Cohort 6

Duration of stay: 1 April 2023 – 30 September 2023

The Fellows of the 6th Cohort:
Fellows of the 6th Cohort. From left to right: Sanam Roohi, Niklas Barth, Ricarda Menn (KWI International Fellowships Coordinator), Philipp Weber, Christian Kirchmeier, Cecilia Sebastian, Christian Berger, Candela Marini

Dr. Niklas Barth

Niklas Barth is Assistant Professor (Akademischer Rat a.Z.) at the Institute for Sociology at Ludwig- Maximilians-Universität in Munich. From October 2020 until March 2021, he was Junior Researcher in Residence at the LMU Center for Advanced Studies. From August until November 2022, he was Visiting Fellow at the German Department at Yale University.

He received his Ph.D. with the thesis “Gesellschaft als Medialität. Studien zu einer funktionalistischen Medientheorie” in 2019.

Niklas Barth has contributed to various DFG research projects as junior and postdoc researcher. He is interested in media and social theory, sociology of culture, sociology of medicine, thanatology, platform studies, digital publics and antagonistic communication as well as in the cultural techniques of simulation and dissimulation.

At KWI, Niklas will work on his second book project entitled “(In)Communicability. Forms, Functions and Limits of Tactful Communication”. This exploration calls for cross-disciplinary research perspectives such as systems and media theory, media archeology, cultural studies, history of ideas, philology and qualitative research methodologies. The book assembles systematic studies on a general social theory of tactful communication, media archaeological studies on the semantics of tact as well as empirical case studies on, for example, tact and tactlessness on social media platforms and in palliative care contexts.


PD Dr. Christian Berger

Christian Berger is a historian of modern and contemporary art. He received his M.A. (2007) and Ph.D. (2013) from Freie Universität Berlin and obtained his Habilitation in Art History at Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz in 2022.

He has held visiting professorships at the Universities of Frankfurt (2022) and Hamburg (2021–22) and was a research fellow and lecturer at the Universities of Mainz (2010–22) and Marburg (2007–10).

He has been awarded several major grants, by the European Union and the Volkswagen Foundation, among others, which enabled him to conduct his research at international institutions such as the Courtauld Institute of Art in London, the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles, and the German Center for Art History (DFK) in Paris.

As Thyssen@KWI Fellow, Christian Berger will study examples of public art in the Ruhr area, focusing on works that directly engage with the industrial history of the respective sites, instead of concealing their past use, transformation, and exploitation. Juxtaposing famous examples such as Richard Serra’s Bramme für das Ruhrgebiet/Slab for the Ruhr with more recent interventions, this site-specific project aims at a reconsideration of the post-industrial monument’s potential beyond beautification and touristification.

Dr. Christian Kirchmeier

Dr. Christian Kirchmeier is an Assistant Professor of European Culture and Literature at the University of Groningen. He is the author of a monograph on morality and literature and has edited books and journal special issues on topics such as Niklas Luhmann, World War I in literary discourse, intermedial narratology, Romanticism, and Brecht.

He received his Doctor of Philosophy (Dr. phil.) in Modern German Literature from the University of Munich and was visiting scholar at Yale University for his postdoctoral research. His habilitation thesis on the parabasis in modern literature and aesthetics is forthcoming from Konstanz University Press in 2023.

At KWI, he will explore the literary and filmic representation of microtopoi – a specific type of small spaces that can only be entered and exited at certain times. Examples of microtopoi include elevators, train compartments, horse carriages, bomb shelters, pavilions and caves during sudden storms, or shared apartments during a lockdown. The primary focus of the project lies on the unique rules and risks of communication that are characteristic for microtopoi.

Dr. Candela Marini

Candela Marini is a cultural historian with a focus on nineteenth-century visual culture. She holds a PhD in Romance Studies from Duke University. During her time as an international fellow at KWI, she will work on her book manuscript titled Images at the Front: War Photography and Visual Literacy in Argentina and Chile (1860s-1880s).

Studying the photographic records and illustrated journals on the War of the Triple Alliance, the invasion of Indigenous territories, and the War of the Pacific, her project traces the changing understandings of war and violence that shaped nineteenthcentury citizenry, while uncovering the visual strategies and transnational business networks that developed as communication systems and the command of visual technologies increased.

Marini has published several articles and book collaborations on visual history and contemporary Latin American literature. She is currently an assistant professor of Spanish and Latin American studies at the Milwaukee School of Engineering, where she co-directs the Honors Program and coordinates the Spanish minor. As part of these programs, she has developed a pedagogy around service-learning and civic engagement, with students working with local leaders and associations in different community projects. As a fun new adventure, she is host of the Latin American podcast channel of the New Books Network, offering interviews in English and Spanish.

Dr. Sanam Roohi

Sanam Roohi (PhD, Anthropology, University of Amsterdam) is an incoming international fellow at the Kulturwissenschaftliches Institut, Essen. Her work encompasses the themes of embodied migration infrastructures, transnational political economy of care and their ramifications on caste-and-religious inflected communal formations within the South Asian diaspora. Roohi has held various fellowships including Alexander von Humboldt fellowship at the Centre for Modern Indian Studies, University of Göttingen (2020-2023), a Marie Curie COFUND fellowship at Max Weber Kolleg, Erfurt, Germany between (2018 – August 2020) and an SSRC InterAsia Fellowship (2018) at the Global and Transregional Studies Platform, Georg-August University, Göttingen.

During her time in Essen, Roohi will work on her book manuscript tentatively titled ‘In Pursuit of the American Dream: Kamma diasporic giving and the transnational reproduction of caste capital’. The book critically engages with diaspora philanthropy and other transnational forms of communal care. While the diasporic members approach their philanthropic and care oriented interventions with a rational outlook built around the discourses of efficiency, merit and development, through rich ethnography the book shows that such currencies of care operate within a transnational moral economy that aid the accumulation of caste capital, thereby reproducing caste transnationally.

Dr. Cecilia Sebastian

Dr. Cecilia Sebastian received her PhD in German Studies from Yale University in May 2022. Her research and teaching areas include critical theory, social movements, socialism and Kantian ethics, theories of political action, and revolutionary literature. Prior to the PhD, she received a Masters in German Literature from the Goethe Universität in Frankfurt and a Bachelors in Philosophy and German Studies from the Johns Hopkins University.

She is currently working on her book manuscript, Critical Theory in Revolt, which charts a new history of the Frankfurt School tradition of Critical Theory through its 1960s engagement with Black and anticolonial liberation struggles and the global student movements that they inspired.

The book documents how this period challenged the first generation of the Frankfurt School to sharpen its commitment to conceptualizing universal freedom from the vantage of the historically particular by moving beyond a Western paradigm. It then maps a more capacious, practical-political iteration of Critical Theory into contemporary abolitionism and queer and feminist praxis by way of the tradition’s student-activists, including Angela Davis and Hans-Jürgen Krahl. By tracing Critical Theory’s reception among feminist, queer, and Black studies scholars today, the book encourages scholars to read these historical and contemporary engagements not as peripheral to the Frankfurt School tradition, but as its immanent critique.

Dr. Philipp Weber

Philipp Weber has studied German Literature, Philosophy and Modern History in Münster, Berlin and Paris and received his PhD at Humboldt University Berlin. His dissertation was entitled: “Cosmos and subjectivity in Early Romanticism”.

He was a Feodor Lynen Fellow at Indiana University Bloomington and is now at Ruhr University Bochum. His research project at KWI Essen deals with the dynamics between morality and narratives. Philipp’s research interests include, Ethics and Literature, Experimental Humanities, Voices in Literature and Forms of Cosmology.