Opening Doors on Anthropology – Exhibition in the State Parliament of Saxony-Anhalt
What does it mean for anthropologists to spend months in a foreign place, immersing themselves in the lives of others? Where does their research take them and what insights does it bring? The exhibition “Wechsel deine Perspektive – Ethnologie öffnet Türen” opens doors into these questions. After a ceremonial opening at 15:00 on 11 October by the President of the State Parliament of Saxony-Anhalt, it will be on display from 12 October to 18 November 2022 in the parliament building in Magdeburg. The exhibition is a joint project of the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle (MPI) and the Institute for Social and Cultural Anthropology at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg.
A change of perspective – from outsider to insider
Anthropological research begins with what one does not understand: this might be the confusion connected with everyday life in another country. But it might also be the lifeworlds of people from other walks of society. “When we attempt to orient ourselves in a foreign world, we are forced to change our perspective and learn what the local people know as competent members of their community”, says Ursula Rao, Managing Director of the MPI. “We must therefore become insiders, in order to make sense of what often seems to us from the outside to be exotic, alien, irrational, or incomprehensible.”
The unfamiliar can be right around the corner
How exactly this change of perspective happens, what anthropologists do, what they discover through their work, and why it matters – all of this is illustrated in the exhibition using examples from six research projects. They investigate homelessness in Germany, digitalization in India, the resource usage of data processing centres, the role of money in Buddhism, land reform in South Africa, and the effects of globalization in Alpine villages. Rao notes, “We selected these projects in order to show how, as anthropological researchers, we overcome the distance that separates us from people about whose lives we know very little. And we don’t necessarily have to look all that far away to find the unfamiliar. For example, we conduct research in Leipzig among people who lack a fixed abode. Or we attempt to understand why villagers in the Alps strive to hold onto their traditions and are concerned about globalization.”
The exhibition will be on display from 12 October to 18 November 2022 in the ground floor and first floor in the east wing of the State Parliament building; it is open to the public Mon-Fri from 8:00 to 17:00. It is not necessary to register in advance.
Landtag von Sachsen-Anhalt
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