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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Kultur-, Sozial- und Bildungswissenschaftliche Fakultät - Institut für Asien- und Afrikawissenschaften

Dr. Benjamin Baumann

Foto
Name
Dr. Benjamin Baumann
E-Mail
benjamin.baumann (at) hu-berlin.de

Foto
 
Name
M.A. Benjamin Baumann
Status
Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter
Email
benjamin.baumann (at) staff.hu-berlin.de

Institution
Kultur-, Sozial- und Bildungswissenschaftliche Fakultät → Institut für Asien- und Afrikawissenschaften → Geschichte Südostasiens
Sitz
Invalidenstraße 118 , Raum 116
Phone number
(030) 2093-66039
Fax
(030) 2093-66049
Mailing address
Unter den Linden 6, 10099 Berlin

 


Studienfachberatung zu Südostasien

Terminvereinbarung per Email


 

Curriculum Vitae


 

Benjamin is Assistant Professor (non-tenure/wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter) at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin's Department of Southeast Asian Studies. Trained as a socio-cultural anthropologist he is now working transdisciplinarily and combines theoretical questions raised in anthropology, religious studies, and cultural studies with methods from ethnography, sociology, and media studies. His work examines rural life-worlds, socio-cultural identities, and local language games, focusing on how the ghostly structures the imagination of social collectives and communal sentiments of belonging in contemporary Thailand. He uses this transdisciplinary approach to explicate the meaningfulness of everyday practices and their emplacements in the interstitial border regions between Thailand and Cambodia.

His postdoctoral research project "Troubled Gender: Queer Ritual Specialists in Thailand’s Possession Complex" expands upon previous research in Thailand’s rural Northeast through a multi-sited approach. The project focuses on the construction of gender as an aspect of local conceptions of personhood by comparing the ritual repertoires and biographic narratives of professional and lay spirit mediums in the region. Through analysis of possession rituals and interviews with ritual experts, their followers and their clientele, the project documents the possession complex at the heart of regional animism and its relationship to vernacular Buddhism. The project focuses on the growing role of male-to-female transgenders and gay men in spirit cults and the place of magical and divinatory ritual in the lives of queer people in Thailand and Cambodia.

Benjamin completed his PhD (summa cum laude) in 2017 with a dissertation on the practical meaningfulness of Khmerness and its reproduction in contemporary Thailand. In his dissertation "Ghosts of Belonging: Searching for Khmerness in Rural Buriram" he outlines an anthropology of ambiguity and how it may be used to transcend the paradoxographical trend that haunts contemporary Thai studies. His dissertation was nominated for the Humboldt Prize 2017.

His doctoral research project was conceptualized under the supervision of Prof. Vincent Houben and Prof. Guido Sprenger (Institut für Ethnologie, Universität Heidelberg). Funding was granted by the German Research Foundation (DFG) in 2010.

Benjamin majored in Social and Cultural Anthropology and Southeast Asian Studies and obtained his M.A. degree with highest honours (1,0) from Freie Universität Berlin. His M.A. thesis “On Centrism and Dualism: Anthropological Models of Social Organization in Southeast Asia Reconsidered” was written under the supervision of Prof. Georg Pfeffer and nominated for the Rudolf Virchow Research Prize 2010.

Academic Awards and Nominations


  • 2018 winner of the Humboldt 'Good Teaching Award 2017'

  • 2017 nominated for a Harvard Junior Fellowship (invited to Campus talks by the Society of Fellows)

  • 2017 nominated for the Humboldt Prize 2017 (for the doctoral dissertation 'Ghosts of Belonging: Searching for Khmerness in Rural Buriram).

  • 2010 nominated for the Rudolf Virchow Research Prize 2010 (for the magisterial thesis 'On Centrism and Dualism: Athropological Models of Social Organization in Southeast Asia Reconsidered). 

