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Sophie Roche, PD Dr.

Sophie Roche, PD Dr.


  • Junior Research Group Leader

Contact information

Karl Jaspers Centre for Advanced Transcultural Studies
Voßstraße 2, Building 4400
Room 108
69115 Heidelberg

+49 (0) 6221 54 4380
+49 (0) 6221 54 4012

About Sophie Roche

Sophie Roche is currently leading the junior research group “The Demographic Turn in the Junction of Cultures” at the Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Context” at the University of Heidelberg. She worked at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Germany and received her PhD from the Martin-Luther University Halle-Wittenberg in 2010. In this period, she studied youth as a socio-demographic factor (youth bulge) in Tajikistan which was published by Berghahn Books 2014 (paperback 2016) ‘Domesticating youth: Youth Bulges and their Socio-Political Implications in Tajikistan’. She then joined the Zentrum Moderner Orient in Berlin in 2010 with a project on jihad in text and context, an ethnographic approach. The resulting book manuscript “The Faceless Terrorist. A Cultural Enquiry of Jihad” was the base for her Habilitation at the University of Heidelberg accomplished in May 2016. At the ZMO she also edited a book containing the texts and biographies of leading orientalists (Arabists) from Central Asia and Russia “Central Asian Intellectuals on Islam: Between Scholarship, Politics and Identity” within the ZMO Studien (2014)

 She has extensive ethnographic experiences in Tajikistan since 2002, in Russia among Migrants from Central Asia since 2010 and among Muslims in Germany and Turkey since 2014. Beside classic ethnographic method she developed socio-demographic methods for social anthropology and biographical approach for transcultural studies. She has authored several articles that contextualize Tajiks within theoretical debates such as conflict studies, transcultural studies, and Islam in Europe and Russia and Soviet ethnography. She has been awarded visiting scholarships by the Institute d’études de l’islam et des sociétés du monde musulman (IISMM) and the Fondation Maison Science de l’Homme (FMSH) both in Paris.


Curriculum vitae


since July 2013: Junior Research Group Leader at the Cluster “Asia and Europe in a Global Context” at the University of Heidelberg. Project title: The demographic turn in the junction of cultures.

2010 to 2013: Research fellow and associate at Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin.          Project 1: Youth and identity in text and context.
Project 2: Central Asian intellectuals on Islam: between scholarship, politics and identity

Oct.09 to March 10: Research associate at Martin-Luther-University, Halle-Wittenberg, Institute for Social Anthropology. (Teaching)

Sept. to Oct. 07: Preparation courses of the European Doctoral School of Demography (EDSD) at Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.

2005 to 2010: PhD candidate at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle/Saale, Germany. Dissertation thesis ‘Domesticating youth. The youth bulge in post-civil war Tajikistan’.

Selected publications

Monograph, Dissertation, Collected Volume


(Dissertation Thesis) 2010. Domesticating youth. The youth bulge of post-civil war Tajikistan. Dissertation, Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg. (Summa Cum Laude).

 (ed.). 2014. Central Asian Intellectuals on Islam: between Scholarship, Politics and Identity (ZMO Studien 32). Berlin: Klaus Schwarz.

(Monograph) 2014. Domesticating youth. Youth bulges and their socio-political implications in Tajikistan. New York, Oxford: Berghahn. Paperback Edition: spring 2016



Article in Journals (peer-reviewed)

2016. A sound family for a healthy nation. Motherhood in Tajik national politics and society. Nationality Papers.

2015. Twenty-five Somonis for a good future: How young women in Tajikistan shape their futures and secure their present. Central Asian Affairs 2, pp. 71-94.

2013. Continuities and disruptions in Islamic education. Biographies of shogirds in Tajikistan. Anthropology of the Contemporary Middle East and Central Eurasia 1(1), pp. 23-53.

2013. Categories of analysis and categories of practice since the Tajik civil war. Antropologia 13(16), pp. 69-92.

2012. Gender in narrative memory. The example of civil war narratives in Tajikistan. Ab Imperio 3, pp. 279-307.

2011, mit Sophie Hohmann. Wedding rituals and the struggle over national identities. Central Asian Survey 30/1, pp. 113-128.

2010. Friendship relations in Tajikistan. An ethnographic account. Ab Imperio 3, pp. 273-298.

2010. From youth bulge to conflict. The case of Tajikistan. Central Asian Survey 28/4, pp. 405-420.

2010, mit Sophie Hohmann und Michel Garenne. The changing sex ratios at birth during the civil war in Tajikistan: 1992-1997. The Journal of Biosocial Science 42/6, pp. 773-786.


Articles and Book Contributions

with Sophie Hohmann (forthcoming 2016). Between the Central Laws of Moscow and Local Particularity. The reproduction of subgroups in the south of Tajikistan. In Philip Kreager and Astrid Bochow (eds.), Fertility, Conjuncture, and Difference: Anthropological Approaches to the Heterogeneity of Modern Fertility Declines. New York, Oxford: Berghahn.

2015. An Iceberg Theory in Conflict Studies. (Response to book discussion ‘Domesticating Youth’). Central Asian Affairs 2/4.

