Are you depressed, dear PhD student?

A few weeks ago I was applying for a post-doc position, a one year fellowship, at a university in the US. Differently to Germany, most countries have a catalogue set of questions regarding ethnicity, race, gender and disabilities. In the midst of these boxes to tick, I stumbled upon suggestions of illnesses that an applicant might have, one of them, understandably, was depression. Asking a PhD student or early career academic whether they might have / had a depression is not without irony. A simple look at the comments and likes unterneath any current social media posts concerned with mental health in academia, especially during a PhD, hints at the incommensurable vastnes of people who might be affected. And the thing is … most of us are not affected because we’re not „strong enough“ for academia, no … it is because this system does not leave any room for care, support and friendship.

Instead, what it does is fill our heads with this idea that everything needs to be perfect. The paper needs to be perfect, as does the presentation. However, usually people are not born to write perfect papers or give perfect presentations. Still, we are judged by them. But how are we supposed to learn if there is no chance to fail and improve?

Oh, I was wrong, there is one thing that we are taught (sometimes quite literally) during a PhD: it is to put out our ellbows, not make friends and blame ourselves for „failure“.

Did you know that the average PhD in Germany takes 5,7 years? But we are initally funded only for 3 years – any extensions needs to be applied for and supported with arguments why it is not our fault that we „are behind“ and that we are „sure it will be finished in the next half a year“. How does that not naturalise the idea that we have to explain ourselves to not always be the „best“? I have question, though: who actually is this „perfect“ academic? Does he (pun intended) never have family issues? Has he never been sick? Has he always had that courage to ask for extensions so that his mind was free to do some (creative) work? Was he always able just to get out of bed every morning, socialise, network and not have nightmares afterwards? Was he always accepted by his cohort, never judged and always supported by his supervisor? Was he always wealthy enough or lucky enough to be properly funded to go to the conferences he wanted to or needed to?

I reckon this perfect early academic does not exist. Why? Because we are humans – and so it should be!

No matter what we research on – it is work that concerns humans, is written for humans, judged by humans and should be done by humans!

For a couple of weeks now, we at En-Gender have opened a bi-weekly space to rant about academia. Not because we do not like academia or want to escape, but because we love academia and want to be or stay a part of it. During these weeks I have learnt once more that there are so many different as well as similar issues that we are facing as PhD students and early career scholars. However, most of them stem from a toxic environment, may it be on state, university or department level. The problem, though, goes further: most of the times we do not see the toxic environment or, worse, accept it as given and push ourselves to „just handle it better“. Why is that so? What makes academia always a little bit worse than other jobs? It might be the mix of prestige, exclusivity and hierarchies, but who am I to tell?

PhD-social-media influencing seems to have become a whole new market space. Also, more and more people start to share their frustration and anxieties (as I have done lately, too). However much this might have positive effects on others, it does not even scratch the surface of what would be at stake if academia was to become a place in which care, support and friendship are possible: nothing less than the destruction of academia itself and the creation of a new one. The problem is, the first ones to not go with the flow are always the ones that are negatively impacted. No one wants to be that person that looses out, especially after finishing this amazing work of writing and submitting a PhD. Most either continue to play along or leave the institution alltogether.

But, academia might be a shit show, but it is not a sinking ship – or at least I hope so. There has always been change, change that followed times of exclusion and frustration. Let’s all just hope that the times of frustration are nearly over and the times of change are about to start! Any suggestions?


Role Models II A Manifesto

A while ago, I have been sitting at a conference dinner, eating amazing food, speaking to fantastic people. During that dinner, we started to talk about our „academic crushes“ and, subsequently, about idols and role models. Someone said that it is usually better not to meet one’s idols. At that point, I had to intervene and tell the stories about the various times I have „met“ Judith Butler. I told the four people in this conversation that not only do I have three autographs, but also a picture with Butler – and that I have written a blogpost about idols in academia. Of course, they wanted to see the picture, so I took out my phone and searched for it. Suddenly, the person in front of me began to laugh – I had forgotten, that my phone case says:

Don’t worry

I have already read

Judith Butler

so you don’t have to

Naturally, I became the Butler-person of the conference and those who had been part of the conversation that evening couldn’t help themselves but had to smile during my presentation the next day – in which I obviously also used Butler’s theories.

In the days following that conference, I wanted to write another blogpost, another take on and about the necessity of role models. But, as it goes, life happened. Too many things happened. Academia was a place in which most people do not qualify as role models, some not even as people I want to spend my time with or see in the office hallways.

However, today during lunch a colleague „criticized“ the work of my supervisor. Even though I also have some critical points about his work, I got the sudden urge to defend him. Why?

It was not because his work is infallible. Rather, I did not want to lose the positive view on one of the few people in academia who I think can help to make it a better place. But should he, or idols in general, be uncriticizable? Definitely not!

Being criticizable, even encouraging people to take a critical stand against one’s actions and teachings, is what makes a role model such one.

In my last post on this topic, I said that being an idol is part of one of the three things I love about academia:

„In my opinion, there are three aspects of working at the university. I think you should like two of them, or better still, love two of them, but I do love the three of them:

1. researching, 2. writing and 3. teaching.“

And exactly this third aspect, that of teaching, must be embodied by any of my role models. By this I don’t just mean giving „classical“ seminars or lectures and thereby „teaching“ or even „explaining“ something to others, but the will and enthusiasm to generate new questions, perspectives and points of views in exchange with others. This is the only way to question existing knowledge and develop new ideas. For this reason, points 1, 2, and 3 are actually inseparable and (should) be interwoven and reflected upon in academia.

Being open to criticism and change is exactly what I meant by „teaching“. It is only through conversation, discussion and exchange that we grow. In relation to what I have written in another post, the one on imposters which got a lot of feedback, I want to stress the fact that looking at idols like this, widens who we consider as idols.

It can be our supervisors (old ones and new ones), people we meet at conferences (thank you for making me write this new post), our colleagues (especially those who, after reading the post on imposters, reflected upon their own behavior), students (thanks for those wonderful seminars), even authors of fictional books or their characters. On this point, I have to give a shout out to the wonderful book by Emilie Pine: „Notes on Self“ (2018), which I have found in my favorite book store in Dublin on my last visit. It is a must-read! (Maybe I am biased because Emilie Pine noted exactly the same three points on why she started to work in academia as I did … this cannot be a coincidence, right?)

We do need role models!

Without them, this place would (only) be grey, plain, depressing, and not the right place to put any of our emotional and intellectual labor and effort into. If we chose to be a part of the machine – and it should stay a constant choice! – we need to look for idols. Not in order to strive to be like them, but to be inspired by them. Let them influence our way to work with one another, for others.

For this, they do not have to be perfect, but far from it. Real role models also see you as theirs.

Which brings me to my last point…

The most important role model – at the risk of sounding like a neoliberal motivational card – have to be ourselves. We might think of ourselves as imposters, as not being good enough, smart enough, pushing enough, nice enough or professional enough. But the will to become better is what should inspire us.

Sadly, it is the real imposters (as I use it in my other post) who think of themselves as idols – for others. They would never consider others as role models. And it is those who think of themselves as imposters who would never consider that they already are a role model for others.

A big thank you to the latter ones! You are what makes academia a better place.

PS …

If you want to be inspired by people in academia, check out our En-Gender Conversations podcast series. Season one is already out and we are currently recording season 2. It has been so wonderful to virtually meet and speak with so many amazing people – so please share and be inspired!

You can find us here:

On friends, imposters and networking as a PhD student

It’s been a week since I have come back from a conference. It was a wonderful conference. After two years of the pandemic, this was the first in-person conference I attended, and as is usually goes: you only know what you have missed when you experience it again!

Meeting all those amazing scholars, even in some cases establishing a relationship with them which is based rather on friendship and support than solely on academic exchange, was something I knew is part of academia, but completely forgot about during those days of the pandemic in which the closest we go to that was during individual conversations with colleagues in our own university or during the occasional online meeting. Still, a dinner (and maybe a glass of wine) beats all this. 

Those three days of the conference were an emotional roller coaster. Because it is easy to get blinded by the shiny things in academia and networking. What I had to learn the hard way and got to experience second hand as well during that time: not everyone networks with the sole purpose of exchange and getting to know other scholars. Some, well, I have to admit it is “most”, only look out for themselves. By doing so, they might want to trick you. 

As a PhD scholar, or at least I hope this will change a bit later on, it is even easier to get pulled into the aura of those well-known scholars who often lead the most influential departments in the field and, of course in the background, play the puppet masters. 

Once they compliment your work, seem interested and maybe even hint to the possibility of funding opportunities, that is when they get the chance to get you on their hook. Of course, as I said, there are those who do want to help you, those who are genuinely interested in your work, those who want to help you to find postdoctoral opportunities.

But then there are those others. How can we know who is who?

Here are my suggestions (please add more) to reveal an imposter*

*(I intentionally call them imposters, since it is never them who have the imposter syndrome, but actually those who should have):

  • Imposters seem interested, ask questions, but never add their own perspective or input on what you have just said – only if they refer to a work they have already published in that domain.
  • Imposters ask whether you already have funding opportunities, say there might be something coming up, but never suggest a single opportunity.
  • Imposters say they highly value your opinion, maybe even your criticism. They might ask you to read their new work. They do not ask about your publications. What you wrote is only important to them if you’re already in their domain and your work in exchange with theirs.
  • Imposters ask you about colleagues that you both know. They want to know what you know, they speak highly of everyone they mention. They never reveal their relation to any colleagues.
  • Imposters ask you questions; they tell you that this is an interesting thought which needs to be looked into. They do not ask whether you are already working on this and might want to get it published; they do not propose to work together.

As an early career scholar it might be tricky to deal with this. Because we have to ‘play the game as much as we can endure it’, to quote a friend, we cannot just not reply to the imposter. We have to speak with them, because having them on our side or just in neutral relation is where we need them. Having them as our enemy can only work once we have finished our PhDs, and maybe only once we have secured a permanent position. 

Furthermore, it feels nice when the imposter acknowledges you. Getting compliments in academia is much too rare to not be touched by it. But this is exactly what the imposter plays with. They know how to play the game, not because they have always won it, but because they have made the rules!

I am always wondering if and for how long we have to be part of this game. When am I finally allowed to change the rules? Is there even such a time? During the last months, the community of En-Gender has grown into such a beautiful space that I thought it might finally be possible to change academia. But it really isn’t. 

The only thing we can do is to distinguish our friends from the imposters. 

To quote another friend, we have to ‘build our army’ – and always make sure that you also reach to those coming after you! Otherwise, you will once be an imposter yourself. Our networks have to reach through all levels of academia; it starts with students and ends with professors. If you cannot see the value that both can give you as a person and as a scholar, then you’re on the best way to become a great player in the game – an imposter. 

