Prof. Dr. Julia Lossau

What is the relationship between society, power and space? It is the application of a seemingly simple question to concrete realities and life worlds at different geographical scales that stands at the heart of my research. As human geographer who is intrigued by epistemologies of difference, I am interested in all sorts of spatialities – in spaces and places, in scales, but also in different forms of materiality and substance as well as in (flat) ontologies of materiality and sociality. As my professorship focusses on urban geography, I see myself as counterpart in questions of urban theory and practise in a broad sense. The city is relevant in the context of our Research Training Group in that it is a laboratory not only of modernity, as often said, but also of contradiction. It is hence the urban context in particular that allows for strategies of working beyond identifying and homogenising categories, opening up ‘spaces of dissension’ as arenas to think in and beyond contradiction.

Being the geographer in our multidisciplinary team, I stand for a certain ‘worlding’, if not ‘earthing’, of contradiction, in both theoretical and practical respect. Theoretically, such a worlding implies ways of taking seriously materialities and empirical life worlds; practically, I am interested in bringing Contradiction Studies out of the ivory tower and into public spheres. At present, everyday life is characterised by a multiplication of diverging perspectives as well as by alarming social, ecological and (bio-)political crises. Against such a background, I hope for dissertation projects in the fields of critical urban studies, postcolonial memory studies and/or social transformation studies. Methodologically speaking, anything from textual analysis to ethnographical research is welcome as long as it has a creative, collaborative or contradicting edge to it.


“At first I thought contradiction was always a relational thing; but the more I ponder it, the more I think contradiction creates relation.”

Ingo H. Warnke
l’illusion d’une unité

“Foucault speaks of contradiction as l’illusion d’une unité.”

Ingo H. Warnke

“The city is a laboratory not only of modernity, but also of contradiction.”

Julia Lossau
ideal of a contradiction-free world

“Science has long been animated by the ideal of a contradiction-free world in which logical orders could merge with society, politics, culture and language. In the GRC Contradiction Studies we are working on ways of describing the multiplicity and complexity, the danger and beauty of our worlds that clearly go beyond concepts of freedom from contradiction.”

Michi Knecht
Bhabha on enlightenment and coloniality

“Homi Bhabha says about the contradiction between the ideals of the enlightenment, claims to democracy and solidarity and simultaneous colonization and ongoing coloniality: ‘That ideological tension, visible in the history of the West as a despotic power, at the very moment of the birth of democracy and modernity, has not been adequately written in a contradictory and contrapuntal discourse of tradition.’”

Kerstin Knopf