Alice von Bieberstein

junior fellow
EURIAS cohort 2017/2018
discipline Social Anthropology
Research Associate, University of Cambridge, Department of Social Anthropology (until the end of 2015); currently on maternity leave

Research project

Golden Ages: An Ethnography of Matter, Violence and Value


My proposed project for the EURIAS fellowship is an ethnographic case study of urban regeneration in Turkey that involved a state programme of dispossession through debt and ended in the residents' hunt for gold and treasures believed to have been buried by Armenians during the 1915 genocide. My analysis addresses and seeks to make theoretical sense of the relation between: (i) Histories of political violence with a particular focus on economic dispossession and material ruination, the constitution of a national economy and (changing) capitalist formations; (ii) the historically contingent ways in which displacement, dispossession and destruction call up (possible, deferred, foreclosed) futures and (fetishized, absolute, denied) pasts; and (iii) the double register of legal and economic governance and its excessive and temporally discordant shadow that is the material and phantasmatic life of treasures spinning together dynamics of violence and desire.


The project contributes to contemporary concerns with the politics of debt and biopolitical governance, yet with the intention to explore their historical depths and temporal complexities as evidenced in my ethnographic material. In conversation with interdisciplinary scholarship (incl. social anthropology, literary and cultural studies, philosophy and geography), my theoretical goal is to explore the new materialist literature for its potential to open our thinking on matter to the future, yet also to probe its limits by arguing that the historicities of matter matter. The hypothesis I intend to investigate is that they matter not because they are genealogically constitutive of the present, but because their entanglement in political violence and death is what destabilises the chronological unfolding of time.






Alice Rogalla von Bieberstein is Research Associate at the Department of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge. She holds a Ph.D in Social Anthropology, from the University of Cambridge. Her main research interests focus on the various legacies of the Armenian genocide, from the current politics of history to the biopolitical governance of minorities and practical engagements with the material remains of the Armenian past of the region, particularly through treasure hunting.



Selected publications


'Memorial Miracle: Inspiring Vergangenheitsbewältigung between Berlin and Istanbul', in M. Gabowitsch (ed.), Replicating Atonement Foreign Models in the Commemoration of Atrocities, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, Hampshire, 2017.


'Surviving Hrant Dink: carnal mourning under the specter of senselessness', Social Analysis [Post-Ottoman Topologies: Special Issue], vol. 61, no. 1, 2017, pp. 55–68.


'Surrogate Apologies, Sublated Differences: Contemporary Visions of Post-national Futures in Turkey under the Spectre of the Left', in L. Karakatsanis & N. Papadogiannis (eds), The Politics of Culture in Turkey, Greece & Cyprus: Performing the Left Since the 1960s, Routledge, London, 2017, pp. 56-74.


'From Aggressive Humanism to Improper Mourning: Burying the Victims of Europe’s Border Regime in Berlin”, with E. Evren, Social Research, vol. 83, no. 2, 2016, pp. 453-479.


'The What of Occupation: 'You Took our Cemetery, you Won’t Have our Park!' ', with N. Tataryan, Cultural Anthropology [Online], October 2013, published 31 October 2013.






senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2012/2013
Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin
discipline History
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2016/2017
Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin
Social Sciences
senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2018/2019
Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin
discipline Psychology
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2011/2012
Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin
discipline History