At one point at the conference I got the feeling that I have fallen into the imposter’s trap. I told others that I am afraid that someone might use my idea without referencing me or working with me. They encouraged me to publish as soon as possible. Maybe even as a blogpost, like here, because imposters can publish much quicker in other formats than a PhD student can. 

But then I met a friend at lunch this week who said to me:

“You know, there are two kinds of people in academia. Those who have all the great ideas and those who steal them. Just give it to them, if it makes them feel better, you are the one who will have a thousand more great ideas.”

This was such a nice way to look at it. But does it really help? 

It took me some time to decide whether I would write something up and publish it (here or elsewhere) or just to let the whole matter pass. 

Here is what I am going to do: 

I want to create new rules and so I ask my peers: is there someone out there who is interested in working on the esoteric / kabbalistic elements of poststructuralism? 

Obviously I am not the first or only one thinking about this, so if there is someone out there, who is as much interested in poststructuralist theory as I am and also interested in the literary / religious / esoteric elements of it – write to me!

Dear imposter: Working with others to make our research better is much more fun than working for your own benefit! But if you do want to work on this idea, I can give you a list of works by some fantastic scholars who have already established the relationship between esotericism and poststructuralism that you seemed so interested in. 

There is nothing new under the sun – the question is what we make of it!

PS: A note on friends

There might be some friends who have all our best in mind but often do not reflect their own position. They might not always see that they are in a status in which they can easily publish a high profile paper which you cannot, but you developed that idea together or just helped them formulate theirs by discussions and literature suggestions. 

How do we recognize them as friends? 

  • If you ask them to quote a work of yours they might have missed, they ask you if there are any more they should add
  • They are the ones also giving you literature suggestions
  • When you criticize their behaviour, they want to change it
  • You should find your name in their acknowledgement section

How to empower – my 2021 with En-Gender 

This has originally been published at En-Gender.

A few weeks back, we at the En-Gender team had the idea to publish once more end-of-the-year blogposts with our experiences and memories. But why am I only writing this now? This is enigmatic for my 2021: Many ideas, but never enough energy to actually fulfill them. 

Throughout this year I was in the middle of my PhD work: doing fieldwork, travelling to Sri Lanka, reading theory, looking for historical material. I even wrote some hundred-something pages … but it does not feel as if anything really happened this year. This might also be because it is already the second year of the pandemic. But maybe there is also something intrinsic to academia which makes it really hard to see the little achievements we make every month, every week, every day.

Working on every kind of (academic) project is tiresome. It usually takes months, most often even years. Throughout that time span there is very little by which we can mark steps, progress. Meanwhile, there are so many small aspects of academia, working in knowledge producing, colonial institutions that make our lives hard and sometimes even crumbles the very foundations of our research interests. 

Even more, it is hard to hold on to the motivating, affirming moments of finishing a chapter, an interview, finding a source when, the very next day, one might not know anymore what we wanted to say in the first place. During these times, supervisors might be even less reachable, we do not see colleagues as much as we should. 

On August 6, at the end of En-Gender’s this year’s conference, I was thinking: “These were three of the most amazing days I ever had in academia. If I would drop out now, I still would have achieved everything I could have ever hoped for.” 

Don’t get me wrong: our conference was a huge success, we had an amazing time, being able to meet so many fantastic scholars, taking part in great workshops and listening to more than important and challenging keynotes. But why was this so much better than my actual work? 

Let me tell you another story. 

As I said in the beginning, I did not know what to write for this blogpost for a long time. Luckily, every Wednesday my department has a collaborative lecture series on gender & queer theory in religious studies. This week was the second time that I was thankful for this lecture series – I got to meet a great scholar who was able to create a room in which all of us, no matter if student, early career researcher or professor, were treated equally. Still, the topic presented was a challenging one, on decolonizing and feminism(s) of the global south. But because I was able to hear another person speak about their research, only slightly related to my own topic, I got to see my research from another perspective. Instead of being bound by the tiny, tiny aspects of it, I looked at it from a distance and began to see it as a whole again. I got reminded of why I started the project in the first place. 

Both stories are examples of the ways in which scholarly exchange helps us to re-think our own ideas, to look at our work from a different angle – or, as in my case, come back to the original angle. This exchange is more important and more fruitful than any book we read, any article we write on our own.

Sadly, this is not what we are supposed to be doing during our working hours. But shouldn’t this be the very idea of academia? Joint, anti-hierarchical, decolonial, maybe even feminist knowledge production? We are always expected to have the required energy with us or to get it from outside academia. But actually, we should be able to look for it within it! 

So, please: take every (online) coffee break with colleagues that you can get, join every (online) lecture from mentors and scholars whose work you enjoy that you can, talk to as many peers as possible. 

This is what I had imagined En-Gender to be in the first place and I am very proud to see it evolving into that direction. In 2021, we managed to organize our very first conference, despite the challenging task of navigating all the time zones. We established The Network, a platform on which we can find other scholars in our field. We published seven new working papers and a bunch of blogposts. And we were able to invite seven special guests / projects to our new podcast series in whose first season we want to expand on the conference and talk about “feel good academia”. 

So what in academia does actually feel good? It has to be the community – without it, what would our research look like? 

Thank you 2021 for giving me another reason to stay in academia – we need as many as we can get.

Settling in

Dear readers,

this is my 5th day in Sri Lanka and time really flies – even if I do not have much to do.

After my one day quarantine I got my test results on Wednesday morning and was allowed to leave the hotel – imagine if that would have been positive! Already on that day I remembered the lesson I learned last time I was in Sri Lanka: You will always get to where you want to go, but nothing will work according to the time plan you made! In the end, I was glad that I had told the family I am staying with to tell the driver who picked me up to come at 12, even though I was told „I can leave before 12“ and „your test results will be back by 10“. After waiting half of the morning in my hotel room, I went out at 11:30 and my test results were just been co-signed by the hotel manager. I still had not payed any bills yet. But 11:52 we were done and my cab arrived two minutes later.

I do not like driving taxis. I am really bad at small talk. I never know what to say or how much to answer, or if and what I can ask back. Last time I was here, I was so glad to have my best friend with me who actually did all the talking with the taxi and tuk drivers. It is especially hard, if the other person’s English and my other languages are not the best and the sounds of the street and car make it more difficult to understand one another.

But then I arrived at the family, in the centre of Colombo. And until now I have not been able to leave. The lockdown has been extended once more until the 21st and I do not think it will get lifted any time soon. However, there are some exceptions to the rule – but more on that next time.

Living at someone else’s home

I had been living with other people before, but all these times it was much more informal and I knew that I could help with the work in the house. I know I am paying for staying here and that I am, thereby, also paying for the „service“, but I am still not used to having so much done for me, even brought the 5 o’clock tea to my room.

I am staying in a family in which the mother is a kindergarten teacher (and there is also online teaching there!), the father is already retired and the daughter is just a little younger than me. She was supposed to study abroad, but right when she was about to leave, the pandemic did what it did … So she is actually quite happy to have someone new in the house, to speak to someone other than her old friends from school or with her fellow students whom she has not yet met offline. So, I guess, we benefit from one another.

All of us – well, except the father, but I do not talk much with him – have a lot to do, so we mostly meet up during the meals. I usually eat with the daughter on the small table upstairs and when we are done, it’s the parent’s turn. This is also something I had to get used to, but I enjoy the time with the daughter, talking about anything but work – mostly new series on netflix 😉

Wednesday lunch
Friday morning breakfast

Of course, they are interested in what I am doing there. Luckily for me, the girl went to one of the schools I am doing my research on, so that helps a lot – I even got the 125 years anniversary book to read. The father’s uncle was affiliated with the school as well, and two other female family members went there. Until now, this is the best – an unforeseeable – thing that could happen to me while I am here in this situation. Anyway, it is even harder to speak with the family members about my research than it is with my interview partners. Because I do not know what their religious and political opinions are, I feel that I cannot yet tell them what my research hypothesis is. I don’t want to bring any bad tension between us, while I still have to stay here for three weeks.

I also feel like I cannot move freely around the house. The flat is on the second and third (top) floor of the house and I live on the top floor, next to the kitchen. So I usually stay in my room, also because the living rooms are always occupied. The mother teaches downstairs and the father watches TV upstairs. It is most during the mornings and afternoon nap-times (which I have come to enjoy very much!) that I walk in circles around the top floor and the balconies while reading a book. It is basically the only workout I get.

View from the balcony

Then, what do I do all day long?

Time really flies, because there is actually much more to do than I would have thought. Also, the days in the house here are so structured along the meals and tea time, that I tried to get into a daily routine. Of course, there is still is „normal“ work to do. I search for books, answer emails, next week there is even an online conference (in which I am to talk about „global history“ in religious studies – being halfway across the globe).

But then, I also brought some books with me. Some of them are biographies, one is a novel, one is a black feminism book and one – of course – is a Judith Butler book (which I have read first, who would have guessed that). I really enjoy having the time and space in my head to read again! Not just scanning books for „valuable“ information, but actually reading a book from the beginning to the end. I have read somewhere that this actually trains our minds, remembering one complete narrative along 300 pages. Well, this is brain training I will gladly do!

And then, of course, are the interviews. But before I can actually do them, I need to find people to interview and make an appointment or try reaching them in the middle of the day. I started of with a handful of contacts, I think one or two of each of the schools I am looking at. Now, my WhatsApp is filled up with contacts and chats, I cannot even remember all the people I have written to. I am so thankful to those who sent me their contacts. Once I got to know one, I had 5 more to write to. I even got WhatsApp numbers from Principals, Old Girl Association chairs, etc. I guess the best thing about getting to know people via others is that they really want to talk to me. If I had asked them, they would have probably said yes anyway but who knows how it would have went.

The interviews

I was lucky to have my first interview here in person – with the daughter. It was a good way to get starting with the type of questions I had and the idea of where I am going.

Since then, I had four online interviews – and all went perfect but so much different from each another. After speaking to my father (Hi, I know you are reading this 🙂 ), I knew that it was a good decision coming here, even with the lockdown and the online interviews. Because it is much harder doing online interviews, when you have nothing in common and no way to connect to the person on the other end of the line. But like this, we are all in Sri Lanka, we can talk about the lockdown, the pandemic, not being able to meet people. We have the same time zone, the same annoying mosquitos and the same heat and occasional rainfalls.

This makes it much easier to establish a connection. It is always ok to have a conversation with someone my age or even someone at uni doing similar things – those were the two interviews I had done before coming here – but how should I connect for example to a 47 year old teacher in Kandy, if not like this?

Anyway, even if my humble interview partners won’t believe that what they said could help me in any way, all of the conversations were immensely fruitful! I even found out about a school which I had not known before and might now become central to my study.

