Universität KonstanzExzellenzcluster „Kulturelle Grundlagen von Integration“

Dis/integration, fractal recursion, social and cultural anthropology

Prof. Dr. Thomas Kirsch


To my understanding, one of the key conceptual points raised by the Centre of Excellence “Cultural Foundations of Social Integration” is the idea that ‘integration’ and ‘disintegration’ represent “beobachterabhängige und sich vielfältig überlagernde Vorgänge”. At the same time, conceiving of this concomitance of ‘dis/integration’ remains a challenge of the highest theoretical order because it requires overcoming conventional theoretical models in which binary opposites are discussed in terms of a one-dimensional ‘either-or’ logic. During my twelve months fellowship at the Institute of Advanced Studies I seek to take up this challenge by developing an anthropological approach to ‘integration’ and ‘disintegration’ as a discursive practice that follows the logic of fractal recursion, meaning that ‘integration’/‘disintegration’ is a contrast that – remaining self-similar – is nested into each other, in doing so repeating itself on different, hierarchically organized scales.