2014. The Faithful Assistant. Muhiddin Faizulloev‘s Life and Work in the Light of Russian Ethnography. Working Paper of FMSH. www.fmsh.fr/en/c/6540

2014. Some final remarks.  In: S. Roche (ed.). Central Asian Intellectuals on Islam: between Scholarship, Politics and Identity (ZMO Studien 32), pp. 313-370.

2014, mit Jeanne Féaux de la Croix. Introduction: Connecting life and work. In: S. Roche (ed.).  Central Asian Intellectuals on Islam: between Scholarship, Politics and Identity (ZMO Studien 32), pp. 27-51.

2012. Tracing jihod and shahid through local narratives in Tajikistan. Poznanskie Studia Srodkowoazjatyckie 3, (Prof. Marek Gawecki (ed.)).

2012, mit Sophie Hohmann. Wedding rituals and the struggle over national identities. In: John Heathershaw and Edmund Herzig (eds.). The transformation of Tajikistan. The sources of statehood. London: Routledge, Chapter 8.

2011. From youth bulge to conflict. The case of Tajikistan. In: Stefan Kirmse (ed.). Youth in the former Soviet South. Everyday lives between experimentation and regulation. London: Routledge, Chapter 3.

2011, mit John Heathershaw. Islam and political violence in Tajikistan: an ethnographic perspective on the causes and consequences of the 2010 armed conflict in the Kamarob gorge. Ethnopolitics Papers 8.

2010, mit Aksana Ismailbekova. Demography and Patronage. The dynamics of youth bulge in Kyrgyzstan. ORIENT IV, pp. 33-43.

Online Publikationen

 2015. Malthus and the EXPO 2015. allegralaboratory.net/malthus-and-the-expo-2015/

 2014. Роль ислама в жизни центральноазиатских мигрантов в Москве. CERIA Brief 2. October, 2014. Download at: https://app.box.com/s/i0jpzy2kbxw1jalehyxs

2014. The role of Islam in the lives of Central Asian migrants in Moscow. CERIA Brief 2. October 2, 2014. Download at: centralasiaprogram.org/blog/2014/11/18/islam-and-migrants-in-moscow/

with H. Liebau, A.v. Oppen and S. Strickrodt 2012. Conference Report: ‘Ruptures and Linkages: Biography and History in the South.’ German Historical Institute London Bulletin 34 (2), pp. 118-125. www.ghil.ac.uk/publications/bulletin.html

with Dina Wilkowsky 2011. Islam and Society in Central Asia. ZMO Orient Bulletin 29, p. 5. www.zmo.de

with Dina Wilkowsky 2011. Nouruz in Berlin. Central Asia on Screen & Stage e.V., 19th April 2011. www.tethys.caoss.org

with John Heathershaw 2011. A recipe for radicalisation: the campaign against Islam in Tajikistan. OpenDemocracy, 17th January 2011. www.opendemocracy.net

with Aksana Ismailbekova 2010. The glimmer of hope in bloody Kyrgyzstan. Ferghana.ru Information agency, 11th August 2010. www.Ferghana.ru

with Aksana Ismailbekova 2010. Проблеск надежды в окровавленном Кыргызстане. Новости Центральной Азии 10th August 2010. <cite>www.ferghana.ru</cite><cite></cite>

with John Heathershaw 2010. Conflict in Tajikistan – not really about radical Islam. OpenDemocracy, 19th October 2010. www.opendemocracy.net

with John Heathershaw2010. Tajikistan’s marginalised youth. OpenDemocracy, 20th October 2010. www.opendemocracy.net


Book Reviews

Nomadismes d’Asie centrale et septentrionale, von Charles Stépanoff, Crole Ferret, Gaëlle Lacaze, Julien Thorez (2013). Paris: Armand Colin, review by S. Roche (2015) in Étude rurales 195: 184-87.

Labour Migration from Tajikistan, von Saodat Olimova and Igor Bosc (2003), Dushanbe: International Organization for Migration in Cooperation with the Sharq Scientific Research Center, review by S. Roche (2011) in Central Eurasian Reader II, CNRS, EHESS, Berlin: Klaus Schwarz.

Une civilisation du cheval: Les usages de l'équidé de la steppe à la taiga, by Carole Ferret (2009), Paris: IFEAC, review by S. Roche (2011) in Central Asian Reader II, CNRS, Berlin: Klaus Schwarz. 

Muslim Youth: Tensions and Transitions in Tajikistan, von Colette Harris (2006), Boulder, Colo: Westerview Press, review by S. Roche (2011) in Central Eurasian Reader II, CNRS, EHESS, Berlin: Klaus Schwarz.

Fremdbestimmtes Leben. Eine biographische Studie über Frauen in Tschetschenien, von Marit Cremer (2007), Bielefeld: Transcript, review by S. Roche (2011) in Central Eurasian Reader II, CNRS, EHESS, Berlin: Klaus Schwarz.

Les Russes du Kazakhstan: Identités nationales et nouveaux États dans l’espace post-soviétique, von Marlène Laruelle und Sébastien Peyrouse (2004). Paris: Maisonneuve & Larose, review by S. Roche and S. Yessenova (2006) in The Russian Review 65/2 p. 302.