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New research project: The production and reproduction of social inequalities: Global contexts and concepts of labour exploitation. Project participants: Michaela Pelican (University of Cologne, project head), Tu Huynh (Jinan University, Guangzhou), Meron Eresso (Addis Ababa University), Ulrike Lindner (University of Cologne). Funded by the Volkswagen Foundation.
Latest publication: Pelican, Michaela, Sabine Damir-Geilsdorf, and Karim Zafer (eds.). 2020. Flucht - Familie - soziale Netzwerke: Forschungen mit Geflüchteten in und um Köln. Kölner Arbeitspapiere für Ethnologie (KAE) No. 08.

Podcast series "Research, Action & Art"
Project of the departments of Anthropology and Islamic Studies,
University of Cologne
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Short Biography

Michaela Pelican is Professor of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Cologne and speaker/coordinator of the international research unit 'The production and reproduction of social inequalities: Global contexts and concepts of labour exploitation'. She is Principal Investigator and board member of the Global South Studies Center Cologne (GSSC). Previously, she was the Director of the University of Cologne Forum 'Ethnicity as a Political Resource: Perspectives from Africa, Latin America, Asia, and Europe' (2013-16). Before coming to Cologne, she was a lecturer at the University of Zurich, guest professor at the Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies in Kyoto, and a researcher with the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle/Saale. She received her PhD from the Martin-Luther University Halle-Wittenberg and her MA from the University of Bayreuth.

Michaela’s main areas of research and teaching are ethnicity, indigeneity, conflict;migration within the Global South, social inequality; research methodology and audio-visual anthropology. Her regional specialization is in sub-Saharan Africa, in particular Cameroon, Gabon, and South Africa. In recent years, she has also conducted research in the Arab Gulf States and southern China, as she is interested in the strengthening relations and transnational mobilities between Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. In addition, she has engaged in interdisciplinary collaborations with colleagues in Africa, Asia, Latin America, USA, and Europe. At the University of Cologne she has been in charge of the Department’s focus on research methodology, and has developed several research-oriented teaching programmes.

Research Interests

Regional expertise

  • Sub-Saharan Africa: Cameroon, Gabon, South Africa
  • United Arab Emirates, China
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