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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Gender as a Category of Knowledge

Nadine Heymann

PhD Project:

Visual Kei: Practices of Body and Gender in a Translocal Subculture



Description of the Project


Visual Kei, which roughly means »visual system,« is a subculture with its origin in Japan that came to Europe around 2000. Over the course of two years, I conducted research by taking part in the daily life of some protagonists of Visual Kei in Germany.
Visual Kei is characterized by a specific aesthetic subcultural style in which heterosexual gender dichotomy is put into question. Conceptions of bodies, gender, sex, and especially desire appear to be fluid and contingent.
On the basis of Bourdieu’s theory of practice and Butler’s notion of performativity, I asked how subjects constitute themselves through practice, and gain recognition as subjects in the process. To what extent is visual Kei capable of disrupting socially authorized codes that otherwise organize the world? I work at the intersection of gender studies and cultural anthropology and ask how their consolidation can be productive to analyze somatic practices.



Nadine Heymann studied cultural anthropology, law and education at Humboldt University Berlin. Afterwards she worked in the field of political and civic extra-curricular youth education. Currently she is working on her PhD in cultural anthropology at the Institute of European Ethnology in Berlin 2013 schloarship at the Research Training Group »Gender as a Category of Knowledge«.


Selected Publications

Visual Kei. Representations of Gender and Body in a Translocal Subculture. In: Urbane Guerrillas. Cultures of Resistance, hg. v. Alex Franklin, Oxford 2013 (im Erscheinen).


Play Gender im Visual Kei. Dynamiken an der Schnittstelle zwischen Europäischer Ethnologie und Queer Theory. In: Work in progress. Work on progress. Doktorand_innen-Jahrbuch 2011 der Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung, hg. v. Esther Denzinger, Cordula Greinert, Benjamin Moldenhauer u.a., Berlin 2011. S. 409–421.


zus. m. Esther Denzinger, Cordula Greinert, Benjamin Moldenhauer u.a. (Hg.): Work in Progress. Work on Progress. Doktorand_innen-Jahrbuch 2011 der Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung, Berlin 2012.