Welcome, Professor Anne Nassauer!
"The professorship is a perfect fit for what I plan to do in the next few years as a researcher and in teaching," says Anne Nassauer. She is the new Professor of Sociology, especially Political Sociology, at the University of Erfurt since April, 1st and strengthens the Faculty of Economics, Law and Social Sciences with her research and teaching.
Nassauer had already heard about the faculty before her call to Erfurt: "I know two people who studied Economics, Law and Social Sciences in Erfurt and they were so enthusiastic about the programme, the short distances on campus, the interdisciplinarity and the atmosphere - that was a good sign for me and now I'm happy to be part of the faculty."
The 39-year-old was born and raised in Berlin-Kreuzberg. She studied at the University of Potsdam and the Humboldt University in Berlin. She received her doctorate in sociology at Humboldt University in 2013 and during her three-year PhD, she spent a year as a visiting researcher at Columbia University in New York. Her doctorate was followed by a postdoctoral research position and a junior professorship at Freie Universität Berlin - with research stays at New York University, Yale University and the Karisoke Research Center in Rwanda. Anne Nassauer had also spent time abroad well before that - a year in Brussels before her studies and a semester in Grenoble and two semesters in Madrid during her studies.
Today she researches various aspects of political sociology, such as protest, collective behaviour and violence. "The professorship in political sociology is an ideal fit for my research focus. My research is very multidisciplinary, which complements the interdisciplinary approach at the Faculty of Economics, Law and Social Sciences. And empirically, I work primarily qualitatively, so I can add to the quantitative research and teaching at the faculty. Lastly, I have a very international profile, both in terms of the content of my research and in my cooperation with colleagues, especially in the US, which matches well with the internationalisation strategy at the University of Erfurt." We ask the researcher what she is currently particularly interested in and what she is working on at the moment. "I am particularly interested in how and why people engage in so-called deviant behaviour, i.e. become violent or criminal or, more generally speaking, break certain rules. There has been a rapid increase in available visual data on such behaviors in recent decades, as we now film all kinds of events and interaction, for example through mobile phones, surveillance cameras or so-called body-worn cameras. Many of these videos show how people actually behave in all kinds of situations and using such videos, researchers have been able to challenge fundamental misconceptions in a variety of research fields in recent years. Together with my colleague Nicolas Legewie, I have developed a methodological approach to use these 21st century video data in the social sciences: Video Data Analysis. I use this approach to study violent, criminal, but also everyday behaviour, as well as to understand group processes and collective rule-breaking. Currently, I am working on a book on rampage school shootings in the USA. This phenomenon still raises many questions, but again, we have more and more novel data to answer them."
In her academic journey, Anne Nassauer has been particularly inspired by the research of Randall Collins. He has been a major influence on micro-sociology, research that assumes that situational interactions (not macro-structures or individual motivations) shape social events. "I came across his work during my doctorate, asked him for feedback at the time, and he became one of my doctoral supervisors and has been one of my mentors ever since. What inspires me about him is his breadth of knowledge, his sharp analytical thinking and creativity in research. Moreover, Randall Collins, despite being one of the world's leading sociologists, is always open to meet junior researchers and students and learn about their work." But he did not remain the only person who influenced Anne Nassauer – among other colleagues, she was also influenced by Lee Ann Fuji. "I met her for the first time at a conference on violence research, where we were both presenting. Seeing me across the room, she immediately came over, hugged me, and said, 'We are the only two women here, we have to stick together', and laughed. She has supported many young women, especially Women of Colour, in the social sciences, among other things by organising networking get-togethers, with pizza and beer, where serious topics were discussed, but where we also laughed a lot. She had a very warm and cheerful manner and always spoke out in a friendly but very determined way against discrimination in the sciences. Lee Ann Fuji sadly passed away a few years ago.
I hope that in the course of my career I too can specifically promote young women, non-binary people and People of Colour in science. All of these groups are unfortunately still vastly underrepresented in most research fields and face a lot of prejudice."
In her teaching, Anne Nassauer will address the various facets of political sociology: How does collective behaviour emerge and how do groups break rules? How do social movements, uprisings and revolutions come about? What role do emotions play in our social life? How do drastic acts of violence such as school rampages occur? What are the dynamics of racism and social inequality? Other courses will deal with social science research methods: How can we systematically collect and analyse data? How can we use videos from YouTube or surveillance cameras for sociological analyses? How can machine learning help us analyse these videos? What ethical aspects do we need to consider? In her courses, students will also conduct their own sociological studies on topics of their choice in order to engage with methods through “learning by doing“.
Anne Nassauer is a researcher who is interested in what moves people, why they behave a certain way and what gives their lives meaning. For the same reason, the 39-year-old likes to travel the world with her husband. "I am simply interested in how people live in different places around the world and I enjoy meeting new people and learning languages. I am also active in various NGOs. And when there is no pandemic, I look forward to concerts, drag shows and karaoke with friends, among other things."
We are looking forward to meeting such a person and say: "Welcome to the University of Erfurt!“