Martin Saxer

Research Group Leader

Martin was a Clarendon scholar at Oxford and received his doctorate in 2010. He was a postdoc at the Asia Research Institute in Singapore and a Marie Curie Research Fellow at LMU Munich. He conducted extensive fieldwork in Siberia, Tibet and Nepal since 2003, directed two feature length documentary films and runs a visual ethnography blog.

CV

Academic Biography

since 2015
Research Group Leader ERC Starting Grant Project Remoteness & Connectivity: Highland Asia in the World
2013-2015
Marie Curie Fellow at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich
2011–2013
Postdoctoral Fellow, Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore.
2010–2012
Postdoctoral Associate in the School of Anthropology, University of Oxford.
2006–2010
Doctoral studies on a Clarendon scholarship at the University of Oxford, Institute of Social & Cultural Anthropology, under the supervision of Charles Ramble and Elisabeth Hsu. Thesis: Manufacturing Tibetan Medicine. The Creation of an Industry and the Moral Economy of Tibetanness, assessed by Marcus Banks and Mona Schrempf.
2007–2008
Field research on the industrialisation of Tibetan medicine in the People’s Republic of China and transnational trade in medicinal plants.
2005–2006
Lecturer for Visual Anthropology at the University of Zurich, assistant to Prof. M. Oppitz. Responsibilities: teaching an introductory course in visual anthropology and a seminar on making ethnographic films, supervising student film projects, contributing to the exhibition “Trommeln der Schamanen” (2007-2008).
1998–2005
Studies of Anthropology and Sociology at the University of Zurich, Lic. phil (summa cum laude).
2003–2005
Masters thesis, including feature length documentary film “Journeys with Tibetan medicine”.
2003
Field research in Buryatia on the history of Tibetan medicine in Russia.
2002
Exploratory field research in Northern India on Tibetan medicine and ritual music (five months).
2000
Field research on ageing in Zurich’s red light district, documentary film “Mosimann”.
1994–1995
Theatre studies at the University of Bern, Switzerland.

Awards and Grants

2015
ERC-Starting Grant, Project Remoteness and Connectivity: Highland Asia in the World, 5 years of funding for a team of 4 people, starting in May 2015.
2013
Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship, FP7-PEOPLE-2011-IEF, Project NEIGHBOURING – 298595, 2 years of funding
2012
Research Grant, Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore.
2011
ARI Academic Event Funding, Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore; used to organise international workshop “The Art of Neighbouring”, 1–2 March 2012
2011
Research Fellowship for Prospective Researchers, Swiss National Science Foundation (18 months).
2010
Writing-up bursary, School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnology, Oxford.
2009
Rajiv Gandhi Foundation’s Travelling Scholarship to India.
2008
Recipient of Zurich University’s research funding (tenable for last phase of research and writing up 2009 - 2010).
2007
SASS Language Training Grant for the study of Tibetan at Tibet University in Lhasa; Society for South Asian Studies (UK).
2006
Clarendon Scholarship; University of Oxford (3-years full funding).
2006
ORS Award (Overseas Research Students Award Scheme, UK Government, 3-years)

Professional Experience Outside Academia

1991–1992
Stained Glass Design, Atelier Tre Fiori, Saint Gallen (internship, six months).
1992–1993
Gardener, social worker with mentally handicapped persons in “Aigues Vertes”, Camphill Community near Geneva (6 months).
1993
Carpenter and joiner, social worker with mentally handicapped persons in Kreuzlingen (4 months).
1994–1995
Freelance designer (education materials, poster & flyer design).
1994–1998
Actor, writer and stage director, and dramatic adviser in various theatre projects (selection of works see below).
1998 - 2003
Assistant editor of the Journal “Panorama”, project administrator, “Berufsbildungsprojekte Wettstein GmbH” (part time).
2013
Consultant for the Rubin Museum of Art, New York; responsible for acquisition, outline, and organisation of photographic work and video footage for the 2014 exhibition “Bodies in Balance”.

Theatre Plays, Documentary Films

1996
Director/writer: “Cyberfaust”, theatre play, on tour in Switzerland, invited to the Landis & Gyr Kulturfestival.
1997
Director: “Versuch mit der Dauer der Liebe”, theatre play, on tour in Switzerland (St. Gallen, Frauenfeld, and Zurich).
2000
Cinematographer/co-director/writer: “Mosimann”. Documentary film (74 min) on ageing in Zurich’s red light district.
2005
Director & editor: “Journeys with Tibetan Medicine”. Documentary (76 min). Cinema release in Switzerland, invited to several international festivals (see www.anyma.ch/journeys).

Internet Projects

since 2012
The Other Image – Visual Ethnography: www.theotherimage.com.

