University of Heidelberg

Department of Anthropology


(f.l.t.r.) R. Kimmig, S. Baran, S. Joost, D. Torri, V. Kosmidis,
N. Schröder, K. Schmidt Stiedenroth, A. Pandey, T. Linnhoff, G. Herlyn, H. Beckmann

William S. Sax, Prof. Dr.

absent on picture
Prof. Dr. William Sax

The Department of Cultural Anthropology has taught and conducted research at the South Asia Institute since 1964. With the appointment of Professor William S. Sax (Chicago) as head of the department in 2000, the substantive focus shifted to Medical Anthropology, and Heidelberg came to be Europe’s leading center for the Medical Anthropology of South Asia. We pursue research in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Central Asia.

In addition to Medical Anthropology, we also conduct teaching and research on the following topics:

  • Social and cultural theory
  • Caste and Subaltern Studies
  • Oral traditions
  • Anthropology of performance
  • Religion and pilgrimage
  • Ritual healing
  • Statehood and Borders
  • South Asian medical systems
  • Transcultural Psychology
  • Environment and development
  • Political Anthropology
  • Migration

Anthropology at the South Asia Institute administers the Master of Arts Health and Society in South Asia (MAHASSA) program and is part of the B.A. and M.A. in Ethnology as well as the B.A. and M.A. in South Asian studies. We especially value long-term ethnological field research: the closest possible participation in the life and work of other people with the aim of experiencing, describing and comparing their view of the world. Language is an absolute prerequisite for such research, and the South Asia Institute teaches more South Asian languages than any comparable institute in the world.

Last modified 14th September, 2020

 Contents of the right column
Centre for
Asian and

Ethnology in Heidelberg
Conferences, Publications and externl lectures

The department on events

Recent Publications

Patriots in Kala Pani:
Writing Subaltern Resistance into the National Memory

Dr. Philipp Zehmisch



Unani Medicine in the Making:
Practices and Respresentations in 21st-century

Dr. Kira Schmidt Stiedenroth



Reviving “A forgotten Sunna:” Hijamah (cupping therapy), prophetic medicine, and the re-Islamization of Unani medicine in contemporary India

Dr. Kira Schmidt Stiedenroth

Online article


2018. "We are like the river water, always flowing" : some urban nomads of Delhi. In: Soziale Ästhetik, Atmosphäre, Medialität

Prof. Dr. William Sax

UB Heidelberg

Occasional Paper Series

Heidelberg Ethnology

Richard Fox

All papers viewable here.


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

For further information, please see here.


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

Roman Sieler

Medical Anthropology Quarterly, 28: 323-341.

Special edition

Modern Asian Studies

Volume 48 - Issue 05 - September 2014

Click here to view the contents.

Collected edition

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.
At the UB: click here.


The anthropology of neoliberal India: An introduction.

Daniel Münster and Christian Strümpell

The politics of dispossession in an Odishan steel town

Christian Strümpell

Both in Contributions to Indian Sociology 48 (Feb. 2014).


Ritual Healing and Mental Health in India.

William Sax

Transcult Psychiatry (Feb. 2014).