Foto Birgit Kolboske

Photo by: Gesine Born


Birgit Kolboske

Research Scholar (Aug 2014-Dez 2025)


Following a degree in Latin American studies and linguistics at the Freie Universität Berlin, Birgit worked for many years as a journalist, translator, and editor in Mexico and New York. From 2014 to 2022, she was a research scholar of the Research Program on the History of the Max Planck Society (GMPG), whose preparatory phase she coordinated. In 2022 she received her PhD with a thesis on the history of women in the Max Planck Society from the University of Leipzig. In the same year, her book Hierarchien: Das Unbehagen der Geschlechter mit dem Harnack-Prinzip: Frauen in der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft was published open access.

In her current research project, Apocalypse Frau? Feminism, Foetuses and “Fake News”, Birgit explores such fundamental questions as what is the rationale, or rather, motivation for such an extremely retrogressive development that finds its expression in reactionary images of women, misogyny, and the blatant curtailment of women’s rights that is appearing globally at the beginning of the twenty-first century? How is such a relapse into times believed to be long gone to be assessed? How can it be explained that the insights of the Enlightenment – both cultural-historical (Kant) and sexual (Kinsey) – are ignored and replaced by “matters of faith”? What is the historical role of media in the dissemination of ideological thought? 

In Christian religious history, apocalypse stands for revelation: the unveiling of divine knowledge in the form of a judgement of God, the end of the world. The Apocalyptic Woman has her origins in the Revelation of John. An early Christian symbol for the Church, she was not identified with Mary until later. Unlike the soulful depictions by Dürer and Rubens (Immaculata) in the Renaissance, for example, the Apocalyptic Woman in the New Testament cries out in pain as she gives birth. In view of the current trend toward the subjugation of women and the politicization of their bodies, the image of the woman in pain proves frighteningly virulent. According to the dictionary, apocalypse, in addition to prophecies dealing with the coming end of the world, also means: “doom; disaster; horror.” From a feminist point of view, the apocalypse seems to be already underway. 



Selected Publications

Kolboske, Birgit (2023). Umstrittener Geniekult bei Max-Planck „Frauen hatten wenige Chancen". Interview by Dorothee Nolte. Tagesspiegel March 25,  2023.

Read More

Kolboske, Birgit (2023). One of 24,000. Eine*r von 24.000: Birgit Kolboske, Historikerin am MPI für Wissenschaftsgeschichte. Interview by Beate Koch. MAX Mag (1): 2–3.…

Read More

Kolboske, Birgit (2022). Hierarchien. Das Unbehagen der Geschlechter mit dem Harnack-Prinzip: Frauen in der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. Studien zur Geschichte der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft 3. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.…

Read More

Kolboske, Birgit (2021). “Hierarchies. Lotta Support, Little Science? Scientists and Secretaries in the Max Planck Society.” In Fundamental Questions: Gender Dimensions in Max Planck Research Projects, ed. U. Weber, 105–134. Baden-Baden: Nomos…

Read More

Past Events


Hierarchies. The Max Planck Society in Gender Trouble

Book Launch

Fundamental Questions: Gender Dimensions in Max Planck Research Projects


Nachrichten & Presse

Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin Birgit Kolboske im Interview mit MaxMag


Birgit Kolboske spricht im Tagesspiegel über Geschlechtergleichstellung in der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft


rbb veröffentlicht einen Podcast mit Birgit Kolboske über Frauen in der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft