Past events
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The ‘One Object, Many Questions’ discussion series takes a close look at a selected object from one of the exhibitions. Each discussion, with the involvement of an expert, will open up fascinating aspects of the item that may not be covered in detail, or indeed at all, in the exhibition itself.

Discussions may focus on the method of manufacture, symbolic meaning, previous owners, the object’s history, the lore held within the object or its particular appeal. Each discussion will take place in the exhibition concerned, and will give space for your questions and observations.

29/09/2021 Rommel’s Toyota. Aggression and Masculinity

The inaugural discussion will examine the largest exhibit in the Terrible Beauty. Elephant – Human – Ivory exhibition: an off-road vehicle belonging to the Kenyan conservation organisation Save The Elephants.

Elephants are considered to be peaceful animals, but they can sometimes be very aggressive, particularly when in ‘must’, a type of male rut, when they may fight fierce battles with rivals. A bull who is defeated by a rival can sometimes vent his anger on objects that are not part of the conflict – like the off-road vehicle belonging to the Kenyan conservation organisation Save The Elephants. In 2002, a bull elephant attacked the vehicle containing researchers who were observing the behaviour of the elephants in Samburu National Reserve, causing extensive damage. The vehicle’s occupants were lucky to escape, and later named their attacker ‘Rommel’ – after the Nazi commander of the German Africa Corps – for his aggressiveness.

Aggression in both humans and animals is governed by, among other things, the sex hormone testosterone, which in mammals affects physical build, and also the mind. In humans, it is not only held responsible for disruptive behaviour in young people, but also, for example, the greed of bankers or the assertiveness of managers.

How are aggressiveness and hormone levels linked? What would our society look like without testosterone, without aggressive behaviour? Using the exhibit as a starting point, Ulrike Krämer, Professor of Cognitive Neurology at the University of Lübeck, will be in the ‘Terrible Beauty. Elephant – Human – Ivory’ exhibition to discuss aggression and masculinity in humans and animals with Uta Kornmeier, curator for science and research.

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In conversation

Practical info

  • Contact tracing

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  • Still together against Corona

    As a precaution, we are continuing some efficient and proven measures at the Humboldt Forum in order to be able to guarantee basic protection for all visitors and staff. We regularly check the current infection situation and will adapt our in-house measures accordingly.

  • Recommendation to wear a mask

    Visitors aged 6 and over are recommended to wear an FFP2 or medical face mask in all interior rooms of the Humboldt Forum. Unless otherwise stated, this also applies to guided tours and events. For your own safety and the safety of your children, we recommend that all age groups take a rapid antigen test before visiting the Humboldt Forum.