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|Born||August 4, 1944|
Wulf is also a member of the Interdisciplinary Center for Historical Anthropology, of the special research area “Cultures of the Performative,” of the “Languages of Emotions” Center of Excellence, and of the “InterArt/Interart Studies” graduate and postgraduate program.
Wulf spent his childhood in a parsonage in Berlin-Britz. After his school-leaving examination at the Gymnasium Steglitz, he enrolled in a master's program (History, Pedagogy, and Philosophy) at the Free University Berlin. During his studies he worked as a student aid for Johannes Flügge. He then went to Wolfgang Klafki at Philipp University of Marburg; with a scholarship from the VW Foundation . Wulf received his Master of Arts degree in 1968 .
In 1973 Wulf received his doctorate under the advisorship of Klafki at Philipp University of Marburg; in 1975 he habilitated there. In one of Klafki's advanced graduate seminars, Wulf met Dietmar Kamper, with whom he would later collaborate.
From 1970 to 1975, Wulf was employed at the Deutsches Institut für Internationale Pädagogische Forschung (the German Institute for International Pedagogical Research) in Frankfurt. In 1975 he became a full professor of pedagogy at the University of Siegen. In 1980, Wulf became a professor of anthropology and education in the Education and Psychology faculty of the Free University Berlin.
For more than 30 years, Wulf has been working on questions of historical anthropology and pedagogical anthropology. The focus of the research is on people's knowledge in a globalized world characterized by cultural diversity.
The objective of Wulf's research is to use historical and ethnographic methods as well as philosophical reflections to make a contribution to the self-understanding of people today. Gabriele Weigand's biography of Wulf listed three substantial fields of research.
Wulf claims that anthropologies that focus on white Western males have lost their claim to universality.
Wulf believed that academia need to move to a polycentric anthropology. The focus should no longer be on European images of humanity and Western thought. Other cultures have the same right to make statements about humans from their perspective. Wulf states an historical and cultural relativization and differentiation of anthropology is required that avoids extreme relativism and arbitrariness. In the globalized world, this situation leads to an increase in the complexity that will determine the living conditions of people in the future.
Logic and Passion (Logik und Leidenschaft)
The human body is the focus of the Logic and Passion phase of anthropological studies. Wulf and Dietmar Kamper wrote the book The Return of the Body (Die Wiederkehr des Körpers). It served as the foundation of the Berlin anthropological research .
Within the framework of The Return of the Body , ten international, transdisciplinary studies were created, later titled “Logic and Passion” (“Logik und Leidenschaft”). More than 150 researchers and philosophers from 25 disciplines and more than 10 countries cooperated in this project that spanned decades. This research differs from the historical anthropology in historical scholarship in that it is more oriented than the research of the historians toward making a contribution to an understanding of our current era, that is, toward a diagnosis of the present. After the end of normative anthropologies associated with the dominance of European/Western science, philosophy, and culture, it was considered imperative to develop forms of anthropological thought and research that would do justice to the changed living and development conditions in the globalized world.
Through transdisciplinary and transcultural research, a historical anthropology was created in which the human body, its senses, and cultural practices in their European form were of central importance. For this historical-anthropological research, the dual historicity, i.e., the historicity of researchers and the historicity of the studied phenomena, was of constitutive significance. The mysteriousness of the human body caused humans to be understood as homo absconditus, i.e., as beings who are only partially accessible and understandable to themselves. In addition to the rediscovery of the body and of the senses, the topic of this research was the history of the soul and the unfathomability of the sacred, the mysteriousness of love and of the beautiful, and the mystery of time and of silence.
