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Michael Guggenheim

Position held:
Project Lead for ERC Starting Grant "Organising Disaster. Civil Protection and the Population"

+44 (0)20 7919 7713

m.guggenheim (


I have studied in Zürich and Berlin, and obtained a PhD in Sociology in 2005 from the University of Zürich.  Prior to coming to the UK, I worked and researched in Budapest, Vienna, Montreal, and Berlin. I have taught both artists at art schools and natural scientists at technical universities, which was important for my understanding of how to teach sociology and how it can be used to intervene in the world. It was always important to me to work and experiment with different media and produce both theoretical texts but also visual and sensory works.

My work thus far has been defined by different yet connected themes relating to the relationship between experts and lay people, the role of objects for this relationship and on methodical and theoretical innovation derived from the combination of science studies with sociological theory. I am currently directing an ERC-funded project "Organising Disaster: Civil Protection and the Population", which looks at how disaster experts conceive of the population. Previously, I have worked on change of use of buildings and how materiality and use interrelate. For my PhD I studied environmental experts and how they produce the environment at the intersection of science, politics and the economy. I also work with my colleagues Bernd Kräftner and Judith Kröll on an approach that we call “incubation” that combines sociology and art. Currently we are working on a project "In the Event of... Anticipatory and Participatory Politics of Emergency Provision". Previously, I was a co-curator of "die wahr/falsch inc.", an exhibition on science and the public in Vienna.

Areas of supervision

Science and Technology Studies; Architecture, Buildings and Urbanism, Visual and Sensory Sociology (and other methodological explorations); Sociology of Disasters; Sociology of Experts; Sociology of Organisations.

Presentations and exhibitions

Some Recent talks:


Same, Same but different: Provoking Relations, Assembling the Comparator, Paper given at workshop: Apples and Oranges. Practices of Comparison. Goldsmiths, Sept. 13-14th, together with Joe Deville, Zuzana Hrdlickova.

Bunkers & Other Risk Assessments: (Im-)Material Calculations of Military & Natural Disasters. Invited talk by Twentieth Century Think Tank & Between Civilisation and Militarisation research group, CRASSH, University of Cambridge, 8th May.

The Model Systems of Sociology. presented at the 106th Meeting of the American Sociological Association in Denver, USA, July (with Monika Krause).

Out of the Sandbox. Frederick’s Disaster Scenarios and Emergency Provisions.(Invited Plenary Talk and Exhibition. Final conference of „communicating disaster“ research group, center for interdisciplinary research (ZiF) Bielefeld, 18-20. January.


The Media of Sociology. Invited Plenary Lecture, Conference on Visual Ethnography, Rhethymonon, Crete, Greece. Nov. 24-25th.

Leviathan and the Water Pump. Invited Lecture at the workshop ‘Power and Anti-knowledge: The Politics of Knowledge in Crises’. Dept. of Sociology, University of Essex, Nov. 10th.

“ The Couch as a Laboratory? The Knowledge-Spaces of Psychoanalysis between the Sciences and the Professions” presented at the 106th Meeting of the American Sociological Association in Las Vegas, USA, July (with Monika Krause).

Ordering Buildings. Disciplining Built Form Through Legal Practices. Invited lecture at STS-Summer School “Cities, Infrastructures, Networks”, Alghero, 28th-30th June.

Circulating Metaphors: The Imperialism of the Laboratory. Invited lecture at lecture series: STS/Territoires at  Laboratoire Techniques, Territoires et Sociétés (LATTS), Ecole des ponts / UPEMLV, Paris, 16th May.


Re-Praying. How Factories are Turned into Churches and Mosques. Invited lecture in lecture series „Architektur zum Gebrauch“, 17. Nov., Hochschule München.

From Prototyping to Allotyping: The Invention of Change of Us. Invited talk at conference “Prototyping Culture. social experimentation, do-it-yourself science and beta-knowledge.“, Spanish National Research Council, Madrid. 4-5 November.

The Psychoanalytic Practice as Place of Knowledge Production: The Couch as Laboratory? Invited lecture in lecture series “Die Wissenschaftstheorie der Psychoanalyse”, ETH Zürich, Nov. 1st.

(In-)Human Laws in (In-)Human Territories. Zoning Laws, Assisted Suicide, and Minarets. Invited lecture given in the lecture series „Territories of the  In/Human, Württembergischer Kunstverein, Stuttgart, 17th of June.

Beyond Futurology. Towards an Ethnography of Disastruous Futures. Invited lecture given in the lecture series „Was kommt? Von der Gegenwart in die Zukunft“, Zürich University of Arts, 10. May.

Research interests

Organizing Disaster: Civil Protection and the Population (2010-2014)

When disasters hit, the state sends specialised organisations to cope with the situation. These organisations are often hierarchical and they have great powers to re-organize the population, to tell people where to go, to give or withhold both material and other forms of help. Disaster situations are thus in many ways pre-structured by the programmes of these organisations and how they conceptualize the population. 

