Past Events


Competing Memories: The Politics of Remembering Enslavement, Emancipation and Indentureship in the Caribbean

Socare e.V.'s bi-annual conference, organized by Sinah Kloß (Bonn), Andrea Gremels (Frankfurt) and Ulrike Schmieder (Hannover)

March 29-31, 2023


The Caribbean is a space of dynamic and ever-changing memories. Here, as elsewhere, socio-political disparities and power imbalances commonly impact the capacity and means to promote specific memories and historical narratives, through which the past is created, adapted and negotiated. These dynamics influence which processes and memories are included or excluded in specific histories and which versions of the past are reconstructed, selected and interpreted.

The international conference “Competing Memories” hence focuses on the politics of memory and the constructions and representations of plural and divergent memories in Caribbean contexts, especially but not exclusively in relation to enslavement, emancipation and indentureship. As understandings of ‘history’ and ‘memory’ may vary, contributors will look at the different and strategic ways these concepts are used within and in relation to the Caribbean.

The conference is going to take place on March 29–31, 2023 at the Bonn Center for Dependency and Slavery Studies, University of Bonn, Germany. It is funded by the BCDSS and the German Research Foundation (DFG). It is co-hosted by the Society for Caribbean Research (Socare e.V.) and is organized by Sinah Kloß (Bonn), Andrea Gremels (Frankfurt) and Ulrike Schmieder (Hannover).



Transforming Spirit Bodies: Changing Materialities and Embodied Dependencies

organized by the research group "Marking Power: Embodied Dependencies, Haptic Regimes and Body Modification"

University Forum, Bonn, Germany

September 29-30, 2022


The interdisciplinary conference focused on the bodies and embodiments of spirits, their (im-)materialities, and the bodily transformations, which they may be subject to in different socio-cultural contexts. Contributions analyzed the embodied experiences of asymmetrical dependencies among humans and spirits and how the sensory experiences of interdependence are negotiated in their interactions. They examined and compared the particular (historical) moments and conditions under which these bodily transformations occur and how they can influence understandings of human–nonhuman interdependence.


Funded by BCDSS and Fritz Thyssen Foundation.


© TatuBakru, Pierre Bong, Paramaribo/Suriname 2007
© TatuBakru, Pierre Bong, Paramaribo/Suriname 2007


North and South: Forms of Inequality within International Politics of Scientific Production

organized by Barbara Potthast, Claudio Pinheiro and Sinah Kloß

Herrenhausen Symposium (Volkswagen Stiftung)

Schloss Herrenhausen, Hannover, Germany

June 29-July 1, 2020

due to COVID-19 postponded to: October 6-8, 2021


Since the 1960s, the North-South divide has been used to express spatial representations of inequality, resulting from the expansion of European colonialism and Western capitalism. While the North relates to geographies of wealth and development, the South became a symbol of the lack thereof and illustrated life in peripheral spaces. However, how does the compartmentalization of the world around geographies of inequality affect science production?


This is the larger framework of the symposium North and South: Forms of Inequality within the International Politics of Scientific Production, which happens at Schloss Herrenhausen, Hannover (Germany) from October 6 to 8, 2021, both online and onsite. This international conference is funded by the Volkswagen Stiftung, organized by Sephis Program and the GSSC - Uni Köln, and convened by Prof. Claudio Costa Pinheiro (Federal University of Riode Janeiro), Prof.  Barbara Potthast (University of Cologne), and Dr. Sinah Kloß (University of Bonn).


The North-South divide also relates to asymmetries in science, which sustain structures of academic dependency, with resilient impact to the international political economy of knowledge production and circulation, reinforcing global inequalities. But how the North-South divide influence funding policies that impact creativity and the diversity of ideas, theories, and methods in the sciences, and vice-versa? Can the South speak about aspects of social life apparently unrelated to the disparities do development – such as the constitution of the self, or about conflicts typical of modernity, like those based on social and ethnic and religious identities? Moreover, can the South represent an option to the encompassing hegemonic intellectual and scientific agendas of the North? The South has been instrumentalized to highlight the importance of diversity in sciences; however, is diversity so relevant for mathematics, engineering or physics as it is to Humanities?


These are some of the questions and perspectives to be discussed at the symposium with the aim of contributing to the analysis of practices that sustain hegemonies of power, obliterate diversity, and constrain science from being really transformative and committed with the promotion of social justice North and South: Forms of Inequality within the International Politics of Scientific Production and sustainable development. The symposium brings a transdisciplinary approach that helps a misinforming division between Humanities, Pure and Applied sciences, congregating scholars from Astrophysics, History, Linguistics, Social Anthropology, Physics, Sociology, Philosophy, Mathematics, Cultural and Literary Studies, Geography, Education, and Gender Studies, which helps avoid the basic division between humanities, pure and natural sciences.



