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Dr. Nasima Selim

Nasima Selim

Institut für Sozial- und Kulturanthropologie

Wissenschaftl. Mitarbeiterin (Prof. Dr. Hansjörg Dilger)

Forschung und Lehre in der Arbeitsstelle Medical Anthropology I Global Health

Postadresse: Landoltweg 9-11; Bürostandort: Thielallee 52
Raum 102
14195 Berlin


im Büro Nasima Selim in der Thielallee 52, Raum 102

Im SoSem 2020 finden die Sprechstunden coronaschutzbedngt nur per Tel. oder Skype statt.

Termine n.V. über Email

Academic Qualifications

  • 2019 - PhD  Social and Cultural Anthropology; Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology (ISKA), Freie Universität (FU) Berlin

  • 2011 MSc in Medical Anthropology. University of Amsterdam (UvA), the Netherlands

  • 2008 Certificate of Research Training Program in Social Sciences (RTP), Center for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta (CSSSCAL), India

  • 2007 Master of Public Health (MPH). James P Grant School of Public Health, BRAC University, Bangladesh

  • 2003 Certificate of Residency Training in Psychiatry. BSMMU, Dhaka, Bangladesh

  • 2000 Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS). Sir Salimullah Medical College, Dhaka, Bangladesh

Professional Qualifications

  • 10th May 2019 - 9th May 2022 Research Associate (post-doc) with Teaching Duties at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, FU Berlin

  • October 2017- June 2018 Research Associate with Teaching Duties at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, FU Berlin

  • Summer 2017/18, Winter 2018/19 Contract Lecturer, MA Visual and Media Anthropology at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, FU Berlin

  • Summer 2016, Winter 2016/17 Contract Lecturer at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, FU Berlin

  • September 2011- April 2012 Senior Lecturer James P Grant School of Public Health, BRAC University, Bangladesh. On study leave since May 2012

  • April-August 2010 Lecturer II. James P Grant School of Public Health, BRAC University, Bangladesh

  • August 2008-March 2010 Lecturer I. James P Grant School of Public Health, BRAC University

  • April-July 2007 Research Associate. James P Grant School of Public Health, BRAC University

  • January-December 2005 Senior Medical Officer. Monon Psychiatric Hospital, Dhaka, Bangladesh

  • January-December 2004 Assistant Registrar. Mental Hospital, Pabna, Bangladesh 

Awards and Scholarship

  • October 2012-September 2016 German Education Exchange Service (DAAD), scholarship for doctoral research project, Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, FU Berlin

  • 2010-2011 Netherlands Fellowship Program (NFP), scholarship for master’s degree program, the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands

  • 2008 Jayoti Gupta memorial prize at the Center for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta (CSSSCAL), India

  • 2007-2008 South-South Exchange Program for Research on the History of Development (SEPHIS), scholarship for Research Training Program (RTP) at CSSSCAL, India

  • 2007- Allan Rosenfield award, Master of Public Health Program, BRAC University (BRACU), Bangladesh


  • 2019- Founding Member and Co-Spokesperson, Working Group Public Anthropology, DGSKA/GAA - German Anthropological Association

  • 2017- Member, German Anthropological Association (DGSKA e.V.)

  • 2014- Member, Working Group Medical Anthropology, German Anthropological Association (DGSKA e.V.)

  • 2011- Member, European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA)

  • 2010- Life Member, Public Health Association of Bangladesh

  • 2007- Member, Sappho for Equality, Kolkata, India

Teaching experience 

  • Summer 2021 BA Seminar "Anthropology, ‘Race,’ and Racism Globally"

  • Summer 2021 MA Seminar "Global Health and Pandemic Lifeworlds"

  • Winter 2020/21 BA Seminar "Themen und Theorien der Sozial- und Kulturanthropologie"

  • Winter 2020/21 BA Seminar "Global Health and Pandemic Ecologies"

  • Summer 2020 BA Seminar "Healing across Religion and Medicine"

  • Summer 2020 MA Seminar "The Politics of Urban Breathing: Encountering COVID-19"

  • Winter 2019/20 BA Seminar "Anthropology of Global Health"

  • Winter 2019/20 BA Seminar "South Asian Ethnographies"

  • Summer 2019 BA Seminar "Methoden der Sozial- und Kulturanthropologie" 

