Curriculum Vitae

Academic Education

2002 – 2007
PhD student in Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge; thesis: From revolution to reform: Ethics, gift giving and the sangha-state relationships in Lao Buddhism (supervisor: Dr. James Laidlaw)

2003 – 2005
Language student at the National University of Lao PDR, Department for Lao Language and Literature

1995 – 2002
Magister Artium (M.A.) in Ethnology, Sociology and Educational Science at the Westfälische-Wilhelms-Universität Münster; thesis: Death rituals among the Lao. An Anthropological Study (supervisors: Prof. J.D.M Platenkamp & Prof. Volker Grabowsky)

1999 – 2000
Erasmus student in Social Anthropology and Southeast Asian Studies at École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), Paris

1998 – 1999
Student in Social Anthropology und South Asian/Sanskrit Studies (4th year) at the University of Edinburgh

Professional Experience

2014 - ongoing
Associate Researcher, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle, Germany

2013 – 2014
Visiting Professor (full teaching load), Department for Social Anthropology and Empirical Cultural Studies, University of Zürich

2009 - 2013
Research Fellow, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle, Germany. Research cluster ‘Historical Anthropology’, research project on Buddhist statecraft and non-Buddhist ethnic minorities in Laos

2007 – 2009
Research Assistant, Department of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Bristol,
Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Project: Buddhist death rituals of Southeast Asia and China

2004 – 2005
Development Consultant (part-time) for ‘Alliance for Religion and Conservation’ (British NGO) in Vientiane, Laos PDR. Projects and workshops on Buddhist environmentalism; training staff in planning, monitoring and evaluation of social development projects, organization of workshops in temples, compilation of a training handbook

2004 – 2005
Teacher (part-time) at the Buddhist College, Ong Toe Temple, Vientiane, Laos PDR. Teaching, development of materials for teaching Buddhism in English, courses on Buddhist social work

Internship United Nations Development Project (UNDP), Laos PDR
Research in the context of the National Human Development Report Laos 2002. Research project on ‘Social capital and rural development planning in Lao PDR’


Seminar teaching and summer schools at University of Muenster, University of Bielefeld, University of Bristol, University of Cambridge, University of Halle


Feb – March 2015
Archival research on French colonialism in Laos/Vietnam, Archives nationales d'outre-mer, Aix En-Provence

November 2012
Archival research, Missions Étrangères, Paris

Nov 2011 – Apr 2012
Fieldwork in Attapeu and Salavan Province (South Laos) on ‘The Buddhification of ethnic minorities in historical perspective’, Associate researcher with École française d'Extrême-Orient, Vientiane

Aug – Oct 2008
Fieldwork in Chiang Mai (Thailand) on ‘Death rituals in Thai Buddhism’. Associate researcher with the Department for Social Anthropology, Chiang Mai University

Aug 2007 – Jan 2008
Fieldwork in Vientiane and provinces (Laos PDR) on ‘Festivals for the deceased and ancestor cults’. Associate researcher with École française d'Extrême-Orient, Vientiane

Oct 2003 – Jun 2005
Fieldwork for PhD in Vientiane and Khammuan province (Laos PDR) (including three months as a monk in a Buddhist monastery). Associate Researcher with the Lao National Front for Reconstruction

Grants & Awards

DAAD grant for Portuguese-German exchange. Joint project MPI Halle - ICS Lisbon: Colonialism and mimetic processes in historical perspective.

British Academy, small grants program for Southeast Asian Studies

William Wyse writing-up grant, University of Cambridge

Grant from the Kurt Hahn Trust, Cambridge

Evans Fellowship for Southeast Asian Studies, University of Cambridge

2003 – 2005
Fieldwork grant from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)

2002 – 2005
Domestic Research Studentship, University of Cambridge

DAAD grant for internship with UNDP Laos

1999 – 2000
Erasmus studentship, University of Münster for EHESS Paris

Membership of Professional Bodies

  • European Association of Social Anthropologists
  • Royal Anthropological Institute
  • International Association of Buddhist Studies
  • The Pali Text Society

Editorial Boards and external reviewing

  • Editorial Boards: HAU - Journal of Ethnographic Theory; Body politics - Zeitschrift fuer Koerpergeschichte
  • External Reviews for: American Ethnologist, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, HAU - Journal of Ethnographic Theory, Journal of Lao Studies, Asian Studies Review, Body politics - Zeitschrift fuer Koerpergeschichte

Conference papers & presentations

As workshop and panel organizer:

Fieldwork between Folders. Theories of the archive and the historical anthropology of colonialism. Paper: Introduction: Archival theory? Implications for the anthropology of colonialism, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle, 14.07.2011.

Buddhist Socialisms. The interaction of communist movements, socialist ideologies and Buddhism. Papers: Introduction. The comparative study of Buddhist socialism; The Buddhist sangha and the Lao communist movement (1954-1975). International Association of Buddhist Studies (IABS), Taipei, Taiwan, 24.6.2011.

