Print this Page. Send this Page.

Daniel Münster, Dr.

Academic Staff

Daniel Münster, Dr.


  • Leader of Junior Research Group C 15 "Agrarian Alternatives: Agrarian Crisis, Global Concerns and the Contested Agro-Ecological Futures in South Asia"

Contact information

Karl Jaspers Centre for Advanced Transcultural Studies
Voßstraße 2, Building 4400
Room 116
69115 Heidelberg

+49 (0) 6221 54 4365
+49 (0) 6221 54 4012

About Daniel Münster

Daniel Münster is a social anthropologist working on South Asia with interests in agrarian environments, political economy, global food regimes, science and technology, and social theory. He holds a doctorate (Dr.phil.) in anthropology from Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich (2005) and has studied in Munich, Mexico City (ENAH), and, as a Fulbright scholar, in Lexington (University of Kentucky). Daniel has conducted extensive ethnographic fieldwork in rural Tamil Nadu and Kerala (South India). Before joining the Heidelberg Cluster of Excellence as a Junior Research Group Leader in April 2013, he taught social anthropology at Bielefeld University (2005-2007) and Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (2007-2013).

Daniel’s current research focuses on the South Indian district of Wayanad (Kerala), where he has been conducting fieldwork since 2008. His main areas of inquiry are a) the political ecology of agrarian crisis, b) farmers’ suicides in the context of competitive party politics, c) histories of internal migration and Syrian Christian modernity, d) human-nature relations at the agrarian frontier, e) speculative cash-crop farming and the neoliberalization of agriculture, and f) ginger as a socio-natural agent of change. He is currently writing a monograph (working title: “Poisoned Landscapes, Poisoned Selves”) that takes farmers’ suicides as an entry point for an regional ethnography that is theoretically informed by environmental anthropology, political economy, and the anthropology of the state.

Daniel’s research with the JRG C15 Agrarian Alternatives at the Cluster, which complements his work on agrarian crisis, looks at moments of hope, experimentation, and innovation as they emerge in such landscapes of uncertainty. In close collaboration with the other members of his team, Saee Haldule and Julia Poerting, Daniel will look at a variety of Alternative Agrarian Initiatives (AAI) across South India, such as organic farming, permaculture, Fukuoka farming, zero-input farming and biodynamic farming. The project examines agrarian alternatives from a transcultural perspective by documenting the interplay of knowledge, technologies, power and economics in the propagation and adaptation of alternative agricultures. The project aims at mapping the dynamics of knowledge, practice and power between farmers, activists and agronomic experts of various kinds and seeks to understand the on-the-ground effects of global concerns about the economic and environmental future of South Asian agriculture. 

Research Interests

India, esp. South India (Tamil Nadu, Kerala) | Environmental Anthropology: Political Ecology, Environmental Humanities, Science and Technology Studies, Multispecies Studies | Agrarian Studies: Political Agronomy, Tropical cash-crops, Pesticides, Agrarian Frontiers, Agrarian Crisis, Natural Farming | Legal and Political Anthropology, Anthropology of the State, Critical Development Studies | Anthropology of Suicide | Economic Anthropology: Neoliberalism, Globalization, Inequality | Colonial and Postcolonial Theory, Subaltern Studies, Transcultural Theory | Anthropology of Religion: Aesthetics of Religion, Anthropology of the Senses, Hinduism, Christianity | Anthropology of the Future.


Curriculum vitae

Academic Employment

Heidelberg University. Leader of Junior Research Group C15 "Agrarian Alternatives" at the Cluster of Excellence "Asia and Europe in a global context", Heidelberg, Germany, since 04/2013

MLU Halle-Wittenberg: Lecturer in Social and Cultural Anthropology, Seminar für Ethnologie, Halle (Saale), Germany, 2007- 2013

Bielefeld University: Lecturer in Social Anthropology at Fakultät für Soziologie, Bielefeld, Germany 2005-07

LMU Munich: Lecturer at the Seminar für Religionswissenschaft und Philosophie der Religionen Europas, Munich, Germany 2003

Heidelberg University. Adjunct Lecturer (Lehrauftrag) at the Department of Anthropology of the South Asia Institute, 2002


LMU Munich: Doctorate (Dr.phil.) in Social and Cultural Anthropology, Munich, Germany, 2005

LMU Munich: Graduiertenkolleg "Postcolonial Studies", Ph.D. scholarship, funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) at LMU Munich, 2002-2005

University of Kentucky: Fulbright Fellow in Anthropology, Department of Anthropology, Lexington, KY, USA, 08/2000-07/2001

LMU Munich:   M.A. (Magister). Major field: Social and Cultural Anthropology, Minor fields: Intercultural Communication, History of Religion (Religionswissenschaft), 1993 – 2000

Escuela National de Antropología e Historia (ENAH): Student of Anthropology, Mexico City, Mexico. 11/1995 – 02/1997

Workshops and Conferences (Organized, since 2013)


2016 "Environmental Humanities: Interdisciplinary Perspectives" Lecture Series at Heidelberg University (with D. Collet, J. Dame, C. Wergin).

2016 "Food Futures and Agroecologies in Damaged Environments: Entangled Species, Sustainable Livelihoods, Contested Knowledge", Workshop (with Sita Venkateswar), 14th Biannual Conference of the European Association of Social Anthropologists, Milan, Italy, July 20-23

2015 "Crises and Alternatives: Ethnographies of Hope in the Age of Capital". Workshop at the biennial conference of the German Anthropological Association (DGV), Marburg University, Sep 30-Oct 03

2015 "Scales of Environmental Knowledge: Technologies, representations and power", panel, 7th Annual Conference, Cluster of Excellence "Asia and Europe", Heidelberg University, October 7-9 

2015 "Producing food sovereignty: Reclaiming healthy, tasty and local foodways in Asia" (with Julia Poerting and Saee Haldule); workshop at the Conference 'Food, Feeding and Eating in and out of Asia", Asian Dynamics Initiative, University of Copenhagen, June 24-26.

2014 "Soils, Seeds and Capitalism: Political Agronomy and the Intimacies of Farming" (with Birgit Müller), panel at the 12th Biannual Conference of the European Association of Social Anthropologists, Tallinn, Estonia. August 1-4, 2014

2013 "Cultivating Futures: Ethnographies of Alternative Agricultures in South Asian Landscapes of Crisis" (with Saee Haldule and Julia Poerting); Workshop at the Cluster of Excellence "Asia and Europe", Heidelberg University.


Kerala and Tamil Nadu (India)

Selected publications

A selection of Daniel's work is available for download here (login required)


Münster, Daniel 2007. Postkoloniale Traditionen: Eine Ethnografie über Dorf, Kaste und Ritual in Südindien [Postcolonial Traditions: An Ethnography of Village, Caste and Ritual in South India]. Bielefeld: transcript.

Münster, Daniel 2001. Religionsästhetik und Anthropologie der Sinne: Vorarbeiten zu einer Religionsethnologie der Produktion und Rezeption ritueller Medien. München: Akademischer Verlag.

Edited Volumes and Special Issues

(2017) "Troubling Species: Care and Belonging in a Relational World", edited with The Multispecies Editing Collective. RCC Perspectives: Transfromations in Environment and Society 2007(1)

(2015) Suicide and Agency: Anthropological Perspectives on Self-Destruction, Personhood and Power. Edited with Ludek Broz. Farnham: Ashgate 

(2014) The Making of Neoliberal India, Special Issue, Contributions to Indian Sociology 48(1), edited with Patrick Neveling and Christian Strümpell

(2012) Fields and Forests: Ethnographic Perspectives on Environmental Globalisation. edited with Ursula Münster and Stefan Dorondel. RCC Perspectives 2012, 5,

Articles and Chapters

Münster, Daniel. 2017. “Frontier in Ruins: Internal Colonization and the Making of an Agricultural Landscape in South India.” In Soziale Ästhetik, Atmosphäre, Medialität: Beiträge aus der Ethnologie, edited by P. Zemisch, U. Münster, et al., 97–107. Münster: Lit.

Münster, Daniel. 2017. Zero Budget Natual Farming and Bovine Entanglements in South India. In: 'Troubling Species: Care and Belonging in a Relational World,' edited by The Multispecies Editing Collective. RCC Perspectives: Transformations in Environment and Society 2017 (1): 25–32.

Benson, E., V. Braun, J.M. Langford, D. Münster, U. Münster and S. Schmitt. 2017. "Introduction." In: RCC Perspectives: Transformations in Environment and Society 2017 (1): 5–8.

Münster, Daniel, and Julia Poerting. 2016. Land als Ressource, Boden und Landschaft: Materialität, Relationalität und neue Agrarfragen in der Politischen Ökologie. Geographica Helvetica 71 (4): 245–57.

