Working Group “Humans and Animals in the Ruhr Area”

The working group “Humans and Animals in the Ruhr Area” builds on collaborations between museums of the Ruhr Area and the Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities in Essen (KWI). It examines the relation(s) of humans and animals from historical, sociological, artistic and anthropological perspectives. Through combining humanities, cultural practice and art-historical expertise, the group aims to engage in the emerging cultural field of “Human-Animal Studies” while also charting an important yet unexamined part of the Ruhr Area’s history. The group’s research focus was inaugurated with a conference addressing the question “Do we need an Animal Turn in Cultural Studies? Theoretical Premises and Conceptional Problems of Human-Animal Studies” at the KWI in Spring 2018. Delineating current developments and debates of this newly emerging research field, the conference proceedings “Humans and Animals. Prerequisites and Challenges” (J.B. Metzler, Stuttgart) were released in August 2020.

The working group’s programme furthermore includes the conceptualisation of an exhibition at Ruhr Museum (at Zeche Zollverein in Essen) as well as exhibitions at Zeche Hannover (in Bochum) and at Textilfabrik Cromford. The exhibitions and their educational agendas will be accompanied by a programme exploring diverse factors of human-animal relations, including talks, discussions, film screenings and readings which take place at various locations in the Ruhr Area. In cooperation with Essen’s book shop Proust, the KWI organized a series of readings on “Nature Writing” and is further planning to approach “Humans film Animals: Shifting Fears and Desires in the 20th century”. Since Autumn 2019, a complete overview of all exhibitions and events can be found here.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the programme had to be altered. Up-to-date information on dates and hygiene concepts can be found on the respective venue’s website.

For further information, please also visit

Publications on the subject
Menschen und Tiere – Ein Forschungsbericht von Friedrich Jaeger (*.pdf)

Past events

  • March 2018: Tagung „Brauchen die Kulturwissenschaften einen Animal Turn? Theoretische Grundlagen und konzeptionelle Probleme der Human-Animal-Studies”
  • Auftaktworkshop 08.12.2016