Professor David Gellner



+44 (0)1865 274674

Teaching and research interests

Anthropology of South Asia, East Asia, Buddhism, Hinduism, traditional urbanism, healers and their relation to religion, ritual and symbolism, politics, ethnicity, and activism.

David Gellner is Professor of Social Anthropology and a Fellow of All Souls. He 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 the Kathmandu Valley on many subsequent occasions, broadening his interests to include politics and ethnicity, healers, mediums, and popular approaches to misfortune, and religious change, in particular the history and effects of the newly introduced Theravada Buddhist movement. 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 is participating, please see Democratic Cultures (PI Lucia Michelutti, UCL) and Alchemists of the Revolution (PI Craig Jeffrey, Geography, Oxford).

For the Hodgson Catalogue Project, please click here.

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 some details of his latest edited book, on borderlands in Northern South Asia, click here.

Current and selected past DPhil students.


List of books.

List of articles and translations.

List of book reviews (PDF).

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