Humankind and Its Culture (Der Mensch und seine Kultur): The task of this book, which was more than 1000 pages in length and translated into several languages, was to reconstruct 100 fundamental relations and relationships of human beings to the world and investigate them in a handbook of historical anthropology. The historical, cultural, and social localization and diagnosis of the era sought to be achieved with this work was carried out with a consciousness for the dual historicity and culturality as well as the contingencies associated with this. Even the intensive interdisciplinary cooperation changed nothing about the unavoidably fragmentary character of these investigations. However, this created the basis for continuing investigation of social diversity and the improvement of historical self-understanding and of cultural self-interpretation. The anthropological study of the world and self-relations grounded in history and culture led to insights that could result in a new (reflexive) understanding of many everyday functional interrelationships. Such experiences lead to skeptical questions regarding history as a history of progress and appropriation, the logic of the concept to be identified, the scope of the hermeneutics, and the self- and world-constitutive subject. Such skepticism led to a consciousness of the historical and cultural relativity and anthropological insight. In contrast to previous interpretations, the consciously accepted preliminary nature of anthropological knowledge is not seen as a deficiency, but as a gain. The quality of this knowledge is a consequence of the fundamental indeterminableness of humans, from which the openness for the other and for the other's knowledge results, providing motivation to look for ways to increase the complexity of anthropological knowledge. The contributions were arranged into seven chapters with the following headings: Cosmology, World and Things, Genealogy and Gender, Body, Media and Education, Coincidence and Fate, and Culture.
Anthropology: History, Culture, Philosophy (Anthropologie: Geschichte, Kultur, Philosophie): On the basis of an analysis of central paradigms of anthropology, Wulf here further developed the concept of a historical anthropology into a historical-cultural anthropology. This is created in an exchange with the paradigms of evolution/hominization, of philosophical anthropology, of anthropology in historical scholarship (historical anthropology), and of cultural anthropology / ethnology. Today it is considered imperative to develop anthropology as a transcultural and transdisciplinary research field that involves the interleaving of general and particular, global and local, and diachronic and synchronic perspectives with the goal of researching the unitas multiplex of humankind. In view of this aspiration, it is not possible to narrowly guide the concept of anthropology in one direction or the other. That's why a dynamic concept of anthropology that is open to change is recommended here. With this anthropology concept, epistemological conditions are created which respond to the demands of anthropological research in a globalized world. This anthropology concept has no systematic character, but instead one that is more heuristic. It can be specified and modified depending on the context. Its heuristic value consists first and foremost in making research multidimensional both in terms of content and method and thus more capable of conforming to the world's changing conditions.
Pedagogical Anthropology (Pädagogische Anthropologie): Wulf's basic thesis for the justification of the necessity of pedagogical anthropology states that upbringing and education constantly contains images of people – anthropological images. Without anthropological assumptions about people and about how upbringing, education, and socialization is to occur, upbringing and education is not possible. In order to bestow continuity on the research in the field of pedagogical anthropology, in 1992 Wulf initiated the founding of the Pedagogical Anthropology Commission in the German Society for Educational Science (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Erziehungswissenschaft). This initiative was supported by Dieter Lenzen, Klaus Mollenhauer, Konrad Wünsche, Theodor Schulze, Eckart Liebau, and Max Liedtke. It was later joined by the following: Johannes Bilstein, Jörg Zirfas, Michael Göhlich, Birgit Althans, Micha Brumlik, Maike Sophia Baader, Doris Schuhmacher-Chilla, Helga Peskoller, Stephan Sting, Ursula Stenger, Hans-Rüdiger Müller, Gabriele Sorgo, Edgar Forster, Christian Rittelmeyer, Gisela Miller-Kipp, Anja Tervooren, Kristin Westphal and many other colleagues. This research takes its starting point in the works of pedagogical anthropology which were created after the Second World War and whose most important representatives included: Otto Friedrich Bollnow, Heinrich Roth, Andreas Flitner, Rudolf Lassahn, and Hans Scheuerl. Over the years, this commission initiated and led by Wulf treated many fundamental topics. The approx. 20 books that have been issued in the meantime cover a broad spectrum of pedagogical-anthropological research. They include books on the history and theory of pedagogical anthropology, on anthropology of perception and aesthetics, on play, imagination, and work, on pedagogical action, including its anthropological and ethical basic conditions, on the role of space, time, and institutions in pedagogical work, on the meaning of nature and religion, generation, love, and friendship, on the senses, and on questions regarding gender. What the authors of these studies have in common is that they are convinced of the importance of the historical and cultural dimension of anthropology and they are attempting to develop important perspectives for the understanding of upbringing, education, and socialization in the world of today using philosophical reflection as well as historical and ethnographic research. They are also convinced that, due to European and global changes, pedagogical research and work sorely need fundamental anthropological research that is to contribute to a better understanding of upbringing, education, and socialization in the various parts of the world. It is no longer sufficient to localize upbringing and education in national contexts. The European orientation also needs to be supplemented through the recognition of Asian, Latin American, and African perspectives, i.e., global influences need to be taken into account.
