Heidi Armbruster is an Associate Professor in German and Social Anthropology in the Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics. She is a trained social anthropologist specialising in migration and diversity issues. Her past and present research interests address two broadly intersecting themes: post-migration identities from the perspectives of migrants in the German-speaking context, and post-unification and post-colonial inquiries into German identity. More recently she has developed comparative research on refugee reception and diversity in rural regions in Germany and the UK. Her teaching covers German social and political studies, multicultural Germany, transnational mobilities and ethnographic methods.
- The anthropology of migration and borders
- Race and diversity in rural and provincial spaces;
- critical whiteness;
- the Turkey-Germany migration nexus;
- ethnography and participatory methods.
I am currently working on a project funded by Arts Council England on diversity and community in rural Hampshire. Working collaboratively with digital artists we explore stakes of belonging among diverse young people in a small town.
After training in Social Anthropology at the Universities of Munich and Vienna I moved to the UK and completed a PhD in Social Anthropology at SOAS, University of London. My PhD research began a long-term journey of ethnographic fieldwork among Syriac Christians in a multi-sited diasporic context, connecting Germany, Austria and Turkey, their country of origin. I have explored how both, large-scale emigration and a painful minority history in Turkey affected post-migration re-constructions of identity in Austria and Germany.Having specialised in migration research related to the German-speaking world I joined German Studies as a lecturer in the Department of Modern Languages at Southampton in 2003 and have been based there since. Prior to this appointment I was research fellow at the Universities of Bradford and Southampton working on a European border studies project. This led me to work, as an ethnographer, on the impact of German unification on rural communities on the former German-German border. Between 2007-2010 I co-directed the EU framework project Sefone with Southampton colleague Ulrike Meinhof which examined German and European border spaces in the context of cultural diversity. Working on de/bordering, diversity and migration in contexts of historical rupture informed my growing interest in post-colonial German legacies and led to a study on immigrant Germans in Namibia, a former German colony. Here I examined post-migration reconstructions of Germanness, in the light of post-colonial subjectivities and white privilege.More recently I have begun to look comparatively at Germany and the UK in respect of diversity and refugee reception in small towns and rural regions and started collaborating with artists to develop participatory research. I have conducted several roles in the department such as Head of German, Director of the Centre for Transnational Studies, and, currently, Head of Research. Being passionate about ethnography I co-founded Debating Ethnography, a cross-faculty research group which wants to bring the richness of anthropological inquiry into interdisciplinary environments.