An International and Interdisciplinary Research Project

Anxiety Culture

Finding Purpose in the Face of Uncertainty

„The Anxiety Culture Projet provides a new interdisciplinary focus on global discourses and narratives of anxiety as the pressing questions of our times: narrations of migration, of climate change, of political peace or technological challenges.“

Prof. Dr. Karen Struve

Professor for French and Francophone Literatur, Bremen University

“The Anxiety Culture Projects pursues the development of an analytical concept for a better cooperative comprehension of our world (problems) in a time of intensifying experiences of crisis and unresolved fears about the future.”

Prof. Dr. Paula Diehl

Professor for Political Science, Kiel University

“Anxiety is out of place in the present moment. It depends on the past and the future for its existence.”

Kelly Wilson (2010),
Things might go terribly, horribly wrong: A guide to life liberated from Anxiety

“In a deconstructionist reading of the anarchy/sovereignty problematique, poststructuralist research on anxiety must emphasize the normative implications of exclusion that the institution of sovereignty brings with it, the questioning of foundations and the rethinking of boundaries between a mythical inside and a threatening outside.”

Prof. Dr. Dirk Nabers

Professor for Political Science and Sociology, Kiel University

“In a fully digitized world, omnipresent technology impacts societal discourse, social security, and economic wellbeing. The design of this digital technology and how we as humans interact with it determines how we will experience the world.
Whether upcoming crises and threats induce anxiety and panic or whether they motivate and inspire us, is a complex outcome of design decisions. The question to address is: how can we design technology to improve the outcome?”

Prof. Dr. phil. André Calero Valdez

Professor for Human-Computer Interaction and Usable Safety Engineering, University of Lübeck

The ACP research project integrates ongoing scientific work on Anxiety Culture. The thematic mix explores from different perspectives how general feelings of uncertainty in societies might turn into measurable manifestations of anxiety. These phenomena can reveal social, economic and political behaviours of citizens and influence their decisions.

The Anxiety Culture Project is externally funded. Interdisciplinarity and internationality are characteristic of the working mode.

The results of the transatlantic dialogue between the founding partners - Kiel University (Germany) and Columbia University, New York (United State), as well as other involved universities and scientific partners are used in political decision-making processes. In addition, the scientific findings are incorporated into the future curricula of educational institutions. Stakeholders in civil society are also given information through the ACP´s outreach management.

By the end of the year of 2022, the governance, the research strategy, the third-party funding milestones and the work with and the engagement for young scientists will be drafted and defined.

Broadcast by Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR)

A film on the generational nature of the anxieties of younger and older people in our society, broadcast by Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR) in its Schleswig-Holstein-Magazin on 23.11.2021. Significant parts of this contribution were made at CAU with the co-founder of the Anxiety-Culture Project Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hoinkes and the students Amal Allouch and Lilit Karapetyan.

Covid and Fear: A Commentary on the Current Protests on Germany’s Streets

The newspaper association of the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein asked Prof. Ulrich Hoinkes, representing the Anxiety Culture Project, for an interview. The purpose was to comment on the current pandemic situation, especially the massive Corona protests, from the perspective of the anxiety researcher. The interview is printed in the current weekend edition of all newspapers in the state on page 3.

Anxiety Culture Art – Artistic and Literary Activism: Melibea Obono and Ramón Esono

PROJECT: Between Two Days: Against Censorship in Equatorial Guinea, Brock University, Canada

In Fall 2021, Max Doppelbauer, University of Vienna, member of the Anxiety Culture Project (Kiel / New York City) and Marina Gržinić, Department of Conceptual Art, Akademie der Bildenden Künste Wien / Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna, Austria organized the “Between Two Days” art residency and project featuring novelist Melibea Obono and comics artist Ramón Esono, both known for their human-rights activism in their home country Equatorial Guinea and for the courage of their actions under a dictatorial regime. They met in Fall 2021 for a common action to celebrate the International Day of the Imprisoned Writer (15 November) and the International Day of Elimination of Violence against Women (25 November). “Between Two Days” documents the event.

© Astrid Young

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The ACP Expert-Talk | Landesvertretung
Schleswig-Holstein, Berlin

more info to follow

Anxiety Index 2025: Understanding citizens – protecting people  

Identifying societal threats early and responding politically

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In the expert talk, stakeholders reflect on the aspirations, means and possibilities of improved civil protection. The current federal government has been in office for one year. And the threat situation for the population has changed on several levels since then.