The Berlin Study of Rituals and Gestures
The rediscovery of rituals: After spending 15 years pursuing the diachronic perspective in his anthropological research, starting at the beginning of the 21st century Wulf increasingly turned his attention to synchronic anthropological studies as well. This meant that ethnographic research of the present gained significance; historical anthropology was expanded into historical-cultural anthropology. The focus of this work was the research of rituals and gestures in the four central socialization areas: school, family, peer group, and media. Within the scope of the special Center of Collaborate Research “Cultures of the Performative”, rituals in upbringing, education, and socialization were researched for 12 years. This involved supplementing the historically justified critical attitude toward rituals with proof of their productive effects and positive impacts. In this study, which was unique in terms of its scope and duration and involved research on an inner-city Berlin elementary school and its environment, it was successfully proved how important rituals are for creating the social, for creating communities, and for learning and education.
Rituals cannot be reduced to their functionality as is common in Anglo-Saxon research. They are the expression of emotions and relationships and have an aesthetic side. Another important element in rituals is their repetitive character. They are homogenizing and create a community; they are liminal, which means that they create transitions from the status of a child to the status of a school child, for example. Rituals are public; they have playful elements through which their staging and performance is varied. With the help of rituals, the values, norms, and structures of a school are inscribed into the bodies of the children so that the children gradually become schoolchildren. The children are active in the process. They determine how and to what degree these processes take place. In these processes, children learn certain modes of behavior important for school and are provided with the ability to share the attention of the teacher with other children, something they are often not capable of doing before they start school. Children learn to sit still, to restrict their movements during lessons, and to concentrate. This “new” behavior is learned through frequent repetition. School rituals convey a collectively shared knowledge of how a school works. They refer to practices which are staged and performed and in which children and teachers present and interpret themselves within the framework of a common order.
For the research of the performative of rituals, at least three aspects are important. One aspect points out that the performativity of rituals is historically and culturally conditioned. In addition to this perspective of understanding rituals as cultural performances, the performative character of language plays an important role. This means that spoken expressions in the context of rituals often have the character of action. That children are already addressed as boys or girls at a very early point is an example of this. Over time, repeatedly being addressed as a boy or girl leads to the formation of a gender character. The action character of language also becomes clear in situations such as weddings, in which the “I do” fundamentally changes one's life thereafter. The third aspect of the performative consists of an aesthetic dimension. This makes clear that one should not just analyze rituals under the perspective of their function, but instead that it is important how people express something and how they stage themselves in the process. In the performance of rituals, this “how” is a crucial element for the acceptance of the ritual. In artistic performances, this aesthetic dimension even plays the decisive role for judging their quality. This case study, which is likely unique worldwide, shows that rituals create the social; they create order and enable identification. Rituals create transitions and generate memories; they have a magical component and are suitable for handling difference; they promote mimetic learning processes, assist in the development of practical knowledge, and make a major contribution to the development of socially competent individuals.
