Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology

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Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology
Abbreviation MPIEF
Formation 1999; 18 years ago (1999)
Type Scientific institute
Purpose Research in sociocultural anthropology, social change
Headquarters Haale, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany
Key people
Chris Hann (co-founder)
Günther Schlee (co-founder)
Parent organization
Max Planck Society
Website (in English)
(in German)

The Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology (German: Max-Planck-Institut für ethnologische Forschung) is located in Halle, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. It was founded in 1999, and moved into new buildings 2001. It is one of 80 institutes in the Max Planck Society.


The institute currently consists of three departments. Likewise, the MPISA co-manages the Center for Anthropological Studies on Central Asia with the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology of the University of Zurich.[1]

Law and Anthropology[edit]

Headed by Prof. Dr. Marie-Claire Foblets, the Department of Law and Anthropology was established in 2012 to focus on the effects of societies and cultures towards law and politics and vice versa. This department also carefully looks how scholars of this specific discipline can and should take responsibility for implications surrounding the interplay of these societal factors.[2]

Resilience and Transformation in Eurasia[edit]

Headed by Prof. Dr. Chris Hann, the Department of Resilience and Transformation in Eurasia is concerned with the interaction of economics, politics and anthropology within Eurasia. Research sub-groups are focusing and have done studies on kinship, historical anthropology, economic anthropology, urban anthropology, culture and socialism, and citizenship.[3]

Integration and Conflict[edit]

Headed by Prof. Dr. Günther Schlee, the Department of Integration and Conflict focuses on social systems particularly based on identification and differentiation among groups. The department looks into the holistic elements that build ethnic identity through kinship, friendship, language, history, religion, and how ethnicity plays a role across social systems at individual and supra-individual levels.[4]


The Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology is mainly represented by the following people:[5]


  • Prof. Dr. Marie-Claire Foblets
  • Prof. Dr. Chris Hann
  • Prof. Dr. Günther Schlee


  • Burkhard Schnepel


  • Bettina Mann (Research Coordinator)
  • Kathrin Niehuus (Head of Administration)
  • Anja Neuner (Head Librarian)


In January 2017, the Department of Law and Anthropology has invited the controversial American activist and political scientist Norman Finkelstein as a visiting scholar. The Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology has thus been criticized for providing a platform for a speaker who trivializes the Holocaust[6] and supports both Hamas and Hezbollah[7]. In a statement the Max Planck Institute said that the purpose of Finkelstein's invitation to the Institute was to engage in a dialogue with him to discuss his work within an academic context. The research institute is dedicated to basic research where controversy cannot be ruled out; controversy is a “trait of academic work”.[8]


Coordinates: 51°29′50″N 11°57′35″E / 51.49722°N 11.95972°E / 51.49722; 11.95972

External links[edit]