The aim of this seminar series is to introduce students to the techniques and methods necessary for fieldwork in transcultural ethnography, ranging from remote tribes in Papua New Guinea (i.e. the BenaBena tribe) all the way to one of the most vibrant capital cities in Europe: Berlin. Conceptual, ethical, and methodological issues are discussed, and a substantial practical component is included. Students will learn how to collect qualitative data in settings of their choice within the city of Berlin, which may vary between Berlin cafés, the Berlin nightclub scene and concert halls, the Studentendorf Schlachtensee, and migrant community centers.

 In this course, we seek to bridge the gap between theoretical methodological approaches and practice-based research in the field by placing a focus on the experiential, tangible, and subjective dimensions of ethnography. We emphasize the dialogue between theory and practice of qualitative fieldwork research in contemporary (and primarily) urban environments, where all genres of human culture are created, exhibited, performed, and consumed. The city of Berlin offers itself as the ideal setting as it stands for “cosmopolitanism and tolerance, freedom, and diversity” ( The course includes theoretical seminars and workshops that aim to introduce students to issues related to observation, interview techniques, listening practices, social skills for conducting qualitative research, and analysis techniques of qualitative data. The general principles governing ethics in transcultural ethnography research (e.g., consent, and the role of the researcher with the participants s/he studies) and audiovisual recordings are also presented.

 Course projects must include a substantial fieldwork component involving human participants of any background and in any setting in relation to the experience of living, working, and creating in Berlin. The course will enable students to develop their social skills, gain knowledge of contemporary ethics procedures regarding fieldwork research, get to see the city of Berlin itself through the eyes of people who call it their home, and acquire a solid methodological toolpack for present and future endeavors in the field of transcultural and ethnographic explorations.



·         be aware of the main ethical and theoretical issues raised in fieldwork research in transcultural ethnographic research

·         be aware of ethics procedures and regulations in relation to ethnography

·         contextualize and interpret data acquired via (participant) observation and interviews

Acquisition of Academic & Analytical Skills

·         Analyze key components of academic articles in relation to their relevance and methods section to their own work.

·         Offer and receive feedback in relation to ongoing projects, and see how their work contributes to the broader academic discussion

·         have a full grasp of qualitative data encoding, qualitative analysis methods (i.e. thematic, narrative, IPA) and strategies (GTA, structured)


·         be able to set up a fieldwork project in transcultural ethnography, using participant observation, interviews, and guided discussions

·         familiarize with ethics in fieldwork research involving human participants

·         be able to communicate and present research findings in an academic context


International exchange students and domestic students of all subjects, with a strong interest in acquiring and expanding their knowledge in cross-disciplinary research methods currently used in transcultural ethnographic fieldwork. This course is designed for undergraduate students. Master students may participate if their home university agrees. Regular degree-seeking students can select the course within the elective part of their study program (überfachlicher Wahlpflichtbereich üWP). No background knowledge in ethnography or ethnographic research methods is required

Urban Culture and Society



Day: Monday, 10-12 s.t. (10:00 am – 11.30 am)


Room 0323-26, Hausvogteiplatz 5-7, 10117 Berlin


The language of the course is English (B2 minimum level required), and conversational German (A2) is recommended for class assignments. Academic articles, recordings, and videos are English language based. The nature and structure of the course will require participants to engage local (Berlin) residents in conversation.

Language requirements (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages)

English: B2

German: A2

Semester: WiSe 2023/24