Olivia Killias, Dr.
Senior Researcher and Lecturer
Adviser for BA Students
Phone: +41 44 635 22 38
Room number: AND 5.96
Mo-Tue; Thu-Fri (by appointment).
For questions regarding the undergraduate program, please write to ethno-studienleitung-BA@isek.uzh.ch
Political anthropology; globalisation, migration; memory; ageing; gender and sexuality
Southeast Asia: Indonesia, Malaysia (Iranian diaspora); postcolonial Europe: Netherlands
Olivia Killias is a senior researcher and lecturer at the Department of Social Anthropology (ISEK). She studied social sciences at the Universities of Lausanne and Amsterdam (UvA), and completed her PhD in social anthropology at the University of Bern.
Over the last few years, Olivia Killias has carried out long-term ethnographic fieldwork in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Netherlands. Recently published as a book monograph, Killias’ dissertation explores domestic worker migration in and from Indonesia. By literally following migrant women from their recruitment by local brokers in a village in upland Central Java, via secluded 'training' camps in Jakarta, employment in gated middle-class homes within Indonesia and in Malaysia and back home again, Killias discusses the moral, social, economic and legal processes by which Indonesian women are turned into ‘maids’ for the global care economy and reveals the richness and ambiguity of their experiences, going beyond stereotypical representations of them as ‘victims of trafficking’.
As a postdoctoral researcher in the BMBF-Competence Network on ‘Dynamics of Religion in Southeast Asia’ at the Humboldt University of Berlin (2012-2014), Killias carried out anthropological research on the migration of Iranian students to Malaysia and explored questions of everyday urban coexistence – and in particular the emergence of suspicion – in a diverse urban high-rise building (see Killias 2014).
Currently, she is working on a new research project entitled ‘Caring not to Forget: Memory, Colonialism and Loss in Dutch Elderly Care’ for which she carried out 12 months of ethnographic fieldwork in the Netherlands (funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation). Zooming in on nursing homes explicitly designed to cater to Indisch elders born in the Dutch East Indies, she takes these nursing homes as an entry point to explore the relation between memory, ageing and loss in contemporary postcolonial Europe.
Killias has taught on various subjects of anthropology at the Universities of Lausanne (2005), Neuchâtel (2006-2007), Bern (2007-2011), Berlin (2011) and Zurich (since 2014). She was also a visiting researcher at the Humboldt University of Berlin (2010), Oxford University (2010), Universiti Sains Malaysia (2012-2013), Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen (2018) and the University of Amsterdam (2019).
She is interested in supervising Ba and MA theses in the fields of political anthropology; globalisation, migration; memory; ageing; gender and sexuality; visual anthropology and in general in supervising students willing to carry out research in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Switzerland.
Editorial board memberships
Member of the editorial board of ethnographiques.org
Member of the editorial board of ZANTHRO