  • Summer 2019 MA Seminar "Global Connections in Medicine, Health, and Healing"

  • Summer 2019 MA Seminar "Mind | Nature | Marketplace", Institut für Ethnologie, Westfällische Wilhelms-Universität Münster 

  • Winter 2018/19 MA Seminar "Theory and History of Social and Cultural Anthropology", Visual and Media Anthropology

  • Summer 2018 MA Seminar "Writing the Body and the Senses: Perspectives from Medical Anthropology"

  • Summer 2018 MA Seminar "Theory and History of Social and Cultural Anthropology", Visual and Media Anthropology

  • Summer 2017 MA Seminar "Theory and History of Social and Cultural Anthropology", Visual and Media Anthropology

  • Winter 2017/18 MA Seminar, "Anthropology of Islam (focus on Sufism)"

  • Winter 2016/17 MA Seminar, "Introduction to the Anthropology of Islam"

  • Summer 2016 Two BA Seminars, "Introduction to Medical Anthropology" 

  • Spring 2009-2010, Spring 2012-2015 Master of Public Health (MPH) modules, "Anthropological Approaches to Public Health" and "Qualitative Research Methods", James P Grant School of Public Health (JPGSPH), Brac University (BRACU), Bangladesh

  • September 2012, September 2013 Tutor, Short course, Mixed Methods in International Health Research. Short course, Heidelberg Institute für Global Health, Universität Heidelberg

Pedagogic training

2019 Completed basic pedagogic training for teaching in Universities (Hochschuldidaktisches Grundlagenmodul) at Freie Universität Berlin

Student supervision 

2019-2021 17 BA and MA theses (first supervision: 6; second supervision: 11; 7 completed) 

Research and Teaching Interests

  • Medical Anthropology and Global Health
  • Anthropology of Islam and Sufism
  • Intersectional Public Anthropology
  • Affective Ecology and Pandemic Breath
  • Postsecular and Postcolonial Theory
  • Ethnographic Methods and Creative Writing

Regional Focus

Western Europe (Germany and the Netherlands) and South Asia (Bangladesh and India)

Doctoral thesis

"Learning the ways of the heart in Berlin: Sufism, anthropology, and the post-secular condition,"
defended in May 2019


What is Sufism? How is Sufism practiced and experienced in Berlin and connected sites? Bringing together two traditions of inquiry – Sufism (taṣawwuf) and Anthropology – I make sense of a set of contemporary enactments of Sufism in practice and experience. The “post-secular” is a provisional diagnosis of the contemporary condition, an organizing principle for the empirical reality and an analytical stance to hold together the multiple entanglements of Sufism: in invoking other kinds of past and ‘minority history’ exceeding the majority history narrative of the secularized German society; in imagining and opening up subtle bodies and metaphysical hearts towards transforming the self and social relations trespassing the limits of a materialist, secular body; in healing the problems of living and chronic health conditions beyond the confines of evidence-based biomedicine; in the seeking of an elusive ‘something else’ than secularist subjectivity; and, in the efforts to engage in affirmative action that do not necessarily fit certain secularized notions of politics. This dissertation is an effort to articulate Sufi practice and experience in the German capital, at the heart of one of the richest nation-states with its hidden structures of inequality as well as the conditions of possibilities it affords.  Although Sufism makes a different set of demands than academic anthropology, both disciplines enable us to talk back to a growing fear of Islam, the ever-shrinking space for alternatives and the trivialization of the post-secular imagination in Berlin.

PhD supervisor: Prof. Dr. Hansjörg Dilger; Funding: DAAD ;

Research Skills and Experience

  • 2013-2015, 2020 Ethnographic fieldwork about Sufi healing practices in Germany (Berlin) (PhD Thesis in Social and Cultural Anthropology)

  • 2011-2012 Qualitative research in public health within multi-country research projects about violence against marginalized women and health professional education in rural and urban Bangladesh

  • 2010-2011 Ethnographic fieldwork about everyday Vipassana meditation practices in Amsterdam, the Netherlands (MSc Thesis in Medical Anthropology)

  • 2009-2010 Qualitative research in public health within a multi-country research project about urban youth and food culture in Dhaka, Bangladesh

  • 2007-2008 Cultural studies research in India about suicide narratives from rural Bangladesh 

  • 2006-2007 Qualitative research in public health about the cultural dimensions of depressive episodes in rural Bangladesh (MPH, Master’s Thesis in Public Health)


Academic blog articles

2021  "Pandemic Affects, Planetary Specters, and the Precarious Everyday: Encountering COVID-19 as a Nomad with (Half)Grown Roots." Blog Medizinethnologie. Körper, Gesundheit und Heilung in einer globalisierten Welt, 11 February.

