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

  • LehrforschungBangladesch_VMZ_410_01_1127

    Photo: Lorenz Löffler (Ethnographic Museum UZH, Inv. no. VMZ 410.01.1127

Ethnographic Archives and Collections as Time Capsules: Collaborative Research on the Löffler Archives in Contemporary Contexts (in Bangladesh and Switzerland)

Lorenz Löffler was the first professor of social anthropology at UZH (1971-1995). His nearly two-year fieldwork (1956/57) among indigenous groups in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) began his lifelong study of these hill tribes that populate the mountainous hill ranges of Bangladesh. Löffler’s legacy, archived at Ethnographic Museum of Zurich University, includes publications, archival collections, photographs, and numerous audio documents. He was only able to partially transcribe and translate the latter during his lifetime. Löffler’s legacy also includes a collection of ethnographic objects from the CHT, which is preserved at the Linden Museum in Stuttgart.

Today, the Chittagong Hill Tracts are marked by violent conflicts and land evictions, and many young people in the CHT have been and continue to be exposed to physical and psychological violence; they are questioning and demanding to find their roots and have accordingly shown great interest in the Löffler archive during a collaborative exhibition project on Lorenz Löffler. Third-party funding now makes it possible to continue or expand this collaboration within the framework of a student exchange.

The student exchange is designed as teaching research: Three students from the institute of social anthropology in Zurich and three (max. five) indigenous students from the CHT will receive teaching inputs in Bangladesh and in Zurich, jointly develop research questions and topics and subsequently conduct small field research in Zurich, Stuttgart, and Bangladesh.

The module will conclude with a public workshop in Zurich (hybrid with Bangladesh) with the presentation of the results of the teaching research.

The teaching research in Zurich will be supervised by Prof. Dr. Mareile Flitsch and Rebekka Sutter, in Bangladesh by Rebekka Sutter and Mrinal Kanti Tripura.


The module is open for BA and MA students. A completed introductory course is the basic requirement for participation. In addition, participation in the methods in-depth course “Doing Ethnography” (3 ECTS credits) is required. Attendance of the practical module “Museum Internship” is recommended (in FS2024).

6 ETCS credits will be awarded for the module.


The module is structured in two semesters (HS23/FS24):

  • Info event: Wednesday, September 27, 2023, at 17h in the classroom at the Völkerkundemuseum (Pelikanstrasse 40)
  • Application and introductory (online) events in HS 2023.
  • Early February 2024 (during the lecture-free period): two-week field research stay in Bangladesh, if possible in Chittagong and surroundings, together with students from Bangladesh
  • Spring 2024: museum research for a couple of days in Zurich and Stuttgart, together with students from Bangladesh
  • Early July 2024: public workshop in Zurich, presentation of results.

Funding and insurance

Within the framework of the externally funded project, travel and accommodation costs (for the two-week stay in Bangladesh) for 3-4 students can be covered at least in part. The participants are not insured by the UZH. It is up to the participants to take care of the corresponding private insurance coverage (accident and health insurance) and to bear these costs themselves.

Info event and selection process

A detailed information session will be held in September 2023. Students will be selected through the application process.

Contact for inquiries

Interested students can now express their interest by email and clarify any questions they may have.

Prof. Dr. Mareile Flitsch:
Rebekka Sutter: