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Dr. Rosalie Stolz

Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology

Guest Professor in WS 22/23

Landoltweg 9-11
Room 108
14195 Berlin

Qualification stages

Jan 2020

Issue of the doctoral degree certificate (Defensio: 21.12.2017)

2012  2017

Doctoral studies (scholarship fellow) at the a.r.t.e.s. Graduate School for the Humanities Cologne and at the Institute for Ethnology at Universities of Cologne; Dissertation Fear the Spirits, Love Each Other. Kinship and Sociality Among the Khmu Yuan of Northern Laos

2005 – 2012

Master's degree (Magister) in ethnology, philosophy and botany at the Universities of Cologne; Master's thesis (with distinction). Title:Die Klimaethnologie. Kernfragen eines Forschungsbereiches.


Scientific activities

Since 10/2022

Guest professor at the Institute for Social and Cultural Anthropology, Freie Universität Berlin (representative of the W3 vacant professorship)

04/2019 – 05/2022

Postdoctoral researcher at the Institute of Ethnology, University of Heidelberg (third-party funded; paused for the period of the lectureship)

10/2020 – 09/2021

Representation of the chair of Prof. Dr. Birgitt Röttger-Rössler at the Institute for Social and Cultural Anthropology at the Free University of Berlin in teaching

2017 – 2019

Lectureships at the Institutes of Ethnology at the Universities of Cologne and Münster


Research topics

Sociality, kinship, houses, materiality, animism and witchcraft, exchange, socio-economic change, mutual recognition, aspirations, human-environment relations, methodology

Regional expertise

Highlands of Northern Laos, (mainland) Southeast Asia

Summer Semester 2023         

Politik und Wirtschaft (BA lecture)

Religious Practice - Current Ethnographic Perspectives (BA seminar, in english)

Feldforschungsbegegnungen. Hintergrundgeschichten ethnographischer Forschung und was wir von ihnen lernen können (BA seminar)

Methoden des ethnographischen Arbeitens (MA seminar)


Winter Semester 2022/23  

Aktuelle Themen anthropologischer Forschung (MA lecture)

Anthropologische Forschungsmethoden (MA seminar)

New Animism (MA seminar, in english)

Haus und Wohnen aus Perspektive der Sozial- und Kulturanthropologe. Ein Seminar mit Schreibübungen (BA seminar)

Einführung in die Sozial- und Kulturanthropologie (BA seminar)


Summer Semester 2021

Methoden der Sozial- und Kulturanthropologie (BA seminar)

Desiring the State? Ethnographien zu Staat und Gesellschaft in Südostasien


Winter Semester 2020/21

Einführung in die Sozial- und Kulturanthropologie (BA seminar)

New Animism. A classic anthropological topic revisited

Von Geistern zur ontologischen Wende. Gegenwärtige Forschungsfragen zum Animismus


Summer Semester 2020

Introduction to the Anthropology of the House


Winter Semester 2018/19        

Reis, Kautschuk und Kosmetik. Rezente Ethnologie des sozio-ökonomischen Wandels in Südostasien

Neue Perspektiven auf Verwandtschaft und Sozialität


Summer Semester 2018                


Von Mandala zu Mobile Phone Monk: Konzepte von Person und Gesellschaft in Südostasien


Summer Semester 2017            

Ethnographie Lesen: Catherine Allertons Potent Landscapes


Winter Semester 2012/13       

Neue Perspektiven der Verwandtschaftsethnologie

Research projects

2023-2026: "Construction Pioneers. Building Innovation in Upland Northern Laos" (CoPi)

How does newness enter the world? This question entices us to observe the creative ways in which new phenomena, things and ideas are incorporated by agents into existing sociocultural frameworks. One area in which changes are particularly visible is the built environment. In Laos, uplanders, many of whom belong to ethnic minorities, are currently experimenting with cement as a new building material. In recent years, the built landscape in northwestern Laos has been changing drastically. What is of particular interest to this proposed project is the apparently simple question of how local house builders handle this new building material and transform the design and shape of houses.

This project aims to make a novel contribution to the anthropology of houses by analysing the transformation of vernacular architecture by giving emphasis to the reasonings, incentives and imaginations of local lay house builders. The study context, a remote upland area where concrete houses did not exist previously, allows us to tackle the above question particularly well. Furthermore, it focuses on innovation in vernacular architecture, in conjunction with an emphasis on creative agency in ostensibly unlikely places. Looking beyond Southeast Asia, this project embarks from the premise that by studying the creative processes of incorporating new building materials when creating changing house forms and designs, new light can be shed on the overall practices of a community in accommodating newness.

