Project Researchers

Julia Leser

© Marcus Held

I am a political anthropologist and a postdoctoral researcher in the project Challenging Populist Truth-Making in Europe: The Role of Museums in a Digital ‘Post-Truth’ European Society (CHAPTER), which is based at the Centre for Anthropological Research on Museums and Heritage (CARMAH) at the Institute for European Ethnology at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. My research is concerned with the role of emotions in knowledge production processes, in particular in political realms. My fields of interest include political anthropology, political ethnography, and affect studies, and further include national security and migration control, nationalism, populism, and political theory.

I studied Political Science and Japanese Studies at Waseda University (Japan) and Leipzig University (Germany), where I obtained my PhD degree in 2019. My prior research affiliations include the BMBF-funded project Strangers in Their Own Land? (Leipzig University), the BMBF-funded project Beyond the Glass Ceiling (TU Darmstadt, HAWK Hildesheim/Holzminden/Göttingen), and the DFG-funded project Institutionalizing Human Trafficking – A French-German Comparison (Leipzig University).

For my doctoral research, I have carried out ethnographic research in a German police department for sexual offences, investigating the affective nature of police officers’ decision-making in their everyday practices. Since 2018, I have been conducting ethnographic research at populist parties’ meetings in Germany, focusing on the functions of affects in political practices and in producing ‘truths.’ Since 2020, I am one of the official speakers of the DVWP working group Political Ethnography.

Publications

2021

The Wolves are Coming Back: The Politics of Fear in Eastern Germany. Co-author, with Rebecca Pates, Manchester: Manchester University Press.

“The Framing of Right-Wing Populism: Intricacies of ‘Populist’ Narratives, Emotions, and Resonance.” Co-Author, with Rebecca Pates. In The Palgrave Handbook of Populism, M. Oswald (Ed.). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham., pp. 437–450. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-80803-7_27

“Affektive Komplexität in rechten Kontexten – Methodologische Impulse.” Co-Author, with Florian Spissinger. In Forum Kritische Psychologie, Neue Folge 3. krise – autoritäre tendenzen – subjektivität, A. Brensell, U. Eichinger, A. Hofmeister, J. Kalpein, C. Küpper, H.-P. Michels, T. Pappritz, K. Reimer-Gordinskaya, S. Vollmer, E. Wengemuth, M. Zander (Eds.). Hamburg: Argument Verlag, pp. 94–112.

“Die Übersetzung situativer ‚Bauchgefühle’ in eine Analyse politischer Affekte: Potentiale ethnografischer Affektforschung für die Untersuchung von rechter Politik.” Co-Author, with Florian Spissinger. In Gesellschaft unter Spannung. Verhandlungen des 40. Kongresses der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Soziologie 2020. B. Blättel-Mink (Ed.). Deutsche Gesellschaft für Soziologie, pp. 1–11.

2020

On the sensory policing of vices. Morality at work in a German vice squad. Journal of Extreme Anthropology, 4(1), pp. 22–44. Open Access.

The category of ‘culture’ in vice squad policing in Germany. Sociologus, 70(1), pp. 57–72.

The functionality of affects: conceptualizing far-right populist politics beyond negative emotions. Co-Author, with Florian Spissinger. Global Discourse, 10(2), pp. 325–342.

Ostdeutsche Identität(en) im Wandel? Perspektiven für Intra- und Interkohortenvergleiche. Co-Author, with Lars Vogel. Zeitschrift für Vergleichende Politikwissenschaft, 14, pp. 171–197.

Affective politics of the far right beyond negative emotions. Co-Author, with Florian Spissinger. Global Discourse Blog 2020, Open Access.

“Toxische Orte? Faktoren der regionalen Anfälligkeit für völkischen Nationalismus.” Co-Author, with Mary Dellenbaugh-Losse, Jamela Homeyer, & Rebecca Pates. In Rechtes Denken – Rechte Räume, L. Berg & J. Üblacker (Eds.). Bielefeld: transcript, pp. 47–82. Open Access.

2019

Performing ‘resistance’ – the far right’s master narrative. Co-Author, with Jamela Homeyer, Florian Spissinger, & Tobias Neidel. The Journal of Culture, 8(1), pp. 13–21.

On the affective governmentality of anti-trafficking efforts: an ethnographic exploration. Co-Author, with Rebecca Pates. Journal of Political Power, 12(3), pp. 339–357.

Befindlichkeiten des Demos – Zur politischen Funktion von Affekten im Zeichen des Populismus und einer „Krise“ der Demokratie. Co-Author, with Rebecca Pates, & Florian Spissinger. In Komplexe Dynamiken globaler und lokaler Entwicklungen. Verhandlungen des 39. Kongresses der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Soziologie in Göttingen 2018, N. Burzan (Ed.). Göttingen: DGS. Open Access.