Pregnant Bodies - Embodied Pregnancy

University of Cologne, Germany

May 25-26, 2020

due to COVID-19 postponed to: January 14-15, 2021

(organized by Antonia Villinger, Sinah Kloß and Günter Blamberger)


This two-day workshop focuses on the topic of pregnant bodies and the relation between biographies, gendered life-writing and embodied pregnancy. Bodies are in a constant process of transformation and change. They are neither fixed entities nor simply objects, and may be regarded as projects that are constantly in the process of becoming and unbecoming. They are experienced by social actors with various intersectional identities, are represented and narrated in public and private contexts. Among the periods and stages in which bodies are particularly discussed in terms of their transformative capacity and reproductive qualities is pregnancy.


Pregnant bodies experience themselves as both facilitators and participants in a creative and transformative process, and engage in a dialectic relationship with the ‘unborn’. Depending on the various perspectives, the unborn may be interpreted as fetus, child, body, life, etc. Out of this intimate relationship arise different gendered configurations; for example, the processes of (re)producing bodies/subjects establish and transform relationships and hierarchical structures among the social actors involved, producing ‘mothers’, ‘fathers’ and ‘children’. Further, pregnant bodies are often considered to be sites of public interest, as is shown by the current debates about, for example, abortion and (single and trans) parenthood; they are policed, medicalized and/or essentialized in different cultural contexts. Embodied experiences of pregnancy have also been transformed, for example by the different technological visualizations of the unborn, e.g. the development of fetal ultrasound imaging.



Kontextwechsel und Bedeutung

February 5-7, 2020

University of Cologne, Germany

(organized by Dietrich Boschung, Thierry Greub, Sinah Kloß and Thoralf Schröder)


Die Bedeutung von materiellen Artefakten, die in ihrer Form unverändert bleiben, kann sich durch räumliche Bezüge und durch den Wechsel des Kontexts verändern. Durch die räumliche Zuordnung inszeniert können Artefakte inhaltlich festgelegt oder akzentuiert werden bzw. eine neue Bedeutung erlangen. Inhaltlich festgelegte Artefakte können durch ihre Aufstellung einen Raum, manchmal eine ganze Landschaft, neu und spezifisch deuten. Im Rahmen dieser Konferenz werden verschiedene Aus- prägungen von Kontextwechsel erörtert. Räumliche, topographische und diskursive Kontextwechsel werden in Fallbeispielen analysiert und deren Bedeutungen und Überschneidungen kritisch reflektiert. So zeigen Artefakte der Antike, wie Kunstwerke gezielt aus ihren ursprünglichen Aufstellungskontexten herausgelöst und neu integriert worden sind, wobei dies entsprechend oder entgegen der älteren Verwendung geschehen konnte. Für die Neuzeit lässt sich zeigen, dass sich durch die Sammlung und die Anordnung von Artefakten Wissenssysteme etablieren und stabilisieren lassen. Hier schließen sich Fragen an: etwa nach der Verwendung von touristischen Artefakten, die eigens für den Transfer in andere kulturelle Bereiche geschaffen worden sind; nach der Rolle von durch Migranten und Migrantinnen mitgebrachten Objekten als Identitätsmarker; oder nach der politischen Rolle der Restitution von Kunstwerken und menschlichen Überresten.

Roundtable Discussion / Themenabend

Tätowierungen: Zwischen Mode und Tradition (Tattoos: Between Fashion and Tradition)

November 30, 2018; 8pm


Der Themenabend führt ein in die vielfältige Welt und Kulturgeschichte der Tätowierung und bietet neben kurzen Vorträgen viel Raum für Diskussion.

Die derzeitige Beliebtheit von Tätowierungen wird aktuell als Trend oder Mode wahrgenommen und öffentlich auch so diskutiert. Die am Themenabend anwesenden ExpertInnen aus Wissenschaft und Praxis schärfen dieses Bild, ob Tattoos tatsächlich ein neuartiges Phänomen sind und warum sie die öffentliche Meinung immer noch so beschäftigen und teilweise spalten. Hierzu wird auch thematisiert und erörtert, welche Arten des Tätowierens es weltweit gibt und welche unterschiedlichen kulturellen Bedeutungen die Motive und Tätowier-Methoden rund um den Globus haben. Die Veranstaltung wird organisiert von der VHS Köln in Kooperation mit dem Internationalen Kolleg Morphomata der Universität zu Köln und dem Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum.

Zu Gast:
Sinah Kloß, ist Ethnologin und forscht zu rituellen Tätowierungen und Körpermodifikationen im karibischen Raum an der Universität zu Köln.
Heiko Gantenberg, seit über 20 Jahren Tätowierer in Marl. Seine dreijährige Weltreise hat ihn ganz nah an die indigene Tätowierung herangeführt.
Peter Mesenhöller, Leitung Bildung und Vermittlung am Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum.
Ole Wittmann ist Kunsthistoriker und forscht zur Geschichte der Tätowierung in Deutschland, mit einem Schwerpunkt auf dem Tätowierer Christian Warlich, im Nachlass Warlich in Hamburg.


