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Silke Oldenburg

Silke Oldenburg was a Senior Lecturer at the Institute of Social Anthropology, University of Basel, Switzerland until September 2023. She now works at the Geneva Graduate Institute

Silke’s ethnographic research focuses primarily on intersections of the urban and the political, and specifically on the spatialisation and materialisation of power, urban environment and sociality within cities.

Her current book project is entitled “Laughter in the City: On Urbanity, Practices of Humor and Infrastructures from a Comparative Perspective”. Based on longitudinal comparative fieldwork in DR Congo and Colombia, this study investigates the ways how urbanites deal with social, political and spatial change. Central questions are how social space, material infrastructure and urban sociality emerge, are negotiated and dealt with. This project was funded by the Swiss National Sciences Foundation where Silke was the coordinator of the interdisciplinary research project “Making the City” (2016-2020). She was a visiting researcher at the University of Colorado in Boulder, USA, the Universidad de Cartagena in Colombia, and was awarded a SNF grant for a visiting fellowship at the Institute of African Studies at Columbia University, New York (2022). She was a senior fellow at the Maria Sibylla Merian Institute for Advanced Studies in Africa at the University of Ghana (2023) and a Landhaus Fellow at the Rachel Carson Center in Munich (2023).

Silke was also the Principal Investigator of an interdisciplinary research project named “Space, Agency, and Climate Change in a Contested Urban Landscape: Exploring Environmental Futures in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia” (funded by University of St. Gallen, The Leading House of the Latin American Region, 2020-2022) together with Professor Jaime Hernández of Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogotá.

Olena Sobolieva is currently working as a visiting researcher at the Institute of Social Anthropology, University of Basel. She is a holder of the «Faculty Fund for Ukrainian Researchers at Risk» program. Due to the outbreak of war in Ukraine in February 2022, she had moved to Switzerland and is now continuing her academic work at the Institute. Olena Sobolieva is a researcher in the field of anthropology and ethnology, focusing on several topics: The Crimean Tatar community in Ukraine, their deportation and repatriation; Islamic studies; migration processes in urban areas. She is the author of two books on Crimean Tatar culture: “Crimean Tatar wedding: traditional forms and transformations” (2015) and “Crimean Tatar cuisine” (2019).

Sobolieva holds a PhD (2009) in Ethnology from the Kyiv Taras Shevchenko University in Ukraine. She received the Kyiv Mayor's Award for special achievements of youth in the development of the capital of Ukraine, Kyiv (for academic achievements, 2017).

From 2015 to 2022, Olena was a part of a team in the Sociocultural Department of the Research Institute of Ukrainian Studies in Kyiv, where she held various positions. Since 2017, she has been a co-founder and head of the NGO "Center for Applied Anthropology.