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

Johannes Quack

Johannes Quack, Prof. Dr.

  • Associate Professor
+41 44 635 22 42
Room number
AND 5.94

Research interests

My research interests are mainly connected to the anthropology of Religion, with a focus on Hindu traditions, ritual theory, atheism, secularity, and nonreligion. One of my main aims in this respect was to not only look at the diversity of religious life, but also at the diversity of positions deemed alternative or oppositional to religious beliefs and practices (“lived secularity”). I have also researched and published in the field of medical anthropology, with a focus on therapeutic pluralism and mental health. Here I investigated the ways in which people navigate between different therapeutic traditions, particularly between healing temples and psychiatry in India. More recently, I have ventured into the anthropology of ethics, which allows me to explore issues of religion and secularity through a different lens by opening up new avenues for thinking about the im/possibilities of personhood. Methodologically, I have begun to explore how employing a nuanced combination of ethnographic and biographical research techniques since I have found that one helps me compensate for the shortcomings of the other. Other parts of my work engaged with the history of knowledge and with asymetrical research structures in combination with "team research".

Research area

South Asia, in particular North India; Europe, especially Germany and Switzerland

Short bio

Johannes Quack is an associate professor of Social Anthropology. He studied religious studies, social anthropology and philosophy at the universities in Bayreuth, Edinburgh and Heidelberg (receiving his PhD in 2009).

Quack’s main publications include Disenchanting India: Organized Rationalism and Criticism of Religion in India (OUP, New York 2012), The Problem of Ritual Efficacy (OUP, New York 2010), Religion und Kritik in der Moderne (LIT, Münster 2012), Asymmetrical Conversations: Contestations, Circumventions and the Blurring of Therapeutic Boundaries (Berghahn, New York 2014), Religious Indifference: New Perspectives From Studies on Secularization and Non-religion (Springer, Berlin 2017) and The Diversity of Nonreligion: Contested Normativities and Relations (Routledge, Abingdon 2020).

Quack is a member of the European Research Council (ERC) project “Religion and its Others in South Asia and the World: Communities, Debates, Freedoms”, member of the Centre for the History of Knowledge (Zentrum Geschichte des Wissens), the founder of the South Asia Forum (SAF), co-publisher of the book series Religion and Its Others: Studies in Religion, Non-religion, and Secularity (De Gruyter), and co-director of the Nonreligion and Secularity Research Network (NSRN).

Furthermore, Quack was a research fellow at the DFG Kolleg-Forschergruppe Multiple Secularities at the University of Leipzig, the speaker for the research field Entangled Histories of the ‘University Research Priority Program’ (URPP) Asia and Europe at the University of Zurich, a member of the Cluster of Excellence ‘Asia and Europe’ at the University of Heidelberg, research fellow at McGill University, Montreal, the director of the Emmy Noether project ‘The Diversity of Nonreligion’ at the University of Frankfurt, a research Fellow at Jawaharlal Nehru Institute of Advanced Study (JNIAS), Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), a guest faculty member at the Charles University in Prague, a visiting fellow at the Max Weber College in Erfurt, a member of the Indian-European Research Networking Program in the Social Sciences ‘Advances in Research on Globally Accessible Medicine’ (AROGYAM), and a visiting professor at the Centre for the Study of Social Systems (CSSS) at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).

Current and completed research projects are listed here.

Open Office Hours

Please arrange office hours via email (and feel free to knock on my door if this is more convenient).