Speaking

Talks

Jun 2017
“Pathways, Borders, and the Labour of Distribution: Himalayan Experiences of Remoteness and Connectivity”. Invited talk at the Max-Planck-Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle, in the lecture series “Space and Place”, 20 June.
Apr 2017
“Place-knots: Himalayan Experiences of Locality and Community”. Invited lecture at CIRDIS, University of Vienna, Spitalgasse 2-4, 28 April.
Dec 2016
“Private Roads: Local road construction initiatives in the Himalayas”, paper presented at the 5th International Conference of the Asian Borderlands Research Network (ABRN): Dynamic Borderlands – Livelihoods, Communities and Flows. Kathmandu, 12 December.
Oct 2016
“Remoteness and Connectivity Across Himalayan Borders”, lecture at SIT Study Abroad, Kathmandu, 26 October
Mar 2016
“A Spectacle of Maps: Cartographic hopes and anxieties in the Pamirs”, paper presented at AAG San Francisco in the panel “Cartographic Anxieties”, organised by Franck Billé, 2 April 2016.
Feb 2016
“Presence without Encounters: Pending Futures and the Chinese (non)engagement in the Tajik Pamirs”, paper presented at the international workshop “Encounters after the Soviet Collapse: Chinese Presence in the Former Soviet Union Border Zone”, Leiden, The Netherlands, 18 February 2016.
Jan 2016
“Die Kreation einer Industrie”, Kolloquium zur Medizin- und Wissenschaftsgeschichte, Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen, 18 January 2016.
Oct 2015
“Neighbouring China: What does China’s rise mean for people living along its borders?”, Paper presented at the Asia Center, School of Global Studies, University of Sussex date, 21 October 2015.
Sep 2015
“Tibetan medicine at the juncture of modernism, neoliberalism, and heritage making”, paper presented at the Workshop Governance & Circulation of Asian Medicines, 22-23 September, Asia Research Institute, National Univesity of Singapore.
Mar 2015
“Neue Strassen, alte Wegen: Händler, Yaks, und chinesische Lastwagen im Himalaja”, Public lecture at the Songtsen House, Zurich, Switzerland, 13 March 2015.
Jan 2015
“Remoteness and Connectivity in the Himalayas”, International Guest Lecture at the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Institute of Social Anthropology, Vienna, 29 January 2015.
Dec 2014
“The Limi Road: Reconnecting a Periphery”, presented at the 4th Conference of the Asian Borderlands Research Network Activated Borders – Re-openings, Ruptures and Relationships, 8–10 December 2014, Hong Kong.
May 2014
“The Role of Commerce in Himalayan Frontier Communities: Preliminary Reflections on the Nexus of Remoteness and Connectivity”, presented at the conference “Commerce And Communities: Social Status and the Exchange of Goods in Tibetan Societies”, Bonn 5–6 May 2014.
Dec 2013
“Anthropology’s Peripheries – cosmopolitans, pathways, and the second life of development at the edge of disciplines and nation-states”, Department of Social Anthropology, University of Stockholm, 9 December.
Nov 2013
“Die Peripherie der Ethnologie. Austausch und Rückzug am Rande des Nationalstaats”, Oberseminar, Institut für Ethnologie, LMU München, 4 November.
Sep 2013
“Himalayan Pathways and Central Asian roads: Remoteness and Connectivity in Asian Mountain Societies”, Anthropology Club, American University of Central Asia, Bishkek, 20 September.
Jun 2013
“Remote Pathways: The Non-Peripheries at the Edge of Nation-States” (2nd itiration), Crossroads Asia workshop “Tracing Connections – Explorations of Spaces and Places in Asian Multilocalities”, ZELF, FU Berlin, 20–21 June.
Apr 2013
“Remote Pathways: The Non-Peripheries at the Edge of Nation-States”, cluster seminar talk, Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore, 25 April.
Oct 2012
“In and out of Walung: The History of a Himalayan Pathway in Eastern Nepal”, Connections, Corridors, and Communities: 3rd Conference of the Asian Borderland Research Network, 11–13 October, Singapore.
Aug 2012
“‘Once We Were in the Centre’: Trade and the Aftermath of Development in Humla, Nepal”, paper presented at the Berkeley Summer Research Institute, Institute of East Asian Studies, University of California, Berkeley
Jun 2012
“New Roads, Old Trades: Trans-Himalayan connections”, St.Gallen Institute of Management in Asia, University of St.Gallen, Singapore (organised by Swiss Association Singapore).
May 2012
“Neighbouring China in Northern Nepal”, School of Anthropology and Musuem Ethnology, University of Oxford, 25 May 2012.
Mar 2012
“Remote Cosmopolitans: Rethinking Trans-Himalayan Trade”, paper presented at the international workshop The Art of Neighbouring, Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore, 1 March 2012.

Conferences and Panels organised

2017
Organiser (with Philipp Schorch): “Connecting Materialities / Material Connectivities”, International Symposium, 9–11 February, Center for Advanced Studies, LMU Munich.
2016
Panel convenor (with Alessandro Rippa): “Socialist New Villages in China: Building what kind of future?”, Panel at AAS-in-Asia Conference 2016, Kyoto, 21–24 June 2016.

Co-Organiser (with Philipp Schorch): “Materials, Environments, and Curatorial Interventions”, Second workshop of the research initiative “Connecting Materialities / Material Connectivities”, 29 July 2015, LMU Munich.

