Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg

Burkhard Schnepel

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Burkhard Schnepel - Projects


Over the last four to five decades, I have been trying to get at the heart of the various matters under study, not by looking straight at them at noon (so to say), but by approaching them from the margins, from their ‘flip sides’, and by focusing on the liminal times and places in which they also appear. This is the only methodology I can claim to have followed with some stringency. Thus, I studied Shilluk kingship by looking at the interregna, that is, the times when there were no kings; I have tried to examine personhood and ordered social life not by looking at respectable citizens and the usual run of things in the daytime, but by, for example, looking at fools or studying phenomena of the night, such as dreams. I have also wanted and still want to find out all about the Indian Ocean in its entire breadth and historical depth by studying one small island in the middle of nowhere.

Research fields

a) The Divine Kingship of the Shilluk of the Southern Sudan. See especially my publications of the years 1986, 1988a, 1988b, 1990a as indicated in the List of Publications on this Homepage.

b) The Jungle Kings of East India. See especially Schnepel 1997, 2002.

c) Theories of Divine Kingship and Political Theology. See especially Schnepel 1995, as well as 1987a, 1988a, 1990b, 2003b, 2010.

d) Village Theatre in Orissa. See especially Schnepel 2008, 2013b.

e) Personhood and Agency/Patiency. See especially Schnepel 1990b and Schnepel 2007, as well as Schnepel (ed.) 2009b and Schnepel 2009e.

f) Dreams, the Night, Fools, Anecdotes and other Marginalities. See especially Schnepel (ed.) 2005, Schnepel 2001b; 1998b, 2001d, 2001e, 2001g, 2003a, 2005c, 2005d, 2006b.

g) The History of Anthropological Thought, Historical Anthropology, Orientalism. See especially Schnepel (ed.) 2011, as well as Schnepel 1997, 1999, 2011b.

h) Tourism and Cultural Heritage. See especially Schnepel (ed.) 2013, Schnepel 2008, 2009a, 2009d, 2011c, 2001d, 2013a.

i) Mauritian Affairs and Indian Ocean Matters. See especially Schnepel (ed.) 2009a, Schnepel 2004a, 2005e, 2006a 2009b, 2009c.

Several of these research projects were funded by the DAAD, the German Research Foundation, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation or by the various institutions I studied at and/or was employed by, such as Wolfson College in Oxford or the Universities of Heidelberg, Frankfurt and Halle. In several of these fields I have also managed to inspire the interest of bright students and sometimes to obtain funds for them, so that I have also been able to learn from their research and theses which I had the good fortune to supervise.

Present and Future

At present I am continuing my work on the interplay of tourism and cultural heritage and am heading a Max Planck Fellowship Program with the title ‘Connectivity in Motion: Port Cities of the Indian Ocean   ’.

In these two research areas, several articles are in the making, leading ultimately, I hope, to the publication of three books. One has the working title ‘Reisen in die Vergangenheit: Touristische Vergegenwärtigungen kulturellen Erbes’; the second will hopefully be published as ‘The Art of Hubbing: Mauritius and its Role in Transmaritime Connectivity’, while the third will be called ‘Der Indische Ozean: Eine transmaritime Führung’.