2018

Policing the absence of a victim: An ethnography of raids in sex trafficking operations. In Policing the Sex Industry: Protection, Paternalism and Politics, T. Sanders & M. Laing (Eds.). Abingdon, Oxon; New York: Routledge, pp. 109–125.

2017

The Emotional Leviathan: How street-level bureaucrats govern human trafficking victims. Co-Author, with Rebecca Pates, & Anne Dölemeyer. Digithum, 19, pp. 19–36. Open Access.

2016

Schwierige Verhältnisse. Menschenhandelsopfer und Geschlecht vor Gericht. Co-Author, with Rebecca Pates, & Anne Dölemeyer. Femina Politica, 25(1), pp. 24–38.

Academic & Public Engagement

2021

“The roots of populism.” Panel discussion, with Chiara Bonachhi, Matthew Kerry, and Elisabeth Niklasson. Part of the History, Heritage and Politics Divisional Research Seminar series, Stirling University, UK.

“State ethnography – potentials, challenges and new avenues of inquiry.” Paper presentation, DVPW Congress 2021 “Wir haben die Wahl! Politik in Zeiten von Unsicherheit und Autokratisierung”, Panel “More than a fad? – Ethnografische Methoden in der Politikwissenschaft”, Online congress.

“Ethische Herausforderungen der ethnographischen Forschung.” Panel moderation, DVPW Congress 2021 “Wir haben die Wahl! Politik in Zeiten von Unsicherheit und Autokratisierung”, Online congress.

“Die Veränderbarkeit nationaler Narrative. Empirische Einsichten in die Wirkungsweisen banaler Nationalismen.” Invited keynote lecture, Christian-Albrechts University Kiel.

“Contested futures of Eastern Germany – Völkisch nationalist visions for a new German identity.” Paper presentation, 27th International Conference of Europeanists ‘Europe’s Past, Present, and Future: Utopias and Dystopias’, Digital Conference.

“Challenging Populist Truth-Making in Europe: The Role of Museums in a Digital ‘Post-Truth’ European Society.” Project presentation, 2021 Volkswagen Status Symposium “Challenges for Europe”, Hanover.

“Challenges for Europe Revisited: Ten Theses.” Panel discussion, with with Andreas Zick, and Claudius Wagemann; Chair: Adelheid Wessler. Part of the 2021 VW Status Symposium “Challenges for Europe”, Hanover.

“Fremde im eigenen Land? Die Funktionen nationaler Identität.” Invited keynote lecture, Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg.

“Gespaltene Gesellschaft? Zum Umgang mit gesellschaftlichen Cleavages in Politischen Laboratorien und Reallaboren.” Panel moderation, conference ‘Gespaltene Gesellschaft? Herausforderungen für die Politische Bildung in diversen Gesellschaften’, Political Science Department, Leipzig University.

2020

“Ethnographies of the far right: Affekte im Forschungsprozess und ihre epistemischen Funktionen.” Paper presentation, 40. Kongress der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Soziologie (DGS), Digital Conference.

“Nationalismus und Ostdeutschland.” Invited keynote lecture, Kulturzentrum Schneeberg.

“Contested futures of Eastern Germany – Völkisch nationalist visions for a new German identity.” Paper presentation, 27th International Conference of Europeanists ‘Europe’s Past, Present, and Future: Utopias and Dystopias’, University of Iceland, Reykjavik (cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic).

“State ethnography – Potentials, challenges and new avenues of inquiry.” Paper presentation, Annual Conference of the Section Methods of Political Science, DVPW/GPSA, University Duisburg-Essen (cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic).

“Fear of whom? Affective politics and gender in the German far right.” Paper presentation, UCSIA Workshop ‘Gender, Conflict, Citizenship and Belonging’, University of Antwerp (cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic).

“Affektivität und Gemeinschaft. Zur Funktionalität politischer Affekte jenseits negativer Emotionen,” Paper presentation, Conference ‘Vorstellungen von Gemeinschaft und Nation im Kontext gegenwärtiger rechtspopulistischer Mobilisierungen’, International Psychoanalytic University, Berlin.

“Professorale Resonanzräume – Anerkennung von Professorinnen an Musikhochschulen.” Paper presentation, Conference ‘Jenseits der Gläsernen Decke. Professorinnen zwischen Anerkennung und Marginalisierung’, TU Darmstadt.

2019

“Doing the nation – How national identities are performed and narrated.” Paper presentation, International Workshop ‘Beyond identity? New avenues for interdisciplinary research on identity’, Wroclaw University, Poland.

