Press releases

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Goethe University PR & Communication Department 

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Dec 3 2015
12:25

Renowned researcher speaks at the invitation of the Cornelia Goethe Center about “Anatomies of Violence” and “Neoliberalism” from a post-colonial feminist perspective

Chandra Talpade Mohanty accepts Angela Davis Guest Professorship

FRANKFURT. Chandra Talpade Mohanty, one of the most important post-colonial researchers and activists of our time, will take over the Angela Davis Guest Professorship for International Gender and Diversity Studies in December. The feminist, who has held a chair at Syracuse University in New York since 2004, has taken a critical look since the 1980s at the western, typically colonial perspective on “women in the ‘Third World’”. She now ascribes even greater importance to transnational feminist solidarity and anti-globalization analysis. Together with neoliberalism, this will be the topic of her two public lectures at Goethe University on the 12th and 16th of December.

In her inaugural public lecture entitled “Wars, Walls, Borders: Anatomies of Violence and Postcolonial Feminist Critique”, Mohanty will deal with the ‘anatomy of violence’ in relation to wars, walls and borders from a post-colonial feminist standpoint. The lecture will take place at 6.00 p.m. on Saturday, 12th of December in the “Casino” (Room 1.801) on the Westend Campus. At 6.00 p.m. on Wednesday, 16th of December, the guest professor will hold a public lecture on the topic of neoliberalism, emancipatory knowledge and pedagogies of resistance with the title: “Neoliberal Projects, Insurgent Knowledges, and Pedagogies of Dissent”. This lecture will also take place in the “Casino” (Room 1.801), Westend Campus. During her one-week stay, Chandra Talpade Mohanty will also engage in a dialogue with students and researchers in the framework of in-house workshops at the university.

Chandra Talpade Mohanty was called to the chair this year following Angela Davis herself, after whom the professorship is named. Its launch in December 2013 with Angela Davis, American civil rights campaigner and critical social science researcher, caused a national and international sensation. The Cornelia Goethe Center for Women’s and Gender Studies created the professorship at the beginning of the 2013/2014 winter semester. Its purpose is to foster international and interdisciplinary cooperation in the area of gender and diversity and it is filled every two years with an internationally renowned researcher in the field of women’s and gender studies.

Chandra Talpade Mohanty regards herself as an anti-racist feminist whose roots are found in the tradition of socialist feminists and the feminist theories of the “Global South”. Mohanty’s research interests lie in transnational feminist theory, post-colonial studies, analysis of imperialism and racism, anti-racist pedagogy and anti-capitalist critique.  In her writings she analyses the interlaced power relationship between colonialism, “race”, class and gender. For Mohanty, de-colonization, that is, the critical examination of colonial inheritance at all levels, is a key scientific and at the same time political issue.

Born in Bombay (now Mumbai) in 1955, Mohanty grew up in India. After a period in Nigeria, where she taught English at a secondary school, she moved to the USA. In 1974 she completed her Bachelor degree in English Studies at the University of Delhi. A Masters degree in English Studies at the University of Delhi (1976) and in English/Education at the University of Illinois (1980) followed. She obtained her doctorate at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign in 1987. Chandra Mohanty was Professor of Women’s Studies at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York, from 1992. Since 2004 she is Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies, Sociology and the Cultural Foundations of Education and since 2015 Dean of the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at Syracuse University, New York. The honorary doctorates of Lund University and the College of Wooster (Ohio) are just two of the numerous accolades awarded to her.

 

Further information: Prof. Dr. Kira Kosnick, Culture and Migration, Institute of Sociology, Westend Campus, Tel. 069/798- 36582, kosnick@em.uni-frankfurt.de; Dr. Marianne Schmidbaur, Scientific Coordinator, Cornelia Goethe Center, Westend Campus, Phone +49(0)69/798-35103, schmidbaur@soz.uni-frankfurt.de.

 

 

 

Dec 3 2015
12:22

Psychological study by Goethe University on how referees experience aggression in amateur football

“Fear whistles along with us”

FRANKFURT. “Fear whistles along with us”, “Violence every damned Sunday”, “The ball is round, the hate is huge” – that’s how these and similar headlines read with regard to conditions on the field in amateur football (soccer) in Germany. A psychological study by Goethe University, based on a survey amongst over 900 referees, gets to the bottom of such aggression and its causes.