2020  with Judith Albrecht on behalf of AG Public Anthropology. “In Solidarity with #BlackLivesMatter and Call for Dismantling Structural Racism in Germany. Public Statement Issued by the Working Group Public Anthropology, German Anthropological Association.” Public Anthropologist Blog, 21 June.

2017  with Kristina Dohrn, Britta Rutert, Judith Schühle, and Mechthild von Vacano. "Weaving the World in Conversation with Paul Stoller: From Sensuous Scholarship to Public Anthropology." Blog Medizinethnologie. Körper, Gesundheit und Heilung in einer globalisierten Welt, 24 April.

2015  "Healing the City: Sufi Prayers in Berlin's Towers." Blog Medizinethnologie. Körper, Gesundheit und Heilung in einer globalisierten Welt, 26 May.

Chapters in edited volumes

2015a "Sufi body practices and therapeutic politics in Berlin." In: Gritt Klinkhammer and Eva Tolksdorf (eds.) Somatisierung des Religiösen. Empirische Studien zum rezenten religiösen Heilungs -und Therapiemarkt, 237-282. Bremen: Universität Bremen

2015b "Mental Health Care." In: Syed M. Ahmed et al. Bangladesh Health System Review. Asia Pacific Observatory on Health Systems and Policies 5 (3): 120-122.

2014  "What does sitting have to do with the self? Body techniques, personhood and well-being in Vipassana meditation." In: Sjaak van der Geest, Trudie Gerrits, and Julia Challinor (eds.) Medical anthropology: Essays and reflections from an Amsterdam Graduate Programme. Health, Culture and Society: Studies in Medical Anthropology and Sociology Series, 265-282. Diemen: AMB Publishers.

2011  "Friendship (and healing) in the ‘intersubjectivity of silence’: A case illustration." In: Marian Tankink and Marianne Vysma (eds.) Roads and Boundaries: Travels in search of (re-) connection, 195-206. Diemen, the Netherlands: AMB Publishers.

Articles in peer-reviewed journals

2021  with Sarah Willen, Emily Mendenhall, Shahanoor Akter Chowdhury, Miriam Magaña Lopez, and Hansjörg Dilger. “Flourishing: Migration and Health in Social Context.” In: BMJ Global Health 6: e005108.

2020a “Letter from the (Un)seen Virus: (Post)Humanist Perspectives in Corona Times.” In: Social Anthropology/Anthropologie sociale 28 (2): 353–355.

2020b “Learning the Elsewhere of “Inner Space”: The Affective Pedagogy of Post/Secular Sufi Healing in Germany.” In: Religion and Society: Advances in Research 11: 105–119.

2020c with Omar Kasmani, Hansjörg Dilger, and Dominik Mattes. “Introduction | Elsewhere Affects and the Politics of Engagement across Religious Life-Worlds.” In: Religion and Society: Advances in Research 11: 92-104.

2018a with Mustafa Abdalla, Lilas Alloulou, Mohamed Alaedden Halli, Seth M. Holmes, Maria Ibiß, Gabi Jaschke, and Johanna Gonçalves Martín. “Coming Together in the so-called “Refugee Crisis:” A Collaboration among Refugee Newcomers, Migrants, Activists, and Anthropologists in Berlin.” In: Anthropology in Action 25 (3): 34-44.

2018b with Thomas Stodulka and Dominik Mattes. “Affective Scholarship: Doing Anthropology with Epistemic Emotions.” In: Ethos: Journal of the Society for Psychological Anthropology 46 (4): 519–536.

2014  with Tanvir Hasan, Tisa Muhaddes, Suborna Camelliaand Sabina Faiz Rashid. "Prevalence and experiences of intimate partner violence against women with disabilities in Bangladesh: Results of an explanatory sequential mixed method study." In: Journal of Interpersonal Violence 29 (17): 3105–3126.