The significance of gestures: The Berlin Study of Rituals and Gestures was able reconstruct in a variety of ways how the initiation and control of social and pedagogical processes is accomplished through gestures. The word “gesture” can be derived from the Latin “gerere,” “agere” – “bring forth,” “execute.” Recognition, demarcation, and distancing are expressed with gestures. Gestures serve to give structure to learning processes and pedagogical acts. The following questions guide the research: “How are gestures used in which context?” “What effect does the performativity of gestures have on people?” “To what extent do gestures have their own spoken language-independent logic?” “What is the productive function of gestures?” You cannot do justice to gestures if you only consider them from a linguistic perspective. A large part of gesture research did this for a long time. The findings were that a gesture promotes the understanding of a spoken statement when it is accompanied by a gesture. In the Berlin study of gestures, which focused on performativity, it was first and foremost the “how” of the staging and performance of gestures that was investigated. In upbringing and education, the gesture of pointing is particularly important. It is of fundamental importance in the relationship of generations. Those belonging to the older generation show the world to those belonging to the younger generation. The striking gesture, as well as the iconic and metaphorical gesture, can be differentiated from the pointing gesture. Wulf's research focuses on four aspects of gestures in particular: (1) gestures as movements of the body, (2) gestures as expression and presentation, (3) gestures as forms of upbringing and education, and (4) gestures as forms of interpretation. This relates to the question of whether and the extent to which gestures contain something that goes beyond their intentionality that can only be experienced in mimetic reenactment. This question is not easy to answer. Is a gesture only intentional, or are there gestures of expression and of presentation that are not intentional? In the Berlin Study of Rituals and Gestures, it was able to be demonstrated, above all with nonspecific striking gestures, that no definite meanings could be assigned to these gestures. It is different with the iconic gestures, which are characterized by their image character, such as the gesture of folding one's hands or of tipping one's head to the side as a gesture of tiredness or sleeping. Other gestures are used to indicate sizes, such as the size of the child or of an object. For these gestures, the focus is on the figurative element. Many of these gestures can be understood cross-culturally. Due to its figurative character, the gesture of sleeping, for example, is understood in almost all cultures. It is more difficult with the metaphorical gestures, the cultural gestures that one understands when one is familiar with a culture. Gestures are expression and presentation. A physical configuration, an inner intention, and a conveyed relationship to the world are expressed in them. Gestures have a physical side that is seen from the outside and can be reenacted in a mimetic impulse. This physical manifestation is also an expression of an inner situation that can be felt from inside and seen from outside. In this tension between the exterior and the interior, the mediation between the interior and the exterior that is typical for gestures is given expression.
Mimesis, imagination, and emotion
In a study about mimesis carried out together with Gunter Gebauer. For culture, art, and society, it was about the reconstruction of mimetic phenomenon, beginning in antiquity and ending with Derrida. This study was not about developing a history of mimetic thought. The research was instead carried out in the sense of the concept of family resemblance (Wittgenstein) with the objective of investigating how mimesis and mimetic processes were understood in various eras and in different contexts. Here it was found that the richness of the mimesis concept is in the fact that it has no narrowly delineated meaning, but that it changes and further develops in the course of historical development in the sense of family resemblance. It was about showing how mimesis was understood in the various historical contexts. For this reason research was carried out into how mimetic phenomena were conceptualized in antiquity and how these concepts changed in the Middle Ages, in the Renaissance, and in the modern era. The reconstruction and analysis of the mimesis concept of Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno, and Jacques Derridas were particularly interesting. Mimetic processes also have as their aim an assimilation to the work of art, which allows the work of art to remain as it is and which gives the person who is behaving mimetically the opportunity to include the forms of the work of art in her imagination. With the mimetic appropriation of works of art, an assimilation to an exterior and an incorporation of the exterior into the world of the imaginary occurs. This process also takes place in the opposite direction. Mental images are brought to the outside and objectified in a mimetic process. This happens with artistic works, but also with text and action plans. The mimetic process is a bridging process that on the one hand converts the exterior world into the interior