Michael Guggenheim seeks to analyze in his project „Organizing Disaster: Civil Protection and the Population“ the encounter between civil protection as state organisation and the population. What happens when civil protection encounters the population in case of disasters? How does civil protection conceive of the population and how does it influence what happens in case of disasters? Is the population seen as uniform or as composed of different groups? How are these groups addressed? Does civil protection simply attempt to restore a previous state or change society into a given direction? How does the population conceive of civil protection in turn? 

By drawing on Science and Technology Studies civil protection is analysed as a knowledge-based, organised attempt to order society with the help of various technologies. The project seeks to answer the above questions by combining document analysis of civil protection manuals, participant observation of civil protection trainings and qualitative interviews in the aftermath of flood-disasters. The empirical fields are England, Switzerland and India, to allow for comparison of different forms of centralization and professionalization of civil protection organisations.

Source of funding: European Research Council (ERC) starting grant webpage:


“In the Event of …” Anticipatory and Participatory Politics of Emergency Provision. (2010-2012)

Together with Bernd Kräftner and Judith Kröll

Funded by the Vienna Science and Technology Funds (WWTF).

With Research stays at the research group “communicating disasters” at the Center for Interdisciplinary Research (ZiF) Bielefeld. And Akademie Schloss Solitude

The project focuses on provision and care in the event of anticipated emergencies. These provisions serve as vanishing points to imagine different concrete futures. During the project we gather several versions of emergency provisions that we test under experimental emergency conditions. Our aim is to find out about how to live a good life – in the face of anticipated futures.

This approach is based on the observation that societies are driven by reactions to disasters scenarios, but that the methods how to prepare for those scenarios, even though they are of tremendous importance, belong to the so-called grey sciences and are largely hidden from public debate. By grey sciences we refer to formal and informal actors like logistics, heritage protection, household economics, allocation and regulation authorities, quality managers, insurance organisations, and psychologists that are involved in decision-making.

Our first aim is to bring the various logics of these disciplines together into one arena, confront them with everyday practices of emergency provision and develop from this new forms of emergency provision. To do so, our second aim is to intertwine the artistic and scientific epistemologies: the question of how to “enact” and create methods at the borders of science and art to re-create, re-calculate, mediate and change the methods for defining, calculating and comparing methods to assess emergency provision is a crucial part of the project.

Selected publications

Number of items: 36.


Guggenheim, Michael. 2015. The Media of Sociology: Tight or Loose Translations? British Journal of Sociology, ISSN 0007-1315 [Article] (Forthcoming)

Guggenheim, Michael. 2014. Introduction. Disasters and Politcs. Sociological Review, 62(S1), pp. 1-16. ISSN 0038-0261 [Article]

Guggenheim, Michael. 2014. From Prototyping to Allotyping. The invention of change of use and the crisis of building types. Journal of Cultural Economy, 7(4), pp. 411-433. ISSN 1753-0350 [Article]

Guggenheim, Michael and Pottast, Joerg. 2012. Symmetrical twins: On the relationship between Actor-Network theory and the sociology of critical capacities. European Journal of Social Theory, 15(2), pp. 157-178. ISSN 1368-4310 [Article]

Guggenheim, Michael and Krause, Monika. 2012. How facts travel: The model systems of sociology. Poetics, 40(2), pp. 101-117. ISSN 0304-422X [Article]

Guggenheim, Michael, Kräftner, Bernd and Kröll, Judith. 2011. Don't Leave the Kitchen. Incubations as a New Method for Intervention. Science Studies, [Article]

Guggenheim, Michael. 2010. The Laws of Foreign Buildings: Flat Roofs and Minarets. Social & Legal Studies, 19(4), pp. 441-460. ISSN 0964-6639 [Article]

Guggenheim, Michael. 2010. The Long History of Prototypes. Limn 01: Prototyping Prototyping, 1(1), [Article]

Guggenheim, Michael. 2009. Building Memory. Architecture, Networks and Users. Memory Studies, 2(1), pp. 39-53. [Article]

Guggenheim, Michael. 2007. Die Erfindung der Umweltdienstleistungen: Zur Genese der Konkurrenz agrarwissenschaftlicher Expertise. Zeitschrift für Agrargeschichte und Agrarsoziologie, 55(2), pp. 43-57. [Article]

Guggenheim, Michael, Kräftner, Bernd and Kröll, Judith. 2006. Die Ausstellung als Inkubator. Über Kunst und Ethnographie. Berlin Blätter, 46, pp. 151-162. [Article]

Guggenheim, Michael, Lengwiler, Martin and Maasen, Sabine. 2006. Special-issue: Discipline and Research: Practices of Inter-/ Transdisciplinary Cooperation in Science. Science and Public Policy, 33(6), [Article]

