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Carolin Zieringer

Caring for Contradiction

In my doctoral project, I develop a feminist theory of radical democratic contradiction. I argue for reading radical democratic theories as centrally organized around practices of political contradiction. From this point of view, freedom from contradiction is not desirable in a democracy because it is an expression of a lack of plurality and heterogeneity. The democratic subject thus faces a double challenge: it must endure contradiction (tolerance of ambiguity), and it must contradict others for the sake of democracy ((self-)representation). Understanding the relationship between democracy and contradiction in this way means asserting a strong subject, as is visible in the recently frequently repeated formula (at least in the German context) “A democracy must be able to endure that.” Such a democratic subject can endure conflict in various forms, and it can contradict for itself where tolerance of ambiguity reaches its limits. Accordingly, such an understanding of contradiction holds considerable potential for subjective emancipation while rejecting any kind of paternalism.

By exposing these often implicit genres of contradiction in conceptions of political action and dis-/order, I show that radical democratic theories tend to neglect the differential dependence of all people on others, i.e., on care, while narrowing the horizon of political action to particular forms of contradictory subjectivities. Contradictory forms of relations, of advocacy and complicity as forms of caring relations remain under-theorized, while the ethics of care and actual care work are excluded from the realm of the political. Moreover, the impositions and contradictions of resistance as well as collective exhaustion under contemporary conditions of racial capitalism, ecological desaster, and “the slow cancellation of our future” (Fisher) are not addressed. Drawing primarily on feminist and queer crip theories as well as activist objections around the complex issue of care, I problematize an understanding of political contradiction that insufficiently reflects the differential conditions and challenges of contradiction. Rather than asserting a binary either/or, I argue that radical democratic contradiction must be cared for, and that care must be radically democratic.

