We turn research into social commitment, providing an experimental peer-to-peer environment for Berlin-based researchers throughout their doctoral studies.

The Einstein Research Group NYLON Berlin is the Berlin member of the international NYLON research network with counterparts based at New York University (NYU) and the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). Our group is comprised of selected doctoral and postdoctoral researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Human Development as well as Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Freie Universität, and Technische Universität Berlin. Ranging from urban planners to anthropologists, historians to geographers, sociologists to political scientists, the group investigates questions at the forefront of critical social theory.

In an atmosphere of trust and collaboration at weekly meetings, we collectively engage with close readings of theoretical texts and provide one another rich feedback on drafts of dissertation chapters, journal articles and conference presentations. In bringing new forms of text and representations to our individual and collaborative research, we put into practice our claims to develop critical and alternative epistemologies. In combination with external conferences, public events, joint publications, and other collaborations outside the university, we aim to make our academic work visible to wider audiences and in new platforms for public discourse. To ensure our group’s objectives, we have turned research funding from the Einstein Foundation Berlin into a peer-run initiative hosted by the Department of Social Sciences (Stadt- und Regionalsoziologie) at Humboldt Universität zu Berlin. We collaborate closely with international colleagues from research institutions in New York City (NYU, Columbia University, Fordham, CUNY, New School for Social Research) and London (LSE, King's College, Goldsmith's), as well as Cambridge University and the University of Chicago.

Through a shared notion of approaching Critical Social Research, we aim to push social research toward more engaged imaginings of social change.

Today’s digital revolution deeply affects the methods, scope and pace of social research as its practitioners are increasingly confronted and engaged with new forms and possibilities of digitalized knowledge production and representation. When thinking about our epistemological grounds and methods, we as social scientists must question our own roles and actions inside and outside of academia, pursuing a deeper understanding of the ’situatedness of knowledge’ (as Donna Haraway puts it) in time and space.

Digitalized knowledge appears more ‘democratized’ than ever before, as it is readily accessible to large audiences. At the same time, contemporary forms of producing, distributing and using knowledge, as well as the collection of data information, are gaining importance as central tools in market-making approaches and the governing of everyday life, reproducing conventional power hierarchies as well as establishing new ones. Through these commodification and polarization processes, accompanied by the persisting economization of academic institutions, we face the danger of transforming social research into an exclusive servant of capitalism, simultaneously losing ground for alternative perspectives.

This is where we—as NYLON Berlin—collectively intervene in order to explore a critical engagement with today’s conditions of (scientific) knowledge production and its forms of (digital) representation in social research and beyond. Therefore, our individual doctoral research projects as well as our joint NYLON group activities become self-explorative subjects for this vital purpose. We thus critically engage with our own situatedness and aim to explore and combine the ever-new possibilities enhancing critical social research practice and social commitment in the digital age.

While sharing a common notion of approaching Critical Social Research, we understand our individual and collective research as a reflexive, open-process-oriented and dialogical method that allows us not only to deconstruct, but also to creatively rewire and redraw the socio-political conditions in which our research and its forms of representation are embedded. Thus, we aim to transform social research from a largely analytic tool to a more progressive and imaginary reconstitution of society in order to trigger social change.


November 3, 2017 — 8.30 pm
Book Launch
Emotional Cities: Debates on Urban Change in Berlin and Cairo, 1860-1910

Joseph Ben Prestel (FU Berlin) in conversation with On Barak (Tel Aviv University) and Julie Ren (HU Berlin)  Moderated by Helen Gibson (FU Berlin)

Pro qm
Almstadtstr. 48
10119 Berlin

— Facebook Event


March 31 - April 1, 2017
International NYLON Conference New York City

New York University 
Institute for Public Knowledge
20 Cooper Square, 5th Floor Conference Room
New York, NY 10003, USA

NYU Institute for Public Knowledge


February 9, 2017
Podcast Workshop #2

Internal group workshop on creative narrativity for future NYLON Berlin podcast series

Humboldt Universität zu Berlin 
Mohrenstraße 41, Room 404
10117 Berlin


January 13, 2017
Podcast Workshop #1

Internal group workshop on experimental podcast production together with Esme Nicholson (NPR Radio Berlin)

Humboldt Universität zu Berlin
Mohrenstraße 41, Room 404
10117 Berlin


December 16, 2016
Experimental Narratives

Internal group workshop on experimental research practices and narrativity together with Harriet Hawkins (Royal Holloway, University of London)

Humboldt Universität zu Berlin
Mohrenstraße 41, Room 404
10117 Berlin


Helen Gibson
(North American History)

John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies

Helen Gibson is a doctoral candidate in history at Freie Universität Berlin’s John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies. Helen's research interests include the intersection of the histories of citizenship and incarceration in the United States and the limits of consumption-as-citizenship in American society. She is currently researching the historical relationship between civil rights and automotivity within the intersecting arenas of consumer capitalism, the American legal system, and race relations. In her dissertation project entitled ‘Joyriding Across the Color Line: Automotivity and Citizenship in the United States, 1895-1939’, she investigates social identities negotiated within the space of the automobile in the twentieth-century American pursuit of freedom through driving.


Fritz-Julius Grafe
(Urban Geography)

Metropolitan Studies Group

Fritz-Julius Grafe is a human geographer at Humboldt University Berlin. The main theme of his research is the interaction of finance and cities, with a particular interest in systemic risk. His PhD focuses on how financial practices affect the urban by means of water infrastructure provision in London and Mumbai. Research interests include urban geography, financialization, and critical social theory.


