Do11. OktPSY | International Winter School: „The symbolic in cultural psychology“Donnerstag, 11. Oktober 2018, 09:00 bis Samstag, 13. Oktober 2018, 18:00  Termin in Kalender eintragen

The symbolic in cultural psychology. Empirical and practical approaches beyond words


International Winter School at the Sigmund Freud University in Berlin, 11th to 13th of October 2018

The Faculty of Psychology at the Sigmund Freud Universities in Berlin and Vienna as well as the Centre for Cultural Psychology at Aalborg University, that is becoming a leading location in the field of cultural psychology, are inviting to the third international winter school, this time focusing on the symbolic in cultural psychology aiming to introduce and critically discuss theoretical and empirical approaches “beyond words”.


The winter school’s goal is to mobilize interested PhD students and early-stage researchers to develop epistemological, methodological, and theoretical new ideas, starting from a general introduction to cultural psychology and how “the symbolic” can be theoretically understood. The invited speaker for this topic, an expert in Boesch’s approach to the symbolic, is Lutz Eckensberger, whose talk will be commented by Jaan Valsiner. Taking up on the ideas presented by Eckensberger and Valsiner, Herbert Fitzek will make the connection between the symbolic and art explicit giving examples for how we, as cultural psychologists, can approach “the symbolic” in innovative ways.

Language based interactions are symbolic acts in themselves and, usually, psychologists rely on verbal data to approach human phenomena. This winter school, we will, instead, focus on the non-verbal to assess the potential that lies within – for research and the practical field. On the one hand, this will be done with the help of short lectures as well as collaborative discussions. For this purpose, participants will be provided with preliminary selected readings to be carefully prepared before the start of the winter school. On the other, participants are invited to (a) present their own work, as well as (b) actively take part in different exercises allowing for the discussion of individual experiences of the symbolic. During the three days of intense and compelling study, participants will thus not only discuss, but actively explore different aspects of the symbolic.

Preliminary schedule

Day 1: Theoretical Framework

Lutz Eckensberger: Cultural psychology and the symbolic – Critical reflections with a commentary by Jaan Valsiner and a collaborative Discussion: How can “the symbolic” be framed theoretically? Discussants: Martin Wieser, Dominik Mihalits & Meike Watzlawik


Herbert Fitzek: The symbolic in art: Innovative approaches
Discussants: Gerhard Benetka & Lucas Mazur
followed by the practical exercise: Art Coaching


Day 2: Beyond Words

Sarah Awad: The (street) art of resistance
Discussants: Herbert Fitzek & Nandita Chaudhary

Thomas Stodulka: Affective Dimensions of Fieldwork and Ethnography
Discussants: Julia Hertlein & Tamara Turner

Symposium: Participants’ work: Presentations and discussions

Day 3:

Martin Wieser: How symbols influence knowledge construction
Discussants: Brady Wagoner & Ignacio Bresco

Final discussion: Cultural psychology without words – only a phantom?
Discussants: Thomas Stodulka, Martin Wieser, Dominik Mihalits, Meike Watzlawik


The winter school will be held at the historical location Tempelhof Airport. The old terminal was originally constructed in 1927; its massive reconstruction began in the mid-1930s in anticipation of increasing air traffic under the Nazi regime. Today, it holds an iconic status as the center of the Berlin Airlift of 1948-49. Participants will have the opportunity to take part in a guided tour of the building reflecting on the experiences of “what buildings do with people”.
Address: Sigmund Freud Privat Universität, Campus Tempelhof, Columbiadamm 10, Tower 9, 12101 Berlin, Germany.

Participation is open (but not limited) to advanced students, Ph.D. and post-doc students and early stage researchers in the fields of psychology, philosophy, semiotics, art, medicine, anthropology and history of ideas.

Teaching staff
Invited teachers and discussants are:

  • Sarah Awad, Aalborg University, Denmark
  • Gerhard Benetka, SFU Vienna, Austria
  • Ignacio Bresco, Aalborg University, Denmark
  • Nandita Chaudhary, University of Dehli, India
  • Lutz Eckensberger, DIPF, Berlin, Germany
  • Herbert Fitzek, BSP Berlin, Germany
  • Julia Hertlein, SFU Berlin, Germany
  • Lucas Mazur, Jagiellonian University, Poland & SFU Berlin, Germany
  • Dominik Mihalits, SFU Wien, Austria
  • Thomas Stodulka, Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Berlin, Germany
  • Tamara Turner, Max Planck Institute, Berlin, Germany
  • Jaan Valsiner, Director of the Centre for Cultural psychology, Denmark
  • Brady Wagoner, Aalborg University, Denmark
  • Meike Watzlawik, SFU Berlin, Germany
  • Martin Wieser, SFU Berlin, Germany

For short biographies of teaching staff please click here.

Further information and registration


You can request a list of hotels with a special agreement to discount prices in Berlin.

Early stage researchers (advanced students, PhD, Post-doc, young researchers) from all disciplines are welcome. Participation is open to 15-20 participants, who need to provide a short (approx. 300 words) description of their research interests/projects. Please use the register form provided under this link.

Registration fee (including coffee break and materials): 150€.

Download full programme here.

For any inquiry about the winter school please contact:

Meike Watzlawik
Sigmund Freud PrivatUniversität
Columbia Damm 10, Turm 9
12101 Berlin
+ 49 (0)30 – 695 797 28 16

The organizing committee is composed by: Meike Watzlawik, coordinator, SFU Berlin; Dominik Mihalits, coordinator, SFU Vienna; Martin Wieser, SFU Berlin; Julia Hertlein, SFU Berlin; and Jaan Valsiner, director of the Centre for Cultural psychology.

Sigmund Freud PrivatUniversität Berlin
Campus Tempelhof
Columbiadamm 10, Turm 9
12101 Berlin – Tempelhof
Tel.: +49(0)30 695 797 28-0