list of publications, please visit the LOST Research Group website.


Navigating the Material Consequences of Global Energy Transitions

As the global energy paradigm shifts from fossil fuels to renewables and low-carbon technologies, geopolitical entanglements and material dependencies are being significantly reconfigured at multiple scales. The transition to a low-carbon future is not merely a technological or environmental endeavor, but a transformation that is rewriting the rules of global economic engagement, challenging traditional power structures, and prompting a redistribution of global resources and international relations. While clean energy reduces dependence on fossil fuels, it increases demand for minerals and materials needed for green technologies. This is leading to new global and national 'circular economy' or 'just transition' policies, as well as citizen protests and movements to curb the local environmental and social impacts of mining and processing activities.

Our panel will explore this shift by discussing the complex interplay of policies, actors and technologies in different sectors affected by decarbonization, such as energy, mobility and digital technologies. The panel will explore the trade-offs of material extraction, including local resistance to resource extraction, the geopolitical complexities and supply chain vulnerabilities inherent in the global distribution of mineral resources, and national or regional policy strategies aimed at reconfiguring project locations and designs. This panel calls for interdisciplinary collaboration to address the multiple challenges of a material-intensive, low-carbon future.

The main guiding question of the conference, which our panel addresses: How do these new global dynamics affect resource flows, their distribution, and the ways in which resources mediate power relations and global hierarchies?

Convenors: Sina Leipold & Diana Ayeh


  • Hannes Warnecke-Berger (University of Kassel): Green Growth, Unequal Specialization, and the Dark Sides of Sustainability: Implications for the Global South
  • Sina Leipold (UFZ Leipzig): The Circular Economy and Renewable Energy: A Critical Look at Justice & Equity
  • Meike Schulze (Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, Berlin): Fostering EU Raw Material Policy: Strengthening the Foreign Policy Dimension
  • Diana Ayeh (UFZ Leipzig): The Global Aluminum Value Chain and German Responsibility in Guinea


Green Growth, Unequal Specialization, and the Dark Sides of Sustainability: Implications for the Global South

A new energy age is dawning. Yet, the world economy is at a crossroads, bolstered by current overlapping crises. The Ukraine war drives energy prices to unseen peaks. The financial crisis of 2008 and COVID-19 made the state a powerful lever back into economic life. Europe and the US intend to reorient their technological production apparatus towards green growth against emission-driven fossil fallout, and many suggest that Global South economies need to follow. However, current alternatives neglect a fundamental problem of the world economy: the emergence and the persistence of rents.

The paper develops a heterodox political economy perspective on the topic of rent. In the first section, the paper shows that rents are a driving force of the current articulation of the international division of labor and one root cause of global unequal development. Rents lead to unequal specialization based on the triple interaction of international technology gaps, structural unemployment, and rent. In a second section, the paper shows that technological solutions to the issue of global green transformations will lead to reinforcing rents. The paper calls this scenario the dark side of sustainability. The paper shows that the future world economy will be multi-fragmented but dominated by some countries specializing in developing green technology, becoming growth poles. Other countries will be unable to catch up but will be forced to supply new mineral raw materials for green technologies. Global uneven development and a renewed interest in extractivism will be the norm rather than the exception, with further fragmenting tendencies for today’s Global South.

Dr Hannes Warnecke-Berger is a senior researcher at the University of Kassel and project coordinator of the BMBF-funded collaborative research project He has led research projects on migration, remittances, violence, and development. His research focuses on global political economy, extractive regimes, development theory and development politics, north-south relations, migration, and violence.

The Circular Economy and Renewable Energy: A Critical Look at Justice & Equity

The urgent transition to renewable energy is intensifying global demand for metals critical to technologies such as wind turbines, solar cells and batteries, raising significant sustainability, equity and justice concerns (Lebre et al. 2020; Bainton et al. 2021; Carnelas & Carvalho 2023). As essential components of the energy transition, the extraction, circulation and disposal of these metals often cause environmental damage and exacerbate social inequalities (Hund et al. 2023; Jerez et al. 2021; Owen et al. 2023). The circular economy (CE) approach, with its focus on resource efficiency and waste reduction, is proposed as a remedy to these problems by promoting the responsible management of materials throughout their lifecycle. However, the implementation of CE strategies varies widely across sectors, influenced by socio-economic and political factors (Mutezo & Mulopo 2021; Purvis et al. 2023; Lèbre et al. 2017).

