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New perspectives on human-plant relationships


How do plants shape our daily lives? Starting in October, a two-semester lecture series at the University of Würzburg will address this question and provide insights into the new field of plant study in the cultural sciences.

Hardly anyone experiences people-plant relationships as intensively as gardeners. How this professional group acquires and passes on its knowledge is the subject of a talk in a new lecture series at the University of Würzburg. (Image: 228635 / Colourbox)

They are the basis of life, recreational space, economic goods, medicine and much more: plants are connected to us humans in many ways, which is becoming increasingly clear due to the ecological crises of our time. That is why new cultural and social science research areas are now developing that take a closer look at the relationship between humans and plants. Research is also being conducted on this at the Julius Maximilians University (JMU). From October 2023 to January 2024, the Chair of European Ethnology / Cultural Analysis will host the first part of a lecture series that offers the public exciting insights and current findings on human-plant studies under the topic "Vegal Turn".

"For the coming winter semester, we have invited researchers who look at how plants shape human everyday life from different perspectives," says Chair Prof. Michaela Fenske. "For example, it's about the role of plants as agents in the visual arts and literature, or about the knowledge that comes into play in the horticultural care of plants." "In addition, the question is raised: Does plant labour exist and, if so, what could be understood by it?" adds Dr Arnika Peselmann, who is researching at the Chair in a DFG project on human-plant relations in modern commercial fruit growing.

International researchers in Würzburg

Speakers in Würzburg will include environmental geographer Marion Ernwein (Milton Keynes), design scholar Johanna Kleinert (Dresden), art historian and ethnologist Judith Elisabeth Weiss (Berlin), literary scholar Urte Stobbe (Vechta) and social and cultural anthropologist Cornelia Ertl (Berlin).

All meetings take place online, only. They are accessible without pre-registration. The following dates are offered:

If you miss a date, you can read the lectures of the event series in the publication series of the Chair of European Ethnology / Cultural Analysis  „Alltag – Kultur – Wissenschaft: Beiträge zur Europäischen Ethnologie“

About the Chair of European Ethnology

The Chair of European Ethnology / Cultural Analysis at the University of Würzburg, headed by Professor Michaela Fenske, is concerned with the study of everyday cultures. One focus is on the study of material and immaterial aspects of the present and history, such as values, traditions and social practices. Research focuses include studies on multispecies relations, the anthropology of the rural, the study of narrative culture and historical anthropology.


Prof. Dr. Michaela Fenske, Chair of European Ethnology / Cultural Analysis, Tel.: +49 931 31-89921,

Dr. Arnika Peselmann, Research Associate at the Chair of European Ethnology / Cultural Analysis, Tel.: +49 931 31-86358,

By Sebastian Hofmann