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

Lena Kaufmann

Lena Kaufmann, Dr.

  • Associated researcher

Research interests

Anthropology of translocal and global China, Digital Infrastructures, Migration, Agriculture, Food, Material Culture, Knowledge and Skill, Technology, China and Switzerland, Gender, Work

Research areas

China, Switzerland

Short bio

Lena Kaufmann is an anthropologist and China scholar. She is an associate lecturer at ISEK as well as a postdoctoral researcher in the interdisciplinary SNSF project “Digital Entanglements: Discourses and practices around Sino-Swiss fibre optic infrastructures since the 1970s” at the Department of History at the University of Zurich. She is the author of Rural-Urban Migration and Agro-Technological Change in Post-Reform China (2021, Amsterdam University Press) and a founding member and deputy spokesperson of the China Working Group of the German Anthropological Association.

Her dissertation “Paddy field bound: Chinese rice farmers’ strategies for protecting their farmland resources in rural-urban migration, 1980s to 2010s” was awarded a Marie Heim-Vögtlin grant of the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) and shortlisted for the Mercator Award 2019. She has lived in China for four years and conducted long-term fieldwork in rural and urban China as well as exploratory fieldwork on Chinese migrants and technology in Congo-Brazzaville and Switzerland.

Lena has worked as a BA studies coordinator at ISEK (2018-2019) and as a research and teaching assistant at the Ethnographic Museum of the University of Zurich (2012-2018). Previously, she held consultancies at the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) in Beijing (2009-2010), and worked as an accompanying officer and interpreter (Chinese, German and English) at the visitors’ program of the Goethe Institute and other institutions (2008-2010). In 2009, she obtained her M.A. (Magister Artium) in Anthropology and Sinology at Freie Universität Berlin with a thesis entitled “Mala tang: Everyday strategies of rural migrant workers in urban Shanghai”. She studied in Rome, Shanghai and Berlin and was awarded a full scholarship by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Chinese Scholarship Council as well as an Erasmus scholarship.