I am an anthropologist of humanitarianism, development, infrastructure and Islam, focussing on Central Asia, South Asia and relevant diasporic settings.
My first book Islam und Kirgisen on Tour: Die Rezeption “nomadischer Religion” und ihre Wirkung (Islam and Kyrgyz on Tour: The Perception of “Nomadic Religion” and Its Effects, Harrassowitz 2007) focuses on Islam and nomadic identity in Kyrgyzstan.
Since then I have pursued two overarching research interests:
First, I am intrigued by the anthropological study of routes, roads and pathways, and the anthropology of infrastructure more generally. This research interest, which I have followed since the early days of my PhD fieldwork, frames my latest monograph Azan on the Moon: Entangling Modernity along Tajikistan’s Pamir Highway (University of Pittsburgh Press 2017).
Second, I research past and present forms of humanitarianism, development, philanthropy and charity from the perspective of anthropology and history. In this regard, since 2012 I have worked on the transformative force of Muslim networks which dissect the borderlands of Afghanistan, China, Pakistan and Tajikistan and mediate connectivity to places across the globe.
I am currently a full-time Research Fellow at the Department of Anthropology and Sociology, The Graduate Institute Geneva (Switzerland) and an Affiliated Scholar in Anthropology at Monash University in Melbourne (Australia).
Born in Germany to Swiss parents I received an MA from the University of Vienna in Austria and completed my PhD at the University of Bern in Switzerland. Before taking up my position in Geneva I lectured at the University of Bern and The University of Hong Kong, and I was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore, and at the Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences, The University of Hong Kong.
In addition to my past and present academic positions, I have worked on a range of different collaborative research projects. Currently, I am the editor of the series “MUHUM – Muslim Humanitarianism” at Allegra Lab. I am also a development specialist in the European Research Council funded project “China, Law and Development” at the University of Oxford, an associate in the Hong Kong Research Grants Council funded project “The Infrastructures of Faith: Mobility on the Belt and Road” at The University of Hong Kong, and a collaborator in the Swiss National Science Foundation funded project “Roadwork: An Anthropology of Infrastructure at China’s Inner Asian Borders” at the University of Zurich.