Katharina Fritsch | Associated Researcher

Former Member
The State, Political Norms and Political Conflicts
Centre Marc Bloch, Friedrichstraße 191, D-10117 Berlin
Email: katharina.fritsch  ( at )  univie.ac.at Tel: +49(0) 30 / 20 93 70700

Home Institution : Universität Wien | Position : post-doctoral researcher (Schrödinger fellowship) | Disciplines : Political Science , Social Sciences |


Katharina Fritsch studied International Development (BA) and Political Science (Diplom) at the University of Vienna and received her doctorate in Comparative Political Science in October 2018. Since April 2023 she holds a Schrödinger fellowship and works on states of emergencies, postcolonial power relations and (self-)governing among protest actors in France (Cesdip/Gyancourt).

From 2012-2014 she was part of the postgraduate course "Sociology of Practices" at the Institute for Advanced Studies (IHS), Vienna, and from 2014-2017 she worked on the research project "Popular Culture in Translocal Spaces" at the Institute for African Studies (University of Vienna). From 2019-2022, she was a research assistant in the research project "Digitalizing Youth Politics" at the department of European Policiy and the study of Democracy (Danube University Krems). She has been teaching at the University of Vienna in Political Science, African Studies, Gender Studies and International Development. Her research interests include postcolonial migration and diaspora, popular culture, intersectional power relations, postcolonial France, states of emergencies and protest movements. She is also interested in feminist and decolonising research methodologies.


Since April 2023: post-doc Schrödinger Fellowship (FWF / Austria)

October 2012-April 2014: Scholarship holder Institute for Advanced Studies (IHS/Vienna), "Sociology of Practices" course


States of emergencies, postcolonial relations, and the (self-)governing of protest: Focus on the "anti-terrorist" state of exception in France (2015-17) and the movements against the labor law (loi Khomri), the BLM movement "Comité et Justice pour Adama" and the Gilets Jaunes


Title of thesis
„The Dispositive of Communitarisation: An Intersectional Analysis of Political and Cultural Mobilisations as Biopolitics. With a Focus on ‚Franco-Comorian diaspora’ in Marseille“
Summary of thesis

My dissertation examines the mobilisation of ‘Franco-Comorian diaspora’ in politics and culture in Marseille. I focus on the mobilisation of notions of ‘community’ and how such mobilisations shape and are shaped by intersectional power relations. Theoretically, I draw on postcolonial and intersectional approaches to ‘diaspora’, ‘culture’ and ‘identity’, a Foucauldian notion of discourse, dispositive and biopolitics as well as performative approaches to subjectivation. Based on this theoretical approach, I analyse what I refer to as a dispositive of communitarisation, that is, processes of (self-)governing of Franco-Comorian communities through discourses, practices, institutions and subjectivation processes. These (self-)governing processes are analysed along three dimensions, namely spaces, cultural markets and politics of communitarisation.

Methodologically, this dissertation focuses on cultural and political events mobilising ‘Franco-Comorian community’ in Marseille. Following ethnographic approaches, the empirical material consists of qualitative interviews with actors involved in the events and protocols of participant observations and (audio-visual) documents related to the events. By focusing on events, the researcher is understood as an integral part of events, thus enabling a continued engagement with questions about the positionalities and power relations in postcolonial research contexts. The empirical material was coded in terms of dispositive-related dimensions – e.g. meanings, practices or identity categories – associated with the three dimensions of the dispositive of communitarisation. The analysis of spaces shows how the association of Franco-Comorian communities with certain spaces, more specifically Marseille, the ‘Northern Districts’ and ‘event halls’ is a result of policies and practices of Franco-Comorian communities. The analysis of cultural markets discusses the musical practice of twarabas a diasporic cultural market and the talent show Etoiles Rasmi as a reflection of discourses and practices of ‘cultural entrepreneurship’. The analysis of politics emphasises the role of ethnicised communities as a political resource for Franco-Comorian politicians. All three dimensions stress the role of the social category of ethnicity in communitarisation processes, which are also affected by other social categories, especially locality/age classes, class, gender and generation. In my dissertation, I argue that communitarisation processes reflect a context of postcolonial France, where ethnicised communities have been marked as the ‘Other’ of the ‘national community’. My research and approach hence contributes to debates on biopolitics, intersectionality and forms of (self-) governing in postcolonial contexts.