Reflecting, Writing, Repeat

To be able to think about and remember what I have experienced in this time, I have brought two note books with me. One of them is personal (formally, it consists of letters to my partner, but it is rather a diary for myself), the other is academically. I did not want to mix those two experiences with one another, but I think both are most crucial to my work here. Sometimes they overlap, but mostly they look at the same day through a different lens.

In the academic one, I also make notes during and after the interviews. I make little summaries and then note what this interview has brought to the study, what new questions it might have brought to include in the next one.

Of course these „findings“ are going to change in the end, having transcribed the interviews and trying to make sense out of it. But I think that makes them even more valuable.

PS: Any suggestions what to do about the mosquitos? I tried everything …

The other side of the balcony

Travels, Pandemic, First Day

Dear readers,

I cannot believe it – I made it to Sri Lanka! After being stressed out for a couple of days because of my fear of flying, the national emergency proclaimed on Thursday, and the continued lockdown, the journey went surprisingly well and I am currently waiting in the quarantine hotel for the results of my PCR test.

The last time I went to Sri Lanka was before the pandemic, the flight was full with tourists and a handful of Sri Lankans. This time, we were 21 (yes, no typo) people on board! It was the spookiest flight I have ever been on, with people sleeping across the seats of the middle aisle and no sounds apart from the plane. Apparently, this is mostly the case with flights coming from Europe – but the flights from Western Asia are supposedly completely full.

When we were waiting to board the plane, I met two women my age who went to Sri Lanka the first time – both to go to an Ayurveda Hotel. When I asked them why they chose Sri Lanka for this (having in my mind the current situation), one of them replied: well, because I could not go to India right now. They were not even sure if they were able to leave the hotel and see something of the island – which they are not as long as there is a lockdown. In such instances, it becomes really hard for me not to judge people. I would never travel to another country, particularly half way across the world, and not be informed about what is going on there – especially during a pandemic. I have heard some Europeans got the impression that the world is back to „normal“ (whatever that is supposed to mean), but could not believe it was this bad until I had to witness this last night. I am sorry to say this but: Fuck this privilege!

Maybe that is why they were stunned by the Colombo airport even more than I was. It was not possible to touch anything or even leave the airport without having the pick up driver confirm your identity at the exit. This was the first time I was officially picked up at an airport, with a name sign and everything. I must say – this did not feel as special as I thought it would 😉

The driver then brought me to the quarantine hotel I which I am right now, having had two delicious meals and a PCR test – what else can I ask for?

Quarantine Food never tasted so good!

Nothing more, especially since I have the best friends and colleagues who wrote me messages, and told me about their experiences of fieldwork. One of them even gave me this motivating postcard with amazing advice for how to take care of oneself during fieldwork. Thanks to all of you!

„0 Ahnung … und du so?“ means „0 clue …. and you?“

I am now sitting on my bed, hoping that the spider in the curtains won’t get out of them during the night. I have tried to use this day in quarantine at least somehow productive and wrote to all my contacts and asked them for interview dates – two are now already set and I was even put into contact with three more interviewees! Since I have come into contact with some of my interview partners via their former school, I had so them a questionnaire first. I already told them that this was to be used as the basis for a more broad conversation, but I fear that some are not scared of to talk for example about history or religion, because they think, they „do not know enough about it“. Do you have any tips for me how to start the conversation with those having the questionnaire broadly enough to have an informal and spontaneous chat? Also, is there anyone with experiences in online interviews? Anything particular to be mindful of?

To be prepared and able to reflect, I have started two journals. One of them is the official one, with dates, meetings and notes about the interviews. The other one is more of a personal diary. Last time I have been to Sri Lanka I have experienced so much and already forgot too much of it – let’s see if this is a good way to do it.

Also, one of my interview partners just offered to show me around the University Peradeniya at Kandy (if no lockdown), because she works there. This came up because she wanted to assure me that it would be no bother at all to help me, because she knows how dreadful a PhD can be. So, thanks for this to a shitty university system everywhere, I guess?

Tomorrow I will move to my permanent place in Colombo and will get back to you soon with reflections on the first interviews and days in lodging.

All the best, stay safe and healthy!

Fieldwork during a pandemic – preparations

Dear readers, dear fellow researchers and all those interested,

two weeks ago I have asked on twitter whether you would be interested in an online ethnographic diary – and since many liked the post and some even told me that they were looking forward to it, I have decided to actually do it.

So from now on I will write diary letters to this blog to reflect on my time in Sri Lanka, keep you up to date and discuss my fieldwork with you.


As you know the current times are not the easiest to do ethnographic fieldwork. So I think a little bit of background is necessary. I am a scholar of the gender history of religion and this trip is part of my historical and ethnographic PhD work on religion and girls‘ education in Sri Lanka. I was planning to come to Sri Lanka for about half a year starting in October but since the University there is still closed and the pandemic situation is very unpredictable I cancelled my plan at the beginning of July. When I spoke to my supervisor a few weeks later he said that I should still go for a shorter time period at least to get some archival material and do the extensive ethnographic fieldwork next year. As usual, ideas sound much better than the actual planning and realization of such an endeavor.

The first issues were to get an official permission from my university to go on this trip, the visa and try to plan as much ahead as possible. The first two went well – I am officially allowed to leave and enter – and for the latter we have to see.

I have been to Sri Lanka before, right before the pandemic really started. I went for a short period of three weeks on vacation to make myself familiar with the place and start to make contacts. I did not want to go to another country for a longer time period without knowing anything about how to live there, without any support network. However, Sri Lanka has changed a lot in this one and a half years and let’s hope that my preparations were not all for nothing.

Since I do archival as well as ethnographical research, I need to visit some school archives as well as talk to people who went or still go to the schools I am looking at. But, all schools are closed in Sri Lanka since spring last year and there are only online lessons. So I guess I will have to do a lot of online research as well!


The question I have been asked most and which might be on your mind now as well is: why do I have to go anyway and why now?

The answer to this question is more than just „because my supervisor told me so“ – which is actually not a legitimate but even more so relevant reason in the academic situation we are in. Even though he might not go to Sri Lanka himself right now – which he does not, because his job is save! – he is right in making it clear to me that if I do not go now, the situation might not get better. If I do want to finish this project in the foreseeable future, I have to go now. This sounds bad and it really is … but what is the alternative? I picked this project even though I knew that I had to do archival and ethnographic research in another country and no one ever knows what will happen two years after applying for a project. (Well, a pandemic really was on the bottom of my list.)

Worst case, I have to do all my interviews via phone or online in Sri Lanka and I cannot visit the archives. Staying at home would be the same. So at least I will be able to practice my language skills and meet some people…

The lockdown

… maybe. A week after my flights, hotel for the one day quarantine and my room for the rest of the time were booked, the Sri Lankan government announced a ten day long full lockdown.

Which was supposed to end the day before yesterday but is going on until 6 September – for now! Since I will be on my flight at that day, I will only know what happened to the lockdown regulations when I have already arrived. This makes it much harder to plan anything, because I do not know whether I will be able to meet anyone or if I can visit the archives. If I have to stay in my flat for four weeks or if this changes in the middle of my stay.

At the same time, I know that I am so lucky to still be able to even go to Sri Lanka at this point. I am fully vaccinated which most of my interview partners are not and I will not be affected as much by the restrictions and the health crisis there. This is why I do not know how much I can ask of my interview partners right now. Can I ask them to meet? Should I?


I am already in contact with most of my interview partners – mostly because I already know that I cannot just go some place and meet people as I might could if there was no pandemic. But this also means that most people already know what I will be talking to them about – which can lead the conversation too far into one direction too soon.

Also, since there will be much time in between, I need some books and other things to do. Any suggestions for how many books I should take with me? Anything I have not thought about?

Worst case …

… and the lockdown continues until the end of my stay: I will still have great food, speak Sinhala and Tamil and can do my once-a-year Downton Abbey – marathon, since it just arrived on Netflix 😉

So what can go wrong?

PS: Anyone reading this who knows people from the following schools in Sri Lanka, please contact me: Ramanathan College, Musaeus College, Ladies‘ College, Hillwood College, Girls‘ High Kandy, Sanghamitta Primary.

Why watching The Irregulars was not only the best decision this week …

… but also shows how important new historical research as well as modern adaptions of history in popular culture are.

During March I had decided to stop watching series, partly to let my eyes have a good rest after staring at the computer all day, partly because I wanted to listen to more podcasts instead of series. This changed this week, when I was through with all my weekly podcasts (suggestions welcome) and needed something to watch while having dinner – so plain so simple. That was when Netflix suggested its new series to me: The Irregulars – apparently a 99 % match. Ok, I did watch some similar shows, basically all situated at the end of the 19th century. But I don’t think Netflix could have known that this really was a 99 % match for me.

I started the series on Wednesday and finished all eight episodes until Friday. Not only because it was breathtaking, adorable and just amazing, but because I was allowed to stop working on my PhD for a while. Why? Because series like the Irregulars is why my PhD matters.

But before I dive into that whole topic, first I need to tell you why this is a series you cannot miss, even if you’re not interested in the gender history of religion.

Five reasons why you have to watch this series (no spoilers)

5. The Soundtrack

Even though I do really like the „classic“ soundtracks of Brigerton, Peaky Blinders or Ripper Street, The Irregulars managed to use contemporary music just as well. There is no need to create a „historical“ feeling, if the past is always just imagined anyway 😉

4. The accents / dialects

I must explain here that I am a real big fan of British accents. And this show has them all! To be honest, I could turn the video off and listen to the whole show again, just because the voices are amazing.

3. The cast

Again, with this colour conscious cast, Netflix created a historical fiction that works without an all-white cast. And this is why: Firstly, there have been way more non-white people in Britain at that time than e.g. Dowton Abbey made us believe. Secondly, you don’t need to be historically accurate to depict the horrors of a classist society (that is enough injustice for one series, you don’t need sexism and racism as well to make it work – because that is not what the series is about!).

In addition, there are only amazing characters and actors in The Irregulars (who speak amazing accents and play within a great soundtrack, so here you go 😉 ).

2. Depiction of romance and sexuality (Spoiler alert)

Many of you will know by now, that there is a black and gay (wow, it took so long) Dr. Watson in this series. Some of you might have already complained – not that this is „not historically accurate“ (I am not speaking to you now, read the paragraph above!) – but that the black gay man‘s love is not returned. Instead, Sherlock goes for his „real“ love, who is white and a woman.

