Ad.E. Jensen Memorial Lecture


Prof. Nurit Bird-David (Haifa):
"The Connected Society: Lessons from Gatherer-Hunter Cultures to the Digital Age"

Theme and programme 2020Poster Bird David Jensen 2020


About the Ad.E. Jensen Memorial Lecture


Please note:
Under the cirsumstances of COVID-19, organising the Ad.E.Jensen Memorial Lecture 2020 in a digital format is considered an option. Further information will be posted here.









Theme and programme

"The Connected Society: Lessons from Gatherer-Hunter Cultures to the Digital Age"

In what ways can scholarship about gatherer-hunter cultures shed light on our understanding of sociality in the Digital Age? The 2020 Jensen lectures explore this question from a theoretical perspective that employs the comparative power of gatherer-hunter cases while regarding scale/ability as key to the insights they offer to contemporary life. The series examines how gatherer-hunters connect among and beyond themselves; how they perform and imagine communal affiliations; how they figure "society" into their more-than-human heterogeneous world. Drawing on their perspective, we reflect on our emergent culture of connectedness, its euphoric visions of a connective world marked by sharing and trust among strangers, and dystopic fears of loss of privacy and agency in the global digital ecosystem. We ask, can gatherer-hunters be considered the original networked society?

mondays 4.15 to 5.45pm

22 June 2020
Sociality, Scalability and Gatherer-Hunter Scholarship

29 June 2020
Relational Society and Environment

06 July 2020
Intimate Public Spaces

13 July 2020
Lessons to the Digitally-Networked Society

Casino building room 1.811
Campus Westend


"Indigenous Insights on Nature and Society"
9 to 10 July 2020, Frankfurt am Main

The masterclass will begin as a seminar on scholarship addressing ontological configurations of Nature and Society, primarily works by Tim Ingold, Phillip Descola, Viveiros de Castro, Marilyn Strathern, Marshall Sahlins and Nurit Bird-David. We will focus especially on the comparative use of indigenous ethnographic material for developing theoretical perspectives and understandings of Western positions and options, and we will ask what this comparative-ontological approach can contribute to discussions of our currently changing environment and society. On the second day, participants will present their own ethnographic materials and theoretical questions, and we will discuss how their work might benefit from such a comparative approach. 

The Call for applications is open, deadline for submissions: 15 May 2020. Further information here.

Masterclass Bird David 2020 CfP web














About the Ad.E. Jensen Memorial Lecture

Each year the Frobenius Institute invites an internationally renowned researcher to give a series of guest lectures during the summer term. The lecture series is dedicated to Adolf Ellegard Jensen (1899-1965), who in 1946 was appointed Director of the Frobenius Institute, as well as Director of Frankfurt's Museum of Ethnology. The subject of these lectures is usually centred on Jensen's main research interests, which were myth, ritual and cult. However, the invited guests are free to choose their own preferred subjects.

 Video recordings of past lectures are available on the YouTube channel of the Frobenius Instituteyoutube



Previous Jensen Memorial Lectures were:

2019: "A genealogy of method: anthropology's ancestors and the meaning of culture", Prof. Sondra Hausner (Oxford)

2018: "Values, Social Theory, and the Anthropological Study of the Good", Prof. Joel Robbins (Cambridge)

2017: "On the pursuit of wealth and happiness: Some lessons from Central India", Prof. Chris Gregory (Canberra)

2016: "Repatriating Anthropology - Ethics and empirics in some lessons from Native America", Prof. Dr. Justin B. Richland (Chicago)

2015: "Cultures and Translation", Prof. Souleymane Bachir Diagne (New York)

2014: "Fieldwork in Philosophy: Refiguring Social Inquiry's Conceptual Ground", Prof. Ann Laura Stoler (New York)

2013: "From Artifact to Primitive Art", Prof. Nancy Lutkehaus (Los Angeles)

2012: "Is Religion a Special Form of the Social?", Prof. Maurice Bloch (London)

2011: "The Anthropology of Encounter - from 'first contact' to the everyday", Prof. Francesca Merlan (Canberra)

2010: "Kult und Kunst - Ästhetik des ethnographischen Archivs", Prof. Fritz W. Kramer (Berlin)
Publication: "Kunst im Ritual. Ethnographische Erkundungen zur Ästhetik", Reimer-Verlag, Berlin 2014

2009: "Lessons in the Anthropology of Nature", Prof. Philippe Descola (Paris)

2008: Nine lectures on the topic "The end of anthropology?": Adam Kuper (London), Ulf Hannerz (Stockholm), Signe Howell (Oslo), Maurice Godelier (Paris), Antonio Palmisano (Triest), John Comaroff (Chicago), Vincent Crapanzano (New York), Patricia Spyer (Leiden) und Mark Münzel (Marburg)
Publication: "The End of Anthropology?", edited by Holger Jebens and Karl-Heinz Kohl, Sean Kingston Publishing, 2011

2007: "A Quest for Understanding: Eastern Indonesia in Historical and Comparative Perspective", Prof. James J. Fox (Australian National University)

2006: "The Making of Colonialism in Equatorial Africa", Prof. Robert Harms (Yale)

2005: "Amazons: Women Warriors of Dahomey in and out Africa", Prof. Suzanne Preston Blier (Harvard)

2004: "Colour of the Sacred", Prof. Michael Taussig (New York)
Publication: "What Colour is the Sacred?", University of Chicago Press, 2009

2003: "Social Anthropology: only a Western science?", Prof. Maurice Godelier (Paris)

2001: "Violence, Social Order and the Spectral State. Policing The South African Postcolony", Prof. Jean Comaroff, Prof. John Comaroff (Chicago)

2000: "Emotion: Experience and Expression - A Cross-Cultural View", Prof. Unni Wikan (Oslo)

1999: "The Anthropology of Imagination" Prof. Vincent Crapanzano (New York)
Publication: "Imaginative Horizons. An Essay in Literary-Philosophical Anthropology", University of Chicago Press, 2003

1998: "The Crisis of Presence: Death and Alterity in Amerindian Amazon" Prof. Tullio Maranhão (St. Paul)

1997/98: "Out of our Minds. Science, Ecstasis and the Ethnography of Africa" Prof. Johannes Fabian (Amsterdam)
Publication: "Out of Our Minds. Reason and Madness in the Exploration of Central Africa", University of California Press, 2000