“Ostdeutsche sind keine Deutschen? Praktiken und Politik von (De-)Klassifikation.” Paper presentation, Conference ‘89/90 – Aufbruch ohne Ende?’, Leipzig University.

“Nationalismus und die Politik der Emotionen.” Invited keynote lecture, Oldenburg University.

“Performing the body of normalcy: vice squad officers as ‘moral bureaucrats.’” Paper presentation, International Workshop ‘The police and sex work then and now’, Humboldt University Berlin.

“Fear of whom? Populist feminism, affective politics, and German angst.” Paper presentation, European Conference of Politics & Gender, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands.

“The state of the abject.” Paper presentation, 26th International Conference of Europeanists ‘Sovereignties in Contention: Nations, Regions and Citizens in Europe’, Madrid, Spain.

“Feeling Blue: Affective rationalities in vice squad policing.” Invited keynote lecture, Leipzig University.

“Die Rolle von Affekten in der Identitätspolitik.” Invited keynote lecture, Leipzig University.

“Fremde im eigenen Land? Eine Studie über die Veränderbarkeit nationaler Narrative mithilfe Politischer Laboratorien.” Invited keynote lecture, Leipzig University.

2018

“Befindlichkeiten des Demos – Zur politischen Funktion von Affekten im Zeichen des Populismus und einer ‘Krise’ der Demokratie.” Paper presentation, 39. Kongress der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Soziologie ‘Komplexe Dynamiken globaler und lokaler Entwicklungen’, Georg-August University Göttingen.

“‘Male Bonding’ and ‘Copsplaining’: Ethnographic Explorations of the Performances of Masculinities in Vice Squad policing.” Paper presentation, Gender, Work & Organization (GWO) 10th Biennial International Interdisciplinary Conference, Sydney, Australia.

“Performance and Intimacy: Understanding economies of recognition for women professors in universities of the arts, music, and theatre.” Paper presentation, Gender, Work & Organization (GWO) 10th Biennial International Interdisciplinary Conference, Sydney, Australia.

“Kollektive Identitäten im Zeichen rechtspopulistischer Strömungen.” Invited keynote lecture, Leipzig University.

2017

“Doing Concepts – Annäherungen an ein Verständnis von Formation als epistemologische Praxis.” Paper presentation, Interdisciplinary Workshop ‘Fragmentierte Gegenwart. Zur Reichweite von Formationsbegriffen in den Sozial- und Geisteswissenschaften’, Leipzig University.

“Die Kategorie der Kultur in affektiven Technologien der Polizei.” Paper presentation, DGV Conference, FU Berlin.

“On the Affective Governmentality of Trafficking: The Problem of the Recalcitrant.” Paper presentation, ProsPol Conference “Displacing Sex for Sale“, Copenhagen, Denmark.

“The ‘Victim’ in Police Case Files: Proposing a Truth, Translating the World, Persuading the Court.” Paper presentation, Conference ‘The State of the Abject’, Leipzig University.

2016

“Building Cases. Victims of Trafficking as a Socio-Legal Category.” Paper presentation, International Sociological Association (ISA) Forum ‘The Futures We Want: Global Sociology and the Struggles for a Better World’, Vienna, Austria.

“Policing a Crime, Producing a Victim.” Paper presentation, Gender, Work & Organization (GWO) 9th Biennial International Interdisciplinary Conference, Keele, UK.

“Putting Numbers on the Unknown: What is Counted in Statistics on Trafficking Cases and Why?” Paper presentation, Law & Society Annual Meeting, New Orleans, USA.

“Emotions, Gender, and the Discovery of Suitable Victims: How Police Officers Regulate Through Emotional Control.” Paper presentation, Law & Society Annual Meeting, New Orleans, USA.

“An Ethnography of Raids in Sex Trafficking Operations.” Paper presentation, 3rd Ethnography Laboratory, ‘Practices of the State and Practices of Bureaucracy’, Vienna University, Austria.

“Experteninterview und Expertenwissen.” Invited keynote lecture, Leipzig University.

“The Emotional Leviathan. Documenting Feelings in the Management of Human Trafficking Victims.” Paper presentation, Conference ‘State, Work and Affects’, Vienna University, Austria.

2015

“The Role of Law in the Production of Victims in Institutional Human Trafficking Discourse.” Paper presentation, European Feminist Research Conference ‘Sex & Capital’, Rovaniemi, Finland.

“Akteure und ihre Logiken im Produktionsprozess des ‘Menschenhandelsopfers’.” Invited lecture, Leipzig University.

“The Production of Victims in Institutional Human Trafficking Discourse.” Paper presentation, ProsPol Conference ‘Troubling Prostitution. Exploring Intersections of Sex, Intimacy & Labour’, Vienna, Austria.