2013  with Shahaduz Zaman and Taufique Joarder. "Mcdonaldization without a McDonald’s: Globalization and food culture as social determinants of health in urban Bangladesh." In: Food, Culture and Society: An international journal of multidisciplinary research 16 (4): 551-568.

2011a with Anna Mann, Annemarie Mol, Priya Satalkar, Amalinda Savirani,Malini Sur, and Emily Yates-Doerr. "Mixing methods, tasting fingers: Notes on an ethnographic experiment." In: HAU Journal of Ethnographic Theory 1(1): 221-243.

2011b with Sophie M. Goudet, Paula L. Griffiths and Barry A. Bogin. “Impact of Flooding on Feeding Practices of Infants and Young children in Dhaka, Bangladesh Slums: What are the Coping Strategies?” In: Maternal & Child Nutrition 7 (2): 198-214.

2010a "An extraordinary truth? The Adam suicide notes from Bangladesh." In: Mental Health, Religion & Culture 13 (3): 223-244.

2010b "Cultural dimensions of depressive episode: A qualitative study in two villages of Matlab." In: Journal of Population, Health & Nutrition 28 (1): 95-106.

2008  with Priya Satalkar. "Perceptions of mental illness in a Bangaladeshi village." Brac University Journal 5 (1): 47-57.

2006  with Choudhury, S.R., Mullick, M.S.i., Rahman, S., Huq, Nafisa. "Psychiatric Morbidity in the Cardiac Emergency Set-Up." Sir Salimullah Medical College Journal 14 (2): 86-91.

Edited volume

2010 [2008] with Van der Geest, S. and Zaman, S. Daily health concerns in Kakabo: Anthropological explorations in a Bangladeshi village. Dhaka: James P Grant School of Public Health, BRAC University.

Book reviews

2019 Spirit and Mind: Mental Health at the intersection of Religion and Psychiatry. In: Medicine Anthropology Theory 6 (2): 138-141.

2018 Transfiguring Psychoanalysis and Culture: Review of “Psychoanalysis from the Indian Terroir: Emerging Themes in Culture, Family, and Childhood” (Edited by Manasi Kumar, Anup Dhar, and Anurag Mishra; Foreword by Erica Burman). Blog Medizinethnologie. Körper, Gesundheit und Heilung in einer globalisierten Welt, 13 August.

2014 Patients and Agents: Mental Illness, Modernity and Islam in Sylhet, Bangladesh. In: Medicine Anthropology Theory 1 (1): 213 - 214.

Case report

2002 The man who would marry God: A case of schizophrenia with bizarre delusion. Bangladesh Journal of Psychiatry 16 (1): 48-54.

Selected fiction and articles in magazines

2020 with Jana Trestikova and Nazli Muhamad. Mehr als Deutsch/More than German. In: Encounter/Begegnung N° 2: 6-8. Berlin: Medienwerkstatt Encounters.

2009 Two poems. In: Damazine (Summer issue), edited by Serene Taleb-Agha.

2008 একটি গল্প বা স্মৃতিকথানূহের নৌকায় শহীদুল জহির (১১ সেপ্টেম্বর, ১৯৫৩ – ২৩ মার্চ, ২০০৮). In: arts.bdnews.24, 29 March.(in Bengali)

2007 আরেকটিমৃত্যুরআগে. Collection of Short Stories. Dhaka: Shamabesh Publishers. (in Bengali)

2005 Reflection. A Parable of Food and Hunger. In: Star Weekend Magazine 4 (57), 5 August.

Audiovisual productions (short documentary films)

2016 Writer and Co-Director. An anthropological becoming. 04:50 © Lotte Knote and Nasima Selim. Language: English and Bengali (with English subtitles).

2008 Assistant Director. Katha Monologues. 9 minutes. Director: Debalina Majumder, Languge: Bengali.

2007 Researcher, Scriptwriter, and Assistant Director. Mother Courageous: Maternal Deaths and Discontents in Uttar Pradesh.28:55. Director: Debalina Majumder © PSBT India. Language: Hindi with English subtitles.