Current Research Projects


  • "Troubled Gender: Queer Ritual Specialists in Thailand's Possession Complex"

  • "Spectrality, Animism, and Ontology: A View from Northeastern Thailand", funded by the Humboldt-Princeton Strategic Partnership (grant recipient)

  • "Contesting and Converging Stories of Global Order: Regional and National Narratives", funded by the Humboldt-Princeton Strategic Partnership (project member)

Research Interests


  • Ancestorship, spirit possession, mediumship, and witchcraft in Southeast Asia
  • Emplacements of popular cults in Thailand and Cambodia
  • Queer ritual expertise
  • Social imaginaries, collectives, and belonging
  • Personhood and dividuality
  • Epistemological multiplicity
  • Social inequality and social ontology
  • Anthropology of death
  • Anthropology of ambiguity
  • (New) Animism
  • Regional ghostlore and its mediatized manifestations
  • Sociology of knowledge/social phenomenology
  • Structuralism and post-structuralisms

Fieldwork


Benjamin continues to conduct anthropological fielwork in a multi-ethnic village in Buriram Province, Thailand. The fieldsite was chosen according to the premises of the strategically situated single-site ethnography paradigm (Marcus 1995). Consecutive fieldtrips led to an overall stay of 15 months. His multi-sited follow-up project transcend the national boundary between Thailand and Cambodia to investigate emplaced possession cults on both sides of the border.

