Professor David Gellner

David Gellner

Professor of Social Anthropology

Head of School

Fellow of All Souls College

Anthropology of South Asia, East Asia, Buddhism, Hinduism, cities, ritual, politics, ethnicity, activism, borderlands, class formation and cultural change.

David Gellner is currently Head of the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography, a position he also occupied from 2009-2012. His doctoral research (1982-4) was on the traditional, Vajrayana Buddhism of the Newars and on Newar social organization, in the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal. He has carried out fieldwork in Nepal on many subsequent occasions, broadening his interests to include politics and ethnicity, healers, mediums, and popular approaches to misfortune, religious change, activism of all sorts, democratization, elections, borderlands, Dalits, and class formation.


Telephone: +44 (0)1865 274674

David Gellner has carried out fieldwork in the Kathmandu Valley and elsewhere in Nepal on many subsequent occasions, broadening his interests to include politics and ethnicity, healers, mediums, and popular approaches to misfortune, borderlands, and cultural and religious change. In 1991 he did three months’ exploratory fieldwork on Buddhist priests in Japan. For eight years he taught at Brunel University, west London, the first British university to introduce a Master’s course in medical anthropology. For three years from 2002-5 he held a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship for research into the social history and practice of activism in Nepal (for the academic year 2003-4 he combined this with a Visiting Professorship at the Research Institute for Cultures and Languages of Asia and Africa, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies).

From 2004 to 2007 he was also involved in coordinating the MIDEA project on democratization in South Asia (for details, click here).

He gave his inaugural lecture as Professor of Social Anthropology on May 15th, 2009.  For a copy of the text, please click here. For photos of the event, click here.

For his AHRC-ESRC-funded research project, Vernacular Religion, please click here.

For his ESRC-funded research project, Caste, Class, and Culture: Changing Bahun and Dalit Identities in Nepal, please click here.

For two other research projects in which he was involved, please see Democratic Cultures (PI Lucia Michelutti, UCL) and Alchemists of the Revolution (PI Craig Jeffrey, Geography, Oxford).

For a lecture that he gave at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Goettingen, on June 10, 2010, on 'Building Theravada Networks in Nepal and Beyond', please click here. To listen to a seminar on 'Can there be an anthropology of Hinduism?', given on 5 December 2014, please click here, and for a video of a lecture, 'Lumley's Children? The Nepali Community in Britain', given as part of Oxford University's Alumni Weekend in September 2014, please click here. For a lecture, 'Visions of Modernity: How Activists Restructured Nepali Society' given on 16/2/17 in Konstanz, Germany, as the keynote address at a conference on 'Activism, Anthropologically Speaking', click here (and scroll down).

For some details of his two most recent edited books, on borderlands in Northern South Asia and on Religion, Secularism, and Ethnicity in Contemporary Nepal, click here and here.

The Hodgson Collection Catalogue.

  • Afterword: Violence and the State in South Asia

  • Sheldon Pollock and Max Weber: Poles Apart?

  • The Politics of Buddhism in Nepal

  • Civilization as a Key Guiding Idea in South Asia

  • Remembering Ambedkar in Bangalore

  • Source Force

  • How BJP Won Hearts and Minds in UP

  • Understanding Modi’s Magic: Impressions from Eastern UP

  • Foreword

  • National Identity and Belonging

  • More
List of site pages