Based on a critical literature review, this presentation explores justice and equity challenges in the battery sector, a critical focus for CE due to its role in storing intermittent renewable energy (Kittner et al. 2017). It highlights the sector's environmental burdens and disparities, such as the impact of relocating battery recycling to countries with lax air quality standards, which leads to negative health impacts (Franco et al. 2017; Tanaka et al. 2022). Addressing these disparities requires a conscientious approach to justice and equity, ensuring a fair distribution of benefits and burdens, and advocating for a level playing field that considers historical injustices (Sovacool et al. 2017; Martins 2020).

The analysis explores the potential of different CE strategies in the battery sector to ensure just and equitable resource supply and reuse in the transition to renewable energy. The ultimate aim is to provide policy makers, industry leaders and the research community with science-based recommendations for aligning CE strategies with principles of justice and equity.

Sina Leipold is head of the Department of Environmental Politics at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) in Leipzig and Professor of Environmental Politics at Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena. Her research focuses on conceptual and methodological advances in the analysis of (policy) narratives, discourses and discursive agency as well as on the environmental politics of the circular economy and the bioeconomy. In her work, she brings together social and environmental science with expertise from policy, practice and the wider public to create new knowledge for a sustainable transformation of our society.

Fostering EU Raw Material Policy: Strengthening the Foreign Policy Dimension

The political consensus on the Critical Raw Materials Act (CRMA) marks a pivotal step towards coordinated action within the European Union (EU). Integral to the broader European Green Industrial Strategy, the CRMA aims to secure the resilient and sustainable supply of critical raw minerals (CRM), essential for advancing strategic technologies to meet decarbonization and digitalization objectives, among others. Amidst escalating geopolitical tensions and a global trend towards safeguarding strategic sectors and mineral supplies, also the EU is seeking greater strategic autonomy.

In light of these imperatives, the CRMA emerged as an inward-focused policy instrument. Its primary objective is to strengthen domestic capacities: it establishes benchmarks for the minimum share of EU demand to be met by domestically sourced, processed, and recycled raw materials. However, the EU also endeavours to diversify its raw material supply chains, aiming to reduce over-dependence on individual third-country suppliers. Planned measures toward this end include forming an "CRM Club" and the establishment of strategic partnerships with like-minded states.

To achieve its diversification aims, it is crucial to strengthen the foreign policy dimension of the EU's raw materials strategy. This entails broadening focus from primarily geopolitical concerns to shaping of relationships with mineral-rich third countries. At least two areas demand greater attention: Firstly, the EU must gain a better understanding of the interests and priorities of (potential) partner countries to offer attractive cooperation. Secondly, by recognising the external perceptions of the CRMA and the broader EU industrialization strategy, the EU can effectively address (potential) negative effects in third countries. Examples of such effects include subsidizing mining and processing within the EU or imposing restrictions on technology transfer associated with an inward-focused EU industrial policy, which may disadvantage external partners.

Only through comprehensive integration of such a foreign policy dimension can sustainable relationships with mineral-rich states be fostered, and ultimately, diversification efforts achieved.

Meike Schulze is a Guest Researcher at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) in Berlin, affiliated with the research division "Africa and Middle East". Her work within the SWP-project "Research Network Sustainable Global Supply Chains" focuses on the governance of mineral supply chains and the establishment of strategic raw material partnerships, with a regional focus on Southern Africa. She has attained a M.A. in Political Science from Free University of Berlin and a M.Sc. in Public Policy and Human Development from United Nations University-MERIT.