Publications


Books (Co-)Edited
  1. (Subject to review) Deities and Divas. Queer Ritual Specialists in Buddhist Southeast Asia. Baumann/Jackson (eds.), Copenhagen: NIAS Press
  2. (2015) Reproduktion sozialer Ungleichheit in Deutschland. Rehbein/Baumann et al. (eds), Konstanz und München: UVK.
  3. (2013) Der Tod im Kulturvergleich - Süd- und Südostasiatische Perspektiven. Baumann/Hoffmann/Wilger (eds.) Berlin: Südostasien Working Papers, No. 51
Journal Articles
  1. (2018) Soziale Ontologie, Soziokulturen, Ungleichheit und Kollektive. in: Zeitschrift für Kultur- und Kollektivwissenschaft. 4 (2), pp. 7-28 (together with Boike Rehbein)
  2. (2018) Das animistische Kollektiv. Lévy-Bruhl, soziale Ontologien und die Gegenseitigkeit menschlicher und nicht-menschlicher Wesen in Thailand. in: Zeitschrift für Kultur- und Kollektivwissenschaft. 4 (2), pp. 129-166
  3. (2014) From Filth-Ghost to Khmer-Witch: Phi Krasue's Changing Cinematic Construction and its Symbolism. in: Horror Studies 5: 2, pp. 183-196
  4. (2013) Tamnan Krasue: Constructing a Khmer Ghost for a Thai Film. in: Kyoto Review of Southeast Asia. Issue 14, Kyoto
  5. (2013) Ein Khmer-Geist im Thai-Film. Geisterfilme, sozio-kulturelle Stereotype und thailändische Identität nach der Asienkrise. in: Südostasien. 4/2013, Köln
Working Papers
  1. (2015) The Khmer Witch Project: Demonizing the Khmer by Khmerizing a Demon. In: DORISEA Working Paper Series, No. 19.
  2. (2010) On Centrism and Dualism - A Critical Reassessment of Structural Anthropology's Contribution to the Study of Southeast Asian Societies. Südostasien Working Papers, No. 40, Berlin.
Book Chapters
  1. (Subject to review) "Troubled Gender: Gender Ambiguity as Mystic Capital in Professional Spirit Mediumship Cults in Northeast Thailand" in: Deities and Divas. Queer Ritual Specialists in Buddhist Southeast Asia. Baumann/Jackson (eds.), Copenhagen: NIAS Press
  2. (Subject to review) "Epilogue: Performing Gender in Animist Ontologies" in: Deities and Divas. Queer Ritual Specialists in Buddhist Southeast Asia. Baumann/Jackson (eds.), Copenhagen: NIAS Press
  3. (Subject to review) "The Regendering and Professionalisation of Spirit Mediumship in Rural Thailand." in: A World Ever More Enchanted. Efflorescing Spirit Cults in Buddhist Southeast Asia. Brac de la Perriere/Jackson (eds.), Copenhagen: NIAS Press
  4. (2018) “Ban Phi Pop.” in: Ainslie/Ancuta (eds.) Thai Cinema: A Complete Guide. London: I.B. Tauris, pp. 64-66
  5. (2018) “Krasue Sao.” in: Ainslie/Ancuta (eds.) Thai Cinema: A Complete Guide. London: I.B. Tauris, pp. 52-54
  6. (2018) “Krasue Valentine.” in: Ainslie/Ancuta (eds.) Thai Cinema: A Complete Guide. London: I.B. Tauris, pp. 127-129
  7. (2017) "Tamnan Krasue: Constructing a Khmer Ghost for a Thai Film." in: Pavin Chachavalpongpun (ed.) The Blooming Years: Kyoto Review of Southeast Asia. Kyoto: Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University, pp. 360-65
  8. (2016) “The Khmer Witch Project: Demonizing the Khmer by Khmerizing a Demon.” in: Bräunlein/Lauser (eds.) Ghost Movies in Southeast Asia and Beyond. Narratives, Cultural Contexts, Audiences. Leiden and Boston: Brill, pp. 141-183
  9. (2013) "Einleitung". in: Baumann/Hoffmann/Wilger (eds.) Der Tod im Kulturvergleich - Süd und Südostasiatische Perspektiven. Südostasien Working Papers, No. 51, Berlin, pp. 13-18
  10. (2007) "Relitik: Zur analytischen Untrennbarkeit von Religion und Politik im siamesischen Kontext". in: Holst/Streifenender (eds.) Myanmar. Südostasien Working Papers, No. 32, Berlin, pp. 47-61
Reviews (invited)
  1. (2018) Arnika Fuhrmann: Ghostly Desires: Queer Sexuality and Vernacular Buddhism in Contemporary Thai Cinema. Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2016, in: Journal of Asian Studies 77 (4), 1134-1136
  2. (2013) Kirsten Endres & Andrea Lauser (eds.): Engaging the Spirit World. Popular Beliefs and Practices in Modern Southeast Asia. New York, Berghahn Books, 2011, in: ANTHROPOS 108, 652-653
  3. (2012) Barend J. Terwiel: Monks and Magic - Revisiting a Classic Study of Religious Ceremonies in Thailand. Copenhagen, NIAS Press, 2012, in: Aséanie 28, 210-214
Other Publications
  1. (2017) “Ewiges Feuer.” in: Hamann/Winkel/Winzer (eds.) Finale Form: DeathLab, sieben Gespräche über Tod und Kunst. Berlin, pp. 32-47
Selected Presentations
  1. (2018) “Phantomwände und ihre numinösen Wächter. Manifestationen einer nichtmodernen Ontologie in Thailands Nordosten“, Interimstagung “Das Sichtbare und das Unsichtbare in Südostasien“, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Sozial- und Kulturanthropologie, Regionalgruppe Südostasien, Universität Heidelberg, 06/22/2018

  2. (2018) "Deconstructing the Paradoxographical Trend in Contemporary Thai Studies." Hamburger Gesellschaft für Thaiistik e.V., Hamburg, 06/05/2018

  3. (2018) "Animistische Kollektivvorstellungen im südlichen Nordosten Thailands und die Reproduktion ihrer lebensweltlichen Bedeutsamkeit über die lokale Manuskriptkultur." Appeal proceedings "Juniorprofessor Thai Studies", University of Hamburg, 05/29/2018

