South Asia

The Institute of Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology at Leiden University has several researchers specialised in South Asia.

  

Bangladesh

Dr. Erik de Maaker has specialized on South Asia, particularly the upland communities of its eastern borderlands. He has worked on changing notion of relatedness and belonging, notably in religious contexts. Methodologically, the material and performative (ritual, celebration) dimensions of culture tend to be central to his research. This includes the redefinition and re-appreciation of ‘traditional’ cultural ideas and practices (‘heritage’), and their growing importance in terms of ethnicity, indigeneity and nationalism.

More recently, his research has extended to people’s relatedness to land, and the environment, and how access and use is contested between distinct claim holders such as local communities and the state. Research in the peripheries of post-colonial states has raised his interest in the growing importance of Asia’s borders, and he is one of the founders of the Asian Borderlands Research Network.

Erik de Maaker is also a Visual Anthropologist, in which capacity he has used audiovisual means to strengthen the observational aspects of qualitative research. He has produced several ethnographic films (notable amongst which is the award winning ‘Teyyam, the Annual Visit of the God Vishnumurti’), as well as multimedia DVDs. For an overview of his publications and films visit the Academia website.

Keywords: Anthropology and Sociology of South Asia, Religion, Ritual, Material Culture, Visual Anthropology, Qualitative Analysis


India

  • Dr. Erik de Maaker has specialized on South Asia, particularly the upland communities of its eastern borderlands. He has worked on changing notion of relatedness and belonging, notably in religious contexts. Methodologically, the material and performative (ritual, celebration) dimensions of culture tend to be central to his research. This includes the redefinition and re-appreciation of ‘traditional’ cultural ideas and practices (‘heritage’), and their growing importance in terms of ethnicity, indigeneity and nationalism.

    More recently, his research has extended to people’s relatedness to land, and the environment, and how access and use is contested between distinct claim holders such as local communities and the state. Research in the peripheries of post-colonial states has raised his interest in the growing importance of Asia’s borders, and he is one of the founders of the Asian Borderlands Research Network.

    Erik de Maaker is also a Visual Anthropologist, in which capacity he has used audiovisual means to strengthen the observational aspects of qualitative research. He has produced several ethnographic films (notable amongst which is the award winning ‘Teyyam, the Annual Visit of the God Vishnumurti’), as well as multimedia DVDs.

    For an overview of his publications and films visit the Academia website.

    Keywords: Anthropology and Sociology of South Asia, Religion, Ritual, Material Culture, Visual Anthropology, Qualitative Analysis.
  • Dr. Marianne Maeckelbergh ’s research focuses on the anthropology of globalization, democracy and social movements. Specifically, her research explores the decision-making practices within global social movement networks and the implications these practices have for contemporary assumptions about democracy and democratic values. Her research examines prefiguration as a strategic movement practice and raises questions about what happens to democratic values when they are practiced on a global scale through network structures instead of the nation-state.

    Since the start of the economic crisis, her work has focussed on several of the uprisings that have emerged around the world and the growing distrust of representative democracy being expressed transnationally. Most of her recent fieldwork has explored responses to the economic crisis in Spain and the US, but this research has been contextualized in relation to research in Egypt, Greece, Portugal and the UK to explore what the many contemporary struggles share in common as well as how each location's particular history shapes the protests and government responses. The development and use of new digital technologies within these movements has been a key research interest, particularly how the diffuse networked space of digital technology functions in combination with the centralizing spacial configurations of urban space and place. This research has been disseminated through written publications as well as an online film series available at the Global Uprising website.

    Marianne Maeckelbergh’s other research interests include anthropological approaches to ‘identity’, ‘personhood’ and ‘agency’ in a context of global flows; urban social movements in India, specifically how caste, class, language and especially transnational exchanges affect the way politics is practiced. Marianne’s approach is a political one based on an engaged anthropology that explores the methodological challenges posed by the need for a more ‘global’ ethnography in the anthropology of social movements, development, democracy and digital technology.

    Keywords: Global Politics, Democracy, Social Movements, Development, South Asia.

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