world and on the other hand conveys the interior world into the exterior world. In the mimetic process, what occurs is not just an assimilation to a work of art or another person to which one mimetically relates in order to become the person that one is or can become through this assimilation. In mimetic processes, one does not become like the other, but one needs the other in order to be able to develop in relation to the other. In the relationship between children and parents, these processes play a central role. Because children want to grow up, they first need to become like their parents. Mimetic processes take place not just through seeing and hearing. Experiences of touching, smelling, tasting are also mimetically processed. Mimetic processes contribute to the partial overcoming of the subject/object split. In the mimetic process, the person emerges from himself and clings to an exterior. This often occurs pre-consciously and without thinking. This approaching of an assimilation to the other is an important form of appropriation of an exterior, an alterity. These processes take place even before thinking and speaking develop. They are physical processes, often sensuous ones, which take place even before the question of whether something is right or wrong is asked. Mimetic processes are polycentric. People hardly know what is happening with them when they are in a mimetic relationship and appropriate something in the process. What is mimetically learned can change again in response to later references and stimuli. Mimetically obtained knowledge is not clearly definable knowledge. In mimetic learning, a figure or a totality that is often not yet differentiated in the mimetic process is acquired. The mimetic movement aims at taking a symbolically generated world and interpreting a prior world that itself is already interpreted. A new interpretation of an already interpreted world takes place. This applies even to the repetition. The gesture of reproduction creates structures of meaning different from the prior givens. It isolates an object from the general context and establishes a perspective of reception that is different from the one perceived in the prior world. Isolation and change of perspective are characteristics of aesthetic processes that tie in with the close relationship between mimesis and aesthetics that has been seen since Plato. The mimetic new interpretation is a new perception, “a seeing as,” as formulated by Wittgenstein. The mimetic action involves the intention of showing a symbolically generated world in such a way that it can be seen as a distinct one. Mimetic processes do not just relate to other people. The recognition that cultural life is largely mimetic learning goes back to Plato and Aristotle. Plato already spoke about how there is a mimetic dynamic that one cannot resist, especially as a child and adolescent. We need to imitate other people, images, and models. According to Plato's interpretation, the (young) person cannot resist the power of the mimetic, but is subject to it. For this reason the negative occurrences and images from the ideal state need to be disregarded. Homer, who was long seen as a master teacher of the Greeks, should no longer play the central role in the education of the youth, but instead the philosophers. In contrast to Homer, who reported about the misdeeds of the gods, thereby creating negative role models, the philosophers were to become role models of the youth exclusively as models of the good. Aristotle set a different accent. He pleaded not simply for the exclusion of the negative, but instead demanded an examination of it in order to immunize the youth against the negative. In spite of points of view that differed, Plato and Aristotle agreed that the human is a “mimetic animal” and that culture is learned in mimetic processes. Here mimesis becomes a synonym for upbringing. Mimetic processes do not just aim at creating a copy like a photocopier. In the mimetic process, children, adolescents, and adults are active. They relate to an exterior, assimilate it, and become similar to it. For example, if children mimetically relate to a teacher that they really like, these children do not become like their role model. But they need this role model to which they can relate in order to be able to develop certain traits to bring themselves forth as they would like to be. These insights about the central role of mimetic learning are also supported today through Michael Tomasello's research, which shows that mimetic processes allow children who are just eight months old to understand the intentions of adults before they are manifested. Non-human primates are never able to do this. The neuroscientific research about the mirror neuron system makes the importance of mimetic processes clear. In this research it is shown that when people carry out an action, such as when they hit someone, neural processes occur that are similar to those of people watching these actions. Thus when people see an action, their brain reacts in a manner that is similar to if they had carried out this action themselves. When people dissipate in social situations and see how other people react, this generates nearly the same processes, with the only difference being that they are more weakly articulated. Several different methodologies support Wulf's theory that cultural life largely takes place mimetically.
