Jess Gilbert, Current Visiting Scholar
Jess Gilbert is Professor and Chair of the Department of Community and Environmental Sociology at the University of Wisconsin—Madison. He recently published Planning Democracy: Agrarian Intellectuals and the Intended New Deal (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2015). This book focuses on the extremely innovative policies of the 1930s Department of Agriculture, particularly the integrative, cooperative programs in adult education, participatory research, and grass-roots planning to localize and coordinate federal agricultural policy. With Krzysztof Gorlach and Patrick Mooney, he edited Socjologia Wsi W Ameryce Północnej [Rural Sociology in North America, Selected Readings translated into Polish] (Torun, Poland: Nicolaus Copernicus University Press, 1998). His current work is on the contemporary status of New Deal experiments in land reform and community development with African-American farmers in the rural South. He has served as president of the Agricultural History Society and the Rural Sociological Society.
Maximilian Heimstädt, Current Visiting Scholar
Maximilian Heimstädt is Maximilian Heimstädt is a postdoctoral research fellow with the Reinhard Mohn Institute of Management at Witten/Herdecke University (http://reinhard-mohn-institut.de/). He is interested in practice-theoretical approaches to organization and management studies. In his PhD project at Freie Universität Berlin, he studied the emergence of Open Data initiatives in Berlin, London, and NYC looking at how individuals deal with tensions around openness and closedness. His results include work on the creative acts of balancing these tensions (“openwashing”) and on transparency as a collective and fragile achievement (“politics of disclosure”). As a Visiting Scholar at COI, he studies the role of digital materiality in the practice of strategy making. Particularly, he is interested in NYC’s vibrant communities around machine learning and algorithmic decision systems.
Julius Kob, Current Visiting Scholar
Julius Kob is a sociology PhD student at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, after previously studying economic sociology at the London School of Economics and sociology and psychology at the University of Hamburg, Germany. He is interested in the social studies of finance, economic and organizational sociology, social theory, science studies, sociology of knowledge, and studies of risk and uncertainty. In his PhD project, supervised by Prof Donald MacKenzie, he investigates current transformations of financial risk management rationales and practices in reinsurance and capital markets for natural catastrophe risks. In particular, he focusses on the inherently experimental knowledge production of those risks in form of scientific-financial catastrophe models. The major question he asks is, in what ways epistemic devices and practices constitute and change economic markets and what it means if the underlying knowledge is fundamentally uncertain? The so-called insurance-linked securities market, a growing alternative space for financially hedging against natural catastrophes, epistemically centers more around, and makes different use of, catastrophe models than traditional reinsurance practices. It does not only increase the reliance on those models, but by doing so also changes the way natural catastrophe risk is financially managed and organized. Methodologically, he uses a qualitative/ethnographic approach and is doing fieldwork in New York, London, Bermuda, and Zürich.
Benjamin Schiemer, Current Visiting Scholar
Benjamin Schiemer is a sociocultural anthropologist and currently economics PhD student at the Johannes Kepler Universität Linz, Austria. He is interested in organisational anthropology, science and technology studies, and studies on creativity. In his ongoing PhD project, he studies creativity in the production of music in different settings. His focus is on the processual character of creative collaborations and the role that incompleteness and closure play. Ethnographically he looks at the sociomaterial practices that achieve incomplete patterns, as well as temporary closure and intermediary creative outcomes in collaborative creative processes. His cases include offline settings (such as the music studio) and online settings (such as creative collaborative online communities). At the COI, he will further develop his processual theory of creativity in music, while conducting additional ethnographic data from the dynamic creative music scene in New York.
Tobias Theel, Current Visiting Scholar
Tobias Theel graduated in Sociology and is a PhD student at the Freie Universität Berlin, Germany. Working as a research fellow in the project ‘Organized Creativity’ funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), he is interested in the social organization of collaborative creative work in the popular music industry and particularly explores the role of uncertainty as a prerequisite for the emergence of novelty. He does so by qualitatively scrutinizing the procedurally unfolding interrelatedness of agency and structure as well as the stabilizing role of social practices for organizational creativity. Currently, Tobias is conducting focused ethnography and videography in so-called ‘songwriting camps’ of different record labels, music artists and publishers in order to find out how collaborators engaging in creative work embrace and deal with uncertainty and how their negotiations of emerging novelty result in the processual ordering of organizational settings conducive to creative work.