Astrid Deuber-Mankowsky Former Senior Fellow

Astrid Deuber-Mankowsky
April - September 2013


Astrid Deuber-Mankowsky studied Philosophy and Literature at Universität Zürich and Freie Universität Berlin. With Ursula Konnertz she founded the German feminist semi-annual review for feminist theory and philosophy Die Philosophin (published from 1990-2006). From 1990 to 1994, she worked as cultural editor of the Zurich-based Wochenzeitung; from 1994 to 1995, she held a fellowship from the Schweizerischer Nationalfonds. From 1995 to 2000, she was as a researcher and lecturer at the Chair of Gender and History at Humboldt-Universität Berlin. A fellow of the Franz Rosenzweig-Research Center at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem in 1998, she received her doctorate in 1999 for her dissertation on “Erkenntniskritik und vergängliche Erfahrung bei Walter Benjamin und Hermann Cohen”. Working as a research assistant at the Kulturwissenschaftliches Seminar at Humboldt-Universität, she wrote her habilitation on “Practices of Illusion. Immanuel Kant to Donna J. Haraway”, which she finished in 2004. The same year, she was appointed Professor für Medienöffentlichkeit und Medienakteure (Media Public Sphere and Media Actors) at the Institut für Medienwissenschaften at Ruhr-Universität Bochum. Astrid Deuber-Mankowsky was a visiting scholar at UC Berkeley (2007), at the Centre d'études du vivant, Université Paris VII - Diderot (2010), and Max Kade Professor at Columbia University (2012). She is also an associate member of the Institute for Cultural Inquiry Berlin (ICI Berlin).

Dated from 2013

IKKM Research Project

Gaming as Second Technology
The research project aims to develop a new perspective on the concept of play and gaming for the sake of a media-theoretical description of the production of the present to which digital technology contributes as much as the invisible crowd of “users”. If the concept of play is relevant for the media-philosophical critique of the production of the present as constructed through synchronization, then not as philosophical-aesthetic concept, but as a practical category in the sense of testing, debugging, of repeated checking and procedural calibration. I refer to the rudimentary beginnings of a theory of play that Walter Benjamin devised in his writings from the 1930s, in the context of his reflections on a “second technology” taking shape in the 20th century. Benjamin drew on Karl Groos’s Spiele des Menschen (1899), describing the game as “inexhaustible reservoir of all experimental methods of the second technology.” Yet Benjamin went far beyond Groos’s rehearsal theory (Einübungs-Theorie), when he, in close proximity to Nietzsche and Freud, explained the joy of playing with the lure of repetition and the pleasure of “doing-it-again-and-again” determining its essence as the “transformation of the most harrowing experience into habit.” Benjamin describes play according to the temporal structure of repetition and difference, it therefore lacks the teleology and instrumental rationality that defines the anthropocentric conceptualization of technology. And it thereby transcends the determination of technology that the philosophy of technology follows in large parts until today: that the domination of nature with the help of technology, and the domination of technology itself constitute the aim and purpose of technology. The concept of play has been thematized in media studies either with respect to the history of cybernetics—primarily with a focus on mathematical game theory and scenarios of simulation—or in relation to the computer game. The accomplishment of game studies lies in its reflection on the history of theories of play in order to assess the determination of complex media such as computer game and to have brought to bear this history on the question of the human-machine interaction. But this concern with the history of play and gaming has largely restricted itself to the classical works of Huizinga (1937) and Callois (1958). The pessimistic view of technology inherent in these classical approaches has hardly been problematized. Just how pertinent, even urgent this consideration of the relation between (digital) technology and the notion of play and gaming is today, is made evident by the discourse on gamification that has recently emerged. Can the concept of play in the sense of testing, of repeated trials and errors, and of procedural calibration offer productive perspectives on the tension between anthropocentrism, technology, digital media, and anthropomorphism from a standpoint?



Praktiken der Illusion. Kant, Nietzsche, Cohen, Benjamin bis Donna J.Haraway. Berlin: Verlag Vorwerk 8, 2007.
Lara Croft. Modell, Medium, Cyberheldin. Das virtuelle Geschlecht und seine metaphysischen Tücken, Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Verlag, 2001. English translation: Lara Croft: Cyber Heroine. Electronic Mediations. Katherine Hayles, Mark Poster, and Samuel Weber (series editors). London: University of Minnesota Press. Minneapolis, 2005.
Der frühe Walter Benjamin und Hermann Cohen. Jüdische Werte. Kritische Philosophie. Vergängliche Erfahrung. Berlin: Verlag Vorwerk 8, 2000.

Edited Books

with Christoph Holzhey: Situiertes Wissen und regionale Epistemologie. Zur Aktualität Georges Canguilhems und Donna J. Haraways. Wien: Turia + Kant, 2012 (forthcoming).
with Christoph Holzhey, Anja Michaelsen: Der Einsatz des Lebens. Lebenswissen, Medialisierung, Geschlecht. Berlin: Verlag b_blooks, 2009.
with Ursula Konnertz: Cyberspace und virtuelles Geschlecht. Die Philosophin. Tübingen: edition diskord 24, 2001.


„Diffraktion statt Reflexion. Zu Donna Haraways Konzept des Situierten Wissens.“ In: Zeitschrift für Medienwissenschaft 4, diaphanes, 1/2011, p. 83-92.
„’... das Bild vom Glück, das wir hegen’. Zur messianischen Kraft der Schwäche bei Hermann Cohen, Walter Benjamin und Paulus.“ In: Görge Hasselhoff (ed.): Die Entdeckung des Christentums in der Wissenschaft des Judentums. Berlin, New York 2010, p. 263-278.
„Umspielende Massenbewegungen. Zum Verhältnis von Medium und Wahrnehmung nach Benjamin.“ In: Hendrik Blumentrath, Katja Rothe et al. (eds.): Techniken der Übereinkunft. Zur Medialität des Politischen. Berlin 2009, p. 57-78.
„Die eigenartige Wirkung eines Filmbeispiels. Merleau-Ponty und Lacan zu einer Zeitlupenaufnahme des malenden Matisse.“ In: Gertrud Koch and Christiane Voss (eds.): Es ist als ob. Fiktionalität in Philosophie, Film- und Medienwissenschaft. München 2009, p. 27-68.
„Eine Frage des Wissens. Gender als epistemisches Ding.” In: Marie-Luise Angerer and Christiane König (eds.): Gender goes Life. Die Lebenswissenschaften als Herausforderung für die Gender Studies. Bielefeld 2008, p. 137-162.