  4. (2017) "Das animistische Kollektiv. Zur ontologischen Gegenseitigkeit von Menschen und Geistern in Thailand", Intensivtagung der Forschungsstelle Kultur- und Kollektivwissenschaft. Regensburg, 11/10/2017
  5. (2017) “Do we need a ‘romantic rebellion’ to explicate the practical meaningfulness of popular religious practices in contemporary Thailand?”, ICAS. Chiang Mai, 07/22/2017
  6. (2017) “To ‘play’ mae mot in rural Buriram: Matrilineal vestiges in a localized possession cult in Thailand’s Northeast”, 13th International Thai Studies Conference. Chiang Mai, 07/16/2017
  7. (2017) “New Area Studies“, IAAW-Colloquium in honour of Prof. Vincent Houben’s 60th anniversary. Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin, 05/18/2017
  8. (2016) DeathLab 2 – Eternal Fire. Expert talk about the interlinkages of death and art in Southeast Asia, Berlin, 10/07/2016
  9. (2016) “Empirische Paradoxa und die Gleichzeitigkeit moderner und nicht-moderner Epistemologien im gegenwärtigen Thailand”, GIP-Tagung: Interkulturelle Philosophie. Mehrsprachigkeit, Pluralismus und Universalismus. Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin, 06/05/2016
  10. (2015) "Habitustypen der deutschen Sozialstruktur: Methode und Ergebnisse", Gesprächskreis Klassen und Sozialstruktur - Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, Berlin 02/27/2015 (zusammen mit C. Schneickert und M. Kleinod)
  11. (2015) "The Gender of the Medium: Perceptions of Gender Ambiguity in Professional Spirit-Mediumship Cults in Rural Buriram, Thailand", International Workshop "Religious Pluralism, Magic and Gender/Sex Diversity in Southeast Asia" - Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin, 01/22/2015
  12. (2014) "Hybridity in Buriram: Pattana Kitiarsa's Contribution to the Anthropology of Spirit-Medium Cults in Contemporary Thailand", Association for Asian Studies in Asia 2014 Inaugural Conference (AAS in Asia 2014), National University of Singapore, Singapore, 07/17/.2014
  13. (2014) "Khmerness as Mystic Capital in Post-Modern Thailand", Association for Asian Studies 2014 Annual Conference (AAS 2014) - Panel 109 "Ghosts, Magic, and Healing in Thailand", Philadelphia, 03/28/2014
  14. (2013) "Tamnan Krasue - The Abjection of Khmerness and its Post-Modern Ghostly Image in Contemporary Thailand", Institutskolloquium Ethnologie - University Heidelberg, Heidelberg, 07/16/2013
  15. (2013) "Are Ghosts to Spirits in Thai as Witchcraft is to Sorcery in Zande? Anthropological Categories and Popular Religious Phenomena in Thailand", 7th EuroSEAS Conference 2013 - Panel 76 "Challenging Classifications of Religion in Southeast Asia", Lisbon, 07/04/2013
  16. (2013) "Phi Krasue - How a Post-Modern Ghostly Image Re-Presents the Abjection of 'Khmerness' in Thailand's Popular Culture", DORISEA Mid-Term Conference 2013 "Dynamics of Religion in Southeast Asia", Göttingen, 28.06.2013
  17. (2012) "Tamnan Krasue - The Abjection of 'Khmerness' and its Ghostly Image in Contemporary Thailand", DORISEA Workshop: "Ghost Movies in Southeast Asia and Beyond - Narratives, Cultural Contexts, Audiences", Göttingen, 05.10.2012
  18. (2012) "In the Land of Phi Pop and Phi Krasue - How Malevolent Magic Epitomizes Khmerness in Contemporary Thailand", 12th EASA Conference / Workshop: Occult Economies in Asia, Paris, 13.07.2012
  19. (2012) "Inequality in Northeastern Thailand - Preliminary Findings and Methodological Problems of Studying Social Inequality in Contemporary Thailand", International Workshop on Global Inequalities: Comparative Research Agenda and Approaches - Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, 21.03.2012
  20. (2012) "Socio-Cultural Repertoires and Village Community - Assessing the Limitations of Ethnicity for an Analysis of Social Identity Formation in Thailand's Lower Isaan", PhD and Post-Doc Workshop "Thailand" - Institute of Asian and African Studies Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin, 10.02.2012
  21. (2011) "Thai, Khmer oder Thai-Khmer? Lokale Kultur und ethnische Klassifikation in der thailändischen Peripherie", DGV-Tagung 2011: Wa(h)re Kultur / Workshop 38 - Institut für Kultur- und Sozialanthropologie der Universität Wien, Wien, 16.09.2011
  22. (2011) "Globalization and Symbolic Codification of Inequality: Outlining a Possible Research Methodology", Globalization and Inequality: Beyond Economics - A Research Methodology Workshop for Comparative Studies - Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, 29.07.2011
  23. (2011) "Who are the Thai-Khmer? How to Uncover an 'Invisible Minority' in Contemporary Thailand", 11th International Conference on Thai Studies - Mahidol University, Bangkok, 26.07.2011
  24. (2011) "Khmerness in Thailand", Conference on Habitus and Codification of Inequality in a Globalizing World - Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin, 05.06.2011
  25. (2005) "Thailand im Blick", Mekong-Ländertag - Asien-Pazifik-Wochen 2005, Berlin, 25.09.2005
Discussant
  1. (2017) “Apichatpong Weerasethakul in Conversation with Chris Dercon, Giulio Bursi and Benjamin Baumann” Mysterious Objects at Midnight. Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Complete Film Retrospective. Volksbühne Berlin, 12/09/2017
  2. (2017) “Spirits, Deities, Divas, and Divination: Emergence or Resurgence of Ritual?” 13th International Thai Studies Conference. Panel organized by Peter A. Jackson, Chiang Mai, 07/18/2017
  3. (2015) “Media, Mediation, Immediacy.” Kaleidoscopes of Religion: DORISEA Final Conference. Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin, 01/22-25/2015
Lectures
  1. (2018) “Deconstructing the Paradoxographical Trend in Contemporary Thai Studies”, lecture series: Kultur/Identität. Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, 06/19/2018