Even though I do agree with you here, that this might be viewed problematically, I have three reasons for you, why you should not be angry with this series because of this:

a) Think of it that way: now 2 white, heterosexual people have left the series and the whole plot relies on the actions of all the other amazing characters once again.

b) Not only did the „sad gay man“ (quoting some tweets here) do something bad in the first place; it was the white woman wo turned out to be the real problem in the series. Think about that 😉

c) The depiction of romance and sexuality in the whole series does not feature a heterosexual matrix. Instead, we can see different types of human relations between all the sexes throughout the series in a completely normalised way. This is so refreshing and I wish the 19th century had really been like this.

1. This gender thing

Last but not least, my reason number one why you should watch The Irregulars: They have amazing characters who fight, think, are friends, lovers, sisters, might be broken, but are nevertheless the heroes of the show – and it does not matter which gender they are to be like that! It is just natural and I love it.

Didn’t I say something about my PhD?

Yes, I did and here it goes…

As Noah Berlatsky has said it aptly: The Irregulars isn’t perfect. And it is about grief and love. It is about that what makes life life – and sometimes unbearable at the same time. Which is why people try to cope with it or even cross the borders to something beyond. Here is where religion comes in.

Actually, in this case it is more esotericism and occultism. Not only is the magical being that Jessica personifies, the Ipsissimus, part of the hierarchical magical order of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, but the show actually uses this society for their plot.

Again: spoilers for e2 and e3 coming.

When I saw the shot of a letter carrying the sign of the Order of the Golden Dawn in episode 2, I was almost screaming in delight. Finally, one of these series did not only loosely refer to spiritualism, spiritism, and the occult, but uses what history has to offer: one of the two most important societies for modern esotericism (the other one being the Theosophical Society). The Order of the Golden Dawn was founded in 1887 and became a secret, but actually-not-so-secret, society in which the members communicated with ancient gods and goddesses and took part in rituals to gain magical / spiritual powers.

A society in which women and men can be equal parts? Not in the 19th century you might think. Wrong! The Theosophical Society as well as the Order of the Golden Dawn actively encouraged female contribution and spiritual power. For example, the first and the third leaders of the Theosophical Society were women (H. P. Blavatsky and Annie Besant). As we can see in episode 3 of The Irregulars, the Order of the Golden Dawn as well had many prominent members: e.g. the actress Florence Farr and the poet W. B. Yeats (both also members of the TS at some point).

Both are actually part of episode 3, as well as the (in)famous Aleister Crowley. But it was not him, who plotted against dear Jessie (as I have thought at first), but the actress. Not only am I a bit angry that my beloved Florence was featured like this. Also, the ginger haired women had to be the evil witch-like person, didn’t she? 😉

No! As with all the other parts of the show: it is about gaining the power which makes life bearable. It doesn’t matter who the opponent in each episode was, there is only one way out of misery: grief through love and not through power.

As in our 21st century world: anyone can be evil, anyone can be broken. But we can choose either to become monsters who create monsters (quoting The Irregulars) or friends, family, lovers and be strong – together.

Why my PhD matters

No, my PhD does not look at popular culture and what role religion plays within it – but some do and check them out! I look at the intersection of religion and feminism which occur e.g. in the Order of the Golden Dawn.

Luckily, there had been enough research on this topic already, so that the writer of the show was fully equipped to write this 19th century show in which gender and sexuality are as fluid and contested as they were even back then.

But there is so much work to be done – and so many great shows are possible, so many plots just lying around! The patriarchal and white way to write history had continually been challenged by the research of the last decades and we are slowly but steadily unveiling a past which includes special and exciting people all around the world, not only in the 1890s Britain.

Masks, the Study of Religion and Digression


Once you have started with feminism, it feels as if you have been put on a pair of glasses through which you see the world in a way that always puts the markers „gender roles,“ „patriarchy,“ or „power“ in front. No, not glasses, you could take them off. Rather, something like a mask that is firmly glued to the face.

With a mask, not only do I see the world differently myself, but others now see someone else when they look at me. Of course, we humans always put on different and many different masks every day (as sung so wonderfully in Alligatoah’s song I Need a Face, which I’ll turn on right now). But wait: the song is not about masks at all, but about faces. Because what is the difference between masks and faces? The former seem removable, as if the real something was hidden somewhere behind them; when we speak of the latter, they appear as a deception behind which it is no longer possible to look. But if we live in a world in which there is no „real I“ at all, because, as so many have already shown, my „I“ and the „I“ that others perceive is always shaped by circumstances, actions, and learned perception and behavior, how can we still distinguish between a mask and a face (put on as well as in its „true“ form)?

So if I now see feminism as a mask with a built-in contact lens, then that explains a number of things.
For example, it explains how all of a sudden my choice of partner changes; or the way I find topics for my seminars; or the conversations I have with my parents; or the reason why and what I research; what books I read and what series Netflix suggests to me.

My mask becomes tighter and more concrete with every decision, every statement I make. The contact lenses become sharper; in the beginning, everything was black and white, now there is gray and some times even a few colored spots appear. At the same time, however, the image that others have of me is being changed more and more by the mask. For some, it is even the first impression they have of me.

But I am digressing again. How did I come up with this topic in the first place? Actually, I just wanted to respond to a blogpost that a student who attended one of my seminars last year published on En-Gender!

In it, Jonas wants to write about what it means, or rather what it was like, for him as a student to study gender in religious studies. But he also „digresses“ and talks about how masculinity is constructed, what forms it takes, and why that might have led to almost no participants in my seminar who were read as male choosing „gender topics.“

Why can’t Jonas and I stay on topic? Is this a problem that only affects the two of us, or is there a connection here, perhaps even one that has something to do with our mask?

One reaction to Jonas‘ post in particular stuck in my mind. I had shared his post in a Facebook group that explicitly explores gender and sexuality in religion and esotericism. While the post was very positively received by many, one person, however, was „disappointed“ that the content was not specifically about gender in religious studies, as the title said, but about a general application of gender studies from a (cis-)male perspective. One could say that Jonas tried to show in his contribution how different masks of masculinity influence the behavior and perception of men* and how these masks try to maintain themselves. Or in other words: masks that attach themselves in such a way that they can no longer be taken off, or only with great difficulty. They are no longer recognized and prevent criticism of themselves. This comment is not so wrong, in fact it hits the nail on the head. But what is the problem? Isn’t that exactly what my seminar was supposed to bring?

Very few people are interested in the details of specific topics in a seminar. Even fewer then retain the content. Because actually the topic serves only as an example. We want to present a theory or a method on the basis of a larger context. This is the only way students can learn how to apply what they have learned to different topics. Theories and methods are thus glasses that change our masks and make them visible. In my case, however, I turned the tables: In my seminar, I looked at examples from the history of religion to examine them through the lens of gender studies. In other words, I basically used the entire field of religious studies as a thematic complex in order to illustrate theories from gender studies.

Is that a problem? Is this perhaps even too political? Even if some might think so, the expansion of a discipline like religious studies by other perspectives, theories and methods — interdisciplinarity — can only be good for a subject. For only in this way can boundaries be pointed out and dark spots recognized and illuminated.

Just as we want to work out with the students in our respective subjects how to get from the small (the case study) to the larger (for example, society), by showing how different theories can be demonstrated on different examples — or how they cannot — in the same way, criticism from outside, however small it may be (in this case, a case study in the history of religion), can be used to point out problem areas in the subject. These can come from always looking through the same mask until it becomes a fixed face. This constant questioning is not only good, but also necessary, both to avoid getting lost deeper and deeper in a dead end and to remain politically and socially relevant — something that religious studies unfortunately needs to get back to.

I have, so to speak, put gender studies glasses on the masks my students are already wearing. Because every one of us wears a mask. The question is whether we want to let it become fixed or whether we put on other glasses from time to time, some of which may eventually become new masks. Nothing else happens every day; in the university we only learn to recognize these masks, to question them and to deal with them — on a small as well as on a large scale.

From the small to the large, from glasses to masks, from seminar to life. So digressing is exactly what we should do.

As a friend has written


You take a peek up,
Sundry in thought,
Dabbling in the jargon
Of Academics,
But not quite.

A glass pane
Reflects another creature,
From the same species,
The same scheme of things,
But just opposite.

The glass pane,
A great enabler
In transporting images,
Thoughts, boredom, restlessness.
On the other side.

Do mirrors have another side?
Am I a reflection in another world?
Am I visible or is my inside?
In another world of evermoving cars,
Where red indicates to come closer
Than to stop afar. 

Mirrors, what a fantastic invention!
To see oneself,
Others, and sometimes oneself in others.
So many faces, so many features,
So very different.

The face doesn’t seem to change,
No matter how many times I look at you.
Each day, every day.
Hoping for a little change.
Mirror, what a worthless invention!

Social-Distancing Update from a Masters' and PhD student's living room


The home office has now reached pretty much everyone where it is possible — some faster and „easier“ than others. Most of the students and many of my colleagues simply had to go to the university library quickly and hope that the bag they were allowed to carry out on the last open day contained all the relevant books they needed for their term papers, dissertations or seminar preparations and that no one else had gotten to them first. So that was a piece of cake!

But the deadlines have been extended …

After the University Library in Heidelberg closed on 17.03., all deadlines for term papers in our faculty were directly extended from 31.03. to mid-May and those for theses by two months. So now students are sitting at home, knowing that they have to hand in a term paper in two months and have about 3/4 of all books on their desks. And now? Anyone who knows how to write a paper knows that this is the worst situation you could be in right now. You’ve done part of the work, got half of the information together, but haven’t started writing yet — and probably won’t do so for the next month. That means the work drags on and on until you have to start all over again at the beginning of May.

But there are enough articles etc. online …

and that’s enough to write a thesis? As a historian, I am very happy that many of my sources have now been digitized or that I can at least temporarily switch to this part of the sources. I have also noticed that efforts are being made from many sides to make even more sources and archives digitally accessible and to create overviews of the topics that can be worked on for theses — great initiative! But not everyone has it so easy: Many cannot simply change their topic quickly two months before submission. Others have to: a friend in ethnology actually wanted to go on field research in March. Now he has no data — without it, even a two-month extension of the deadline is useless. And what do his advisors do? Nobody knows, but they certainly do not reply to e-mails.

We at the university are used to barricading ourselves in our little room and only seeing daylight again after typing the full stop on page 25. So basically nothing changes …

Clearly, reading and writing can also be done from home, and in the final stages of the work many of us have no contact with the outside world. But that was not healthy before Corona, nor is it healthy now. It is not for nothing that the most frequented places in libraries and university cafeterias are those where coffee is available — not only, who would have thought it, because there is coffee (!), but because you could clear your head for 20 minutes and talk to other people. No wonder that students like living in shared flats so much. My guess is that most of them would otherwise not survive at all due to a lack of human contact. For example, we distinguish three phases of writing for a friend based on her face colour: red, white and green.

Red: The beginning of the work. She is just getting into the subject, is enthusiastic and committed, brings everything together, talks cheerfully with everyone about it.