In the framework of his master’s thesis at the Chair of General Psychology II, Adrian Sigel first of all interviewed referees in amateur football. On the basis of his findings, he compiled a questionnaire which was answered by over 900 referees.

“The study confirms that referees in amateur football are regularly exposed to aggression, whereby a differentiation can be made between insults, threats of violence and actual physical attacks”, explains Adrian Sigel. His study was designed in such a way that he was able to show how referees think about aggressive behaviour by players, but also by fans, coaches, officials and stewards, and to what causes they attribute it. They cite, amongst others, an emotionality which is specific and inherent to football, but also a growing potential for aggression throughout the whole of society, which finds an outlet in football.

The survey also illustrated which strategies referees use to deal with aggression and what the consequences are. These cover a broad spectrum and range from critical self-reflection to becoming accustomed to aggression to withdrawing completely from the job of referee. It was also possible to show for the first time that a large number of referees experience such stressful and negative situations as a personal growth and maturing process. It shapes or strengthens their personal identity.

“The study shows a complex and at the same time clear picture of referees’ experience with aggression and presents, structures and characterizes it for the first time in its context”, says Professor Sabine Windmann, supervisor of Sigel’s master’s thesis. Of particular importance is the fact that the topic of aggression towards referees with all its contexts, consequences and causal attributions is not described by means of externally applied schemata, but instead directly through statements made by the referees in the framework of the interviews.

 Further information: Adrian Sigel, Chair of General Psychology II, Westend Campus, Tel. 0179-9995070, adrian_sigel@web.de.

 

 

Nov 19 2015
10:26

A new high resolution method allows for the first time precise identification and quantification of interactions of a receptor with two ligands simultaneously.

New nanoscopic tools to study ligand-binding of receptors

Signalling processes in organisms are governed by specific extracellular and intracellular interactions and involve hundreds of different functionally highly versatile receptors situated in cell membranes. For scientists wishing to understand signalling processes the situation is made more complex by the receptors not only being unevenly distributed and often able to bind more than one ligand but also by the same type of receptor being able to bind a ligand strongly, weakly or not all. New methods that allow precise quantifications of such complex interactions are urgently required.

A new high resolution method developed by an international team of scientists including Robert Tampé and Ralph Wieneke from Goethe University Frankfurt now allows for the first time precise identification and quantification of interactions of a receptor with two ligands simultaneously. The new method has been published in the latest edition of the journal Nature Communications.

Atomic force microscopy (AFM) is a powerful technique for nanoscale characterization of surfaces. It makes use of a cantilever with an extremely fine tip. Force-distance curve-based atomic force microscopy (FD-based AFM) combines high-resolution imaging and single-molecule force spectroscopy. In studies using biological samples, the AFM tip approaches and retracts from the sample for each pixel. FD-based AFM methods use different coatings of the AFM tip as a toolbox and such methods have made impressive progress in recent years. For the detection of specific binding sites FD-based AFM requires tethering of a ligand to the AFM tip. While contouring protein complexes in a membrane such functionalized AFM tips can then measure the interactions of the tethered ligand to the protein. It had not been possible to image single membrane receptors and simultaneously detect their interactions with more than one ligand, but the new method has overcome this hurdle.

For their proof of principle the scientists used the human protease-activated receptor 1 (PAR1), one of the large family of G-protein-coupled membrane receptors. GPCRs mediate most cellular responses to hormones and neurotransmitters, as well as being responsible for vision, olfaction and taste. GPCRs can coexist in different functional states in the cell membrane and can bind various ligands at different strength or affinity. The GPCR PAR1 is activated by the coagulation protease thrombin which triggers signalling cascades to initiate cellular responses that help orchestrate haemostasis, thrombosis, inflammation and possibly also tissue repair. With the aid of their new FD-based AFM method human PAR1 in proteoliposomes could be imaged while simultaneously detecting extracellular and intracellular interactions of PAR1 with two ligands. The surface chemistry and nanoscopic method developed are applicable to a range of biological systems in vitro and in vivo.