(with Ricardo Roque): Colonial crisis and mimetic encounters: Reconfigurations of the social in historical perspective. Paper: Introduction: Empires, archives and colonial crisis. European Association of Social Anthropologists. Maynooth, Ireland, 25.8.2010.

Conference presentations and invited lectures:

“And the Buddha Looked up to the Hills of Zomia...” On the hegemonic relationship of Buddhist civilization and ethnic minorities in Laos. Anthropology and Civilizational Analysis: Eurasian explorations, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle, 28.7.2012.

Buddhismus als dominante Zivilisation? Der Theravada Buddhismus und animistische Minoritäten in Laos und Südostasien. Ringvorlesung ‚Religionen der Welt, Welt der Religionen’, Martin Luther University, Halle, 20.10.2011.

The living palladium and the legitimacy of rule. Transformations of Buddhist statecraft in Laos. Institute of Social Sciences/University of Lisbon, 20.4.2011.

The Re-Buddhicisation of the Lao state. On the absence of charisma and the problems of controlled revitalization. École française d'Extrême-Orient, Paris, 19.1.2011.

Materiality, ontology and spectral traces. Human-ghost relationships in a Lao Buddhist festival. Institute for Social Anthropology, University of Heidelberg, 25.1.2011.

The materiality and ontology of the invisible: Methodological and theoretical thoughts on studying Lao ghosts. Workshop ‘Spirits in Modern Asia – Challenges for scientists and societies’, 17-19 Sept. 2010 , Lichtenbergkolleg, Göttingen.

Lao Buddhist political theology under late socialism. Panel: From the mouth of God: 'the political' from a post-secular perspective (organized by Lucia Michelutti & Alice Forbess). EASA Conference: Maynooth, Ireland, 26th August 2010.

Schuld, Trauma und Heimsuchungen. Geister und sozialanthropologische Theorien im suedostasiatischen Kontext. Institut für Grenzgebiete der Psychologie und Psychohygiene (IGP), Freiburg. 2.12.2009.

Rituelle Praxis, Verdienstübertragung und Essen: Zwei Rituale für die Geister der Toten im laotischen Buddhismus. (presentation, film and discussion). Abaton Cinema/Centre for Buddhist Studies, University of Hamburg. 10.11.2009.

Caring for the beyond. Two Lao Buddhist festivals for the deceased (film presentation and discussion together with Gregory Kourilsky). University of Bristol, 22.10.2009.

The last friend of the corpse. Funerals, crematoria and mortician culture in Chiang Mai. (film presentation and discussion). Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle, 13.10.2009.

Ghosts, ancestors and the ritual economy (presentation and film screening). Conference of The United Kingdom Association of Buddhist Studies (UKABS), London SOAS, 3rd July 2009.

‘Sleeping in coffins and getting rid of bad luck’: Death rituals for the living and the question of ‘occult economies’ in Thai Buddhism. Interdisciplinary Colloquium, School of Humanities, University of Bristol, 17th February 2009.

Being a guest in the realm of death: Death rituals for the living and the materiality of Thai Buddhist funeral culture. Panel: The ambiguous objects of hospitality: Material ethics, houses and dangerous guests. Conference of the Association of Social Anthropologists (ASA), Bristol, 6th-9th April 2009.

Caring for the dead: Transfer of merit and ancestor cults in Lao Buddhism, International Association of Buddhist Studies Conference (IABS), Atlanta, USA, 23rd-28th June 2008.

‘Feeding’ the dead. Two Lao Buddhist festivals for the deceased, research seminar paper, Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Bristol, 19th February 2008.

Rooting ethics and morality in narrative: The ethics of giving in Lao Buddhism, conference: Text, ritual and performance in Southeast Asia, University of California, Riverside, USA, 18th-20th February 2007.

Perturbations of the state-effect: Cultural survivals and the haunting specters of Lao late socialism, conference: Ordnungen im Wandel, Freie Universität Berlin, 18th-20th January 2007.

Work discipline, solidarity and ‘Laoness’: Teaching Buddhist ethics under socialism and late socialism in Laos, conference: New Directions in post-socialist research, Department of Social Anthropology,University College London, 19th-20th June 2006.

The Buddhist clergy and the struggle for cultural hegemony in early Lao socialism, workshop: Anthropologie comparée de l'Asie du Sud-Est continentale. Productions identitaires et politiques du religieux, École française d'Extrême-Orient, Paris, 23rd March 2006.

Failure and disrespect: Problematic recognition, techniques of the self and the case of a Lao Buddhist abortion nurse, conference: Beyond Result - Failure as a Moral, Economic, and Socio-Political Discourse, Darwin College, University of Cambridge, 20th March 2006.

Narrative ethics: The excess of giving and moral ambiguity in the Lao Vessantara-Jataka, workshop: Rethinking Moralities, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle, 15th-16th December 2005.

The disciplining of Buddhism and state control of the religious field in post-reform Laos PDR, workshop: The legitimate and the supernatural: Law and religion in a complex world, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle, 25th–27th August 2005.

Go to Editor View