Till Mostowlansky

Gifts & Roads

Contact me

I am an anthropologist of humanitarianism, infrastructure, development and Islam in contemporary Central Asia and at its historical crossroads between Russian, British and Chinese influence.

My first book Islam und Kirgisen on Tour: Die Rezeption “nomadischer Religion” und ihre Wirkung (Islam and Kyrgyz on Tour: The Perception of “Nomadic Religion” and Its Effects, Harrassowitz 2007) focuses on Islam and nomadic identity in Kyrgyzstan.

Since then I have pursued two overarching research interests:

First, I am intrigued by the anthropological study of routes, roads and pathways, and the anthropology of infrastructure more generally. This research interest, which I have followed since the early days of my PhD fieldwork, frames my latest monograph Azan on the Moon: Entangling Modernity along Tajikistan’s Pamir Highway (University of Pittsburgh Press 2017).

Second, and emerging from my take on the Pamir Highway as a Soviet gift, I research past and present forms of humanitarianism, development and giving from the perspective of anthropology and history. In this regard, since 2012 I have worked on the transformative force of Muslim networks which dissect the borderlands of Afghanistan, China, Pakistan and Tajikistan and mediate connectivity to places across Asia.

I am currently an Ambizione Research Fellow at the Department of Anthropology and Sociology, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva. Born in Germany to Swiss parents I received an MA from the University of Vienna in Austria and completed my PhD at the University of Bern in Switzerland. Before taking up my position in Geneva I lectured at the University of Bern and The University of Hong Kong, and I was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore, and at the Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences, The University of Hong Kong. I am also the editor of the series “MUHUM - Muslim Humanitarianism” at Allegra Lab. Get in touch with me if you are interested in contributing!

Monographs

2017. Azan on the Moon: Entangling Modernity along Tajikistan’s Pamir Highway. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.

2007. Islam und Kirgisen on Tour: Die Rezeption “nomadischer Religion” und ihre Wirkung (Islam and Kyrgyz on Tour: The Perception of “Nomadic Religion” and Its Effects). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.

Edited volumes

& Brook Bolander (eds.). 2017. “Language and Globalization in South and Central Asian Spaces.” International Journal of the Sociology of Language 247.

& Andrea Rota (eds.). 2016. “A Matter of Perspective? Disentangling the Emic-Etic Debate in the Scientific Study of Religion\s.” Method and Theory in the Study of Religion 28(4-5).

& Karénina Kollmar-Paulenz, Anke von Kügelgen (eds.). 2015. “Thematic issue on Central Eurasia.” Asiatische Studien/Etudes Asiatiques 69(3).

Articles in peer-reviewed journals

& Hasan H. Karrar. 2018. “Assembling Marginality in Northern Pakistan.” Political Geography 63, 65–74.

2017. “Building Bridges Across the Oxus: Language, Development and Globalization at the Tajik-Afghan Frontier.” International Journal of the Sociology of Language 247, 49–70.

& Brook Bolander. 2017. “Language and Globalization in South and Central Asian Spaces.” International Journal of the Sociology of Language 247, 1–11.

2016. “‘The very act of cutting’: Ethnomethodology, Interaction and the Emic-Etic Debate.” Method and Theory in the Study of Religion 28(4-5), 400–420.

& Andrea Rota. 2016. “A Matter of Perspective? Disentangling the Emic-Etic Debate in the Scientific Study of Religion\s.” Method and Theory in the Study of Religion 28(4-5), 317–336.

2014. “Where Empires Meet: Orientalism and Marginality at the Former Russo-British Frontier.” Etudes de lettres 2-3, 179–196.

2014. “The Road Not Taken: Enabling and Limiting Mobility in the Eastern Pamirs.” Internationales Asienforum/International Quarterly for Asian Studies 45(1-2), 153–170.

2013. “‘The state starts from the family’: Peace and Harmony in the Eastern Pamirs.” Central Asian Survey 32(4), 462–474.

2012. “Making Kyrgyz Spaces: Local History as Spatial Practice in Murghab (Tajikistan).” Central Asian Survey 31(3), 251–264.

2011. “Paving the Way: Ismaili Genealogy and Mobility along Tajikistan’s Pamir Highway”. Journal of Persianate Studies 4, 171–188.

Book chapters

2018. “Development Institutions and Religious Networks in the Pamirian Borderlands.” In: Alexander Horstmann, Martin Saxer and Alessandro Rippa (eds.). Routledge Handbook of Asian Borderlands. New York and London: Routledge, 385–395.

2016. “Political Regimes: Central Asia.” Encyclopedia of Women & Islamic Cultures.

2016. “Humanitarianism Across Mountain Valleys: ‘Shia Aid’ and Development Encounters in Northern Pakistan and Eastern Tajikistan.” In: Hermann Kreutzmann and Teiji Watanabe (eds.). Mapping Transition in the Pamirs: Changing Human-Environmental Landscapes. Dordrecht: Springer, 229–244.

2015. “‘The state starts from the family’: Peace and Harmony in the Eastern Pamirs.” In: David Montgomery (ed.). Negotiating Well-Being in Central Asia. London and New York: Routledge, 40–52.

2011. “Kyrgyz – Muslim – Central Asian? Recent Approaches to the Study of Kyrgyz Culture in Kyrgyzstan.” In: Stephan Conermann and Michael Kemper (eds.). The Heritage of Soviet Oriental Studies. London and New York: Routledge, 291–305.