Wulf's research shows that mimetic processes are enabled through imagination. The imagination is a conditio humana. Without it a person cannot become a person, neither phylogenetically nor ontogenetically. In this recourse to antiquity, Imagination and fantasy can be described as the power that makes the world appear to people. “Making something appear” on the one hand means that the world appears to people in a way dictated by the conditions of being human and is perceived accordingly. On the other hand, it means using mental images to conceptualize the world and creating it according to these conceptions. The imagination is the energy that connects people with the world and the world with the people. It has a bridging function between outside and inside and between inside and outside. It is chiastic and expresses its significance in this function. In Roman thought, fantasy becomes imagination. This concept expresses another characteristic of imagination: the transformation of the outside world into images and their transformation into a “mental” image world. In the German language, imagination is translated by Paracelsus with the word “Einbildungskraft [de],” that is, as energy that the world puts into the person and thereby makes his notions “worldly.” Without this possibility there would be no human cultural world, nothing imaginary, and no language. Without imagination, there would be no memory and no projections of the future. Imagination is the ability to imagine an object in the imaginary even when it is not present. The discussion about imagination made it clear that imagination is more than the capability of bringing what is absent into the present and imagining the world. What is no less important is the possibility of imagination of restructuring existing orders and creating something new. Imagination makes it possible to invent things and develop creativity. The question regarding the extent to which imagination is bound to the conditions of nature and culture in the generation of its works remains unanswered. Even if one assumes that artists behave like natura naturans, i.e. like the creative force of nature, this does not yet clarify how originality, creativity, and innovation come into being. The creativity of imagination is based on the act of inventio, which oscillates between actio and passio and is shifted to the subject. Imagination shows itself not just in images, as the etymology of the term suggests. It is no less important for perception and production of tones and sounds. The “nearby” senses of smell, taste, and touch, as well as the sense of motion, rely on the imagination. The same applies to synesthesia and the sensus communis. Here a differentiation must be made between three types of images: 1) the image as a magical presence, 2) the image as a mimetic representation, and 3) the image as a technical simulation. Another perspective that was further developed by Wulf focuses on mental images in which the human imagination becomes visible. On the one hand, the mental image world of a social subject is dependent on the collective imaginary of his culture, and on the other hand, it is dependent on the uniqueness and unmistakability of the images that come from his individual history; ultimately it is also dependent on the mutual overlap and penetration of both image worlds. Here seven types of images can be differentiated with a heuristic intention: images as conduct regulators, orientation images, images of ideals, images of will, images of memory, mimetic images, and archetypal images.
In the context of his role as the principal investigator in the “Languages of Emotion” cluster of excellence, Wulf increasingly turned his attention to research on emotions in recent years. This above all involved researching the historical and cultural character of emotions within a broad spectrum of emotions. Thus exploratory investigations were carried out regarding the connections between emotions and movement, emotion and memory, emotion and rituals, and emotions and imagination: Studies regarding the happiness of the family in Germany and Japan, regarding emotions in the Muslim world, and about the formation of feelings and emotions were carried out. Finally, an ethnographic investigation of recognition and appreciation in school was carried out. The following studies were carried out in particular: -Emotions As Motion, with Valerij Savchuk, Goulnara Kaidarova, and Russian colleagues in St. Petersburg; -Emotions and Memory, with Chen Hongjie and Pan Lu and colleagues from Peking University in Beijing; -Emotions in Rituals and Performances, with Axel Michaels and Indian colleagues in Goa; - Emotion and Imagination, with Norval Baitello and Latin American Colleagues in São Paulo; - Emotions in a Transcultural World, Especially in the Arab and in the European Culture (Beirut) - The Formation of Feelings, with Ute Frevert (Max Planck Institute for Human Development); -Emotions, special issue of the Zeitschrift für Erziehungswissenschaft; -Recognition and Appreciation in Upbringing, Education, and Socialization. An ethnographic study in Berlin; -The Happiness of the Family. Ethnographic Studies in Germany and Japan (with Shoko Suzuki, Jörg Zirfas, et al.).