  2. (2017) "Dichte Teilnahme - oder wie man verhindert, dass aus teilnehmender Beobachtung eine ethnografische Lüge wird", lecture series: Situiertes Wissen: Einführung in die Methodenvielfalt in den Regionalwissenschaften, 11/22/2017
  3. (2014) "Ethnic Inequality and Symbolic Racism in Thailand", lecture series: Inequality in South and Southeast Asia - Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, 12/16/2014
  4. (2013) "Schwarze Magie, böse Geister und Brahmanismus: Postmoderne Bilder soziokultureller Identität im gegenwärtigen Thailand", lecture series: "Religionen und Kulturen in Süd- und Südostasien: Forschungszugänge zu einen transdisziplinären Feld" - Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, 06/04/2013
  5. (2008) "On Centrism and Dualism: Anthropological Models of Social Organization in Southeast Asia Reconsidered", Absolventenfeier der Philosophischen Fakultät III der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin, 02/15/2008

Conference / Workshop Organization


  1. (forthcoming 2019) EuroSEAS Conference. Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
  2. (forthcoming 2019) "Regimes of (In)Visibility" - Workshop - Princeton University, Princeton, 12.-13.04.2019 (togther with Andrew Johnson)
  3. (2015) "A Three Finger Salute to the Movies: Thai Directors and Politics between Criticism and Collaboration" - Panel Discussion with Pen-Ek Ratanaruang, Humboldt-Univserität zu Berlin, Berlin, 09.02.2015
  4. (2015) "Kaleidoscopes of Religion in Southeast Asia and Beyond" - International Conference, final conference of the BMBF funded research network DORISEA, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin 23-24 January 2015
  5. (2015) "Religious Pluralism, Magic and Gender/Sex Diversity in Southeast Asia" - International Workshop, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin 21.-22.01.2015 (together with Prof. Peter A. Jackson, ANU)
  6. (2014) "Schnitt und Untertitelung von Filmsequenzen für Präsentationszwecke" - Praxis-Workshop im Rahmen des Seminars "Filmanalyse als Methode der Regionalwissenschaften" - Institute of Asian and African Studies - Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, 31.10.2014 (together with Markus Reichert)
  7. (2013) "Challenging Classifications of Religion in Southeast Asia" - Panel at the 7th EuroSEAS Conference, Lissabon, 02.-05.07.2013 (together with Prof. Guido Sprenger, University of Heidelberg)
  8. (2012-13) "Thailand@HU Lecture Series" - Institute of Asian and African Studies - Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
  9. (2012) "Thailand", PhD and Post-Doc Workshop - Institute of Asian and African Studies - Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, 10.02.2012
  10. (2010) "Thailand at the Crossroads: Civil War or Reconciliation?", Thailand Study Group Workshop - Institute of Asian and African Studies - Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin, 08.07.2010

