Carola Lentz will be the new president of the Goethe-Institut. She was elected unanimously by the Goethe-Institut’s Board of Trustees at its meeting on 27 September 2019. From 19 November 2020, the renowned anthropologist will take over the office of sitting president Klaus-Dieter Lehmann.

 Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas confirmed the election of Carola Lentz as the new president of the Goethe-Institut and welcomed the decision of the Board of Trustees of the Goethe-Institut.

Carola Lentz, professor of anthropology at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz and vice president of the Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften, will succeed Klaus-Dieter Lehmann on 19 November 2020. Lehmann, who has held the presidency of the Goethe-Institut since 2008, was very satisfied with the choice of his successor, saying, “In our short-winded times, this early decision for my successor is an important sign of the esteem the Goethe-Institut enjoys. International cultural work needs reliability! I’m especially happy to know that a renowned anthropologist with an international network will hold the reins in future. I consider education and culture a dual concept.”

Johannes Ebert, secretary-general of the Goethe-Institut, said, “I am delighted about the election of Carola Lentz as president of the Goethe-Institut. In view of rising international challenges, foreign cultural and educational policy is becoming ever more important. Therefore, it is crucial that the highest representative and chair of the supervisory body of our institution has dealt intensively with central issues of the global discourse on several continents and will make this knowledge and experience fruitful for the Goethe-Institut. I am also looking forward to another year working with Klaus-Dieter Lehmann, who will hand over his office to Carola Lentz in November 2020.”

Carola Lentz studied sociology, political science, German and education at the University of Göttingen and at Freie Universität Berlin, graduating with two state examinations. She went on to study agricultural sciences of the tropics and anthropology. In 1987 she earned her doctorate at the University of Hanover. She was a post-doctorate scholar of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, became professor of anthropology at Goethe University Frankfurt in 1996 and has been professor of anthropology at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz since 2002. Visiting professorships and fellowships have taken her to France, the Netherlands, the United States and South Africa. She is presently vice president of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities. From autumn 2017 to summer 2018 she was a fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin. Her research interests include ethnicity, nationalism, colonialism, memory studies and politics of remembering, middle classes in the Global South and labour migration. She conducted field research first in South America and since 1987 regularly in West Africa. Her publications include Land, Mobility and Belonging in West Africa (2013) and Remembering Independence (2018).

About the Goethe-Institut Board of Trustees

The Board of Trustees elects the president of the Goethe-Institut for the duration of four years. The tasks of the Board of Trustees include adopting resolutions for guidelines on the work of the institute and long-term conceptual planning. It consists of the president, six representatives elected by the General Meeting, one representative each from the Foreign Office and the Federal Ministry of Finance, and three elected employee representatives.


The Goethe-Institut is the cultural institute of the Federal Republic of Germany with global reach. With 157 institutes in 98 countries, it promotes knowledge of the German language abroad, fosters international cultural cooperation and conveys a comprehensive image of Germany today. Through partnerships with institutions in many other places, the Goethe-Institut has more than 1,000 points of contact worldwide.