Research interests
  • Political Philosophy, especially regarding subject formations and power
  • (Queer-)Feminist Theories
  • Radical Democratic Theory, especially Jacques Rancière and Judith Butler
  • Disability Studies and Crip Theories
  • Body Politics, relationality and Care
  • Post/De-Colonial Studies
  • 2022–2025
    Doctoral Fellow Research Training Group Contradiction Studies University Bremen.
  • 2021–2022
    Research Associate (Honorary Basis) WoC University Bremen.
  • Since June 2022
    Speaker in the 15th Speakers’ Council of the section Politics and Gender in the German Association of Political Science (DVPW).
  • 2018–2022
    M.A. Political Theory Goethe-Universität Frankfurt/M. und TU Darmstadt
    MA-Arbeit Haltungsfragen. Versuch einer feministischen körpertheoretischen Perspektive auf die kritische Haltung [Questions of Attitude. Attempting a Feminist Body-Theoretical Perspective on the Critical Attitude].
  • 2019–2021
    Project Coordinator and collective curator Nocturnal Unrest. A feminist festival for theory, performance and radical flâneuserie. nOu Kollektiv and Künstlerhaus Mousonturm Frankfurt.
  • 2017–2018
    M.A. Anthropology and Cultural Politics Goldsmiths College London
    M.A.-Arbeit En-Gendering Space. Female Recreational Boxing in South-East London (awarded with the Pat-Caplan-Award).
  • 2013–2017
    B.A. Political Science and Social/Cultural Anthropology University Bremen and Universidad de Salamanca (Erasmus semester)
    B.A.-Arbeit Die Grenzen der Menschenrechte. Zur Politik des Menschlichen [The borders of human rights. On the politics of the human].
  • Poppinga, Almut & Streinzer, Andreas & Zieringer, Carolin & Wanka, Anna & Marx, Georg. 2021. Moralische Überforderung und die Ambivalenz des Helfens in der Coronakrise. In Beuerbach et al. (eds.) Sinn in der Krise. Kulturwissenschaftliche Analysen der Corona-Pandemie, 75-90. Berlin, Boston: DeGruyter.
  • Streinzer, Andreas & Poppinga, Almut & Zieringer, Carolin &Wanka, Anna & Marx, Georg. 2020. Familial Intimacy and the ‘Thing’ between Us. Cuddle Curtains and Desires for Detached Relationality In Anthropology in Action 27(2), 68-72.
  • Streinzer, Andreas & Wanka, Anna & Poppinga, Almut & Zieringer, Carolin & Marx, Georg. 2021. Near Co-Laborations. The VERSUS Project as Relational Epistemic Practice to Analyse the COVID-19 Pandemic In Eitel et al. (eds.) Interventions with/in Ethnography. Kulturanthropologie Notizen 83, 73-84.
  • Zieringer, Carolin & Leonhardt, Christian. 2020. Die Ironie der Politik. Rancière mit queer-feministischen Perspektiven weiterdenken. In Gebhardt (ed.) Staatskritik und Radikaldemokratie. Das Denken Jacques Rancières, 173-190. Baden-Baden: Nomos.
  • Zieringer, Carolin. 2017. ‚Was wäre, wenn ich wüsste, wer ich sein könnte?‘ Ein Essay zum Zusammenhang von Wissen und Identität am Beispiel der Identitätsposition ‚Frau‘. In ZKFF Bremen (ed.) Geschlechterverhältnisse in Wissenschaft & Gesellschaft, 157-171. Hamburg: Dr.-Kovac. 
  • Zieringer, Carolin. 2017. Review Kritische Kollektivität im Netz von C. Wiedemann In Surveillance Studies Blog.
Conferences, Workshops, Events
  • 2023
    Lecture Das muss eine Demokratie aushalten. Eine feministische Problematisierung des Aushalten-Könnens von ‚Ungewissheit und Widerspruch‘ at the Conference Political Theory in Times of Uncertainty, University Bremen.
  • 2023
    Lecture Das muss eine Demokratin aushalten können. Eine Problematisierung des Aushalten-Könnens im Dialog mit feministischen Perspektiven auf Sorge/Care at the Dreitändertagung Zeitenwende – Politik(Wissenschaft) in unsicheren Zeiten at the Johannes Kepler University Linz.
  • 2023
    Lecture How to Keep Theory Open to Contradiction with Dr. Christian Leonhardt and Samia Mohammed, University Bremen.
  • 2023
    Lecture Performing and Withstanding Contradictions or: an Uneasy Hunch with comments from Dr. Rosine Kelz (U Bremen) and Dr. Brigitte Bargetz (U Kiel), University Bremen.
  • 2022
    Lecture Sperrige Partizipation [bulky participation]. Political Practice between (Self-)Government and Freedom with Martin Nonhoff at the interdisciplinary workshop Voluntariness and Political Participation in the framework of the DFG Research Group “Voluntariness/Volutariness”.
  • 2022
    Workshop leader Queering Knowledge(s): Queer feminist perspectives on science and knowledge at Queer Akademie der Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes e.V.
  • 2022
    Organisation and chair, Filmscreening and discussion Concerning Violence. Thinkin de-coloniality past and present with Frantz Fanon with Matti Traußneck and Miriam Yosef as guests, University Bremen.
  • 2022
    Panelist (nOu Kollektiv) Festivals kuratieren – ein Erfahrungsaustausch [Curating Festivals – Exchanging experiences], Symposium Undoing Mastery of the Collaborative Research Centre Affective Societies/Institute for Theatre Studies Humboldt University Berlin.
  • 2019/ 2020
    Co-Conceptualisation and co-leading organizer, Autonomous Seminar at Technical University Darmstadt Frauen* in der Nacht. Von nächtlicher Emanzipation, Flanieren in der Dunkelheit & un(-vorher-)gesehener Performance“ [Women* at Night. Of nocturnal emancipation, strolling in the dark & un(fore)seen performance].
  • 2019
    Talk, Embodied knowledge and space. Female recreational boxing in South-East London LOVA (Association for Feminist Anthropology) Study Day Gender Moves, University Leiden.
  • 2019
    Talk Serious Fun. Experimental ethnographic methods for research on humour and joy in feminist activism, Conference at the Institute for Advanced Studies, University College London.
  • 2018
    Workshop leader Ecstatic Bodies. Agency and Responsibility in the work of Judith Butler
    Queer Network of the German Academic Foundation e.V. (Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes e.V.).
  • 2015
    Conference conceptualisation and organization Critiques of Humanitarianism from the perspective of political sciene and cultural anthropology, together with Pauline Anton at University Bremen / German Academic Foundation e.V. (Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes e.V.).
  • Winter Term 23/24 | U Bremen
    Co-Teaching Seminar ‘Abolition requires that we change one thing, which is everything’ – Abolitionistische Perspektiven auf Freiheit und Sorge [Abolitionist perspectives on freedom and care].
  • SoSe 22 & SoSe 23 | U Bremen
    Übung Introduction to political theory.
  • Winter Term 2021/22 | Goethe Universität Frankfurt/M.
    Conceptualisation and leading organiser, Autonomous Seminar Goethe Universität Frankfurt/M. Der ‚Lesbische Blick‘ und feministische Politiken der (Un-)Sichtbarkeit [The ‘Lesbian Gaze’ and Feminist Politics of (In)Visibility] incl. a workshop with Dr. E. v. Redecker and Dr. L. Duggan].
  • Winter Term 19/20 | TU Darmstadt
    Co-Teaching Autonomous Seminar Frauen* in der Nacht. Von nächtlicher Emanzipation, Flanieren in der Dunkelheit & un(-vorher-)gesehener Performance [Women* at Night. Of nocturnal emancipation, strolling in the dark & un(-pre)seen performance].
  • Winter Term 19/20 | Goethe Universität Frankfurt/M.
    Tutor Introduction to the Philosophy of Law.


  • 2023 | U Bremen
    Bachelor thesis in political science, second supervisor/expert of Jendrig Greiwe. Title of the thesis The Border Protection Policy of the European Union – Post-Colonial Violence in the Mediterranean.
l’illusion d’une unité

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

Ingo H. Warnke
power and resistance

“Michel Foucault says: “Where there is power, there is resistance, and […] this resistance is never in a position of exteriority in relation to power” (History of Sexuality I, The Will to Knowledge, 1976, p. 95)”

Gisela Febel

“Contradictions are an important driver of scientific practice and knowledge.”

Norman Sieroka
idea of democratic critique

“If you think that acts of contradicting someone always need to point to better solutions, you haven’t really understood the idea of democratic critique.”

Martin Nonhoff

“The basis of law is not an idea as a systematic unified principle but a paradox.”

Andreas Fischer-Lescano