White: She withdraws to her room. The only messages you get from her are questions about whether you have time for dinner. At least that’s something. You can see, however, that without us meeting her, she would probably have skipped dinner — as her white face shows.

Green: The legendary last phase. Nobody has experienced it yet, there are only rumours made by the flatmates. Short-term signs of life through walks to the refrigerator. Communication is only possible under certain circumstances, but try talking about her work only at your own risk.

To prevent that this doesn’t happen to all of us in the home office, tip no. 1 of every post and tweet that comes in at these times is to have contact with the outside world! Take online coffee breaks, have your colleague in a video chat next on your desk, etc. etc.

Finally time to increase productivity!

Of course, it makes sense not to watch Netflix all day long in your pajamas and try to get as much work done as you would in non-corona everyday life. But many people — and I don’t want to take myself out of this — are already looking forward to the time that will allow them to finally work off all the work that has been left behind. More productivity — „catching up“ — is what home office in academia means to us, especially as scholars in the humanities and cultural studies.

But I can’t criticize it better than this tweed here:

Because that’s exactly what the work in science does to us: We believe it is „normal“ to constantly have the feeling to be „behind“ the work, to have to do „more“ — even in times of Corona.

So that we don’t become worcoronaholics…

  • Maybe just netflix for a day — or two — in your pyjamas or read a book. Bulletjournalling is just about allowed!
  • As far as possible: keep moving. The stiff academic body will be happy about it!
  • Rather tackle other leftover work, like clearing out, sorting books or maybe even revising the nasty, annoying literature list.
  • Put on coffee, call friends, video-coffee-meeting, let’s go!

„Strong Women“: Why I didn’t want them as lecturers


Today is International Women’s Day. So what fits this better than a blog post about „strong women“? In universities, as in so many other fields, we still lack women not only as lecturers, professors and persons to relate to, but also as representatives who show us: it is possible!

So, therefore, every woman in such a position should actually please me; I would have to give priority to virtually every course led by a woman, every lecture by a female speaker, and thus give every woman one chance more. Many of my friends also appreciate having the opportunity to take a course or write a paper with a female lecturer rather than with a male lecturer. They feel better understood by her, more supported than by him. Others may even have had negative experiences with male lecturers.

But then why do some of my friends and acquaintances still say that they prefer to have male professors and supervisors and that they „never liked“ or „simply can’t deal with women“? Of course, I can’t speak for everyone; however, I felt the same way for a long time and a few weeks ago, during and after an exam situation, I realized what this was about, what disturbed me about some women in these positions and what expectations on my part might have interferd with the relationship from the very beginning.

The situation was the following:

After an examination in which I showed myself to be convincing in terms of content but somewhat uncertain in my appearance, I received these separate feedbacks from the female examiner and the male examiner:

She: „As you know, we women often have the problem that we think our opinion is not important enough, and so it happens that we hold back in our speaking, become quieter and sometimes revise. You have to work on that.“

— actually not such a wrong point, it certainly applies to many — and to me in some situations. (It would also be beyond the scope of this article to go into the structural problems behind it). Also, I’m sure, the statement she made was certainly meant to be motivating and, with feminist ulterior motives, supportive. But it just didn’t quite fit …

He: „I believe that when you speak you maybe want to weigh up all the possibilities beforehand and don’t rush to decide on a statement for which you can then be criticised. That works with writing. But when presenting paper or in exams like this you have to be convincing. After making an argument, it can then be discussed. There will always be criticism. But it should refer to the content and not the way of expression.“

— and he hit the bull’s-eye with that!

So what did I become aware of in this situation?

In this case, it is not a question of criticism based on my identity as a woman, but it is a situation in which both are trying to help. In the one case (with him) he referred to me as a person and not to my gender (as she did). I wondered afterwards whether I would have taken her comment differently if it had come from a man: Of course! The first thought would certainly have been: „how can he …?“! Because in this case — it is probably obvious — there is a blatant paternalism. But that’s just it: in the other case it is just the same. Just because she is a woman, and — as I said — certainly intended it benevolently, it is no less (pater-/) maternalistic and patronizing. That is, in her attempt to help me, by referring to my weak points in articulation to me as a „woman“, she missed out on the the actual problems.

To clarify: of course I am not claiming that men would not carry out this generalization in this way or that forms of discrimination and the downgrading of actions due to gender attributions would not take place. (That would be too good to be true!)

At the beginning I spoke of „representation“. On the one hand, this is based on the fact that one identifies with the other person in a certain way. In this case the identification happens among other things through the category „woman (at the university)“. On the other hand, such a category can never be completely representative. And this is exactly where, in my opinion, the reasons for my „dislike“ or „reluctance“ lie:

  • Women in positions of power have the opportunity to „exploit“ this and define the category of „woman“ — which has already led to much discussion within feminism over the past 100 years.
  • I try to identify with women in leadership and power positions. This can only fail. But in the course of this, I set just as high (feminist) expectations for my female lecturers as I would set for myself.
  • Female lecturers try (hopefully! but experience shows, however, that unfortunately this is not always the case …) to give their female students support and to help them overcome the hurdles they have experienced themselves. But with that the expectations they have of the students also rise.

What is the problem with preexisting expectations? They are usually disappointed because they cannot be fulfilled.

Looking back on my school and university days, I think I avoided female teachers or lecturers because I did not want to be disappointed. By them and by me.

Having said that, I hope that I will not suffer the same fate as my lecturers and that my seminars will be equally enjoyed by all students. We should meet all lecturers (etc.) with the same expectations. Otherwise, we will maintain this separation even further. But the reason of representation of women in universities, the existence of female persons in visible roles, i.e. „strong women“, is to establish this as a taken-for-granted fact and not to question it. In my opinion, this only works if we appreciate their existence (which is still noteworthy), but do not treat them as special or different.

Role Models


A role model, that’s someone to look up to – isn’t it?

At least that’s the image we have of role models, of so-called „idols“: people we all seem to look for from time to time in our lives and in certain phases of our lives. Often, or so it is at least depicted, these are initially parents or siblings whom we „emulate“. But at some point, it seems, we turn away from them and „do our own thing“, looking for new role models that resonate more with our current lives and from which we can gain more strength.

But when I took the train to Berlin last Friday for Judith Butler’s lecture for the FG Geschlechterstudien 10 year anniversay, I started to think. I am someone who likes to claim to be one of the biggest fans of Judith Butler in the world. Of course I know that a) I am not the only one and b) that Butler and poststructuralism, and thus my favourite philosophical theory, would not like this idolisation at all. But why exactly do I find Butler so great? Why do I travel through almost all of Germany to see them for the third time now? Why do I have a picture of them, Simone de Beauvior and Michel Foucault hanging above my desk? It must be „more“ than a little bit of daily motivation, „more“ than empowerment like it happens for me through Wonder Woman or Captain Marvel — or not?

I would count Butler, Foucault and Beauvior among those people who continue to encourage me in the goals I have set myself for myself and for my work. Mom and Dad, of course you are one of these people ( 😉 ), as well as my past and present bachelor, master and dissertation supervisors, colleagues, Carla from fem4scholar, without whom I would not have dared to talk to another role model, Ulrike Auga, on Friday, and so many more.

But the question remains. Why do I take a train to Berlin for 5 hours? Why do I sit down in a stuffy room with another 1000 people, yes, why are there even 1000 people here to listen to „any“ professor from Berkely? What makes Judith Butler more than just an extraordinary philosopher and pioneer of our time? What other similarities does she have with my tutors, why do I want to be like her? Why does her signature in my notebook motivate me to go further and further? Especially at the university, an area in which I — and many others — despite our enthusiasm for our work, are over and over confronted with external constraints, lack of support and too little assistance. It can’t just be because of her intelligence and her talent for lecturing — of course all aspects that should appeal to me as an academic.

When I am asked why I have decided to pursue the path at university, for example by friends who are considering whether or not to start a PhD, I usually answer:

„In my opinion, there are three aspects of working at the university. I think you should like two of them, or better still, love two of them, but I do love the three of them:

1. researching, 2. writing¹ and 3. teaching.“

And exactly this third aspect, that of teaching, must be embodied by any of my role models. By this I don’t just mean giving „classical“ seminars or lectures and thereby „teaching“ or even „explaining“ something to others, but the will and enthusiasm to generate new questions, perspectives and points of views in exchange with others. This is the only way to question existing knowledge and develop new ideas. For this reason, points 1, 2, and 3 are actually inseparable and (should) be interwoven and reflected upon in academia.

For some, this may sound like poststructuralism. Well, it is. The constant questioning, the constant criticism, even of one’s own standpoint, one’s own theory, that is poststructuralism. A theory that assumes from the outset that it can never be complete, that it can only be expanded and improved through the constant uncovering of its limits and exclusions — and precisely through criticism, a criticism that can precisely arise in exchange with others. Does that mean that poststructuralism has finally managed to permeate me completely? I do not think it has. I think it is merely the theoretical and preliminary consideration, interpretation and legitimisation of my demands on my work, whether it be in fem4scholar, En-Gender!, this blog, my research, my seminars, Delta, within my feminist circles and activities or at home, when I argue with my father about politics — in other words, in my whole life. It’s about exchange, because only exchange especially across borders, may they they be of disciplines, cultures, gender or language, is what can bring us forward.

Perhaps this is a suitable definition entailing my mother and my doctoral supervisor. After all, what are role models with whom one cannot talk? Who never change? Who put themselves on a pedestal? I would say: the opposite of Judith Butler. I think there are no students, none of the interested people which have been there on Friday evening whom she wouldn’t have taken seriously as a conversation partner. Everyone was able to approach her. And this is exactly what makes her our role model!

¹: Of course I agree that the compulsion to publish, which is brought to the extreme at the universities, is actually completely unhelpful to writing „itself“ (Michael Billig, 2013). For this reason I am happy to extend this point: Medialisation of the researched, be it through presentations at conferences, publications, blog posts, newspaper articles and talk show appearances — depending on what suits you better and without feeling the international neoliberal pressure of academic careers.

Florence Farr — a Modern Woman

Hi to all of you!

Maybe you already know me through my Instagram Account. I hope you know that I am so happy about all of your lovely comments and likes. However, pictures only tell one specific part of a story, in my case the story of a beautiful actress living a life in the upper classes of London which other people can only dream about.

Today, I took the chance to write this post, because I needed a few more lines. Today, I want to tell you something about me — something that exceeds the beautiful world of perfect instagram posts.

One thing is true: I love a good audience — otherwise I wouldn’t have chosen the path of an actress. And, even though likes and comments for my posts really do make me feel good, this feeling doesn’t last long, especially when one is confronted with such denunciating allegations as I am.

