Research specializations

  • Relational sociologies of technology
  • New Materialisms
  • Science, objectivity, and knowledge
  • Feminist epistemologies
  • Sociology of the Anthropocene
  • Gender, science, and technology

Research projects

Fixing Futures: Technologies of Anticipation in Comtemporary Socities (DFG Research Training Group)

Contemporary societies are confronted with novel constellations of political, economic, and ecological challenges ranging from global warming, pandemic outbreaks to refugee crises and financial meltdowns. When anticipating contingent futures, societies tend to rely increasingly on 'technological fixes', investing them with the capacity of averting or solving future problems. Taking up insights from Science and Technology Studies (STS), the research training group sets out to empirically examine how 'fixing futures' works and to what effects. It proposes to investigate two different dimensions of 'fixing': 'stabilisation' and 'repair', focusing on economic practices, modes of government, and processes of life as the main research areas.The RTG considers the interplay of practices of 'stabilisation' and 'repair' as indicators of what we understand as 'technologies of anticipation' – that is, socio-material orderings and temporal orientations that have the capacity to define entire domains of knowledge, forms of social organisation, or even societies as a whole. Tied to a politics of temporality and affect, technologies of anticipation mark a move away from current concerns towards speculative forecast, a shift from scientific certainty, facts, and truth to prediction, precaution, and preparedness. In doing this, they not only aim to identify and imagine future trajectories but also to arrange or accommodate what is yet to come. A central task of the proposed research training group, therefore, is to examine how such technologies are organised, materialised, mobilised, and – equally important – how they are criticised and contested. The RTG attends to the power asymmetries and operational tensions involved in the enactment of anticipatory practices to inquire what forms of life are to be protected, enhanced, or saved (and which are excluded, marginalised, or destroyed).

German Research Foundation (DFG) Research Training Group (GRK 2836/1)

Principal Investigators: J. Barla, M. Boeckler, M. Klausner T. Lemke, P. Lindner, L. Richardson, T. Scheffer, & G. Welz. 

Project duration: 1.5.2023-30.4.2028 

Ensuring public health through mobilizing death: Expectations as future-making practices in the bioeconomy of transgenic mosquitoes

Mosquito-borne diseases such as the Zika virus and malaria are increasing dramatically word wide. As traditional methods of vector control prove to be little effective and often harmful to local ecosystems, new approaches are sought for tackling this public health crisis. Amongst the most promising ones are genetic strategies which use the mosquitoes' own biology and reproductive capabilities against themselves. These approaches not only turn the mosquitoes into a public health tool but also promise the large-scale eradication of mosquito-borne disease. Starting from the hypothesis that rather than only commodifying the vital processes of 'life itself' (Franklin; Rose), death and eradication is inscribed into the mosquitoes' genetic code in order to ensure public health, the aim of my research is twofold: First, I explore the role of expectations as future-making practices in the bioeconomy of transgenic mosquitoes through which not only 'speculative value' (Sunder Rajan) is generated but also particular futures made present at the exclusion of others. Second, I argue that these novel genetic strategies mark a broader shift in molecular genetics from the production of 'biovalue' (Waldby) to what I will call 'necrovalue'—that is, the technoscientific mobilization and economization of death itself as that which entails value.

Research funded by Fritz Thyssen Stiftung für Wissenschaftsförderung (Az. 

Principal Investigator: J. Barla

Duration: 1.10.2021-30.09.2023.

Doctoral thesis (Completed)

Diffracting the Rays of Technoscience Toward a Philosophy of Apparatuses of Bodily Production

My doctoral thesis entitled “Diffracting the Rays of Technoscience: The Technobiopolitics of Apparatuses of Bodily Production” was led by the question of how bodily materialities are performatively enacted through technologies and technoscientific practices in the context of border control, and along with which political and ethical consequences. Employing the optical metaphor of “diffraction” (Haraway, Barad, van der Tuin) as a methodological tool, I developed an understanding of the concept of the apparatuses of bodily production referring to both a method for analyzing bodily becomings-with-technology and to particular generative but non-deterministic sites where biological, technological, social, economic, and political forces in their entanglement with one another performatively enact specifically reconfigured bodies whose boundaries and properties cannot be separated from the very apparatuses through which they are hailed into being.

Dissertation in Philosophy (Philosophy of Science and Technology) at the University of Vienna (03/2010-05/2016).

Previous research projects

The Politics of Becoming-With

„The Politics of Becoming-With in the Anthropocene: Understanding the Zika Virus Epidemic as a Naturalcultural Multispecies Entanglement", affiliated research project at the Seed Box – A Mistra-Formas Environmental Humanities Collaboratory based at Linköping University (01/2017-12/2017).

Further Information



Dr. Josef Barla

Faculty of Social Sciences
Institute of Sociology
Research Group Biotechnologies,
Nature and Society

Visiting address
Theodor-W.-Adorno-Platz 6
Campus-Westend – PEG-Building
Room 3.G 021
60323 Frankfurt am Main

Mail address
Campus Westend
PEG - internal post 31
60629 Frankfurt am Main

Tel. +49 69 798 36668


Office Management

Angelika Boese
Room 3.G 030
Tel.: +49 69 798 36518