Funding for this project has been approved by the German Research Foundation. The project includes, among others, a doctoral position (3 years).

2019-2022: "Making Aspirations Concrete: The Rise of Concrete Houses and Current Socio-Economic Change in Upland Southeast Asia"

What can we learn from the wide-spread transformations of houses in Southeast Asia and beyond? By taking the house and its transformations as a starting point or “prism”, hitherto unexplored facets and repercussion of socio-economic change can be illuminated, for the house manifests aspirations for development and prosperity in particular intimate ways and is a vital site of future- and world-making projects.

Amidst the dynamic societies of Southeast Asia, lives in Laos are changing particularly rapidly. While the current processes of socio-economic change in Laos have received increasing attention by social scientists, the role of local aspirations and their manifestation in ʻmodernʼ houses is hitherto unexplored. The proposed research aims to take modern houses and the aspirations they encapsulate as a prism through which upland initiatives of socio-economic change can be illuminated. Which aspirations and images of desirable futures are tied to the image of modern houses? In how far reinforce or transform the new materiality of houses, the changes of the construction process, and the social and cosmological dimensions of houses one another?

This project was funded by a postdoc scholarship of Fritz Thyssen Stiftung.


2013-2017: "Concepts and Practices of Kinship and Sociality Among the Khmu Yuan of Northwestern Laos"

In this project local notions and practices of kinship and sociality were studied in 14 months of fieldwork (2013, 2014-15) in a Khmu Yuan village in northern Laos. The dynamics of kinship in this upland area have, with few exceptions, not been given ethnographic attention to since the 1970s. As this study shows, the processes involved in this seemingly rigidly structured kinship setting, characterised by features which were of major interest to classical kinship studies such as the institution of houses, patrilineal kin groups and matrilateral cross-cousin marriage, in fact, present us with new avenues of thought in contemporary kinship studies: the reflection of this particular setting allows us, for instance, to illuminate how "given" kin ties are made into actual ties of mutual commitment.

Articles (peer-review)

2023. The end of bamboo houses in northern Laos. American Anthropologist. Online vorab unter: DOI: 10.1111/aman.13877.

2023. The (after)lives of Khmu houses in northern Laos. Gradhiva: Revue d’anthropologie de d’historie des arts 35 : 48-65. (eingeladener Beitrag für die Sonderausgabe ‘Le vies longues de la maison’, hg. Marie Durand und Chloé Le Mouel). DOI: 10.4000/gradhiva.6838.

2021. Listening through houses in northern Laos. ANUACRivista Della Società Italiana Di Antropologia Culturale 10 (2): 155-176. DOI: 10.7340/anuac2239-625X-4560 

2021. Upland Pioneers – An Introduction. Social Anthropology/Anthropologie Sociale 29(3): 635-650. DOI: 10.1111/1469-8676.13089 

2021. ‘Before others’: Construction pioneers in the uplands of northwestern Laos. Social Anthropology/Anthropologie Sociale 29(3): 718-732. DOI: 10.1111/1469-8676.13091 

2021. ‘The disease will come!’ Contingency, Irony and Challenging Closures in Ethnographic Writing. Ethnoscripts 23(1). https://journals.sub.uni-hamburg.de/ethnoscripts/article/view/1667

2020. Emerging Public Spaces in Rural Laos. CivilisationsRevue internationale d’anthropologie et de sciences humaines 69: 171-193. DOI: 10.4000/civilisations.5948 

2020. By Means of Squirrels and Eggs. Kinship and mutual recognition among the Khmu Yuan of Northern Laos. HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 10 (2): 548–560. DOI: 10.1086/709506 

2019. Making aspirations concrete? ‘Good houses’ and mockery in upland Laos. Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology. DOI: 10.1080/00141844.2019.1696864 

2018. 'Spirits Follow the Words.' Stories as Spirit Traces among the Khmu of Northern Laos. Social Analysis 62 (3): 109-127. DOI: 10.3167/sa.2018.620306 


Monographs and academic qualification works

2021. Living Kinship, Fearing Spirits. Sociality among the Khmu of Northern Laos. Kopenhagen: NIAS Press.

2017. Fear the Spirits, Love Each Other. Kinship and Sociality Among the Khmu Yuan of Northern Laos. Universität zu Köln: Unpublished dissertation.