I cannot believe that nowadays people are still talking about my sex life. Why is everyone still wondering whether I have had relationships with two or with twenty of my colleagues and friends. Why can’t I just go to dinner with a male friend without some of you asking if this is lover number 21?

Even one of my best friends, Bernard Shaw, who cannot stand the fact that I do not want to marry him, randomly adds men to my „list of lovers“:

„She set no bounds to her relations with men whom she liked, and already had a sort of Leporello list of a dozen adventures, none of which, however, had let to anything serious,“

he wrote in 1941. Unbelievable!

The only thing that differs from what my life would have been a hundred years ago is that today no one wonders whether I am fertile, since I have not once become pregnant sleeping with such a high number of men. I always wonder in how far we really progressed from the Victorian „ideal womanhood“. In fact, I have written a book entirely concerned with this topic, but more on that later …

Anyhow, as my friends say, no one should listen to men as jealous and judgmental as Bernard Shaw. All these allegations are sexist and based solely on hearsay retold by a rejected lover.

My parents died when I was still very young. My mother left us when I was only 16 and my father 7 years later. Since then I had to work for a living. I chose to become an actress because it allowed me to perform all aspects of being a woman, the fierce, the strong, the soft, the intelligent. No matter which role I take on, I try to show how it is part of my own identity as a woman.

This is not always well perceived. Bernard Shaw and W. B. Yeats used to complain that I am too much of a character to actually become an exceptional actress. Both believe that I should consider myself happy to be as beautiful as I am. Without my looks, as they and other critics say, I could never have become a well-known actress. Shaw once mentioned that my appearance „no doubt helped me to achieve a success that would have cost a plainer woman more to achieve.“

How annoying it is being judged solely by my looks and not seen as the woman that I want to be seen as.

Because of my work I haven’t been able to go to university. However, nothing and no one can keep me away from my precious books in the British Museum. Who would have known that the ideas of ancient Egypt are so intriguing or that the Tamil poems by Tagore that fascinating?

I have written various books on the symbolisms and esoteric teachings of the Kabbalah and the Egyptians. Shaw, however, did not like my way of writing. He thinks that popular books cannot be used to bring mystic ideas into the world. I wonder; has he ever been to a book shop? If he has, he must have been blind not to see the shelves labeled „Esotericism“. Again, he does not grant me any intellect and only sees me as a women with „large eyes, crescent eyebrows, and a smile“ of which he warns all mankind to beware.

Off to pastures new …

With this blogpost I also wanted to tell you that I have decided to redirect my life. I don’t think that Europe and it’s western secular culture will enable me to become the woman I want to be. Therefore, I will go to Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka, as well as India, is intrinsically spiritual and far ahead of Europe in regard to what really matters in life: a sense of belonging and fulfillment.

I have currently been told that I have a serious illness. To regain strength and fight this opponent, I chose to go to a spiritual retreat in Sri Lanka to learn how to meditate the right way and be one with the world.

Afterwards, I will become the headmistress of a Hindu Girl’s school in Jaffna. I will dedicate my life to help these girls to become the best women they possibly can be. I know that there is a heated discussion within feminism today. White women from the west should stop defining what „feminism“ means and start allowing other women from various backgrounds and cultures to enhance our understanding of „feminism“. And I know that me being the new headmistress of this school sounds like I am doing exactly this: not allowing them to speak for themselves. But believe me when I say: I am the very last person to judge other women for what image of womanhood they consider fit for themselves.

If you don’t believe me, just have look into my newest book, Modern Woman. Her Intentions.

In this, I portray different aspects of female identities that should be acknowledged, allowed, and encouraged. In my feminist manifesto I argue that there is no version of womanhood that should be sanctioned by others. Instead I maintain that society should lay out the foundations that enable women to be true to themselves. Maybe this will lead to a society in which women won’t be judged for either choosing motherhood or their career — as I did — or both and being told that they cannot perform one hundred percent in both simultaneously.

This was:

Florence Farr (1860-1917), full-time Theosophist, woman of the Golden Dawn, writer, actress, and ardent feminist — in her own words …

Sources used:
Letters Bernard Shaw and William Butler Yeats to Florence Farr, in: Bax, Clifford. 1941. Florence Farr, Bernard Shaw and W.B. Yeats. London: Thames & Hudson.
Letters Florence Farr and William Butler Yeats, in: Johnson, Josephine. 1992. „Florence Farr: Letters to W. B. Yeats, 1912-1917“, in: Deirdre Toomey (ed.), Yeats and Women. London: MacMillan. 216-254.
Greer, Mary. 1996. Women of the Golden Dawn, Rebels and Priestesses: Maud Gonne, Moina Bergson Mathers, Annie Horniman, Florence Farr. Park Street Press.

New page: Best of historical sources

There is nothing better in the world (at least for a historian) than to read historical sources. Not only can the lives of former people enlighten what and how we think about our present, but they can also awaken our sense of humor. 

And who is better in awaking people’s minds than the Theosophical Society? Therefore, most of the quotes in this new category are by famous members of the TS, plus some extra good other ones.

For now, I have only put in some quotes to get started. From now on I will add more and more as they come through my research.

And of course: If you have any good quotes – bring them to me!

Captain Mar-Vell (ous?)

(No spoilers)

Last Friday I told a friend I was going to see Captain Marvel on Monday. She told me she already read reviews and they said it’s not supposed to be such a great movie – only if you were to see it because you have seen all of them. That was my original plan. I wanted to see what this superhero can do to save the world which has been destroyed at the end of „Infinity War“.

But – to quote another friend:

„All the reviews are just assholes who can’t handle a woman in a main role who never shows any skin and has a friendship with a man and a female friend“

And damn right she is!

This is the best movie I have ever seen. I am not joking. (Well maybe if you exclude Superman 1 – but that’s another topic)

Here come 5 reasons why:

5. We finally know what happened to Fury’s eye.

4. My DC heart bleeds, thinking that it seems like Marvel just waited for DC to make all the mistakes (Wonderwoman) you can make and look out for the good bits (Green Lantern) and then made the best female-human superhero ever!

3. I thought „Infinity War“ was the combination of all of Marvel’s best parts. But that’s only due to the characters. What makes Marvel „Marvel“ is all included in Captain Mar-Vell(ous)!

-Nick Fury

-Animals (or whatever species they are)

-Best use of music, singing and dancing!

2. It wasn’t useless to succeed with watching Marvel’s Agent of SHIELD(watch it if you haven’t). Finally everything made sense and Marvel’s Cinematic Universe it was made to be. And thus, it became the full round up story what made Harry Potter, Game of Thrones and all the others so perfect.

1. There is no love interest whatsoever. And THIS is how you should make a a female superhero movie which you do not want to label as such. It is so hard to create a story for a female lead without getting into trouble some way or the other. But this was perfect. Base your story on teacher – student, as well as friendship relations and you got your unproblematic feminist superhero.

– Maybe male superhero movies should try the same, so female „sidekicks“ can be more than the love interest 😉 (Aquaman)

I just recognised that at least 2 of these reasons are due to the fact that I have seen all of the other movies and series. But even if you haven’t – you will love it – promise! You can even start with this one, and then watch all the others, since you now want to get all the hints 😉 If you want to see this movie and have a little bit of interest in superheroes, with this one you are getting the best of all combined!

Frances Swiney or why history is so important Part I

*english – deutsch*

This beautifully dressed woman is Frances Swiney (née Biggs), born in 1847 in Poonah, India, and died 1922 in Cheltenham, England. She is the person who I spent 2018 with.

Therefore, long overdue, this will be an homage to Swiney, an early British feminist, Theosophist, and upper-middle class woman with great hats. Even though there is almost nothing except her fight for women’s enfranchisement that I would nowadays support from a feminist point of view, there are three reasons why I love her.

1. History of Feminism

As with any other political topic, feminism has a history, it did not emerge out of nothing. Last year celebrated 100 years of women’s vote in UK and 100 years of general vote in Germany. Gladly, this has brought the history of feminism back in public discourse. However, all the many great exhibitions on local fights for women’s right in the UK, or the one (sic!) exhibition in Germany lacked in one regard. Since they focussed a lot on the political and legal part of first wave feminism, they almost completely overlooked all the other topics which feminists and anti-feminists were concerned with.

One of these is sexuality.

It is not widely known (I only stumbled over it when preparing for my master’s dissertation 😉 ) that feminism has been concerned with sexuality, women’s rights to choose their sexual partners, the double-standard, and sexual education.

Scholar Susan Kent even labelled first wave feminism as a „sex war“. (Kent, 1987: 3)

According to Kent, the central goal of the Women’s Movement was the transformation of women’s lives through a redefinition and recreating of Britain’s sexual culture. Sexuality and politics, in contrast to First Wave feminism’s general perception, were not part of separate spheres, but thought of inseparable from one another. The topics of sex and sexuality permeated the social and feminist discourse and dominated the public debate. The discussions were centred on the connected issues of the double standard, which confirmed man’s sexual needs; and, thus, the necessity of prostitution, and venereal diseases which were widespread at that time. Feminists tried to break the silence around venereal diseases, a problem by itself. Many women (and men) were not adequately informed before entering marriage; venereal diseases were ‘frequently communicated to unsuspecting wives – doctors were reluctant to disturb marital harmony by indicating the nature of their malaise’. This resulted in high maternal and infant mortality rates. According to Hall, “social purity” feminists, like Swiney, whose model of an ideal society was centred around the monogamous marriage ‘in which both partners came to marriage chaste, and practiced a high degree of continence even within marriage’, and also the wider discourse of “sex reform” tried to replace the double standard by a new moral sexual standard. By the late nineteenth century, science claimed not only to explain the human body, but also to define and understand womanhood as such. Feminists had to argue on these grounds.

Swiney as well:

[Reproduction is] the threshold of the great mysteries of woman’s evolution, woman’s fall, and woman’s ascent. (Swiney,The Awakening of Women, p. 89.)

Why do I believe knowing this is important? For two reasons:

  1. It reconnects us with the feminists of the past, with our ancestors in heart and thought, our forgotten allies. Even though feminism has now changed from seeing gender (=sex then) as a biological fixed category, from a feminism arguing alongside the differences of the sexes, to a feminism which deconstructs the societal dichotomies and differentiations of gender (and sex); it is important to know that feminists such as Swiney have already recognized and acknowledged the importance of sexuality in their struggles.
  2. It makes us wonder, how much really changed in these 150 years, doesn’t it? While reading my sources I was often surprise how similar the struggles and arguments were. But instead of becoming exasperated with feminism resign from the fight, we should gain strength through this history of feminism. On the one hand, it makes us see how much our arguments have evolved and, on the other, in realizing the immense power of patriarchy we can acknowledge and celebrate the small and big victories.