Panel convenor (with Ruben Andersson): “The Return of Remoteness: Insecurity, Isolation and Connectivity in the New World Disorder”, EASA, Milano, 20–23 July 2016.

2015
Organiser (with Philipp Schorch): “Material, Experience, and the Mobile”, First workshop of the research initiative “Connecting Materialities / Material Connectivities”, 28 November 2015, LMU Munich.
2014
Panel convenor (with Kabir Heimsath): “What is a Connection? Pathways and Intersections in Highland Asia” at the 4th Conference of the Asian Borderlands Research Network Activated Borders – Re-openings, Ruptures and Relationships, 8–10 December 2014, Hong Kong.
2012
Main convenor: The Art of Neighbouring: Old Dynamics and New Connections along the PRC’s borders. International academic workshop, 1–2 March 2012, Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore.
2012
Local co-organiser: Connections, Corridors, and Communities: 3rd Conference of the Asian Borderland Research Network, 11–13 October, Singapore. Organised by IIAS, Leiden, and hosted by Asia Research Institute and Institute for Southeast Asian Studies.
2012
Panel convenor: “Neverlands of Becoming: Fortune, Enterprise and Refuge in the Frontiers” at Connections, Corridors, and Communities: 3rd Conference of the Asian Borderland Research Network, 11–13 October, Singapore.

Publications

Books

2013
Manufacturing Tibetan Medicine. The Creation of An Industry and the Moral Economy of Tibetanness. Oxford/New York: Berghahn.

Edited Volume

2017
The Art of Neighbouring: Mediating Borders along China’s Frontiers, edited by Martin Saxer and Zhang Juan. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.

Peer-Reviewed Papers and Book Chapters

2017
“Neighbouring in the Borderworlds Along China’s Frontiers”, by Juan Zhang and Martin Saxer, in The Art of Neighbouring: Mediating Borders along China’s Frontiers, edited by Martin Saxer and Juan Zhang. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.

“New Roads, Old Trades: Neighbouring China in North-Western Nepal”, in The Art of Neighbouring: Mediating Borders along China’s Frontiers, edited by Martin Saxer and Juan Zhang. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.

2016
“A Spectacle of Maps. Cartographic Hopes and Anxieties in the Pamirs.” Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review 21 (December): 111–36.

“Pathways: A concept, field site and methodological approach to study remoteness and connectivity”, in Himalaya 36/2 (Autumn 2016).

2014
“Re-fusing Ethnicity and Religion: An Experiment on Tibetan Grounds”. Journal of Current Chinese Affairs 2/2014: 181-204.
2014
“The Journeys of Tibetan Medicine”, in The Art of Tibetan Medicine, ed. T. Hofer, Seattle/New York: University of Washington Press and Rubin Museum of Arts.
2013
“Between China and Nepal: Trans-Himalayan Trade and the Second Life of Development in Upper Humla”. Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review 8 (September 2013): 31-52. https://cross-currents.berkeley.edu/e-journal/issue-8/saxer.
2012
“The Moral Economy of Cultural Identity. Tibet, Cultural Survival, and the Safeguarding of Cultural Heritage”, Civilisations 61 (1): 65-81.
2012
“A Goat’s Head on a Sheep’s Body? Manufacturing Good Practices for Tibetan Medicine”, Medical Anthropology 31 (6): 497-513.
2011
“Herbs and Traders in Transit: Border Regimes and Trans-Himalayan Trade in Tibetan Medicinal Plants”. Asian Medicine 5, no. 2009 (2011): 317-339.
2010
“Tibetan Medicine and Russian Modernities”, in Medicine Between Science and Religion. Explorations on Tibetan Grounds, eds V. Adams, M. Schrempf, and S. Craig. Oxford: Berghahn.

Working Papers

2014
“Die Peripherie der Ethologie: Austausch und Rückzug am Rande des Nationalstaats”, Working Papers in Social and Cultural Anthropology 7, Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Munich.

Photo Essays

2016
Alessandro Rippa and Martin Saxer. “Mong La: Business as Usual in the China-Myanmar Borderlands.” Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review, no. 19: 240–52.

Book reviews

2016
Rippa, Alessandro, Matthäus Rest, Radhika Gupta, Agnieszka Joniak-lüthy, Juliane Müller, Lisa Rail, and Martin Saxer. 2016. “On Roads: A Review Letter.” Cultural Anthropology. October 16.
2013
Review of Francis Khek Gee Lim: Imagining the Good Life: Negotiating Culture and Development in Nepal Himalaya. European Bulletin of Himalayan Research 42 (Spring/Summer): 173-176.

Unreviewed, research-based works

2012
“New Roads, Old Trades.” ARI News July 2012 (29): 8–9.
2010
Manufacturing Tibetan Medicine. The Creation of An Industry and the Moral Economy of Tibetanness. PhD thesis, University of Oxford.
2005
Journeys with Tibetan Medicine, Masters thesis submitted to the University of Zurich, www.anyma.ch/journeys/doc/thesis.pdf.

Contact:
Highland Asia Research Group
LMU, Social and Cultural Anthropology, Oettingenstr. 67
80538 Munich, Germany

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