Hans Peter Hahn

Social Anthropology, Frankfurt/Main
Fellowship: 01.04.–30.09.2016




  • since 2007 full professor of Social Anthropology, Goethe-University Frankfurt/M.
  • 1996–2006 assistant professor at University of Bayreuth, department of Social Anthropology
  • 1995–1996 postdoctoral research fellow at Research Training Group intercultural relations in Africa / University of Bayreuth
  • 1994 Ph.D. in Social Anthropology / Goethe-University, Frankfurt / M.
  • 1989–1994 research fellow collaborative research program on culture and environment in the West African Savannah (SFB 268)
  • 1984–1989 studied Social Anthropology, Archaeology and Biology at Goethe-University Frankfurt / M.


Research (project funding awarded externally)

  • since 01/2015 »Municipal budget support in Togo«.
  • since 10/2014 »Colostrum,« coordinated by Université Nice-Sophiapolis.
  • since 04/2010 »Value and Equivalence,« Research Training Group (DFG-GRK 1576)
  • 07/2006–06/2007 »Traders and Managers in Africa«
  • 2003–06/2006 »Local consumption in a global context. Case studies in West Africa« (SFB 560)


Fields of Research

  • Craftspeople
  • Consumption
  • Globalisation
  • Material Culture
  • Migration and Mobility
  • Semiotics
  • Cognitive Anthropology


Project outline

Careers of things. Studies on the development concepts in material culture studies


My research during the summer term 2016 shall be devoted to a critical analysis of some current trends in material culture research. Based on anthropological findings, I intend to develop arguments against the widely accepted functional or semiotic embedding of things.

People are surrounded by huge amounts of things. The life-world in modern societies is dominated by numerous objects, which are associated with an endless number of meanings and functions. Many things, however, receive only little attention and only a few are the focus of sincere expectations and concerns. Approaches to material culture have been dominantly oriented towards the valued, valuable and meaningful and highly functional things. The aim of my fellowship in Morphomata will be to develop concepts that seriously consider the very different levels of relevance, and thus also look at the less valued objects as an integral part of material culture.

In the extended meaning of studying different ›careers of things,‹ I am interested in particular in the coexistence of the attention and emotional feedback of things. This also applies to the dynamic shift from a privileged status (= high awareness, attention) toward the status of being neglected and vice versa. I understand the recent history of theories in material culture studies as a history of attempts to »stabilize things« as an essential part of  culture. Starting with theories that rather suggest a distancing from the materiality (with the aim of an ideal access), the more recent trend pleas for a clearer recognition of things in their physical dimension. The objective will be to contribute to a more realistic concept, which integrates the dynamic shift between the different levels of relevance of the material.


Publications (Selection)

  • 2015 Vom Eigensinn der Dinge. Für eine neue Perspektive auf die Welt des Materiellen. Berlin: Neofelis.
  • 2015 (with Mario Schmidt & Emanuel Seitz): Marcel Mauss - Schriften zum Geld. Berlin: Suhrkamp.
  • 2015 (with Philipp Stockhammer): Lost in Things. Fragen an die Welt des Materiellen Münster: Waxmann.
  • 2015 Die geringen Dinge des Alltags. Kritische Anmerkungen zu einigen aktuellen Trends der Material Culture Studies. In: Braun, K., C.-M. Dieterich, & A. Treiber (ed.): Materialisierung von Kultur. Diskurse - Dinge - Praktiken. Würzburg: Königshausen &  Neumann, p. 28-42.
  • 2015 Dinge sind Fragmente und Assemblagen. Kritische Anmerkungen zur Metapher der 'Objektbiographie'. In: Boschung, D., P.-A. Kreuz, & T. Kienlin (Hg.): Biography of Objects. Aspekte eines kulturhistorischen Konzepts, (= Morphomata, 31). Paderborn: Fink, p. 11-33.
  • 2015 Mobile Kommunikation, Materielle Kultur und neue Verflechtungen: ethnographische Erfahrungen aus Westafrika. In: Bender, C. & M. Zillinger (Hg.): Handbuch der Medienethnographie. Berlin: Reimer, p. 153-171.
  • 2015 Das Wuchern der Dinge. In: Göbel, H.K. & S. Prinz (Hg.): Die Sinnlichkeit des Sozialen: Wahrnehmung und materielle Kultur. Bielefeld: transcript, p. 34-52.
  • 2014 (with S. Samida & M.K.H. Eggert) Handbuch Materielle Kultur. Bedeutungen, Konzepte, Disziplinen. Stuttgart: Metzler
  • 2014 Notizen zur Umwertung der Werte. Perspektiven auf ökonomische Konzepte im interdisziplinären Diskurs. In: Klein, I. und S. Windmüller (ed.): Kultur der Ökonomie. Zur Materialität und Performanz des Wirtschaftlichen. Bielefeld: transcript, S. 17-36.
  • 2013 (zusammen mit Hadas Weiss): Mobility, Meaning and Transformations of Things. Shifting contexts of Material Culture through Time and Space. Oxbow Books: Oxford.