Research

Burkhard Schnepel

Indian Ocean Studies: ideas that travel

Globalisation isn’t new. It effectively started in the 16th century. Back then, sailors navigated the Indian Ocean and the world’s other seas. This was accompanied by active trading: traders brought with them goods, languages and ideas. All of these influences are examined today as part of the study programme “Indian Ocean Studies” and represent some of the aspects social anthropologist Professor Burkhard Schnepel is investigating. He has created a unique network in Halle in partnership with the Max Plank Institute for Social Anthropology.

Im und am menschlichen Körper leben viele heute noch nicht vollständig bekannte Bakterien. (Foto: Colourbox.com)

Context: The Microbiome

Jeder Mensch teilt seinen Körper mit unzähligen kleinen Lebewesen, wie Bakterien. Bis vor wenigen Jahren wurde ihre Bedeutung verkannt. Heute weiß man: Bakterien können einen großen Einfluss auf die Gesundheit und sogar das Verhalten eines Menschen haben. Der Mikrobiologe Prof. Dr. Gary Sawers erläutert die Hintergründe.

New cooperation project between the University of Halle and Azerbaijan

How does a country successfully navigate the transition from a planned economy to a global market economy? What does such a profound transformation mean for the country’s legal system? A new research unit at the Institute of Business Law and Economic Law at the University of Halle will be working on these questions starting in 2017. The Volkswagen Foundation is providing 560,000 euros in support of the project on the legal transformation in Azerbaijan, which also aims to modernise teaching and research activities in the country.

Hans Adler, Elisabeth Décultot

Sulzer – the unknown philosopher

At present, it’s hard to get hold of the writings of Swiss philosopher of the Enlightenment Johann Georg Sulzer or find much literature about his work. This is set to change in the coming years: Humboldt Research Award winner Professor Hans Adler from the University of Wisconsin–Madison is planning a complete edition of the works and letters of Sulzer together with Halle’s Humboldt Professor Elisabeth Décultot.

DNA

Context: CRISPR/Cas9 gene scissors

Gene scissors derived from bacterial “CRISPR/Cas” systems are considered to be a revolutionary discovery in the field of biosciences. It has never been easier to modify the genetic material of plants, animals or humans. Dr Johannes Stuttmann from the Institute of Biology explains the technique as well as its advantages and disadvantages.

Ice age in Ethiopia: refuge in the mountains?

Did the people in Ethiopia take refuge in the mountains during the last great ice age 16,000 years ago? An international team of soil scientists, archaeologists and biologists are conducting research on this as part of a new project entitled “The Mountain Exile Hypothesis”. To do this, soil scientists from Halle will be traveling to the remote Sanetti Plateau to examine the soil there and use modern biogeochemical methods to look for traces of mankind that are thousands of years old.

“There is no road map”

Field research is not limited to the natural sciences. Fieldwork is often conducted in the humanities and social sciences, too. But how? Professor Georg Breidenstein and two of his colleagues describe how it is done in the textbook “Ethnografie – die Praxis der Feldforschung” (Ethnography – the Practice of Fieldwork). In an interview, the educationalist discusses why participatory observation is necessary and what makes social science fieldwork special.

Oil in Chad: a blessing and a curse

When a country has access to oil reserves, this goes hand in hand with unimaginable wealth, right? Chad is one of the poorest countries in the world. Since 2003 oil has been produced in this central African state. For twelve years, ethnologist Dr Andrea Behrends has been onsite examining how its society and culture have been changed by oil production.

Measuring nature

Crickets chirp at the edge of the forest, otherwise all is quiet in the Nature Park Saale Unstrut Triasland. Nine students from the University of Halle are working intently despite the midday heat. It is their last day in the field and there is still a lot left to do. In the master’s module Outdoor Ecology the up-and-coming biologists are learning what it means to conduct fieldwork in four investigation areas near Freyburg.

The memory of a city

How did the people of a Medieval city organise their living? How did the council rule? How did they punish environmental offenses? These and much more information can be found in the laws, protocols and letters of the administration. Since the 13th century those things were written down in city books. A team, headed by historian Professor Andreas Ranft and Dr Christian Speer, can finally make these books accessible to research thanks to funding from the German Research Foundation (DFG).