Diese wunderschön gekleidete Frau ist Frances Swiney (geb. Biggs), 1847 in Poonah, Indien, geboren und 1922 in Cheltenham, England, gestorben. Sie ist die Person, mit der ich 2018 verbracht habe.

Dies hier ist deshalb die lange überfällige Hommage an Swiney, eine frühe britische Feministin, Theosophin und Frau der oberen Mittelklasse mit wundervollen Hüten. Obwohl es fast nichts außer ihrem Kampf für das Frauenrecht gibt, das ich heute aus feministischer Sicht unterstützen würde, gibt es drei Gründe, warum ich sie liebe.

1. Geschichte des Feminismus

Wie jedes andere politische Thema hat auch der Feminismus eine Geschichte, er ist nicht aus dem Nichts entstanden. Im vergangenen Jahr wurde in Großbritannien 100 Jahre Frauenstimmrecht und in Deutschland 100 Jahre allgemeines Wahlrecht gefeiert. Glücklicherweise hat dies die Geschichte des Feminismus wieder in den öffentlichen Diskurs gebracht. All die vielen großen Ausstellungen zu örtlichen Kämpfen für das Frauenrecht in Großbritannien oder die eine einzige (!) Ausstellung in Deutschland habe jedoch eine Lücke. Da sie sich stark auf den politischen und rechtlichen Teil des frühen Feminismus konzentrieren, wurden alle anderen Themen, mit denen sich Feministinnen und Antifeministinnen befassten, fast vollständig übersehen.

Eines davon ist Sexualität.

Es ist nicht allgemein bekannt (ich bin auch erst bei der Vorbereitung auf meine Masterarbeit darüber gestolpert), dass sich der Feminismus mit Sexualität, den Rechten der Frauen bei der Wahl ihrer Sexualpartner, der Doppelmoral und der Sexualerziehung befasst hat.

Susan Kent bezeichnete First Wave-Feminismus sogar als „Sex War“. (Kent, 1987: 3)

Laut Kent war das zentrale Ziel der Frauenbewegung die Transformation des Lebens von Frauen durch eine Neudefinition und die Neugestaltung der britischen Sexualkultur. Sexualität und Politik waren im Gegensatz zur allgemeinen Wahrnehmung des frühen Feminismus nicht in getrennten Sphären angesiedelt, sondern wurden als untrennbar betrachtet. Die Themen Sex und Sexualität durchdrangen den sozialen und feministischen Diskurs und dominierten die öffentliche Debatte. Die Diskussionen konzentrierten sich auf die damit zusammenhängenden Fragen der Doppelmoral, die die sexuellen Bedürfnisse des Mannes bestätigten, und somit in der Folge Prostitution und Geschlechtskrankheiten, welche zu dieser Zeit weit verbreitet waren. Feministinnen versuchten, die Stille um Geschlechtskrankheiten zu brechen, ein Problem an sich. Viele Frauen (und Männer) waren vor dem Eintritt in die Ehe nicht ausreichend informiert. Geschlechtskrankheiten wurden häufig ahnungslosen Frauen mitgeteilt – die Ärzte zögerten, die Harmonie in der Ehe zu stören, indem sie den Grund für ihre körperlichen Leiden anzeigten. Dies führte zu hohen Mütter- und Säuglingssterblichkeitsraten. Sogenannte, „Social Purity“ – Feministinnen wie Swiney, glaubten an eine ideale Gesellschaft, in welcher in der monogamen Ehe beide Partner keusche sind und sogar innerhalb der Ehe ein hohes Maß an Kontinenz ausüben sollen. Der breitere Diskurs der „Sexualreform“ versuchte, den doppelten Standard durch einen neuen moralischen Sexualstandard zu ersetzen. Im späten 19. Jahrhundert behauptete die Wissenschaft nicht nur, den menschlichen Körper zu erklären, sondern auch die Frau als solche zu definieren und zu verstehen. Feministinnen mussten deshalb auf diesen Grundlagen argumentieren.

So auch Swiney:

[Reproduction is] the threshold of the great mysteries of woman’s evolution, woman’s fall, and woman’s ascent. (Swiney,The Awakening of Women, p. 89.)

Warum erzähle ich das alles? Aus zwei Gründen:

  1. Es verbindet uns wieder mit den Feministinnen der Vergangenheit, mit unseren Vorfahren im Herzen und im Geiste, mit unseren vergessenen Allies. Auch wenn der Feminismus sich inzwischen von der Betrachtung des Geschlechts als einer biologischen festen Kategorie, von einem Differenzfeminismus, zu einem Feminismus gewandelt hat, der die gesellschaftlichen Dichotomien und Differenzierungen von Gender (und Sex) dekonstruiert, ist es wichtig zu wissen, dass Feministinnen wie Swiney die Bedeutung der Sexualität für den Feminismus bereits erkannt und gegen Benachteiligungen auf dieser Ebene angekämpft haben.
  2. Vielleicht wunder es und auch, wie viel sich wirklich in diesen 150 Jahren verändert hat, oder? Beim Lesen meiner Quellen war ich oft überrascht, wie ähnlich die Argumente waren. Aber anstatt sich darüber zu ärgern oder vielleicht sogar aufzugeben, sollten wir durch die Geschichte des Feminismus eher etwas gewinnen. Es zeigt uns auf der einen Seite, wie sehr sich unsere Argumente entwickelt haben, und auf der anderen, dass wir die kleinen und großen Siege anerkennen und feiern sollten!


Susan Kent, Sex and Suffrage in Britain, 1860-1914(London: Routledge, 1987)

Judith Walkowitz, City of Dreadful Delight: Narratives of Sexual Danger in Late-Victorian London(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992), p. 6.

Lesley A. Hall, ‘Suffrage, Sex and Science’, in: Maroula Joannou and June Purvis (eds.), The Women’s Suffrage Movement: New Feminist Perspectives(Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1998), pp. 188-200.

Lucy Bland, Banishing the Beast: Feminism, Sex and Morality(London: Tauris, 2001), p. 53[

Wissenschaftler*innen in die Öffentlichkeit!

Nicht nur die Tatsache, dass ich heute unter anderem Dr. Michael Blume (Hier zum Blog) in einer Podiumsdiskussion sehen und hören durfte, der sich im allgemeinen sehr um die Übersetzung religionswissenschaftlicher Fragestellungen und Problematiken in den gesellschaftlichen Diskurs bemüht; nicht nur der Lesekreis heute Abend, in dem wir uns jeden Mittwoch mit den Denkern (sic!) der Neuen Rechten beschäftigen; nicht nur ständige Diskussionen über Feminismus und Judith Butler; nicht nur andauernde Rechtfertigungen vor einigen Familienmitgliedern, warum ich denn so was total sinnvolles wie Religionswissenschaft und Gender History studiere; nein: alles zusammen bringt mich zu diesem Appell! Wissenschaftler*innen, ab mit euch in den öffentlichen Diskurs!

Nicht nur, dass es niemandem nützt, wenn wir alles in geschlossener Gesellschaft in unserem pseudo Elfenbeinturm diskutieren; nicht nur, dass, wenn wir uns nicht selbst erklären, es andere stattdessen (falsch) tun. Nicht nur, dass ich immer noch an einen wissenschaftlichen Ethos glaube, der nicht „Wissen“, sondern Kritik anbringt.

Wem nützt denn die Wissenschaft, wenn sie sich nicht mit der Gesellschaft beschäftigt? Und eine Wissenschaft, die sich mit der Gesellschaft beschäftigt, muss fähig sein, die Sprache der Gesellschaft nicht nur zu verstehen, sondern auch sprechen zu können.

Dabei geht es mir nicht nur (aber auch) darum, Bachelor Studierende mitzunehmen, sondern vor allem darum, anderen nicht die Bühne zu überlassen, sondern (in Elle Woods Worten) die eigene Stimme sprechen zu lassen. Oder in Butlers Worten: lasst uns die Worte zurücknehmen, die von den anderen eingenommen wurden.

Lasst uns die wissenschaftliche Deutungshoheit zurückholen, aber lassen wir dabei den Elfenbeinturm zurück!

An ode to coffee * ein Loblied auf den Kaffee

Wow, der erste Blogpost der Challenge und über was schreibe ich? Über das, was gerade direkt neben mir steht natürlich: mein morgendlicher Kaffee.

Denn, desto mehr ich darüber nachdachte, desto mehr fiel mir über ihn ein.

Deshalb hier: 10 Geschichten und tolle Dinge über Kaffee:

  1. ICH denke ja schon immer, ich komme morgens ohne Kaffee nicht aus dem Bett… Da erzählte mir letztens ein Freund, dass er sich vorgenommen hatte für 2019 den fünffachen Espresso morgens auf einen dreifachen runterzuschrauben… und schon fühle ich mich bei Kaffee Nr. 3 am Nachmittag gar nicht mehr komisch 😉
  2. Kaffee verleiht Flüüüügel. (Hm, hat das nicht schon ein Energy Drink mal von sich behauptet?) Kennt ihr das Gefühl, wenn ihr total übermüdet seid, und es nur Kaffee ist, was euch überhaupt auf den Beinen hält? Das führt zu einem wirklich interessanten Mix aus „mein Körper ist übersensibel“ und „mein Hirn fühlt sich an als wäre es zeitgleich auf Wolken gebettet und von Wolken durchdrungen“ … Nachmachen ohne Gewähr empfohlen!
  3. Instantkaffee. Instantkaffee ist so eine Sache. Man liebt ihn oder man hasst ihn. Dabei gibt es ja nicht EINEN Instantkaffee. Das was ihn wirklich interessant macht sind die „Cappuccino Schoko“ oder „Latte Espresso“ Sorten. Ich glaube ich wusste bis ich 14 oder 15 war gar nicht wirklich, wie „echter Kaffee“ eigentlich schmeckt. Bei uns gab es morgens, weil meine Mutter für sich alleine keine Maschine machen wollte, immer nur Instant Kaffee. Den guten Original 😉 Kaum war ich dem einmal entwachsen ist es mit so vielem von früher: es schmeckt wirklich NUR noch, weil es nach zu Hause schmeckt 😉

    Instantkaffee 2.0 Übersee: wusstet ihr, wo ihr den besten Instant Eiskaffee bekommt? Es ist das Land, welches ja eigentlich die ganze sogenannte „Kultur“ in das Land des Kaffees gebracht hat …

    Griechenland! Wenn ihr dort seid: Nescafé Fredo bestellen – ihr werdet es nicht bereuen!

