GISCA Occasional Paper Series

The Göttingen Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology (GISCA) Occasional Paper Series publishes excellent student theses, current research findings of the institute's researching and teaching staff as well as outstanding talks at our institute's colloquium.



Current Volumes:


GISCA 24 Christensen

GISCA No.24, 2019

Chapter in edited Volume

Paul Christensen

"'We will never get rich if we follow Buddhism'. The Rise of Brahmanism in Cambodia"



This paper explores the growing demand for spirit rituals in Cambodia over the last two decades. Beginning with the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime in 1979, the author focuses on the revitalisation of “Brahmanism” (brahmaṇya-sāsanā), a term that in Cambodia describes religious practices involving spirits. Brahmanist practices have grown in popularity in parallel with the rapid revitalisation of Buddhism that has taken place since the end of the post-Khmer Rouge Vietnamese occupation of Cambodia in 1989. The author argues that the influence of ideas of pāramī, or spiritual power, is a significant reason for the popularity of Brahmanist rituals. In contrast to Buddhist practice which places emphasis on the accumulation of merit (puṇya), spirits and their human mediums may provide immediate cures, or help in the accumulation of power and money. Hence Brahmanism is appealing to many Cambodians – as the title of the paper suggests – because their offerings are traded for more immediate benefits than Buddhist merit-making. Because of their flexibility, Brahmanist rituals have been easily adapted to the new capitalist market, which was ‘liberalized’ in the 1990s. Unlike the well-documented development of Buddhism, the revitalization of Brahmanism has gone rather unnoticed by scholars of Cambodia. Nonetheless, it has become a modern phenomenon that provides revealing insights into a society that finds itself in politically troubled times.






GISCA 23 Jákli

GISCA No.23, 2019

M.A. Thesis

Daniel Jákli

"Alles nicht so rosig. Nachbarschaft und Ressourcenkonflikte in der Naivasharegion, Kenia"



The region around Lake Naivasha is the most important cultivation area for cut-flowers in Kenya. However, there are also other important economic sectors in Naivasha, such as tourism, fishing and geothermal energy production. Together with the cut-flower industry they are competing for scarce resources such as water, land and wildlife as well as the future design of the region. Moreover, with the construction of an industry park and a dry port in the region, the national government has its own plans for the economic development of Naivasha. Using the global neighborhood approach of Echi Gabbert and Pierre Bourdieu’s field and capital theory, this paper explores the various actors and stakeholders, identifies their neighborly relationships and their different positions of power. It is argued that in Naivasha neighborhood means primarily competition and insecurity and that stakeholders can assert their own interests and visions only through skillful accumulation and deployment of various types of capital, be they economic, social, cultural or symbolic.






GISCA 22 Wartenberg

GISCA No.22, 2019

B.A. Thesis

Josefine Wartenberg

"Das Konvolut Leonhard Schultze Jena - Eine kolonialzeitliche Spurensuche in der Ethnologischen Sammlung Göttingen"



The Ethnological Collection of the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen includes a number of objects bought from the German zoologist, ethnologist and geographer Leonhard Schultze Jena (1872-1955) from 1937 onwards. He collected these objects during his extensive research expeditions at the beginning of the 20th century in the former colonies of German New Guinea and German South-West Africa. This work poses the question of how these objects came to Germany and what interests led the research activities of their collector. Schultze Jena’s publications show both his relations and attitudes to the indigenous population and to the colonial administration. Through the analysis of his publications it is shown how the practice of ethnographic collecting and colonialism as ideology and system are interwoven at a more general level.