Image for download: www.uni-frankfurt.de/58953180

Contact: Robert Tampé, Institute of Biochemistry, tampe@em.uni-frankfurt.de
Goethe University Frankfurt, Max von Laue Straße 9, 60438 Frankfurt/Germany

 

Nov 12 2015
09:44

Mining already took place 3500 years ago in the Austrian region of Montafon

Breakthrough for mining research in the Bronze Age

FRANKFURT/BARTHOLOMÄBERG. Mining in the Alps dates back much further than previously thought – in the Austrian region of Montafon since the Bronze Age. Thanks to C14 dating, a group of researchers from Goethe University in Frankfurt led by Professor Rüdiger Krause of the Institute of Archaeological Sciences was able to detect in the course of prospecting in the Bartholomäberg region at a height of 1450 metres ancient traces of mining from the middle Bronze Age. The C14 method, also known as the radiocarbon method, makes a relatively precise age classification possible, for example of charcoal, on the basis of decreasing radioactivity in carbonaceous material.

It was in this way that the researchers also discovered that 2500 years later – towards the end of the Early Middle Ages – mining evidently even resumed there, since there are clear traces in the terrain from this period too. That means that this is one of the oldest mining areas provable to date in a mountainous region of Europe. The discovery, which was made possible through funding from the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)), equates according to Professor Krause to “a small sensation, since the academic world had so far not considered that Bronze Age mining in the Montafon mining area could be possible.” There are only very few places with evidence of Alpine mining in the early and late Middle Ages either. Professor Krause now sees an exciting link, for instance, to the historically documented nine iron-smelting furnaces in Drusengau – the region around Bludenz, Klostertal and Montafon – which are mentioned in the Imperial Register of Chur (Churer Reichsurbar) of the year 843.

Professor Krause and his team, which includes archaeobotanists and a large number of students from Goethe University, have been researching for 15 years in the Montafon region, which lies in the Central Alps in the south of the Austrian federal state of Vorarlberg. The objective is to explore early settlement history and early mining in this unique inner-Alpine “settlement chamber” with Bronze Age and Iron Age settlements and Bronze Age castle buildings with stone walls up to 3 metres thick.

Excavations in the newly discovered mining area are due to commence next summer. An exciting project, as the only other evidence of comparably ancient mining activity is in the Eastern Alps, for example in the famous Mitterberg mining area, where Bronze Age miners dug galleries as far down as 200 metres and developed mining on the most intensive scale in this period in the Alps. “What significance our new site in Montafon had in the context of Bronze Age copper supply in the Alps will be seen when we examine it further”, says Professor Krause.

For archaeological research in Frankfurt, Montafon – with its special colonization history with Bronze Age and Iron Age settlements – is an important priority. After all, it is regarded as a model region for an interdisciplinary approach where archaeobotany, soil science and metal analysis, in particular the analysis of heavy metals in the ground as a relict of ancient mining, are very important sources of information. Work focuses on questions about what could have originally induced people to settle in this Alpine valley landscape. From what point in time onwards was their self-sufficient economy – gathering as well as livestock, arable and pasture farming – supplemented by mining activity?  Thanks to the researchers in Frankfurt it is now known that this inner-Alpine valley landscape has been inhabited on a continuous basis since about 2000 B.C. and that Montafon can today look back on 4000 years of settlement history.

The scientific “breakthroughs” in the former mining area are now also visible in book form: On the 9th of November, the first monograph on the archaeology and early history of mining in Montafon will be presented in Bartholomäberg (Montafon): A “colourful” book richly illustrated with photographs and diagrams, which wants to familiarize the reader and observer in short and easily comprehensible words and in a lively way with the oldest history of an Alpine valley landscape using the example of Montafon as well as with the different types of exploration. Martin Vallaster, Mayor of the Municipality of Bartholomäberg, is noticeably impressed: “We are all very proud of this book, which is a product of lasting value for relaying the research results and their wide variety of new findings. Allow yourself when reading this book to be transported into the world of our ancestors and experience our exciting and unique settlement history”.

Book details: Rüdiger Krause, Archäologie im Gebirge. Montafoner Zeitmaschine. Frühe Besiedlungsgeschichte und Bergbau im Montafon, Vorarlberg (Österreich).