Selected conference papers, workshop presentations, and public talks

October 2019 Can the Tamarind Tree Speak? Affective Ecology and More-than-Human Well-Being in South Kolkata. Biannual Conference of the German Anthropological Association (DGSKA), Universität Konstanz

June 2019 Eco-Social Self and Multispecies Ethnography: Art, Anthropology, and Well-being in a More-than-Human World. Public Anthropology workshop, Werkstatt Ethnologie, Berlin

May 20019 On Being Queer and South Asian. Public talk at the "Noon Festival - Queer History Month x Ramadan" organized by Be'kech, Berlin

January 2019 Queer Ecology and Urban Well-being. Workshop at Sappho for Equality, Kolkata, India.

November 2018 (Queer) Longing for/against Marriage: Affective Politics of Desires and Decisions. Paper accompanying the screening of a documentary film Gay Indian Matrimony by Debalina Majumder, Institute of Ethnology, Westfällische Wilhelms-University of Münster.

October 2018 Participatory Brainstorming: Creative/Participatory Methods, Modes and Politics of Representation. Medical Anthropology Young Scholars’ (MAYS) Meeting, FU Berlin.

September 2018 Affective Arrangements and the Future of Carescapes. Wrap-up discussion at the “Affective Arrangements in Mental Health Care Settings” Conference hosted by the CRC Affective Societies Project A02: Affective Efforts of Migration, FU Berlin.

June 2018 Bridging the Gap between Medicine and Anthropology. Keynote Lecture at the COSIMENA (Clusters of Scientific Innovation in the Middle East and North Africa) Workshop on Medical Anthropology, Cairo, DAAD Egypt.

October 2017 What does Fieldwork do to you? Paper accompanying the screening of a short film “An anthropological becoming: Methodological fears and hopes” with Lotte Knote, Biannual Conference of the German Anthropological Association (DGSKA), FU Berlin.

October 2017 Muslimischer Lebenswelten. Grundlagenwissen zum Verständnis religiöse Traditionen muslimischer Flüchtlinge in Brandenburg with Judith Albrecht, Public anthropology seminar for social workers organized by the InSchwung project of Paritätisches Bildungswerk, Potsdam.

October 2017 An Anthropological Becoming: Methodological Fears and Hopes. Paper and short film presented at the panel, “Critical Affective and Experimental Research” at the Biannual Conference of the German Anthropological Association (DGSKA e.v.), FU Berlin

February 2017 Learning How to Whirl: Subtle and Material Bodies in “Dervish Dance”. “Transforming the Body through Dance” Seminar at the Oxford School of Anthropology, organized by Prof. Elisabeth Hsu and Dr. Paola Esposito, Argo-EMR (Anthropology Research Group at Oxford on Eastern Medicines and Religions), University of Oxford.

August 2015 Ontologies in Sufi Healing: Beyond Religion and Medicine. XXI Quinquennial World Congress of the International Association for the History of Religions (IAHR), Universität Erfurt.

December 2015 Stories of Fear and Hope.Public storytelling at the Lichtburg Forum/Klingendes Museum Berlin, organized by members of the Engaged Anthropology Collective, IfSKA, FU Berlin.

June 2015 Provincializing Berlin: Genealogy of Sufismus/Sufitum and a Minority History of Sufi Berlin. Institut für Ethnologie, Westfällische Wilhelms-Universität Münster

November 2013 “Healing the City”: Sufi Healing at Berlin’s Fernsehturm. “Prayer, Architecture, History” workshop at the Zentrum Moderner Orient (ZMO), Berlin

October 2013 Jenseits von Dhikr und Drehtanz: Innovative Körperpraktiken in Sufi-Gruppen in Berlin.Poster presented at the Conference “Somatisierung des Religiösen” at Hannover im Schloss Herrenhausen, organized by Religious Studies, Universität Bremen

July 2009 Ekattorer Debdas (Debdas of 1971): The ‘Unusual’ Protest and Plight of a ‘Living Martyr’ of the Liberation War. Second International Conference on Genocide, Truth & Justice, Liberation War Museum (LWM), Dhaka, Bangladesh

June 2009 Delusion, Heresy, or Resistance? Mass Suicide and a ‘Minority’ Faith in Bangladesh. Workshop-cum-seminar “Minority Cultures,” Center for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta (CSSSCAL), India

July 2008 An Extraordinary Truth? The Adam Suicide Notes from Bangladesh. Ethnographies of Suicide Conference, Department of Anthropology, Brunel University, UK

SFB 1171 Affective Societies
Berlin Southern Theory Lecture