Institution of thesis
Institut für Politikwissenschaft (Universität Wien)
Univ.-Prof. Dr. Birgit Sauer

"The état d’urgence in France and the othering of protest: A frame analysis of media and protest actors" (project pursued in the course of a Schrödinger fellowship of the FWF/Österreich)

The état d’urgence in France and the othering of protest: A frame analysis of media and protest actors

For two decades, French politics have been characterized by states of emergencies. In 2015 and because of terrorist attacks, an “anti-terrorist” state of emergency was declared that lasted until 2017.  Political and legal effects of this state of emergency have been mainly observed in changes in the criminal law, the fostering of Anti-Muslim racism and a more repressive handling of protests. Consequently, a broader range of protest groups has been confronted with hard policing, most prominently represented by debates on “police violence” during the Yellow Vest movement 2018/2019. In my project, I seek to analyse the effects of the anti-terrorist state of emergency on protest arguing that it reflects a postcolonial context. It is not only rooted in colonial legislation, but also reproduces colonial images of ethnicised and racialized “Others” and colonial policing (e.g. racial profiling). States of emergencies hence tend to intensify postcolonial power relations in France, e.g. by targeting communities of colour more violently, but also tend to extend policing practices, stemming from colonial contexts, towards a broader range of protest actors.

Against the backdrop of the postcolonial context of the anti-terrorist state of emergency, I am interested in the relationship between states of emergencies in Western democracies, postcolonial power relations and the governing and self-governing of protest. My analysis is twofold and includes a media analysis and qualitative interviews. First, I analyze how protest has been framed in media discourse, with the aim of capturing the mechanisms of governing. Second, I analyse how protest actors have represented themselves as well as how they have acted as protest actors during and since the state of emergency (self-governing).

I draw on debates on protest policing and securitization and debates on states of emergencies and postcolonialism. I especially make use of the postcolonial concept of Othering, understood as the process of marking predominantly racialized and ethnicised groups as “Others”, that is, as not part of the nation or the state. In doing so I conceptualize the anti-terrorist state of emergency as a postcolonial “dispositif”, in which protest actors are governed and govern themselves through Othering. Whereas a broader range of protest actors might be affected by Othering, its effects differ according to social categories such as gender, class and/or race/ethnicity. Consequently, I focus on three movements that differ with respect to their political objectives, protest forms and identity positions of protest actors, but which have all faced hard policing: the movement against the labour law, the Black Lives Matter movement “Truth and Justice for Adama” and the Yellow Vests. By engaging with protest actors now and by including movements active during and shortly after the state of emergency, I aim at analysing the effects of the anti-terrorist state of emergency on protest movements beyond its official end.

The Diaspora of the Comoros in France: Ethnicised Biopolitics and Communitarisation

July 15, 2022

Katharina Fritsch

Routledge African Studies
Edition: Routledge
Collection: Routledge African Studies
ISBN: 9780367627942

Based on an ethnographic study of mobilisations of the Comorian diaspora in Marseille during political and cultural events, the book examines communitarisation in relation to three thematic areas: spaces, cultural markets and local politics. Drawing on Foucault’s concept of the dispositif, the author analyses mobilisations of postcolonial diaspora as part of a dispositif of communitarisation, that is, a set of discourses, practices, institutions and subjectivations of diasporic community. The book will be of interest to scholars in the fields of critical diaspora studies, critical ethnography, discourse and dispositif analysis, postcolonial politics, and the African Diaspora.



Fritsch, K. (2019): The Dispositive of Communitarisation and Ethnicised Biopolitics. Cultural and political mobilisations of ‘Franco-Comorian diaspora’ in Marseille, Series: Routledge Studies on African and Black Diaspora, London: Routledge, im Peer Review-Verfahren.

