zum Inhalt springen

Prof. Dr. Martin Rössler

Short Biography

Following studies in Leiden, Manchester (MSc Environment and Development, 2004) and Berlin (MA Social and Cultural Anthropology, 2006) Franz earned his PhD in Aberdeen (PhD Social Anthropology, 2010). He subsequently held postdoc positions at the CCRI (2011-2012) and in Tallinn (2012-2016). Since February 2016, he is a Junior Research Group Director at the University of Cologne. He is also Assistant Editor of Social Anthropology/Anthropologie Sociale, the journal of the European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA).

Franz's research revolves around human relations with and through water, which he studies with approaches from phenomenological anthropology, political ecology and environmental history. His previous research projects dealt with issues including communal irrigation in the Philippines, life along a river in Finnish Lapland, memories of floods in England, and life in an Estonian wetland.

Currently, Franz is working on a project investigating the sociocultural, economic and hydrologic volatilities of life in four river deltas around the world. His empirical work focuses on the mostly Gwich’in and Inuvialuit inhabitants of the Mackenzie Delta in the Canadian Arctic.

Thematic Interests and Regional Focus

Phenomenological anthropology, political ecology, environmental history, human-environment relations.

Philippines, Finnish Lapland, England, Estonia.


2015: German Research Council DFG: Emmy Noether Programme, February 2016 – January 2021.

2015: European Research Council: Starting Grant (declined).

2015: Estonian Research Council: Personal Research Grant, January 2015 – December 2016.

2012: Estonian Research Mobility Scheme (ERMOS) Grant, October 2012 – September 2015.

2012 (with Ingmar Lippert and Niklas Hartmann): VW Foundation, Germany: Covering of expenses for all participants of international workshop on critical engagement with environmental management, May 2012.

2011 (with Ingmar Lippert and Niklas Hartmann): Center for Interdisciplinary Research, Bielefeld, Germany: Grant for holding international workshop on critical engagement with environmental management, May 2012.


2017: "Towards an amphibious anthropology of delta life." Human Ecology 45(3): online first.

2017: "Making space along the Kemi River: a fluvial geography in Finnish Lapland." Cultural Geographies 24(2): 279–294.

2016 (with Veronica Strang): Thinking relationships through water. Special issue in Society and Natural Resources 29(6): 633-724.

2016: "'One man’s flood defence is another man’s flood': relating through water flows in Gloucestershire, England." Society and Natural Resources 29(6): 681-695.

2016: "Rivers, borders, and the flows of the landscape" in A. Kannike & M. Tasa (eds) The Dynamics of Cultural Borders. Approaches to Culture Theory 6. Tartu: Tartu University Press: pp 24-45.

2015 (with Ingmar Lippert and Niklas Hartmann): Environmental management as situated practice. Themed issue in Geoforum 66: 107-175.

2014: "Reclaiming flow for a lively anthropology." Suomen Anthropologi 39(2): 89-102.

2014 (with Maria Nakhshina): Northern fisheries: managing income, nutrition and cultural values. Special issue in Polar Record 50(4): 338-441.

2013 (with Veronica Strang): 'Living Water' special issue. Worldviews 17(2): 95-185.

2013: "Seasons as rhythms on the Kemi River in Finnish Lapland." Ethnos 78(1): 23-46.

Short Biography

1975-1987 Studies of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Arab Studies / Islamic Studies, Anthropology, Turkology, Malayology and Oriental Art History at the Universities of Göttingen, Zurich, Cologne and Bonn.

1981 Master's degree at the University of Göttingen with the subject "The Relationship of People's Religions and Islam in Western Sudan".

1982 Studies in Central and South Sulawesi.

1984-1985 Field research in South Sulawesi on the topic of Islamization and social conflict behavior.

1987 PhD in Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Cologne. Subject of the dissertation: "The social reality of the ritual: continuity and change in the Makassar of Gowa".

1987-1994 Scientific assistant at the Institute of Cultural and Social Anthropology, University of Göttingen.

1989 / 1990-1991 Research stays in North Sumatra and South Sulawesi on the socio-economic change in rural communities.

1996 Habilitation for Cultural and Social Anthropology at the University of Göttingen. Subject of the Habilitationsschrift: "Rural Economy as a Cultural Process: A Case Study from Indonesia".

Since 1996 lecturer at the University of Göttingen.

1997 Research in West Sumatra and South Sulawesi on sociopolitical change and identity.

1999-2001 Research associate at the DFG project: "Spatial organization, spatial behavior and spatial cognition in intercultural comparison", University of Göttingen.

2000 Representation of a C3 professorship for social anthropology at the University of Bielefeld.

Since 2001 Professor (C4) at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Cologne.

2010-2016 Managing Director of the "Foreign Languages, Cultures and Societies" group.

Thematic Interests and Regional Focus

Socioeconomy, political anthropology, religion (in particular Islam), ritual, identity research, space and time concepts.

Insular Southeast Asia, Indo-Pacific, West Africa.

Research Projects

Socio-economic change in South Sulawesi.

Publications (Selection)

1987: Die soziale Realität des Rituals: Kontinuität und Wandel bei den Makassar von Gowa. Berlin: Reimer.

1990: Striving for Modesty: Fundamentals of the Religion and Social Organization among the Makassarese Patuntung. Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde 146,2-3:289-324.

1997: Der Lohn der Mühe; Kulturelle Dimensionen von 'Wert' und 'Arbeit' im Kontext ökonomischer Transformation in Süd-Sulawesi, Indonesien. Münster: LIT.

1997: Islamization and the Reshaping of Identities in Rural South Sulawesi. In: R. Hefner/ P. Horvatich (eds), Islam in an Era of Nation-States: Politics and Religious Renewal in Muslim Southeast Asia, pp.275-306. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press.

2005: Wirtschaftsethnologie: Eine Einführung. Zweite, überarbeitete und erweiterte Auflage. Berlin: Reimer.

2007: Von der Gabe zur Abgabe: Transaktionen im politischen Kon­text. In: H. Klinkott et al. (Hrsg.), Ge­schenke und Steuern, Zölle und Tribute. Antike Abgabeformen in An­spruch und Wirklichkeit, pp. 3-27. Leiden & Boston: Brill.

2009: The Anthropological Study of Landscape. In: M. Bollig & O. Bubenzer (eds): African Landscapes: Interdisciplinary Approaches, pp. 297-325. New York: Springer.

2013: Theories of Consumption – Perspectives from Economic Anthropology. In: T. Kerig & A. Zimmermann (eds.): Economic archaeology: from structure to performance in European archaeology, pp. 31−45. Bonn: Habelt.

2016 (ed. with M. Haug & A. Grumblies): Rethinking Power Relations in Indonesia: Transforming the Margins. London: Routledge.