University of Heidelberg

Dr. Roman Sieler

Dr. Roman Sieler Dr. Roman Sieler


  • Research Associate, Program Coordinator MA Health and Society in South Asia

Contact information

Heidelberg University
South Asia Institute
Department of Anthropology
Im Neuenheimer Feld 330, Room 510
69120 Heidelberg

Phone: +49 6221 54-8798

Office hours

Monday 11:-13:00 Bitte vorher per E-Mail anmelden

Research foci

  • South India, Tamil Nadu
  • Medical Anthropology, siddha medicine, manual medicine, martial arts


  • Bonesetting and manual medical practices in South India
  • Tamil Muslim medical networks (ethnohistorical project in collaboration with Guy Attewell, Institut Français de Pondichéry )

Finished Projects

  • Lethal Spots and Vital Secrets: Ethnographic exploration of varmakkalai, the art of the vital spots, a medical and martial practice in the extreme south of India, i.e. Kaniyakumari district of Tamil Nadu.



  • 2015. Lethal Spots, Vital Secrets. Medicine and Martial Arts in South India. New York: Oxford University Press.

Peer reviewed articles:

  • 2014. Patient Agency Revisited: “Healing the Hidden” in South India. Medical Anthropology Quarterly 28(3): 323–341.
  • 2013. From Lineage Transmission to Transnational Distance Education: The Case of Siddha Varmam Medicine. Theme Issue, “Transnational Health in Asia: Patients, Knowledge, Praxis,”; European Journal of Transnational Studies 5(1): 112-143.
  • 2012. Kalari and Vaittiyacalai: Medicine and Martial Arts Intertwined. Theme issue, “Cultivating Perfection and Longevity in Asian Traditions,” Asian Medicine: Tradition and Modernity 7(1): 164-195.

Other publications:

  • 2007. with Peter Eppler. Water and Sanitation Baseline Survey in Three Villages of Karaikal District, Pondicherry. In: Tsunami Reconstruction Initiatives Program Publication Vol. 1. Swiss Red Cross, Pondicherry, India
  • 2006. "Unberührbare Körper" - Ethnologische Überlegungen zu Kaste und Embodiment. Health and Society in South Asia Series, no. 1. Universität Heidelberg.

Short biography

Roman Sieler has a PhD in Cultural Anthropology from South Asia Institute, Heidelberg University (2011) as well as experience in development cooperation with regard to health issues in South Asia. His current research interests include siddha medicine and the transmission and practice of non-institutionalised forms of health care in India, especially bonesetting and other forms of manual medicine. For his doctoral thesis, he has conducted research on secrecy and transmission of varmakkalai, a manual medico-martial tradition in the South of Tamil Nadu. Sieler is an affiliate postdoctoral researcher at the French Institute of Pondicherry, India.

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Aktuelle Publikationen
Occasional Paper Series

Heidelberg Ethnology

Richard Fox

Alle Ausgaben hier.


Becoming like money: Proximity and the social aesthetics of “moneyness”

Jens M. Zickgraf

HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory, 7(1), 303–326.


Lethal Spots, Vital Secrets: Medicine and Martial Arts in South India

Roman Sieler

Weitere Informationen hier.


Patient Agency Revisited: "Healing the Hidden" in South India.

Roman Sieler

Medical Anthropology Quarterly, 28: 323-341.


Modern Asian Studies

Volume 48 - Issue 05 - September 2014

Hier klicken für den Artikelüberblick.


Asymmetrical Conversations

Contestations, Circumventions, and the Blurring of Therapeutic Boundaries

Epistemologies of Healing, Vol. 14, edited by Harish Naraindas, Johannes Quack, and William S. Sax, New York 2014.
In der UB: click here.


The anthropology of neoliberal India: An introduction.

Daniel Münster und Christian Strümpell

The politics of dispossession in an Odishan steel town

Christian Strümpell

Beide aktuell in Contributions to Indian Sociology 48 (Feb. 2014).


Ritual Healing and Mental Health in India.

William Sax

Transcult Psychiatry (Feb. 2014).

Ethnologie in Heidelberg