  4. Kaffee gehört irgendwie zu Instagram dazu. Sei es die morgendliche Story über den bitter nötigen Kaffee, sei es das inszenierte, arrangierte Bild mit wunderschöner geschäumter Milch, am besten mit Muster durch Kakao auf dem hipster Holz Tisch oder das obligatorische Fashiongrammer Bild mit Kaffee in der Hand – ohne Kaffee wäre Instagram bestimmt (!) um die Hälfte aller Bilder beraubt.
  5. Auch bevor Instagram den Kaffee ästhetisch neu inszenierte, übten Medien sich mit ihrer Gehirnwäsche auf unser Kaffee-Verhalten aus. Im Folgenden 4 Beispiele:

    Was fühlt sich besser an als mit Coffee to Go durch die Straßen der geschäftigen Stadt zu laufen? Was für ein Hochgefühl! Die anderen müssen (!) doch sehen, wie wichtig ich bin.

  6. Dazu gehört auch der Gang zum Starbucks Kaffee. Was spricht mehr für „ich gönne mir“ als der Toffee Nut Latte vor Weihnachten? Das toppt natürlich auch den Standart to go Becher, denn wer würde den schon auf Instagram posten? 😉 PS: Mit Starbucks Kaffee Becher dürfen sogar Professor*innen zu spät kommen … habe ich gelernt (!)
  7. à propos Uni: Wenn es nach Serien und Filmen ginge, müssten die besten Klausuren gelernt, die schönsten Texte geschrieben werden in Cafés. Aber stimmt das wirklich? Vielleicht für die erste Stunde. Aber sobald die Bedienung anfängt einen mit Blicken zu durchdringen und hypnotisch entweder dazu zu bewegen, sich weiter mit Koffein vollzuschütten oder gefälligst den Platz aufzugeben, habe zumindest ich keine Konzentration mehr. Vielleicht kommt ja auch daher der eigentliche Starbucks Hype?
  8. Ich bin mir ja immer noch nicht sicher, ob Lorelei und Lorelei (Rory!) aus Gilmore Girls da wirklich immer nur Kaffee trinken oder nicht doch Getränke mit anderem „ich muss mit der Welt klarkommen“ Inhalt. Auf jeden Fall habe ich einen Freund, der, als er mit 12-15 GG schaute, die beiden Loreleien so cool fand, dass er, wie sie, so an die 8 oder 10 Tassen Kaffee am Tag trank

    … anscheinend sind die Zuckungen mittlerweile vorbei …

  9. Ich bin außerdem der festen Überzeugung, dass man sich, egal in welchem Städteurlaub immer Zeit nehmen sollte einen Nachmittag lang im Café zu sitzen. Wo fühlt man sonst die wahre Identität der Stadt, wenn nicht in den kuscheligen Sitzecken, wahlweise mit einem Mochaccino, im Winter oder in den geschäftigen Straßen im Sommer? Perfektes Urlaubs Instagram Bild gleich vorprogrammiert 😉
  10. Kaffee macht Freunde! Ich glaube ich könnte meine Freunde an einem Finger abzählen, wenn ich Kaffeeverabredungen zu Beginn des Semesters oder in der Mittagspause kategorisch abgelehnt hätte. (Randnotiz: die Briten nicht ernst nehmen. Oft verbirgt sich hinter einer Kaffee Einladung eine eigentliche Einladung zum Tee!) Ohne Kaffee lebt es sich definitiv einsamer. Tipp: Den Wolken-Kopf mit pseudo intellektuellen Gesprächen verbinden.

    … oder warum finden alle work meetings beim Kaffee statt? 😉


Kaffee ist einfach toll! Egal ob mit Sirup, Milch, Zucker, Schokolade, bitte bitte nehmt ihn mir nicht weg. Vielleicht könnte man ihn ja auch den braunen Felix Felicis Zaubertrank nennen? Auch wenn eine direkte Korrelation zwischen Glück und Kaffee schwer nachweisbar ist – weglassen ist mir zu riskant!

dsc_0071_fotor 3.JPG

Wow it’s the first blogpost of this challenge and what is it about? It’s about what is placed right next to me – my daily morning coffee.

Since, the more I think about it, the more I can find to write about it.

Therefore: 10 stories about coffee:

  1. I used to think that I was the one who cannot get up without my full mug of coffee. However, a few weeks ago a friend told me he just cut short his 5 espresso shots in the morning down to 3. That made my third coffee that day taste so much ore righteous.
  2. Coffee makes you flyyyyy. Do you know this feeling when you’re already totally tired out and it’s only coffee that makes you keep standing? This results in a weird mix of ‚my body is hypersensitive‘ and ‚my brain feels like it’s simultaneously walking on clouds and permeated by clouds‘. Please do try this at home (no liability assumed)!
  3. Instant coffee. Instant coffee is a special thing. Either you love it or you hate it. But, there is not this ONE instant coffee. What makes it really interesting are the ‚cappuccino chocolate‘ and ‚latte espresso‘ versions. I used to only instant coffee when I was younger, since my mum decided not to put the machine on for her alone. We had the original, real instant taste 😛 as soon as I left home it became what it is like with so many other things: it only tastes good because it reminds you of home. Instant coffee 2.0 abroad: Do you know where you can get the best instant coffee? It’s in this legendary land which brought all this so called ‚culture‘ to the ‚land of coffee‘ ——— it’s Greece! If you’re there: order Nescafé Fredo, you definitely won’t regret it.
  4. Coffee somehow belongs to Instagram. No matter if it is the daily morning coffee posted in your story, or the composed picture with beautifully steamed milk, ideally with a picture in cocoa put onto the hipster wooden table or the obligatory fashiongrammer pic holding coffee in a fancy cafe – without coffee, instagram would definitely (!) loose half of its content.
  5. However, even before Instagram changed the aesthetics of coffee forever, media influenced our perception of and behaviour with coffee. What follows are 4 examples: What is better than to walk the streets with you coffee to go cup? What a pleasure! The others have (!) to see how important I am.
  6. This includes the trip to Starbucks coffee. What says more ‚I treat myself‘ than the toffee nut latte before Christmas? This even tops the standard to go cup. Who would ever post a picture of that one on Instagram? PS: Carrying a Starbucks cup even professors are allowed to come late, or so I learned…
  7. Apropos University. If serials and movies are right, the best exams and most lovely texts would come from working in cafes. But is this rally true? Maybe for the first hour. But as soon as the waiter*waitress start trying to hypnotise you either to fill yourself with more caffeine or finally leave the place, my concentration suddenly vanishes. Maybe that’s why people still go to Starbucks?
  8. I am still not quite sure if Lorelei and Lorelai (Rory I mean :P) from Gilmore Girls really only drink coffee all the time or maybe another ‚I need to handle this world‘-content. However, I have a friend who, when he watched GG in his early teens, just loved the two Loreleis so much that he, like them, drank 8 or 10 cups of coffee a day… according to him, the weird shaking stopped some time ago.
  9. I am am also quite sure that, no matter which city you visit, you need to spend one afternoon in a cafe. Where else can you feel the true identity of a city, if not by sitting in cozy coffee corners with a mocchaccino in winter, or in a cool street cafe in summer? Perfect vacation Instagram picture promised! 😉
  10. Coffee makes friends! I do believe that I could count my friends on one finger of one hand, if I categorically declined all coffee invitations. (Side Note: do not trust the Brits! They mean tea when they say coffee!) Without coffee life would definitely be more lonely. Tip: combine the cloudy head with pseudo intellectual conversations and ta da – you got a standard work meeting!


Coffee is just wonderful. It doesn’t matter if you drink it with sirup, milk, sugar, chocolate or all of them, please world, don’t take us the coffee away!

Blog – Challenge


Wuhu, ein halbes Jahr seit dem letzten „quasi“ Post, ein ganzes seit dem letzten richtigen.   Während ich mit Freunden eine neue Kneipe gleich um die Ecke ausprobierte… (der Barkeeper unserer Stammkneipe lief vorbei und uhh.. wenn Blicke töten könnten… aber hey, er selbst war ja wohl gerade auch nicht da 😉 ) … fasste ich den Entschluss, dass ich, nicht nur wegen der 100,00 €, die ich jährlich für diese Domain zahlen muss, sondern auch um meiner selbst Willen (eieiei klingt das hochtrabend…) diesem Blog endlich mal wieder etwas Leben einhauchen muss! Deshalb… die ein-Monats-jeden-Tag-einen-Post-Challenge!

Während ich also mit meinem Freund im Bett liege, er mit beiden Augen, ich nur mit einem, endlich Supernatural weiterschaue, fülle ich mein frisches 2019 Bulletjournal mit Ideen für 31 Tage Blogposts!

Obwohl, vielleicht bleibt es ja bei der Überschrift und ich lasse es ganz spontan, schön à la „writers flow“.

Btw: Supernatural Staffel 12: Der Mensch ist dem Menschen der größte Feind!

In diesem Sinne: freut euch auf einen graziösen Mix aus Unileben, Reiselust, nerdy Zeug und allerlei sonstigem!


(xoxo wäre auch ziemlich lustig, wobei ich mich da ja anscheinend (wie ich kürzlich gelernt habe) erst mal entscheiden müsste, welchem Team GG ich denn angehöre 😉 )



Heya! It’s been half a year since the last „semi“ real blogpost and a whole year since the last real one …

This is why, during spending my evening trying out a new pub near my place (unfortunately the barkeeper of our usual pub saw us there… if looks could kill … well, he wasn’t there at this moment as well 😉 ) I decided to start a one month blog challenge… not only because of the 100,00 € I got to pay once a year for this domain, but also for my own sake (wow how fancy this sounds 😛 ) … This blog really needs some new life!

During half-eyed watching Supernatural, I therefore started to fill my new 2019 bulletjournal with 31 ideas for blogposts.

Well, maybe it stops at the heading… true to the motto „going with the writer’s flow“.

btw: Supernatural season 12: nobody is a greater enemy than man himself! (yes, in English this is even better, gender wise 😛 )

In this spirit: be prepared for a mix of uni life, travellust, nerdy s**** and way more!



(xoxo would be a good ending as well. However I would probably (as I just learned) first have to decide which GG team I am in 😉 )


What’s this new thing? A gallery!

If you keep up to date with this blog (I don’t expect you did in the last months, but now there actually is a reason to again!) you will have seen, that it has a totally new look.

And a new page: The Gallery

Since I deleted my big instagram page at the end of last year (see: This was it – 2017. Oder: eine Selbstkritik), I noticed: I actually cannot do without Instagram. I cannot make photographs, a thing I have to do, since I cannot let my camera lie in the corner of my room, without posting them and sharing them!

And, as usual with instagram, there is always this tiny narcissistic bit in myself to get a high amount of followers and likes and comments…

So, ups, I did it again!

and totally forgot about how f****** annoying instagram is! But, also like so often, one cannot let go of what oneself is annoyed to much.  (also a little bit masochistic here 😉 )

However, this is the reason why I now bother you with my pictures: on my new gallery page!

Please: enjoy 🙂