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Dr Heidi Armbruster PhD, MA

Associate Professor, Director of Centre for Transnational Studies

Dr Heidi Armbruster's photo

Dr Heidi Armbruster is an Associate Professor of Modern Languages and Linguistics at the University of Southampton.

I studied Social Anthropology at the Universities of Munich and Vienna and gained an MA in Social Anthropology and Gender Studies from the University of Vienna. For my postgraduate research I moved to the UK where I completed a PhD in Social Anthropology at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. Currently I am associate professor in German Cultural Studies and convene the MA programme in Transnational Studies.

Research interests

Most of my research has revolved around the impact of critical historical change on local lives, identities, and ‘communities’. As an anthropologist I am especially concerned with historical conflict and change as cultural themes, negotiated by individuals and groups in specific circumstances. Much of my work has been grounded in contexts of immigration and border crossing and involved German-speaking sites. I conducted long-term ethnographic research with Syriac Christians in Germany, Austria and Turkey, whose lives had been affected by large-scale dispersal and a beleaguered minority history. My book Securing the Faith is based on this ethnography. In another research project I studied the formation of identity and community among German immigrants in Namibia who had settled in a society that was undergoing a post-colonial and post-apartheid transformation. Previously I was involved in two international border research projects.

Themes that interconnect these topics include: transnational mobilities, histories and imaginaries; the anthropology of borders and ‘peripheries’; narratives, identity and power; relationship between history, biography and ‘community’; intergenerational experience of historical rupture and conflict; multi-sited ethnography.

Research projects

From 2000-2003 I was research fellow in an EU-funded project on European integration in post-Cold War borderlands (‘European Border Identities’). I conducted research among multi-generational families in rural communities which had been divided by the former border between the two Germanys and were adapting to German unification.

From 2007-2010 I co-directed an EU 6th framework project with Southampton colleague Ulrike Meinhof (SEFONE, ‘Searching for Neighbours’). It examined the impact of European enlargement and immigration among culturally diverse communities in peripheral and border regions in Germany, Austria, Hungary, Cyprus and Italy.

Research group

Debating Ethnography

Research project(s)

Searching for Neighbours: dynamics of mental and physical borders in Europe (SeFoNe) - Dormant

SeFoNe explores the dynamics of socio-cultural and physical borders in the newly enlarged European Union, as experienced by people of culturally diverse backgrounds, with a view to strengthen peoples’ competence for cultural understanding and exchange.

Common Ground: Refugees and native residents create community in rural Hampshire

Newly settled young refugees and indigenous teenagers will collaborate with artists and researchers to use the creative potential of digital arts to explore their experience of life in rural Hampshire and share this with the wider community in a visual installation and travelling exhibition

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Book Chapters


  • Meinhof, U. H., Armbruster, H., Busch, B., Gibert, M-P., Kiwan, N., Reitsamer, R., Strasser, S., & Wendl, T. (2008). Cultural Diasporas. (PE 389.600). European Parliament Policy Department B, Structural and Cohesion Policies.

My teaching commitments focus on aspects of German cultural studies, with a special emphasis on culture and diversity issues; I also teach ethnographic methods and am actively involved in teaching within the MA programme in Transnational Studies which I also convene.

Dr Heidi Armbruster
Building 65 Faculty of Arts and Humanities University of Southampton Avenue Campus Highfield Southampton SO17 1BF United Kingdom

Room Number : 65/3083

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