With contributions by Lisa Bringemeier, Rudolf Klopfer, Astrid Röpke, Astrid Stobbe, Franziska Würfel. 150 pages, 213 colour and large-format images, 23 x 23 cm, hard cover, € 19,80 Bartholomäberg/Bonn 2015 (ISBN 978-3-7749-3981-0), Distribution: Dr. Rudolf Habelt GmbH, Bonn (Germany),  www.habelt.de

Information: Prof. Dr. Rüdiger Krause, Faculty of Linguistics, Culture and Arts, Westend Campus, Tel.: +160-824 7 824, Email: r.krause@em.uni-frankfurt.de

Download photographs: www.uni-frankfurt.de/58833010

 

Oct 12 2015
14:14

Social researchers in Frankfurt present study results – Publication in new issue of "American Journal of Sociology”

Women: A longer break from work leads to less interest in a career

FRANKFURT. Family policy influences not only families’ economic behaviour, but also sends out clear normative signals on which people base their individual life plans: The longer a mother takes a break from work after the birth of a child, the more she loses interest in her own career: Professor Markus Gangl and Dr. Andrea Ziefle, sociologists at Goethe University in Frankfurt, are now able to prove this empirically. Their article entitled “The Making of a Good Woman: Extended Parental Leave Entitlements and Mothers’ Work Commitment in Germany” has just appeared in the internationally renowned “American Journal of Sociology” (121 (2)).

It was already becoming evident in international research that short periods of parental leave of up to one or one-and-a half years, such as are common in Scandinavia, lead to better integration of mothers in the employment market. This is clearly contrary to experience in Anglo-Saxon countries, where family is primarily a private issue. The longer parental leave is made possible by legislation, the more the disadvantages of this leave are of consequence. “Research to date considered the reason for this rather to be the behaviour of employers who tend to entrust mothers who have been absent for longer periods less frequently with demanding jobs or important tasks”, says Gangl and continues: “We call this ‘statistical discrimination’.” The two sociologists are, however, now able to show that this is not the only reason for the negative impact of longer parental leave. “The subjective attitude of mothers towards employment decreases considerably over the course of time. That means, through the longer break from work these women increasingly lose interest in working on their own professional perspectives”, says Ziefle.

In order to verify this statement, the two social researchers used the survey data - unique worldwide - of the Socio-Economic Panel. Incidentally, this empirical social research instrument, which was developed over 30 years ago at Goethe University in close cooperation with colleagues in Mannheim, has been used annually since 1984 – it is now in its 30th year - to interview representatively selected persons and households in Germany with regard to their income and living conditions. In their study, the researchers examined closely the answers which women had given regarding their subjective attitude to employment at various points in time: How did women’s attitude change after parental leave in Germany was extended in 1992 from 18 months to three years? Asked about their attitude to work after a longer period of parental leave, the mothers replied that gainful employment was no longer so important to them and that the family ranked first instead.

At that time, incidentally, almost 50 percent of the mothers had not worked prior to the child’s birth. Today it is only one third. “And in the 1990s it was possible to observe even amongst those housewives who were not gainfully employed that entering a profession became less and less an issue the longer the new law applied”, says Gangl and interprets this as an “effect of habituation to the new political environment”. Not only social awareness has slowly but constantly changed since the 1990s, but also the legal framework, such as greater involvement of fathers in parental leave as well as divorce legislation.

What relevance do the results of this retrospective study have for the situation today? “The study shows for the first time: Family policy not only has an influence on families’ economic behaviour. It is also the normative signals which are sent out and evidently subconsciously influence individual life plans”, explains Gangl. The researchers are not stopping at this retrospective analysis: “From another study, which we published last year, we know that mothers have gone back to work sooner as a result of the new family allowance”, says Andrea Ziefle. “We are working now on finding out whether the new family policy of recent years is also reflected in the subjective attitudes of fathers and mothers.”

Publication: Gangl, Markus, and Andrea Ziefle. 2015. The Making of a Good Woman: Extended Parental Leave Entitlements and Mothers’ Work Commitment in Germany. American Journal of Sociology 121 (2).

Information: Prof. Dr. Markus Gangl, Dr. Andrea Ziefle, Faculty of Social Sciences, Campus Westend, Tel: +49(0)69 798-36633, E-Mail mgangl@soz.uni-frankfurt.de or aziefle@soz.uni-frankfurt.de