Guggenheim, Michael. 2006. Undisciplined Research. Structures of Transdisciplinary Research. Science and Public Policy, 33(6), pp. 411-422. [Article]

Maranta, Alessandro, Guggenheim, Michael, Gisler, Priska and Pohl, Christian. 2003. The Reality of Experts and the Imagined Lay Person. Acta Sociologica, 46(2), pp. 150-165. [Article]


Guggenheim, Michael, Kröll, Judith, Kräftner, Bernd, Martos, Alexander and Oberhuber, Florian, eds. 2006. Die wahr/falsch inc. Eine Wissenschaftsausstellung in der Stadt. Wien: Facultas. ISBN 978-3850767842 [Book]

Book Section

Guggenheim, Michael. 2011. Notes on an Acoustic Sociology of Science. In: Hannes Rickli, ed. Videogramme: die Bildwelten biologischer Experimentalsysteme als Kunst- und Theorieobjekt = Videograms : the pictorial worlds of biological experimentation as an object of art and theory. Zurich: Scheidegger & Spiess. ISBN 9783858813251 [Book Section]

Guggenheim, Michael. 2011. Selections. Transcript of a Video Installation. In: Hannes Rickli, ed. Videogramme: die Bildwelten biologischer Experimentalsysteme als Kunst- und Theorieobjekt = Videograms : the pictorial worlds of biological experimentation as an object of art and theory. Zurich: Scheidegger & Spiess. ISBN 9783858813251 [Book Section]

Guggenheim, Michael. 2011. (Un-)Building} Social Systems. The Concrete Foundations of Functional Differentiation. In: Ignacio Farias and José Ossandon, eds. Comunicaciones, semánticas y redes. Usos y desviaciones de la sociologia de Niklas Luhmann. Mexico City: Universidad Iberoamericana, pp. 245-277. [Book Section]

Guggenheim, Michael. 2009. Building a Fetish - Sacrificing a House. Building Types as Technologies or Fetishes. In: Catherine Perret, Jean-Baptiste Joly and Julia Warmers, eds. Fetish & Consumption. Stuttgart: Merz & Solitude. ISBN 978-3937158495 [Book Section]

Guggenheim, Michael. 2009. The Laws of Buildings. Circulating Types and Building Codes. In: Michael Guggenheim and Ola Söderström, eds. Re-Shaping Cities: How Global Mobility Transforms Architecture and Urban Form. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-49291-1 [Book Section]

Guggenheim, Michael. 2009. Mutable Immobiles. Change of Use of Buildings as a Problem of Quasi-Technologies. In: Ignacio Farias and Thomas Bender, eds. Urban Assemblages. How Actor Network Theory Transforms Urban Studies. Routledge. [Book Section]

Guggenheim, Michael. 2006. A Set of Rules for a Cooking Workshop. In: Akademie Schloss Solitude, ed. Was machen sie dort am Schloss? Jahrbuch 8. Stuttgart: Merz & Solitude, pp. 249-251. [Book Section]

Guggenheim, Michael. 2004. Von Nah und Fern. Wie sich Umweltdienstleistungsfirmen Laien vorstellen. In: Priska Gisler, Michael Guggenheim, Alessandro Maranta, Helga Nowotny and Christian Pohl, eds. Imaginierte Laien. Die Macht der Vorstellung in wissenschaftlichen Expertisen. Weilerswist: Velbrück Wissenschaft. [Book Section]

Guggenheim, Michael and Nowotny, Helga. 2003. Joy in Repetition Makes the Future Disappear. A Critical Assessment of the Present State of STS. In: Bernward Joerges and Helga Nowotny, eds. Social Studies of Science & Technology. Looking Back, Ahead. Springer, pp. 229-258. ISBN 978-1-4020-1481-9 [Book Section]

Guggenheim, Michael. 2003. Welche Gütekriterien für die neuen Formen des Wissens brauchen wir? In: Hans-Werner Franz, Jürgen Howaldt, Heike Jacobsen and Ralf Kopp, eds. Forschen - lernen - beraten. Der Wandel von Wissensproduktion und -Transfer in den Sozialwissenschaften. Berlin: Edition Sigma, pp. 285-302. ISBN 978-3894044992 [Book Section]

Guggenheim, Michael and Heller, Florian. 2002. Über Parallelen zwischen Kochen und Denken oder weshalb schlechte Symposien gute Esser zeitigen. In: Anja Eichelberg and Helga Nowotny, eds. Jahrbuch 2002 des Collgeium Helveticum der ETH Zürich. Zurich: vdf Hochschulverlag AG, 2003, pp. 337-347. ISBN 9783728128669 [Book Section]

Edited Book

Guggenheim, Michael and Söderström, Ola, eds. 2009. Re-Shaping Cities: How Global Mobility Transforms Architecture and Urban Form. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-49291-1 [Edited Book]


This list was generated on Sat Apr 18 05:40:00 2015 BST.

Content last modified: 04 Jun 2013

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