Call for Participation: Summer School for PhD Candidates “Telling People Apart: Sorting, Grouping, and Distinguishing” (June 18-24 2023, JGU Mainz), deadline 28th February 2023

Call for Applications:
International and Transdisciplinary Summer School for PhD Candidates
Telling People Apart: Sorting, Grouping, and Distinguishing
June 18 – June 24, 2023
Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz, Germany

Organized by the Collaborative Research Centre 1482 – Studies in Human Categorisation


The Collaborative Research Centre 1483 “Studies in Human Categorisation” [Humandifferenzierung] invites you to a summer school at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz from June 18-24, 2023. In five work-intensive days, we will examine a phenomenon that is as ubiquitous as it is fundamental: Human beings continuously differentiate and categorise each other in a variety of ways, for example by age, gender, nationality, religion, language, race, attractiveness, but also by dietary habits or music preferences. In an exchange with renowned experts from various disciplines, conceptual and methodological foundations for the study of human categorisation will be discussed in different formats.

The summer school understands itself as an explicitly transdisciplinary endeavour and is therefore aimed at doctoral students from all kinds of disciplines concerned with “differences” between humans, but also between humans and non-humans (things as well as animals). The goal of the summer school is to engage its participants in the discussion and development of new perspectives on practices of human differentiation. The summer school offers its participants the opportunity to jointly explore the theoretical concept and empirical research perspective of “human categorisation”. Participants are invited to reflect on their own research projects in the light of the insights gained in these discussions. “Human categorisation” contains the proposal to bring the heterogeneity of human differences investigated in different fields under one conceptual umbrella. Crucially, these differences are not – as the concept of “diversity” for instance assumes – regarded as given differences between types of human beings, but as the result of practices of human categorisation. Moreover, the relevance of certain categories, such as gender or race, is not simply assumed,
but treated as an empirically open question. Discussions will focus on the “doing” of differences as well as their “undoing”.


The summer school will pursue the following overarching questions:

  • What is the analytical value of “human categorisation”? What is the theoretical and empirical potential of this perspective?
  • How can practices of human differentiation be investigated? Which methodological approaches are suitable for which forms of human categorisation?
  • Under what conditions does a particular difference become salient? How, when and why does a certain category appear to be particularly relevant? How do they reemerge or disappear again?
  • Who or what are the agents of categorisation? Human beings? Artifacts? Institutions? Discourses?
  • Who categorizes whom? When do self-categorisations and categorisations by others correspond to or contradict each other?

In this summer school, participants will come together in a variety of formats to work on their
projects. There will be workshops led by international experts from various disciplines, including sociology, linguistics, theater studies, translation studies, anthropology, history, or media and cultural studies. Every morning starts with a writing breakfast, giving participants the opportunity to reflect on the previous day. One-on-one advisory sessions allow participants to discuss their projects or their careers with advanced scholars. The program will be rounded out by keynote lectures by Stefan Hirschauer, Rivke Jaffe, Ted Schatzki, Jürgen Streeck.


We welcome applications from doctoral students worldwide regardless of their disciplinary affiliation. To apply, please send us a short description of your PhD project (no more than 3 –5 pages) together with a cover letter and a CV in English. In your PhD description, please outline your topic, methods, current stage in the process, and how your project relates to the theme of the summer school. In the cover letter, please let us know your motivation and expectations. How do you imagine your project will benefit from a discussion of approaches, methods, theories, or case study examples regarding practices of human categorisation?

Please submit the above-mentioned documents in one PDF-file via e-mail to until the 28th of February 2023.
Please check our homepage for updates:

The full call can be found here.