Short Portrait: Christian Sigrist

Christian Sigrist
Christian Sigrist

Prof. em Dr. Christian Sigrist was born in St. Blasien in 1935. After spending his childhood years in St. Blasien and Berlin, he and his mother had to resettle in South Germany during World War II due to the Nuremberg laws. Sigrist finished School in Emmendingen in 1954.

Sigrist took up his studies at the Albert Ludwigs University in Freiburg. He not only attended lectures on History, Romance Philology, German Philology but also began to learn Russian. Moreover, Sigrist became a member of the SDS (Sozialistischer Deutscher Studentenbund) and its chairman in Freiburg. He also was deputy chairman of the Student Body Council (Allgemeiner Studenten-Ausschuss, AStA). In 1958 he participated in the first W-German delegation travelling in the Polish regions east of the Oder Neiße Line. His broadcast and print publications met a controversial response.

In 1956, Sigrist began to attend lectures presented by Arnold Bergstraesser, who held a professorship for Political Science. Eventually, Sigrist chose Political Science to be one of his subjects instead of German Philology. Moreover, Sigrist began to take courses on Sociology presented by Heinrich Popitz and he began to write his graduation thesis on Marquis de Custine in Paris in 1959 and did his State Examination (History) in 1960.

When Popitz was announced professor for Sociology in Basel, Sigrist followed him there. He started his research on segmentary societies. For a year Sigrist not only attended Popitz’ lectures but also took courses on Anthropology. Alfred Bühler and Carl August Schmitz were among his teachers. He moved to Heidelberg (uxorilocal residence) and attended courses at the Institute of Sociology and Ethnology.

In 1963, Sigrist took up an assistant position at the Institute of Sociology and Ethnology, where E.W. Mühlmann held a professorship. Sigrist not only co-organized conferences but also participated in a field research program in Sicily. Simultaneously, he began to write articles on political matters for several journals and radio stations.

Sigrist took up an assistant position at the Institute for Sociology in Freiburg in 1964 and, one year later, completed his PhD thesis, which was published under the title Regulierte Anarchie in 1967. In 1966/67 he did several field research projects in Afghanistan. After his return, Sigrist continued lecturing in Freiburg and was appointed as an interim chairman of Sociology in Konstanz in 1968/69. In 1970/71, he acted in the same position at the Institute of Sociology and Ethnology in Heidelberg.

In 1971, Sigrist was appointed as a professor and co-director of the Institute for Sociology in Münster, where he lectured on a wide range of topics throughout the following three decades. In 1976, he edited a reader on peasant struggles in India. Besides continously writing articles on sociopolitical issues, he not only published Gesellschaften ohne Staat with Fritz Kramer in the late 1970s but did further field researches (e.g., in Guinea-Bissau). Sigrist also worked as an advisor for agricultural matters for the government in Cape Verde (1978-1985) and was a member of an expert body for Afghanistan of the German government in 1985.

Since 2000, Sigrist continued to present public lectures and to supervised doctoral dissertations as an emeritus professor.

Sigrist passed away on Feb, 14th 2015

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