Münster, Daniel. 2016. Agro-ecological double movements? Zero Budget Natural Farming and alternative agricultures after the neoliberal crisis in Kerala. In Critical Perspectives on Agrarian Transition: India in the Global Debate, edited by B. B. Mohanty, 222–44. New Delhi: Routledge.

Münster, Daniel. 2015. Agrarian Alternatives: Agroecology, Food Sovereignty and the reworking of human-environmental relations in India. Rivista Degli Studi Orientali Nuova Serie 88 (Supplement 2): 233–50.

Münster, Daniel 2015. Farmers' Suicides and the Moral Economy of Agriculture: Victimhood, voice, and agro-environmental responsibility in South India. In: Suicide and Agency: Anthropological perspectives on self-destruction, personhood and power, L. Broz and D. Münster, eds. Farnham: Ashgate, 105-125

Münster, Daniel and Ludek Broz 2015. The Anthropology of Suicide: Personhood and the Tension of Agency. In: Suicide and Agency: Anthropological perspectives on self-destruction, personhood and power, L. Broz and D. Münster, eds. Farnham: Ashgate, 3-23.

Münster, Daniel 2015. "Ginger is a gamble": Crop booms, rural uncertainty, and the neoliberalization of agriculture in South India. Focaal—Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology 71: 100-113

Münster, Daniel, Julia Poerting und Juliane Dame 2015. Agrarwirtschaft in Indien: Kleinbauern zwischen Krise und neuen Perspektiven. Geographische Rundschau 67(1):16-23.

Münster, Daniel 2015. Farmers' Suicides as Public Death: Politics, Agency and Statistics in a Suicide-Prone District (South India)Modern Asian Studies 49(05):1580–1605

Münster, Daniel 2014. A Letter to Subhash Palekar, Natural Farmer. In: Beyond Doom and Gloom: An Exploration through Letters. Elin Kelsey, ed. Pp. 23–25. RCC Perspectives 2014, no. 6. Munich: Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society.

Münster, Daniel & Christian Strümpell 2014. The Anthropology of Neoliberal India: An Introduction. Contributions to Indian Sociology 48(1):1-16 (special issue on "The Making of Neoliberal India", eds. Neveling/Strümpell/Münster)

Münster, Daniel & Ursula Münster 2012. Consuming the Forest in an Environment of Crisis: Nature Tourism, Forest Conservation and Neoliberal Agriculture in South India. Development and Change 43(1): 205-227.

Münster, Daniel 2012. Postkoloniale Ethnologie: Vom Objekt postkolonialer Kritik zur Ethnografie der neoliberalen Globalisierung. In Schlüsselwerke der Postcolonial Studies, edited by Reuter, Julia & Alexandra Karentzos. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag, 189-201.

Münster, Daniel 2012. Farmers' Suicides and the State in India: Conceptual and ethnographic notes from Wayanad, Kerala. Contributions to Indian Sociology 46(1&2, special issue on suicide in South Asia): 181-208.

Münster, Daniel & Ursula Münster 2012. Human-Animal Conflicts in Kerala: Elephants and Ecological Modernity on the Agrarian Frontier in South India. In Fields and Forests: Ethnographic Perspectives on Environmental Globalization (RCC Perspectives 2012/5), edited by Münster, Ursula, Daniel Münster & Stefan Dorondel. Munich: Rachel Carson Center, 41-49.

Münster, Daniel 2005. Of Spirits and Hybrids: Discourses of Endangerment  in Rural South India. In: Perspectives on Endangerment (Passages: Transdiciplinary Cultural Perspectives), edited by Huggan, Graham & Stephan Klassen. Hildesheim: Olms, 109-20.

Comments, Interviews and Reviews

Entrevista/Interview with Porvenir (Chile) Revista de cultura visual/Journal of Visual Culture. interview and translation Ximena Moreno.

Münster, Daniel. 2015. “Review: The Darjeeling Distinction. Labor and justice on fair-trade tea plantations in India, by Sarah Besky.” Allegralab.

Münster, Daniel. 2014 "Ze German School: World Anthropology with an Accent", review of Bierschenk, T., M. Krings, and C. Lenz (eds) 2013. Ethnologie im 21. Jahrhundert. Ethnologische Paperbacks. Berlin: Reimer. Zeitschrift für Ethnologie 139: 155-157

Münster, Daniel 2012. Die sensible Kunst der Religionsaisthetik: Eine ethnologische Kritik. Erwägen Wissen Ethik 23(2): 291-93.