Kerstin Poehls

Social/Cultural Anthropology
Museum Director, Molfsee Open Air Museum, Schleswig-Holstein State Museums

is interested in Europeanization as a reflexive process at the intersection of regionalization and globalization, and aims to unveil its dynamics with a special focus on material(itie)s. From 2012 to 2022, she held a post as Junior Professor at the Institute of European Ethnology / Cultural Anthropology, University of Hamburg, and then moved on the museal sphere as head of Molfsee Open Air Museum, the largest one of its kind in Northern Germany. With its new exhibition building, it opens new paths for open air museums’ contribution to debates on climate change (resilience) as well as global entanglements of rural areas.

In her research, sugar is the protagonist. It is in this substance and its sweet taste that social, cultural, and economic negotiation processes materialize. Historically grown and conflictual post-colonial interweavings, EU regulations and the politics of taste do affect each other, and the links between small-scale individual acts of sugar consumption and global infrastructures of sugar production and trade can be ethnographically traced.


Kerstin’s interest in material culture and its politics also includes museums as spaces of representation work, as regional identity markers and institutions where ambivalent practices of collecting come into play.

You can find Kerstin and her work here: 


Selected Publications


(2018). Materiality, medium, morality: Sugar as trade and consumer good, in: Nadja Gernalzick (ed.): The Mediality of Sugar, Brill: Leiden. 

(2016). Material und Moral: Das Handels- und Konsumgut Zucker, in: Zeitschrift für Volkskunde 112:1, , S. 57-75. 

(2016). Regulierte Süße. Wie Zucker als Handels- und Konsumgut fortwährend geordnet wird, in: Ute Elisabeth Flieger, Barbara Krug-Richter, Lars Wintererg (ed.) (2017): Ordnung als Kategorie der volkskundlich-kulturwissenschaftlichen Forschung, Saarbrücker Beiträge zur Historischen Anthropologe 1, Münster/New York, S. 93-110. 

(2016). Zuckerwerk. Netze der Reglementierung und des Handels von Zucker in Hamburg während des Ersten Weltkriegs, in: Debora Gerstenberger und Joël Glasman (ed.): Techniken der Globalisierung. Globalgeschichte meets Akteur-Netzwerk-Theorie. Bielefeld: Transcript, S. 95-113. 


(2014). Exhibiting Europe. Transnational Networks, Collections, Narratives, and Representations (with Stefan Krankenhagen and Wolfram Kaiser). Oxford: Berghahn. 

(2009). Europa backstage. Expertenwissen, Habitus und kulturelle Codes im Machtfeld der EU. Reihe Kultur und soziale Praxis. Bielefeld: Transcript. 

Edited volumes 

with Scholze-Irrlitz & Vetter, Andrea (eds.) (2019). Food for Thought. Nahrungsgeschehen ethnographieren. Hamburger Journal für Kulturanthropologie 8. 
2017. Strategien der Subsistenz. Neue prekäre, subversive und moralische Ökonomien, Berliner Blätter. Ethnographische und ethnologische Beiträge.