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ISEK - Department of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies Social and Cultural Anthropology

  • Banner LS Quack

    Foto: Paul Camill Meuth

Professorial Chair Prof. Dr. Johannes Quack

Our research mainly focuses on the following, overlapping thematic fields Religion (and its others), Ethics, Body and Gender as well as Queer Anthropology. In addition, chair members conduct research in the areas of Knowledge (trans)formation and Medicine (and therapeutic pluralism). Regionally we are interested in South Asia, in particular India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and the Himalayas (see the South Asia Forum), and Switzerland and Europe. Europe and South Asia are investigated against the background of their colonial and post-colonial interdependences. We are also concerned with asymmetrical research structures, anthropological team research and with the combination of biographic and ethnographic approaches.

Current Research Projects:

Completed Research Projects:

The Diversity of Nonreligion (Emmy Noether Project, German Research Foundation)
Dynamics of Well-Being (Swiss Joint Research Program in the Social Sciences)
Narratives and Ontologies of Faith-Based Aid Workers (Swiss National Science Foundation)
Researching Secular and Religious Identities in Tandem (State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation)


Stefan Binder (aesthetics of religion, secularism, queer anthropology)
Banhishikha Ghosh (Kotis, normativity, intimacy, Eastern India)
Anaël Jambers (Switzerland, conflicts, politics, free churches)
Alexandra Jugelt
Anne Kukuczka (beauty, body, gender)
Tanja Luchsinger (ethics, biography, relationships)
Johannes Quack (religion, ethics, medicine, knowledge)
Christine Schenk
Mareike Scherer (political anthropology, migration, transnational processes, biographies)
Lindsay Vogt (politics of high technology, water, development)

Contacts and Cooperations

We maintain extensive contacts and different forms of cooperation with the following institutions:

  • Südasien-Institut Heidelberg
  • Jawaharlal Nehru University New Delhi
  • Abteilung für Ethnologie, Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen
  • Museum Rietberg
  • Insitut für Sozialanthropologie, Universität Bern
  • Center for Security Studies, ETH Zürich
  • Ethnologie, Universität Luzern
  • Dept. of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Madras, Chennai
  • Institute of Social Sciences, Charles University Prague

The following collaborations exist through projects or memorandi of understanding:

  • MPI Ethnologie Halle
  • Facultade de Xeografía e Historia, Universidade de Santiago de Compostela
  • Political Science, Sciences Po Lyon
  • Dept. of Social Anthropology, Cambridge University
  • University of Colombo, Sri Lanka
  • University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka

PhD Projects

PhD - Completed

Main Supervisor (Erstbetreuer):

  • Blechschmidt, Alexander – The Secular Movement in the Philippines: Nonbelief and Activism in a Catholic Country (Zurich University, supervised with Prof. Perter Bräunlein) - submitted 2020.
  • Hughes, Maria – Narratives and Ontologies of faith-based aid workers (Zurich University, supervised with Prof. Thomas Kirsch) – submitted 2020.
  • Schulz, Mascha – Convoluted Convictions, Partial Positionings: Non-Religion, Secularism, and Party Politics in Sylhet, Bangladesh (Zurich University, supervised with Prof. Katy Gardner), 2021.
  • Breubeck, Anne – Devi, the Diva: The Good Life of a Thirunangai (Zurich University, supervised with PD Dr. Jan Patrick Heiss), 2023.

Co-Supervisor (Zweitbetreuer):

  • Meili, Iara – Metaphors of Posttraumatic Growth and Resilience in Cultural-Clinical Psychology (Universität Zürich, betreut mit Prof. Andreas Maercker), 2018.
  • Wickli, Urs – […] zum Wozu des Ethnologischen Museums Berlin im künftigen Humboldt- Forum: Annotationen, Versatzstücke und Stellungnahmen (Universität Zürich, betreut mit Prof. Mareile Flitsch), 2018.
  • Schuh, Cora – Politics of Secularity: Dutch Social-Liberals in a Post-Confessional Age (Universität Leipzig, betreut mit Prof. Monika Wohlrab-Sahr), 2020.
  • Rageth, Nina – Religion and Medicine: South Indian Guru Organisations and Siddha Medicine (Universität Zürich, betreut mit Prof. Dorothea Lüddeckens) – 2021
  • Ruther, Lilo –  Agency in Todesritualen: Eine empirische Untersuchung der Positionierung von gemeinschaftsungebundenen Ritualleiter*innen in der Deutschschweiz (Universität Zürich, betreut mit Prof. Dorothea Lüddeckens) – 2022
  • Müller, Dominik – Producing and Navigating Islamic Authority: A Relational Ethnography of Islamic Authorities, Mosques and Muslim Communities between Switzerland and Turkey (Universität Zürich, betreut mit Prof. Peter Finke) – 2022


Unterseiten von Professorial Chair Prof. Dr. Johannes Quack