Till Großmann
(Modern History)

Max Planck Institute for Human Development

Till Großmann is a PhD candidate at the International Max Planck Research School for Moral Economies of Modern Societies in Berlin. He has studied Modern German History at the Freie Universität Berlin. His dissertation project engages with the discourses and practices on love in state-socialist East Germany. He employs emotions as an analytical tool to investigate the co-formation of the self and society. This frames his occupation with the history of emotions as underpinned by an interest in body and gender history, history of science as well as material culture.


Christian Güse
(American Political Economy)

John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies

Christian Güse is a doctoral candidate in the political science department at the John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies at Freie Universität Berlin. Christian’s research interests include the state’s role in the facilitation and maintenance of globalization processes as well as the critical analysis of state-market relations. He is currently working on the material dimensions of globalization processes and the underlying infrastructures necessary for global supply chains to function. In his dissertation project, ‘Guaranteeing the Flow – A Critical Analysis of the U.S. State as Market Maker and Compensator within the Transportation Sector’, Christian tries to counter arguments of a declining state and analyses the role and new tasks it takes on to support and sustain the global transportation sector and the precarious and unequal power relations within it.


Katalin Halász
(Visual Sociology)

Goldsmith's, University of London

Katalin Halász is currently working on a practice-led PhD in visual sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London. Her research interests include race and whiteness, affect and emotion, feminist and queer theories, and visual and artistic methods. As part of her ongoing artistic research on the affective performances of white femininities she has staged a number of participatory and multimedia performances (I Love Black Men, UK, 2011; Freeing Up Shame, Brazil, 2012; The Blush Machine, Bolivia, 2013; The Chamber of White, Denmark, 2014) and curated the exhibitions Visualising Affect (UK, 2013) and The Future of Art is Urban-Artistic Research Practices and Methods in Social Sciences (UK, 2014).


Annette Karpp
(Modern History)

John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies

Annette Karpp is a PhD candidate in history at the Graduate School of North American Studies (GSNAS) at the John F. Kennedy Institute of Freie Universität Berlin. Her research interests include popular culture, music and politics, the history of human rights, and grassroots and social movements. In her PhD project, she explores the tension between certain punk ethics such as anti-establishment, non-conformity, anti-capitalism, the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) approach and the increasing advocacy of punks for human rights since the 1970s. She focuses on strategies and practices of political participation by members of London’s and New York City’s punk scenes studying how punk became increasingly politicized during this period.


Nadja Klopprogge
(North American History)

John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies

Nadja Klopprogge is a PhD candidate in history at the Graduate School of North American Studies, Freie Universität Berlin. Her research interests include transnational and global history, the history of sexuality and emotions, memory and politics of history in the 20th century. She is working on a dissertation investigating the transnational history of the African American struggle for social justice in the long postwar period (1945-1980s). More precisely, Nadja seeks to scrutinize the entanglement of African American politics of history and sexuality in the context of the U.S. troop deployment in Germany after World War II.


Hannes Langguth
(Urban-Regional Studies)

Habitat Unit, Department of International Urbanism and Design

Hannes is a researcher and PhD candidate at Habitat Unit (TU Berlin) working at the interface between urban-regional theory, planning and sociology. His research interests lie in the areas of extended urbanisation processes and rural-urban transformation; social movements and their impact on urban-regional development; and participatory urban-regional planning and politics. In the framework of an international comparative study, Hannes is working on a dissertation project investigating socio-spatial geographies related to social innovation practices engaging in the development of cooperative and sustainable community economies across urbanised hinterland areas in China and Germany.


Hannah Schilling
(Urban Sociology)

Center for Metropolitan Studies

Hannah Schilling is a PhD candidate in Urban Sociology at Humboldt University Berlin and fellow of the international graduate program ‘The World in the City’ at the Center for Metropolitan Studies, Technical University Berlin. She has studied sociology, political science and social anthropology in Marburg, Madrid, Paris and Berlin, where she obtained her MA degree. Her research interests include labor relations in a global economy, global youth and relational sociology. In her dissertation, she compares young precarious workers’ making of livelihood in Abidjan and Berlin in order to address articulations of work and social security in contemporary cities.


Ana Aceska
Yaara Benger
Natalia Besedovsky
Priska Daphi
Jan Dohnke
Christine Hentschel
Hanna Hilbrandt
Stefan Hoehne
Nihad El-Kayed
Francesco Findeisen
Martin Fuller
Sebastian Juhnke
Diana Krueger
Joanna Kusiak
Natalie Mevissen
Julia Nast
Joseph Ben Prestel
Ismael Puga
Leslie Quitzow
Julie Ren
Andreas Schaefer
Sebastian Schlueter
Patricia Schulz
Lisa Vollmer
Boris Vormann
Bettina Wagner


Group Supervisor

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Institut für Sozialwissenschaften
Stadt- und Regionalsoziologie

Vojin Serbedzija (Office Manager)
Universitätsstraße 3b, Room 302
10099 Berlin

Tel +49–(0)30209366530
Fax +49–(0)302093–66531


Group Coordinator

Tel +49–(0)30–83852–868


NYLON Berlin is a self-organized interdisciplinary PhD research group funded by the Einstein Foundation Berlin. It is hosted by the Department of Social Sciences (Stadt- und Regionalsoziologie) at Humboldt Universität zu Berlin and is part of a larger research network expanding to institutions in New York City (NYU, Columbia University, Fordham, CUNY, New School for Social Research) and London (LSE, King's College, Goldsmith's) as well as to Cambridge University and the University of Chicago.

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Website & Blog
NYLON Berlin / Einstein Resarch Group (Concept)
Johannes Badzura (Design)
Stefan Frank (Development)


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