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Nils Ole Bubandt


Nils Ole Bubandt
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I am an anthropologist
with a long-term interest in the study of the "otherwise", in seeing how something we take for granted might well be different.  On the basis of fieldwork conducted in Indonesia over the last thirty years, I have studied how democracy may sometimes be awkwardly reproduced by corruption, and how corruption itself sometimes works like sorcery; how human-made environmental disruption and climate change are co-produced by animals and other nonhumans; how some stones might just possibly be alive; and how witchcraft might not be so different from a global viral pandemic as we might like to think.


My current research interests revolve around climate change and environmental disruption, multi-species ethnography and the strange time that is the Anthropocene.  Specifically, I am researching the relationship between coral death and the return of Jesus in Papua; the way care for songbirds on Java is leading to their extinction; and the conundrum of why noise music is a political provocation in Indonesia, a country in which few people otherwise worry or are upset about noise.


Current research projects:

Just or soon off the press:

Rubberboots Methods for the Anthropocene. Doing Fieldwork in Multispecies World (2023)  

  • A ground-breaking anthology about multispecies fieldwork methods that challenges anthropology to find ways of dealing methodologically with environmental and climate change as multispecies phenomena. The anthology is edited in collaboration with Astrid Oberbeck Andersen og Rachel Cypher and is a method-based companion volume to the anthology "Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet", published by UMP in 2017.  Rubber Boots Method for the Anthropocene is published with University of Minnesota Press.

Dis-spiracy Theory: Why Corona Rhymes with Corruption in Indonesia (2023)

  • My chapter for the anthology "Covid Conspiracy Theories in Global Perspective" (ed. Knight and Butter). The chapter traces how conspiracy theories about corona come from from unexpected quarters (such as from former health ministers) but also speak to actual conspiracies in Indonesia and beyond. The book from Routledge can be downloaded for free via the link.

Philosophy on Fieldwork. Cases Studies in Anthropological Analysis (2022) 

  • A "show-don't-tell" textbook to the most difficult art of all: philosophically inspired, fieldwork-based analysis. Edited with philosopher Thomas Schwartz Wentzer. Published with Routledge. 

The Uncanny Valley of the Anthropocene: Short Stories about the Undead under the Brightest of Lights (2022).


Other recent publications include:

Antropocæn: Historien om verden af i morgen (2021)

  • The first introduction in Danish to the concept of the Anthropocene. "Anthropocene: A History of the World of Tomorrow" is a critical description in seven theses of a world we know all too well, yet barely understand. Get it in Danish here.

Mud overflows boreholes, politics and reason (2020)

  • My contribution to the exciting interactive atlas of a more-than-human Anthropocene called Feral Atlas, edited by Anna Tsing, Jennifer Deger, Alder Saxena and Feifei Zhou, describes the feral and haunted nature of mud at the world's largest and likely human-induced mud volcano on Java. Access the contribution and begin your exploration of the Feral Atlas universe here.

Swimming with Crocodiles (Orion Magazine 2020)

  • Anna Tsing and I swim with crocodiles in Papua and experience the ancient fears that we humans are reviving in the Anthropocene. Orion Magazine is a leading online magzine on the environment in the US. Read the article here.

Patchy Anthropocene. The Frenzies and Afterlives of Violent Simplifications (Current Anthropology 2019) 

  • A collection of 12 fantastic analyses of a "patchy Anthropocene" across biology, history, ecology and anthropology.  The special issue argues that the Anthropocene deserves spatial as well as temporal analysis. “Patchy Anthropocene” is our conceptual tool for noticing landscape structure, with special attention to what we call “modular simplifications” and “feral proliferations.” The special issue is based on a Wenner-Gren Symposium. Get the full issue here.

Anthropologists Are Talking ... About Capitalism, Ecology, Apocalypse. (Ethnos, 83.3, 2018)

  • An interview med Bruno Latour, Isabelle Stengers and Anna Tsing about the overlaps in their research about the future of capitalism, modernity, and the world in a time of climate and ecological disruption. Access the article from Ethnos here.

When I am not teaching, I am:

  • Editor-in-Chief (with Mark Graham) of Ethnos, an international, peer-reviewed journal of anthropology.  Ethnos is included in the Social Citation Index and  in 2019 had an impact factor of more than 1,9 in the Thompson Citation Report, making it the premiere journal of anthropology in Europe and one of the highest-ranking in the world.  For more information see here.

I am currently tinkering with:

1. A book on corals, conservation and the Second Coming of Christ

2. A book about experimental music and political imaginaries in Indonesia (with Sanne Krogh Groth)

3. A book entitled "Animal Magic", under contract with Cambridge University Press

4. An article about stones, geology and spirits in the Anthropocæne.

5. An article about post-truths, conspiracies, Argentina and Indonesia (with Noa Vaisman)

6. An article about aesthetic and other transpositions in global electronic music from Indonesia (with Sanne Krogh Groth).

7. A chapter about the bird-keeping, species extinction, and how humans teach birds to sing the songs of other species for bird competitions on Java. The chapter is part of the anthology What on Earth!  Outrage and Anthropology on a Disrupted Planet that I edit with Peter Crawford for Anthem Press.

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