Both in Europe and worldwide, war, climate crises and conflicts show that the core topics of the transatlantic research project ACP around a social insecurity that can turn into fear phobias of citizens is highly relevant.

In the Expert Talk, the ACP – Anxiety Culture Project of the Universities of Kiel and Columbia New York – scientists, politicians, administrators, stakeholders and company representatives will come together in Berlin in October. The aim is to look for future instruments to identify feelings within societies early and simultaneously and then to be able to react to them socio-politically.

The question is: Does Germany need an Anxiety Index?

(programme on request)



ACP Autmn Workshop

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Discussion Research Training Group

Topics – Third-party funding applications – Research strategy

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The members of the Anxiety Culture Project at CAU – Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel – are now meeting again at the university after stops at CAU Kiel, Columbia University New York, CAU Kiel and Gut Siggen. In the regular meetings, the research priorities are discussed and applications for third-party funding are reflected. This year, the main focus is on a final consultation on the planned application for an ACP Research Training Group at the German Research Foundation. Interested MA and PhD students are cordially invited.



Interdisciplinary Lecture Series

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Climate, Crises, Wars and Concepts

Scientific contributions to options and opportunities for the future


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Cooperation of the Political and Social Sciences with the Anxiety Culture Project of the CAU – Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel in the winter semester 2022/23


The lecture series offers an opportunity to look into the laboratories of science. The insights generated there to better (1) classify the facts, (2) explain the connections and (3) describe possible options and opportunities to solve the challenges will be shared in the winter semester event series.

(programme to follow)

| Research

Anxiety Culture Project

Heart of the endeavour is the interdisciplinary and international scientific work. This is organized in four fields of research activities which are intersectionally supported by theory & methodology and technological observations.

Climate & Environment

Earth warming and ecology, environmental protection, sustainability, agriculture, climate justice, etc.

Migration, Language, Culture & Discourse

Projects in this cluster cover a wide range of topics, including social integration, national isolationism, cultural identity, xenophobia, racism, etc.

Theory & Methodology

In a mutual approach of (Social / Natural) Sciences and Humanities, research on the different aspects of Anxiety Culture has to be carried out in a combination of methodological traditions and innovations, referring to data-sets and empirical findings in each area of investigation.


The four research clusters and their scientific teams propose the topics for investigation individually but they investigate always the (possible) impact of „New Technologies“ and  „Automation  / Artificial Intelligence“ which are defined by each area.

Education & Outreach

Strong belief in an implementation of research findings in educational curriculums. This engagement covers a wide research communication approach as well. Digital tools will be combined with classical formats like conferences and one on one meetings. Science Diplomacy and political consultation is part of this aim.

Future of Politics, Work and Society / Digitalization

Research and projects in this cluster are focused on the labor market and job prospects, communication and free speech, data protection, etc., in an environment of automation and digitalization.

Population Health

Public health care, mental illness, drug-abuse, violence, chronic diseases, pandemics, etc.

| Governance

Anxiety Culture Center

The organisational body is represended by a Center of Kiel University, Germany. This formal structure  offers by December 2022 the legal background for the partnershiph with Columbia University, funding effors and  collaborations.

The Anxiety Culture Center is the organisational body of the research project. Here all decision-making processes converge, ensuring the structure for successful research (from December 2022 onwards).

Our aim is to develop a contemporary science management. This means: offering as much freedom as possible for research while at the same time strategically reflecting of research programmes is also required.

In addition to funding opportunities and assistance with campaigns in research communication and scientific policy advice, the centre also seeks to ensure that young researchers are optimally supported. A further training programme offers therefor the opportunity to develop the potential and talents of junior staff. Senior Scientists also benefit from this.

| Outreach

Anxiety Culture Art / Blog

Outreach by artistic work is essential  to the ACP.  Creating new tools and instruments to deliver results and insights into public education, economic networks, society and the political arena is an essential aim.

Good research deserves to be communicated to the world.  We want to ensure that science communication conveys the results to the appropriate target groups.

It is also important that decision-makers are specifically addressed. This can be supported by scientific policy advice. The curricula of the education systems should include the results of research on Anxiety Culture.

Art has – as a particular form of social interaction – a high priority in the project. On the one hand, art is used to accompany the interdisciplinary results of anxiety research. On the other hand, new forms of social exchange are created.

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