Christoph Wulf is one of the best-known German education researchers and anthropologists. His books have been translated into 15 languages, and his other writings into 20. In 1972 he founded the Peace Education Commission of the International Peace Research Association, which he served as its first secretary, and later he founded the commissions Education Research with the Third World and Pedagogical Anthropology of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Erziehungswissenschaft (German Society of Educational Research) [de]. He was a member of the board of trustees of the German Society for Peace and Conflict Research) (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Friedens- und Konfliktforschung), of the Council der International Peace Research Association, of the scientific advisory board of the Funkkolleg Beratung in der Erziehung (Advice in Upbringing), of the scientific advisory group for the comprehensive school trial in North Rhine-Westphalia, of the Educational Science Network Amsterdam (President), of the scientific advisory board of the Institut National de Recherche Pédagogique (Paris/Lyon), and of the International Research Center for Cultural Studies (Vienna). He serves as the editor and is a member of the editorial and advisory boards for many national and international periodicals. For his anthropological research, the University of Bucharest awarded him the title “professor honoris causa.” Due to the global significance of his anthropological studies, he was invited for research stays and guest professorships in many parts of the world, including: Stanford University; Tokyo University, Kyoto; Beijing; Mysore, Delhi; Paris (Diderot, Nanterre, Vincennes-Saint-Denis, Institut de France, Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales), Lille, Strasbourg; Modena; Amsterdam; Stockholm University; Copenhagen; University of London; and Saint Petersburg, Kazan. In 2008 he was elected to the position of Vice President of the German UNESCO Commission. He is a member of the national committee Education for Sustainable Development (Bildung für nachhaltige Entwicklung), of the expert panel Inclusive Education (Inklusive Bildung), and of the board of trustees of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).
- Der Mensch in der globalisierten Welt. Anthropologische Reflexionen zum Verständnis unserer Zeit. Christoph Wulf in conversation with Gabriele Weigand. Münster 2011
- Anthropology. A Continental Perspective. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013
- Anthropologie. Geschichte-Kultur-Philosophie. Cologne, 2009 (edited 2nd edition; first edition Reinbek 2004)
- Une anthropologie historique et culturelle: Rituels, mimesis sociale et performativité. Paris, 2007.
- Anthropologie kultureller Vielfalt. Interkulturelle Bildung in Zeiten der Globalisierung. Bielefeld, 2006
- Zur Genese des Sozialen. Mimesis, Performativität, Ritual. Bielefeld, 2005
- With Gunter Gebauer [de]: Mimetische Weltzugänge. Stuttgart, 2003
- Anthropologie of Education. Münster, 2002
- With Gunter Gebauer [de]: Spiel, Ritual, Geste. Mimetisches Handeln in der sozialen Welt. Reinbek, 1998
- With Gunter Gebauer [de]: Mimesis - Culture - Art – Society. Berkeley, 1995.
- Theorien und Konzepte der Erziehungswissenschaft. Munich, 7th ed. 1993.
- With Gunter Gebauer [de]: Mimesis - Kultur - Kunst - Gesellschaft. Rowohlts Enzyklopädie. Reinbek, 1992.
- With Dietmar Kamper [de]: Im Schatten der Milchstraße. Tübingen, 1981.
- With Jürgen Dietrich: Gesamtschulalltag. Die Fallstudie Kierspe. Paderborn, 1979.
- Das politisch-sozialwissenschaftliche Curriculum. Munich, 1973.
- With Shoko Suzuki, Jörg Zirfas, Ingrid Kellermann, Yoshitaka Inoue, Fumio Ono, Nanae Takenaka: Das Glück der Familie. Ethnographische Studien in Deutschland und Japan, 2011.