Moritz Berg, Fachbereichsleitung kulturelle Bildung der Volkshochschule Köln.


Workshop @ Poetica IV

Blind Spot

January 26, 2018; 10 am - 3 pm

Workshop für Studierende und Promovierende der Universität zu Köln mit Teju Cole

Moderation: Hanjo Berressem, Sinah Kloß


Teju Cole ist ein Nomade in einer Welt, die aus den Fugen geraten ist. In seinen Fotografien und Prosatexten, die rätselhaft aufeinander verweisen, die zusammen Denk-Bilder ergeben, entwirft er eine Poesie der ›Blinden Flecken‹. Der Workshop begibt sich auf die Spuren des Verdrängten und untersucht die Mach-Art und Wirkmacht von Teju Coles Texten.



Tattoo: The Histories and Aesthetics of Embodied Imaging and Writing

December 1-2, 2017

@ Center for Advanced Studies Morphomata, University of Cologne


Tattoos and tattooed bodies seem to be omnipresent among a variety of social groups and actors today. Although in public discourse the popularity of tattoos is commonly discussed as ‘growing’ or as a ‘novel’ phenomenon, tattoo practices indeed have long and diverse histories around the globe. As tattoo narratives and analyses are often narrowly focused on stigmatization and marginalization processes, this international conference seeks to go beyond this discourse. It addresses, for example, visual and material aspects of the (un)making of tattoo or the relevance of tattoo(ing) in the construction of socio-cultural bodies, lives and histories, both among individuals and groups, in the past and at present. Questions will be raised such as: How do tattoo images and practices facilitate representations of self and other? How do they performatively (re)create biographies and histories? What do tattoo aesthetics and practices reveal about the often separately used categorizations of life-writing and life-imaging? The interdisciplinary conference, which brings scholars of history, social anthropology, sociology, archaeology, literary studies, cultural studies and art history into dialogue, is going to take place on December 1 and 2, 2017 at the Morphomata Center for Advanced Studies, University of Cologne.

Summer School

The Gendered Ethnographer: Social Relations, Vulnerability and Power Dynamics in the Field
July 30 – August 4, 2017

University of Cologne



With workshops organized by:

M. Dores Cruz (University of Freiburg)

Erella Grassiani (University of Amsterdam)

Mirna Guha (University of East Anglia)

Andrea Hollington (University of Cologne)

Sinah Kloß (University of Cologne)

Don Kulick (Uppsala University)

Mira Menzfeld (University of Cologne)

Lorraine Nencel (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)

Fatima Begum Rajina (SOAS University of London)

Conference Panel

(organized by Sarah Albiez-Wieck and Sinah Kloß)

Conference The Global South on the Move, University of Cologne

June 7-9, 2017


"A person's sense of belonging is a dynamic process that shifts in relation to his or her various understandings and constructions of identity based on race, class/rank, gender, religious affiliation, occupation, age, and sexuality. Although feelings and senses of belonging are constantly negotiated, these are particularly transformed in the course of migration. When people migrate, their senses and feelings of belonging to a certain place or group are altered, regardless whether this migration takes place on a regional or international level. However, the extent to which these transformations take place may vary according to the spatial and temporal levels of this movement.

Place, territoriality, and locality have to be considered as intricate elements in (re)constructions of belonging, as politics and senses of belonging are influenced by place-based interactions between social actors and objects. Belonging is always linked to the situatedness of people, socio-cultural and physical environments, and landscapes, hence is influenced by translocal practices and representations that performatively recreate identity and notions of attachment.


This panel focuses on historical and contemporary practices and representations of belonging. It puts an emphasis on forms of negotiation between powerful and less powerful social actors, between the (post-)colonial state, its institutions and individual migrants and how these are mediated. It raises questions such as: how are people's senses of belonging-and not belonging-applied as a resource in practices of place-making and in the creation of (social) demarcations, social units, and border regimes? It links these questions to the concept of translocality, which highlights the situatedness of (im)mobile people whose lives, realities, and environments are influenced by global and local dynamics as well as the movement of concepts and objects. It highlights the need to include spatial references into analyses of belonging and discusses methodological issues asking, for example, how to operationalize translocal approaches in historical studies when the available sources only allow a restricted view on the situatedness of actors."