2011. Die Klimaethnologie. Kernfragen eines Forschungsbereiches. Universität zu Köln: Unpublished master's dissertation (Magister).



2024. Houses Transformed. Anthropological Perspectives on Changing Practices of Dwelling and Building. New York: Berghahn. Edited with Jonathan Alderman. (forthcoming)

2022. Ethnographic Encounters. Köln: Köppe. Edited with Michaela Haug.

2021. Upland Pioneers: Aspiration, Future-Making and Emerging Elites in Upland Southeast Asia. Special edition published in Social Anthropology/Anthropologie Sociale; edited with Oliver Tappe.

2020. Being a Parent in the Field. Implications and Challenges of Accompanied Fieldwork. Bielefeld: Transcript. Edited with Fabienne Braukmann, Michaela Haug and Katja Metzmacher.


Book chapters

2022. Not a Forest. In Ethnographic Encounters edited by Michaela Haug und Rosalie Stolz, Köln: Köppe.

2022. (with Michaela Haug) Vorwort. In Ethnographic Encounters edited by Michaela Haug and Rosalie Stolz, Köln: Köppe.

2020a. (with Katja Metzmacher, Michaela Haug und Fabienne Braukmann). Introduction: On Being a Parent in the Field. Theoretical and Methodological Implications of Accompanied Fieldwork with the Family. In Being a Parent in the Field. Implications and Challenges of Accompanied Fieldwork edited by Fabienne Braukmann, Michaela Haug, Katja Metzmacher and Rosalie Stolz, Bielefeld: Transcript. Pp. 7-34.

2020b. Falling in and out of sync. Relative immersive processes and immersive processes with relatives in a Khmu village. In Being a Parent in the Field. Implications and Challenges of Accompanied Fieldwork edited by Fabienne Braukmann, Michaela Haug, Katja Metzmacher and Rosalie Stolz, Bielefeld: Transcript. Pp. 143-161.

2015.  A Few Impressions of Doing Fieldwork on Kinship and Sociality Among the Khmu Yuan in Northern Laos. In a.r.t.e.s. Jahrbuch 2014/2015, pp. 106-113.



Podcast „Living Kinship, Fearing Spirits in Laos with Rosalie Stolz“, The Nordic Asia Podcast, 05.03.2021.

„Forschen mit Familie“ (zusammen mit Fabienne Braukmann, Michaela Haug und Katja Metzmacher), in Mituns,Zeitschrift für die Mitarbeiterinnen und Mitarbeiter der Universität zu Köln, September 2018, pp. 4-5.

Podcast “Laos. Familie gibt es nicht“, Deutschlandfunk Nova, 30.04.2016.

Dossier „Ein Jahr in einem laotischen Bergdorf“, Kölner Universitätsmagazin, No. 5, Feb 2016, pp. 31-33.

Talks and lectures (selection)

“Upland Futures and the Future of Kinship in Laos”, Keynote, 7th International Conference on Lao Studies, Deakin University, Geelong, Australia, November 15-18, 2022 (Keynote lecture).

“Housing the Future in Upland Laos”, eingeladener Beitrag zum Panel Rural Futures in Late Socialist Asia: The Countryside in a Globalising World, 41. Kongress der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Soziologie, September 26-30, 2022, Universität Bielefeld.

“Listening through houses in northern Laos”, 12th conference of the European Association for Southeast Asian Studies (EuroSEAS), 28.06. - 01.07. 2022, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Scieces Sociales (EHESS) Paris.

“Mobile Baupioniere immobiler Häuser in Nordlaos”, Interimstagung Im/Mobilitäten in Südostasien der RG Südostasien der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Sozial- und Kulturanthropologie, May 13-14, 2022, Universität Heidelberg.

“(Un)knowing spirits: Secrecy, stories, and the pitfalls of knowing in upland, northern Laos”, Webinar series Secrecy and Knowledge: Social and Cultural Responses to Secrecy, Newcastle University and the University of Birmingham, UK, 24.02.2022 (invited talk).

“Complicating conservation. Innovation, mobile houses and unintentional conservation in upland northwestern Laos”, Anthropology and Conservation, The Royal Anthropological Institute, Virtual Conference, October 25-29, 2021.

“’There are no winds’: Listening through houses (or not) in northern Laos.”, DGSKA Tagung, Universität Bremen, October 27-01, 2021 (online).

'Mɨaŋ khmu i’. Colloquial meanings of ‘mueang' among the Khmu in upland northern Laos.”, Symposium “T(h)ailands in Thailand and Beyond”, Universität Heidelberg, September 23-24, 2021 (invited talk).

