Dr. Andrea Luithle-Hardenberg

Academic staff
Advisor for BA Modules 9a & 9b/ BA-Ethn-12 &13 and for the PROMOS Program (BA & MA)

Tel.: 069/798-33066
Fax: 069/798-33065
Office: IG 552
Office hours: Thursdays 1 – 3 pm, registration by Email
E-Mail: Luithle-Hardenberg (at) em.uni-frankfurt.de

Regional and Thematic Focus

  • India (Gujarat, Maharashtra and Odisha)
  • Asceticism and austerities in comparative studies; anthropology of the body; Anthropology of Ageing
  • Jainism, ascetic movements and values, pilgrimage, ritual studies, the secular and the sacred
  • trading communities
  • colonial studies, communal conflicts, caste ideology, minority discourses and anthropology of childhood

Contact person for the area "South Asia"

Being part of the Asian continent, South Asia is variously defined. Geographically, South Asia consists of the plain bordered by the Indus, Ganges and Brahmaputra and the adjoining Indian peninsula, and is separated by the Hindu Kush in the northwest, the Karakoram mountain range in the north and the Himalayas in the northeast. In the south, the Indian subcontinent is surrounded by the Indian Ocean. According to the UN definition, which is based on national borders, South Asia includes India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Afghanistan, Bhutan and the Maldives. In terms of population, production of goods, gross national product and economic growth, India accounts for a larger share than all of the other neighbouring countries combined.

About 25 per cent of the world's population lives in South Asia. Two thirds of them live in India, which occupies 72 per cent of the total area of South Asia. These South Asian countries have much in common, which is an expression of the socio-cultural and religious dynamics that have shaped the entire region over the centuries in the context of the rise and fall of various empires. However, there are also great local differences in South Asia, both in terms of the linguistic groups (Indo-Iranian, Dravidian, Tibeto-Burman and Munda), with a total of around 650 languages, and in terms of religious diversity. While Hindus are the majority in India and Nepal, Muslims are the majority in Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Maldives, and the population of Bhutan and Sri Lanka is predominantly Buddhist. These three religions, which are strongly differentiated internally in terms of ideas and practices, go hand in hand with complex social orders. They influence the organisation of everyday life and may trigger communal conflicts in the respective regions. Other religious groups that form part of South Asia are the Sikhs, Jains, Parsees, Thomas Christians and Ahmadiyya, as well as the various tribal societies (Adivasi) of the subcontinent with their diverse religious practices. This diversity provides many interesting areas of research for social and cultural anthropologists, which should ideally be explored in intensive ethnographic field research. South Asia's diversity is also linked to an equally wide range of academic discourses in South Asian anthropology.

Our research activities and cooperations with universities in the east (especially Odisha) and west (Gujarat and Maharashtra) of India characterise the special research profile of the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology in Frankfurt. Thus, our profile complements the focal points of South Asia at other institutes in Germany. In our focus regions, students can find much common ground for their own research projects.


University of Mumbai (Maharashtra), India
Utkal University (Bhubaneswar, Odisha), India
University of Sambalpur (Sambalpur, Odisha), India

>Central Asia

Major Research Projects and Recent Publications (links)

Second Post-Doc („Habilitationsprojekt“) (ongoing)

  • „Ascetic Children (bāl munis) among the Jains in Secular India: Controversies on Religious Freedom and Children's Rights in the 21stcentury“ 

First Post-Doc (2008–2011): Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen

PhD (2001–2006): Freie Universität Berlin


  • Focus (besides regional expertise): student mobility and training in project management for first fieldwork studies abroad
  • 2011-2016 member of the academic staff at Tuebingen University