Dress Matters: Transcultural Perspectives on Belonging and Distinction

(organized by Sinah Kloß, M. Dores Cruz and Dietrich Boschung)

 @ Morphomata Center for Advanced Studies

June 1, 2017

Textiles are among some of the oldest materials and objects used worldwide in different manners to protect, aesthetically decorate or distinguish. What is defined in a society as textiles, cloth or clothing, however, varies and is influenced by diverse factors and cultural contexts. The materiality of cloth allows for discussions within historical, technological and cultural aspects, but it is also intertwined with processes of value, identity, agency, affect and power. Because cloth artifacts can be transformed, refined and even destroyed, the materiality of cloth and clothing can participate in the construction of multiple identities and becoming enmeshed in symbolic and ritual realms. Despite recognizing the complexities of dress and cloth, we focus this workshop mainly on two aspects: 1) questions of individual and group identity formation and 2) how cloth and people are entangled in deep cultural, economic and political aspects surrounding the making and use of cloth and clothing. We discuss the historical and contemporary making, unmaking and remaking of the cultural significance of dress, cloth and clothing.

Round Table & Film Screening

Wie fair kann Handel sein? Branchenspezifische Herausforderungen des fairen Handels und Lösungsansätze


Podiumsgäste: Oliver Sendelbach (Nager-IT), Carolin Zamor (TransFair e.V.), Vera Köppen (Fair Wear Foundation), Inge Altemeier (Global Film Productions), Dr. Tijo Salverda (GSSC, Universität zu Köln)


Moderation: Dr. Amelie Bernzen (GSSC, Universität zu Köln)


Ziel der Veranstaltung ist es, die Herausforderungen des fairen Handels in den einzelnen Branchen (Nahrungsmittel, Elektronik, Kleidung) zu skizzieren und Lösungsansätze aufzuzeigen. Neben den geladenen Institutionen und ihren Erfahrungen aus der Praxis soll gezeigt werden, inwiefern diese Fragestellungen auch wissenschaftlich diskutiert werden.Im Anschluss wird der Film "Todschick. Die Schattenseite der Mode" (Global Film Productions, 2016) gezeigt, der sich mit den Produktionsbedingungen in der Textilbranche auseinandersetzt.


Global South Studies Center (GSSC)
Universität zu Köln


Vogelsanger Str. 187
50825 Köln

Organized Talk @ GSSC

Dr. Patrick Helber analysiert die mediale Kontroverse um Dancehall-Musik und Homophobie aus dem Jahr 2004 und ordnet sie in den historischen, politischen und kulturellen Kontext des postkolonialen jamaikanischen Staates ein. Neben einem Blick auf die Geschichte der Insel beleuchtet er die Widerstandskulturen von den Maroons und den Rastafari bis zu den »Gangstern« der zeitgenössischen Dancehall-Musik. Dieser Vortrag betont die Präsenz und politische Arbeit von sexuellen Minderheiten auf Jamaika und veranschaulicht, inwiefern bei internationalen Kampagnen gegen Homophobie im globalen Süden neokoloniale Machtkonstellationen und Alterisierungsprozesse eine Rolle spielen.


Der Vortrag findet statt im Rahmen des Seminars ‚Kultur und Mobilität in der Karibik‘, geleitet von Dr. Sinah Kloß.

Workshop @ GSSC

Conceptual (Re)Locations of the 'Global South'


June 20-21, 2016


Organized by: Sinah Kloß (GSSC)
In cooperation with: Competence Area IV (CA IV)

Venue: Patrizia Tower, Room 818, Venloer Straße 151-153, 50672 Cologne


The term ‘Global South’ is en vogue and ubiquitous in scientific studies and publications. Its increased popularity since the 2000s is reflected in its common use in book titles or names of research institutions. Only a limited number of scholarly analyses and reflections are devoted to furthering the theoretical discussion and development of the concept ‘Global South’ at present however. Critics point out that the 'Global South' merely replaces concepts such as ‘Third World’ and ‘South’ and that it is often used uncritically and as a (supposedly) politically correct substitute of those terms. In the workshop ‘Conceptual (Re)Locations of the Global South’ the Global South will be analyzed and conceptualized as a discursive and performative social construction, which is (re)created through for example socio-cultural, visual and material performances and representations. Actor-related perspectives and analyses will be examined and discussed in this two-day international workshop, allowing the further refinement, systematization and theorization of the concept ‘Global South’ across disciplinary boundaries.

Events 2012-2015

International Conference

Caribbean Food Cultures: Representations and Performances of Eating, Drinking and Consumption in the Caribbean and Its Diasporas, Heidelberg University (organized by the research group 'From the Caribbean to North America and Back'), September 28-29, 2012.


Transnational Entanglements? The Locations of Guyanese Literature, Transcultural Studies, Heidelberg University (organized by Anne Brüske and Sinah Kloß), December 2013.

Organized Talk

Brinda Mehta (Mills College, California): Kala Pani Discursivity: Framing Indo-Caribbean-ness in a Comparative Francophone/Anglophone Context, Transcultural Studies, Heidelberg University (December 2012).