Films


  1. (2015) (dir. Passakorn Pramunwong) "The Guitar King", (local editor/research Germany)

Reviews


  • SOJOURN
  • DORISEA Working Paper Series
  • Federal Governance: A Graduate Journal
  • Plaridel: A Philippine Journal of Communication, Media, and Society

Affiliations


  • Thailand Research Group, Institute of Asian and African Studies, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - founder and coordinator
  • Deutsche Gesellschaft für Asienkunde
  • Deutsch-Thailändische Gesellschaft

Teaching


  1. SoSe 2018 - "Animism in Southeast Asia. History of the Concept, Case Studies, and Current Debates", Institute of Asian and African Studies, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, BA
  2. WiSe 2017/18 - "What is the Lifeworld? Phenomenology and New Area Studies", Institute of Asian and African Studies, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, BA
  3. SoSe 2017 - "The Anthropology of Death in Southeast Asia", Institute of Asian and African Studies, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, MA and BA
  4. WiSe 2016/17 - "Methods of Area Studies: Liminal Spaces in Berlin - From Idea to Research Project", Institute of Asian and African Studies, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, MA and BA
  5. SoSe 2016 - Lecturer at the 2016 International Summer School in Southeast Asian Studies “The Return of the Past: Memory Making and Heritage in Southeast Asia and Europe” held at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.
  6. SoSe 2016 - "Ecstatic Religion in Southeast Asia: The Anthropology of Spirit Possession in Regional Comparison", Institute of Asian and African Studies, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, MA and BA
  7. WiSe 2015/16 - "Key Issues of Social Transformation in Thailand", Institute of Asian and African Studies, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, undergraduate level
  8. SoSe 2015 - "Methods of Area Studies: Urban Ethnography - Liminal Spaces in Berlin", Institute of Asian and African Studies, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, advanced undergraduate level
  9. WiSe 2014/15 - "Film Analysis as a Method of Area Studies: Transformations in Thai Ghost Films – Protagonists and Mythologies", Institute of Asian and African Studies, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, advanced undergraduate level
  10. SoSe 2014 - "Ethnicity in Mainland Southeast Asia", Institute of Asian and African Studies, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, undergraduate level
  11. WiSe 2013/14 - "Witchcraft in Southeast Asia", Institute of Asian and African Studies, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, advanced undergraduate level
  12. WiSe 2012/13 - "Popular Religion in Contemporary Thailand", Institute of Asian and African Studies, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, advanced undergraduate level
  13. WiSe 2012/13 - "Länderkunde Südostasien", Institute of Asian and African Studies, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, undergraduate level
  14. SoSe 2010 - "Gods, Ghosts, and Demons: Popular Religion in Southeast Asian Modernities", Institute of Asian and African Studies, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, advanced undergraduate level
  15. SoSe 2010 - "Death in Cultural Comparison" (together with Stefan Hoffmann), Institute of Asian and African Studies, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, advanced undergraduate level
  16. WiSe 2009/10 -  "Introducing Anthropological Debates, Theories and Terms by Reading Selected Ethnographies" (together with Stefan Hoffmann), Institute of Asian and African Studies, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, advanced undergraduate level

Doctoral Research Project


The Ritual Reproduction of 'Khmerness' in Thailand: Popular Religion and Social Structure at the Nation-State's Periphery