- With Birgit Althans, Kathrin Audehm, Gerald Blaschke, Nino Ferrin, Ingrid Kellermann, Ruprecht Mattig, Sebastian Schinkel: Die Geste in Erziehung, Bildung und Sozialisation. Ethnographische Feldstudien. Wiesbaden, 2011
- With Birgit Althans, Kathrin Audehm, Constanze Bausch, Michael Göhlich, Stephan Sting, Anja Tervooren, Monika Wagner-Willi, Jörg Zirfas: Ritual and Identity. The Staging and Performing of Rituals in the Lives of Young People. London, 2010
- With Birgit Althans. With the cooperation of Julia Foltys, Martina Fuchs, Sigrid Klasen, Juliane Lamprecht, Dorothea Tegethoff: Geburt in Familie, Klinik und Medien. Eine qualitative Untersuchung. Opladen, 2008
- With Birgit Althans, Gerald Blaschke, Nino Ferrin, Michael Göhlich, Benjamin Jörissen, Ruprecht Mattig, Iris Nentwig-Gesemann, Sebastian Schinkel, Anja Tervooren, Monika Wagner-Willi: Lernkulturen im Umbruch. Rituelle Praktiken in Schule, Medien, Familie und Jugend. Wiesbaden, 2007
- With Birgit Althans, Kathrin Audehm, Constanze Bausch, Benjamin Jörissen, Michael Göhlich, Ruprecht Mattig, Anja Tervooren, Monika Wagner-Willi, Jörg Zirfas: Bildung im Ritual: Schule, Familie, Jugend, Medien. Wiesbaden, 2004
- With Birgit Althans, Kathrin Audehm, Constanze Bausch, Michael Göhlich, Stephan Sting, Anja Tervooren, Monika Wagner-Willi, Jörg Zirfas: Das Soziale als Ritual. Zur performativen Bildung von Gemeinschaften. Opladen 2001
- With Birgit Althans, Kathrin Audehm, Constanze Bausch, Benjamin Jörissen, Michael Göhlich, Stephan Sting, Anja Tervooren, Monika Wagner-Willi, Jörg Zirfas: Grundlagen des Performativen. Eine Einführung in die Zusammenhänge von Sprache, Macht und Handeln. Munich, 2001
Edited books (a selection)
- With Jörg Zirfas: Handbuch Pädagogische Anthropologie. Wiesbaden, 2013
- With Axel Michaels: Exploring the Senses. London, New York, New Delhi, 2013.
- With Axel Michaels: Emotions in Rituals and Performances. London, New York, New Delhi, 2012
- With Michalis Kontopodis and Bernd Fichtner: Children, Development and Education: Cultural, Historical, Anthropological Perspectives. Dordrecht, 2011
- With Jacques Poulain and Fathi Triki: Emotionen in einer transkulturellen Welt. Paragrana. Internationale Zeitschrift für Historische Anthropologie, 20 (2011) 2.
- Der Mensch und seine Kultur. Hundert Beiträge zur Geschichte, Gegenwart und Zukunft des menschlichen Lebens. Cologne, 2010 (first edition 1997).
- With Bernd Hüppauf: Dynamics and Performativity of Imagination. The Image between the Visible and the Invisible. London, 2009
- With Christina von Braun [de]: Mythen des Blutes. Frankfurt/Main, 2007
- With Gabriele Brandstetter [de]: Tanz als Anthropologie. Munich, 2007
- With Jörg Zirfas: Die Pädagogik des Performativen: Theorien, Methoden, Perspektiven. Weinheim, 2007
- With Gerd Jüttemann and Michael Sonntag: Die Seele. Ihre Geschichte im Abendland. Göttingen, 2005
- With Ludger Schwarte: Körper und Recht. Anthropologische Dimensionen der Rechtsphilosophie. Munich, 2003
- With Dietmar Kamper [de]: Logik und Leidenschaft. Berlin, 2002
- With Dietmar Kamper [de]: Die Wiederkehr des Körpers. Frankfurt/Main, 1982 (several editions)
- Wörterbuch der Erziehung. Munich, 1974, 7th ed. 2089 (44-47 thousand)
- Kritische Friedenserziehung. Frankfurt/Main, 1973 (several editions)
- Evaluation. Munich, 1972