Joseph Bristley

Joseph Bristley, Dr.


Tel.: +41 44 635 22 28

Raumbezeichnung: 5.28

Office hours

Please send me an email to book an appointment

Research interests

Economic anthropology; anthropology of the environment; pastoralism; anthropology of time; ethnography of Central Asia.

Regional specialisation

Central Asia (Mongolia)

Short biography

Joseph Bristley is Oberassistent at the Department of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies (ISEK), working at the Chair of Professor Peter Finke. During Fall Semester 2021 he will teach two seminars: ‘Anthropology of Central Asia’ (with Professor Finke), and ‘Scale and Anthropology: Space, Time, and Knowledge-production in Anthropological Perspective’. Joseph has carried out research in Mongolia since 2013, focussing on various aspects of pastoral life in rapidly changing political-economic circumstances. He has published on social aspects of money, number and ideologies of abundance, and on new debt relations. Joseph is currently preparing a monograph on the concept of economic growth. He was awarded his Ph.D. by University College London in 2017 and, prior to coming to ISEK, held research positions at University College London and Cambridge.


Times of debt: heterochrony and bank loans in rural Mongolia. In Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (N.S.). Volume 27. Issue 3. 2021. pp. 638-652.

‘Tears of rejoicing spirits’: Happiness and the Mediation of Human-Spirit Relations in a Mongolian Mountain Sacrifice. In Inner Asia. Volume 23. Issue 1. 2021. pp. 131-149. Written with Erdene-Ochir Tumen-Ochir.

Scale and Number: framing an Ideology of Pastoral Plenty in Rural Mongolia. In Social Analysis. Volume 64. Issue 1. 2020. pp 63-79.

Migration in Mongolia / Mongol Dakh’ Nüüdel Suudal. Ulaanbaatar International Media Art Festival: Migration. 2019. pp 6 – 9.

Transformation and Multiplicity: The Power of Zoos to Absorb Spirits in Mongolia. In Inner Asia. Volume 17. Issue 1. 2015. pp 31 – 51.