“Paving the journey towards spirit-hood. Guided mobility and care in Khmu mortuary rites in northern Laos.”, 11th European Association for Southeast Asian Studies (EuroSEAS) conference, September 07-10, 2021.

“Emerging Public Spaces in Rural Laos.”, zusammen mit Pierre Petit, Tagung des Projektes GENEsYs - East Asian Youth: Identities and Practices in Public Spaces, Université Libre de Bruxelles, May 25-26, 2021 (invited talk).

“Pioneering Concrete Houses in Upland Laos.”, Tagung The Modern House: Anthropological Perspectives on the Transformation of Vernacular Houses, Universität Heidelberg, online March 09-11, 2021 (online).

“Where there is Forest now. Traces of Past Lives among the Khmu of Upland Laos” Vortrag am Laboratoire d’Anthropologie des Mondes Contemporains, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Februar 27, 2020 (invited talk).

“Making Aspirations Concrete? Emerging Cement Houses in a Khmu Village in Upland Northern Laos”, Vortrag im Rahmen der Vortragsreihe Laos Lectures an der Abteilung für Südostasienwissenschaft, Universität Bonn, Oktober 29, 2019 (invited talk).

“Fatherless Children and Listening Spirits: Ritual Technologies of Measuring Kinship and the Rhetorics of Closure Among the Khmu of Northern Laos.”, DGSKA-Tagung, Konstanz, Sept. 29 - October 2, 2019.

“Housing Aspirations. Entanglements and Implications of ʻModern Housesʼ and Socio-Economic Change in upland Southeast Asia.”, 11th International Convention of Asia Scholars (ICAS), Leiden, July 16-19, 2019.

“Good Houses and their Discontents. Entanglements and Implications of Living in ʻModern Houses ʼ and Socio-Economic Change”, 14th Congress of the International Society for Ethnology and Folklore (SIEF2019), Santiago de Compostela, April 14-17, 2019.

“Good Houses and their Discontents. Aspirations, cement and mockery in upland northern Laos”, Vortrag im Kolloquium des Instituts für Ethnologie, Universität Heidelberg, November 20, 2018 (invited talk).

“Work in Progress: Aspirations in Upland Southeast Asia”, 15th EASA (European Association of Social Anthropology) Biennial Conference, Universität Stockholm, August 14-17, 2018.

“Studying Kinship with the Family in Upland Laos”, Tagung Feldforschung und Familie. Implikationen und Herausforderungen des Elternseins im Feld, Universität zu Köln, June 7-9, 2018.

“Talking Transition. Testing and contesting socio-economic and environmental change in the uplands of northern Laos.”, POLLEN 18, Oslo, June 20-22, 2018.

“Über Eichhörnchen und Eier. Verwandtschaft durch wechselseitige Anerkennung”, DGSKA-Tagung, Freie Universität Berlin, October 4-7, 2017.

Conference organisation

Panel “Transforming Houses in Southeast Asia”, 10th Conference of the European Association for Southeast Asian Studies (EuroSEAS), EHESS Paris, June 28 - July 1, 2022.

Interimstagung der DGSKA-Regionalgruppe Südostasien (with Viola Thimm) “Im/Mobilities in Südostasien”, Institut für Ethnologie, Universität Heidelberg, May, 13-14, 2022 (in person).

Workshop (with Oliver Tappe) “The Limits of Meuang as Limits of Negotiation”, Institut für Ethnologie, Universität Heidelberg, May 16, 2022.

Panel “Cementing Change? Anthropological Perspectives on Concrete and House Transformations”, DGSKA Tagung 2021, Universität Bremen, September 27-30, online.

Tagung “The Modern House: Anthropological Perspectives on the Transformation of Vernacular Houses”, Universität Heidelberg, online March 9-11, 2020 (planned for June 11-13, 2020), with Jonathan Alderman.

Panel (with Oliver Tappe) “Upland Pioneers: Future Aspirations, moral imaginaries and emerging religiosities in (mainland) Southeast Asia”, 10th Conference of the European Association for Southeast Asian Studies (EuroSEAS), Humboldt Universität Berlin, September 10-13, 2019.

Tagung “Feldforschung und Familie. Implikationen und Herausforderungen des Elternseins im Feld”, Universität zu Köln, June 7-9, 2018, with Fabienne Braukmann, Michaela Haug und Katja Metzmacher.

Berlin Southern Theory Lecture