Anna Christen

Lehrbeauftragte (Fachbereich Ethnologie)


Ethnologisches Seminar
Münsterplatz 19
4051 Basel

Doktorandin (Philosophisch-Historische Fakultät)

Curriculum Vitae

Anna Christen is PhD student and lecturer at the Institute of Social Anthropology, University of Basel. In 2015, she was deputy assistant, acting for Rita Kesselring during her field research leave in Zambia. Starting in April 2016, Anna is part of the Graduate School “Das Reale in der Kultur der Moderne” at the University of Konstanz (Germany).

She holds a Master degree in Philosophy from the University of St Andrews (Scotland) and a Bachelor degree in Philosophy and Social Sciences from the University of Basel. In her master thesis “What is it to Engage in a Shared Action?” Anna identifies, analyses and historically situates two different conceptions of shared agency. She hence pleads for a concept of collective intentionality that is situated in practical, not theoretical thought.

Focus in Research

Anna is mostly interested in the grounding of ethnological methodologies, especially in what is often lumped together as “participant observation”. Separating observation and participation, her aim is to explore their points of contacts, their common grounds as well as their merits and disadvantages for ethnography. Anna is also interested in the history of anthropology as a discipline and the development of different schools of thinking that shaped and shape the way anthropologists went and go about their work.

The overall aim of her PhD thesis is to explore the possibility and manifestation of a shared action in order to come to a deeper understanding of how the two methods at the centre of social anthropology - observation and participation - can be made use of in the most fruitful way. Her empirical research will take place in Grahamstown, South Africa, where Anna will explore the “walking together” in different social settings. She will compare the edges, ends and conditions of different ways of walking together. In this, the goal is to discover what it is to partake, but also what happens when the mere observer becomes a participant and how these shifts differ, depending on the way the shared action is practiced.

Invited Talks

18/12/17: “Epistemic Justice in Ethnographies”, Frobenius Institute for Research in Cultural Anthropology, Goethe University Frankfurt
05/07/17: “The Formation of Joint Intentionality in the Act of Walking Together”, DeltaLab – Mobility, Department for Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Cologne

Co-Organisation of Conferences

26/10/17 – 28/10/17: “Ways of Knowing”, Harvard Divinity School: 5 panel module “Bodily Ways of Sharing Knowledge” with Dr. Rita Kesselring
29/06/17 - 01/07/17: “Gattungstheorie”, University of Konstanz, with partner institutions (University of Yale and Chicago): Panel “What’s in a Vignette?” with M.A. Hendrikje Grunow

Conference Papers

03/05/17: “The Formation of Joint Intentionality in the Act of Walking Together”, IUAES/CASCA 2017: Mo(u)vement (International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences and Canadian Anthropology Society; Ottawa, Canada)
01/09/16: “A Theory on Practice: The Special Case of Ethnographic Fieldwork for Philosophical Action Theory”, Collective Intentionality X (Den Haag, Netherlands)
23/07/16: “Thinking about Doing: A Theory on the Necessity of shared bodily experience”, 14th EASA (European Association of Social Anthropologists) Biennial Conference (Milano, Italy)
06/05/15: “Shared Agency and the Problems with Participant Observation”, Public Anthropology Colloquium, University of Basel (Basel, Switzerland)
04/04/14: “On the Significance of Geistesgeschichte within Contemporary Philosophy”, International Graduate Conference in Philosophy, Central European University (Budapest, Hungary)
05/10/13: “The Value of Violence in Language – Nietzsche’s Non-Correspondence Theory of Language”, St Andrews Graduate Philosophy Conference (Ardgour, Scotland)