Please close your eyes for a moment and think about your research project. What do you see at first?
Probably a deadline.
If you had to explain to a child why your project is important, what would you say?
We invent stories and images so we can better understand our world. None of us, though, do this on our own but always together with others – even if they are not really present and we only think of them. One is "communication" and the other is "culture". Research into both of these is important if we want to know what kind of animals humans actually are, and why they have developed so many different ways of living together.
What in your opinion are mankind's three greatest inventions?
Bicycles, beds and aspirin.
Who would you like to swap a working day with, and what would you then like to do?
With myself in a parallel universe without officialdom, deadlines and administration. Then I could work with a rhythm set by the work itself.
Do you have an exceptional object that you keep with you in your working life or daily routine?
I hardly go anywhere without my glasses. Maybe, though, the thick Chinese brown-paper notebooks I often have with me are more exceptional.
Is there a specific location in Berlin, which you associate with your research work?
Well, a very hackneyed answer: my desk at home and the café on the other side of the street, where I often get the best ideas.
Which district in Berlin, which location do you feel at ease in, and why?
Oh, there are many places. Where I live, because it's directly opposite my favourite café. It's my favourite café, because from there I can quickly get home to my desk. The Südgelände Park in Schöneberg, since it's not so well known and you can go for a walk there and think in peace and quiet. An Asian restaurant in Dahlem – thanks to entrée no. 10. A bar near Nollendorfplatz, because they have well thought-out drinks and don't make any fuss about it.
The Tempelhofer Field – because of the sky. Tegel Airport – because it's just as nice to leave Berlin as it is to return there.