Research Interests

  • State borderlands, trans-frontier peoples and networks
  • State power, gatekeepers, and borderland elites
  • Socialist and post-socialist ethnopolitical loyalties and citizenships: discourses and narratives of inclusion into and exclusion from nation and state
  • Border control: legitimacies and bureaucracies of territorial control at the geographic periphery
  • Comparative historiographies of homeland/bordering/belonging
  • Methodologies of rendering states legible for anthropological analysis


Research Areas

  • Central Asia (in particular Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan/Badakhshan, Kazakhstan)
  • People’s Republic of China (Xinjiang Province)
  • Russian Federation (in particular the southern frontiers) and the Caucasus


Past Projects

  • 2013-2015: “Post-Soviet Peripheries in Flux: Local Power and the State in Kyrgyzstan's Borderlands”, research project within the framework of the project “Proactive Conflict Management at post-Soviet Deep Borders” (Principal Investigator: Dr. H. Rytövuori-Apunen, Tampere Peace Research Institute, Finland), funded by the Academy of Finland.
  • 2013 (5 months): Post-doc fieldwork in Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan on practices of Kyrgyz sovereignty in the Ferghana Valley and Kazakhstan borderlands. Research financed by the Academy of Finland.
  • 2012 (3 months): Field research in the Russian Caucasus and the Caucasus. Planned focus on the past and present rebordering of territorial-administrative units and non-Russian narratives of belonging on the Caucasus frontier.
  • 2010: Policy-oriented anthropological research on trans-frontier networks and OSCE-funded border control infrastructures in Kyrgyzstan (Ferghana Valley), Tajikistan (Gorno-Badakhshan) and northern Afghanistan. Research and publication commissioned by the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Finnish Institute of International Affairs (UPI, Helsinki).
  • 2005-6: PhD fieldwork in Kyrgyzstan, People’s Republic of China/Xinjiang, and Tajikistan on trans-frontier Kyrgyz, Pamiri, and Tajik groups. Research financed by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF, Bern).
  • 2003: MA fieldwork in Kazakhstan, People’s Republic of China/Xinjiang, and Kyrgyzstan on Kazakh borderland lifeworlds. Research financed by the Karmàn Stiftung (Bern).


University Courses Taught                         

  • The Eternal City? Anthropology and the Cityscape. Seminar, University of Bern, Switzerland (Autumn 2017).
  • Cartographies of Control: An Anthropology of Map-Making. Seminar, University of Bern, Switzerland (Spring 2017).
  • The Politics of a Political Anthropology. PhD-seminar, School of Social Sciences and Humanities, University of Tampere, Finland (Spring 2014).
  • Theoretical Approaches in Social Anthropology. Seminar, University of Tampere, Finland (Winter 2012/13 and Winter 2013/14).
  • Those In-Between: Locating an Anthropology of Borders, Borderlanders, and Frontier Zones. Seminar, University of Bern, Switzerland (Spring 2012).
  • National Transformations in the post-Soviet Periphery (with a focus on the Republics of Georgia and Kazakhstan). Seminar, University of Bern, Switzerland (Spring 2007).
  • Xinjiang – A Province Between China and Central Asia. Seminar, University of Bern, Switzerland (Spring 2005).
  • Introduction to Social Anthropology. Seminar, University of Bern, Switzerland (Winter 2004/5, and Autumn 2007).


Conferences and Lectures

  • Local Understandings of Border Control and Sovereignty in Southern Kyrgyzstan. (June 2014) Paper presented at the Association for Borderland Studies first world conference, held in Joensuu (Finland) and St. Petersburg (Russia).
  • Kyrgyz Nationalism and the Borders of a post-Soviet Revolution. (April 2013) Paper presented at the 23rd Association for the Study of Ethnicity and Nationalism ASEN conference, held at the London School of Economics LSE.
  • Border Control and Borderlander Loyalties in post-Soviet Central Asia. (December 2011) Guest lecture held at Bogaziçi University, Istanbul, Turkey.
  • Controlling Borderlands? (February 2011) Guest lecture held at the Tampere Peace Research Institute TAPRI, University of Tampere, Finland.
  • Controlling Borderlands? (December 2010) Launch of the report and conference co-organised and held at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs UPI-FIIA (with the support of the Foreign Ministry of Finland), Helsinki, Finland [].
  • On Conducting an Anthropology of Frontiers in a Chinese-Central Asian Borderland. Paper presented at the postgraduate conference on “Changing Places, Borders, Memories”, (November 2008) held at the Scientific Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Science and Arts, University of Nova Gorica/Ljubljana, Slovenia.
  • The Local Renegotiation of Borderland Loyalties at the Chinese – Central Asian Frontier. Paper presented at the Graduate Conference on “Framing Struggles: Critical Approaches to Anthropology and Sociology”, (June 2008) held at the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary.
  • China's Central Asian Borderland: Official Discourses and Local Realities. Paper presented at the Association for Borderland Studies ABS conference on “Structures and Narratives of Border Change”, (June 2006) held at the Centre for International Border Research CIBR, Queen's University Belfast, Northern Ireland.
  • Bordering States – Bordered Nations? Frontier Anthropology in a Central Asian Borderland. Fellow Seminar held at the Collegium Budapest (Hungary) – Institute for Advanced Studies (February 2006).