Peer-reviewed Articles

Fritsch, Katharina (2020): Forschung, Kunst und Postkolonialismus : eine Dialog-Montage zum Dokumentarfilm Histoires de Twarab à Marseille, Journal für Entwicklungspolitik (JEP), Special Issue “Social conflicts, current tendencies of coloniality and decolonization: Inquiries and evidences”, im Peer Review-Verfahren.

Fritsch, Katharina (2019): Ethnicised social mobility as self-governing among Franco-Comorian politicians in Marseille and türkiyeli entrepreneurs in Vienna, Ganser, Alexandra/Pelz, Annegret (Hg.): Sammelband Plattform Mobile Gesellschaften und Kulturen, Wien: Vienna University Press, zusammen mit Alev Çakır, im Erscheinen.

Fritsch, K. (2019): Kulturelle Mobilisierungen ‚franko-komorischer Diaspora’ in Marseille –Intersektionelle Verhandlungen, Stichproben. Wiener Zeitschrift für kritische Afrikastudien 19/36: 101-132.

Fritsch, Katharina (2017): ‘Trans-Skin’: Analyzing the practice of skin bleaching among middle-class women in Dar es Salaam, Ethnicities 17(6): 749-770. Doi: 10.1177/1468796814565216.

Fritsch, Katharina (2013): Hautbleichen als dekolonisierende Praxis? Eine Anwendung des Performativitätskonzepts auf die Körperpraxis des Hautbleichens tansanischer Frauen. In: Hacker, Hanna//Fritsch, Katharina/Garde, Isabelle/Huber, Clemens/Klapeer, Christine (Hg.): Sexualitäten und Körperpolitik. JEP (Journal für Entwicklungspolitik), vol. XXIX(1), 70-89.

Fritsch, Katharina (2013): Sex und Körper: ‚Alte Themen’ in der Entwicklungsforschung? In: Hacker, Hanna/Fritsch, Katharina/Garde, Isabelle/Huber, Clemens/Klapeer, Christine (Hg.): Sexualitäten und Körperpolitik. JEP (Journal für Entwicklungspolitik), vol. XXIX(1): 4-11, zusammen mit Isabelle Garde, Hanna Hacker, Clemens Huber und Christine Klapeer.

Fritsch, Katharina (2013): Queer Entwickeln. Feministische und Postkoloniale Ansätze. In: Stichproben – Wiener Zeitschrift für kritische Afrikastudien, Heft 24: 126-133.

Non-peer reviewed articles

Fritsch, Katharina (2013): Space Intruders — Analyzing Viennese squats from radical-democratic and biopolitical perspectives. In: Transversal multilingual 10/2011, zusammen mit Nicolas Schlitz.

Fritsch, Katharina (2013): Ge(t)räumte Räume. Wiener Besetzungsbewegungen aus biopolitischer Perspektive. In: Goll, Tobias/Keil, Daniel/Telios, Thomas (Hg.): Critical Matter. Diskussionen eines neuen Materialismus. Münster: Edition Assemblage, 259-271, zusammen mit Nicolas Schlitz.

Fritsch, Katharina (2012): Ein neues Schönheitsbild geht um ... Einblick in die Praktik des Hautbleichens von tansanischen Frauen. In: frauensolidarität, Heft 2, 2012: 26 f.

Fritsch, Katharina (2009): Mythos „Weißsein“. In: RAISON. Zeitschrift für gesellschaftliche Entwicklung. Nr. 3, 12: 2009, 60-64.


Sexualitäten und Körperpolitik. In: Journal für Entwicklungspolitik (JEP), 2013, vol. XXIX(1), zusammen mit Hanna Hacker, Isabelle Garde, Clemens Huber und Christine Klapeer.


Carvajal, Andrés/Hamada Hamza, Mounir/Fritsch, Katharina (2016): Histoires de Twarab à Marseille/Histories of Twarab in Marseilles. Marseille/Barcelona/Vienna, 74 min (HD / 16:9).