The Global Aluminum Value Chain and German Responsibility in Guinea

After decades of trusting in the unlimited availability of raw materials on the world market, questions of mineral resource supply are increasingly becoming a political priority in Germany. Not least due to recent geopolitical dynamics, the German Raw Materials strategy and the European Critical Raw Materials Act (ERMA) both aim at fostering the ‘secure’ procurement of Energy Transition Minerals and Metals (ETMs). The paper explores how the global ETM production system “touches ground” (Geenen and Verbrugge 2020) in West Africa by studying entanglements between German aluminum demand and sites of bauxite extraction in Guinea. Endowed with the largest reserves of bauxite in the world, Guinea exemplifies the dependence of European economies on mineral imports from a few countries in the Global South (93% of Germany’s bauxite supply is mined in Guinea) and associated sustainability paradoxes. More precisely, questions arise about political responsibility for (financing) massive environmental destruction and human rights violations in the context of specific large-scale bauxite mining projects. More broadly, the paper aims to shed light on complex arrays of global actors, political agendas, as well as material and financial flows implicated in designing a just low-carbon future globally.

Diana Ayeh is a Research Associate at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) and the Harz University of Applied Sciences (Germany). Her research explores the social and justice dimensions of sustainability transformations with a focus on company-state-community relations in West African and German (post)mining regions. In 2020 she completed her PhD on industrial gold mining and corporate responsibility in Burkina Faso at Leipzig University.

Shifting Resources in Floodplains from a Multidiscilinary Perspective

Floodplains represent a global hotspot of sensitive socio-environmental changes and early human forcing mechanisms.  Floodplains are exceptionally dynamic landscapes and key areas of cultural and natural heritage. Due to their high land-use capacity and the simultaneous necessity of land reclamation and risk minimisation, societies have radically restructured floodplains. This anthropogenic restructuring can be so significant that former floodplains are no longer recognisable as such. According to the current scientific state of the art, up to 95% of Central European floodplains have been extensively restructured or destroyed. The question therefore arises as to whether or when it is justified to understand floodplains as "Fluvial Anthropospheres" and which socio-ecological processes have been involved in their development. The process of floodplain transformation is in parallel with a shifting understanding of floodplain recourses during time but also with an unequal understanding of a floodplain and floodplain resources from the different scientific disciplines. The panel aims to answer the questions of when, why and how humans became a significant controlling factor in floodplain transformation and how this has to be considered in a multidisciplinary framework embracing natural sciences and humanities.

Convenor: Christoph Zielhofer (Leipzig)

Chair: Martin Bauch (GWZO, Leipzig)


  • Christoph Zielhofer (Leipzig University): Fluvial Anthroposphere, Floodplain Transformation and Shifting Resources
  • Michael Hein (Leipzig University): Understanding of Floodplain Transformation from a Fluvial Geomorphological Perspective
  • Mathias Scholz (UFZ, Leipzig): Understanding of Floodplain Transformation from an ecological Perspective
  • Iris Nießen (Leipzig University): Understanding of Floodplain Transformation from Historical and Archaeological Perspectives


Understanding of floodplain transformation from historical and archaeological perspectives

Floodplain areas have so far been rather an indirect field of research in archaeology. The importance of rivers for transport and trade and the relevance of water for settlement and urban development played a greater role. As a component of settlement chambers in landscape archaeological research, floodplain areas are a topic, as well as in the material development of special source genres, such as mills, port facilities for inland navigation or canal structures. Studies that explicitly focus on the floodplain as a study area, on the other hand, are relatively rare. In geoarchaeological research, there is close methodological cooperation between archaeology and geosciences, which explicitly addresses floodplain areas under the term "alluvial geoarchaeology". The lecture will use various examples to present the archaeological approaches to the transformation of floodplains and demonstrate the relevance of historical sources.

As a medieval archaeologist with a focus on urban core archaeology, Iris Nießen conducts research on the development of urban floodplains and their use for port infrastructure. This focus originated within the DFG-SPP 1630 subproject "Inland Ports" at the FSU Jena. This project provided the framework for her dissertation on the urban floodplain development of the medieval city of Regensburg using an environmental archaeological research approach. Work in the DFG project "Das Haus der Stadt vor 1300" deepened the interdisciplinary urban research. Other research fields include archaeologically tangible wolf hunting, field names, building research, and medieval beliefs. She is currently doing postdoctoral research on the Historical Anthroposphere at the LeipzigLab (funding program for excellent research fields) and in the DFG-project " Local pathways to the Fluvial Anthroposphere at Echaz (Rhine) and Eger (Danube)" (Priority Program 2361).



Attendance (Pflicht)