Thomas Stodulka

junior fellow
EURIAS cohort 2016/2017
discipline Social Anthropology
Junior Professor at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Freie Universität Berlin

Research project

The Researcher’s Affects


The proposed project scrutinizes what has elsewhere been described as "the shadow side of fieldwork". It analyses how anthropologists’ encounters with those studied translate into a globally circulated ethnographic knowledge. Within this extensive web of methodological and epistemological challenges, the project focuses on the empirical analysis of thirty ethnographers’ emotions as they emerge during their fieldwork encounters. In a further step, the project intends to formulate a relational epistemology (working title: "Empirical Affect Montage") that challenges a "traditional empiricism" and highlights the role of ethnographers’ documented emotions during fieldwork when analysing ethnographic data and writing about the so-called "Other".


Ethnographic fieldwork triggers a range of emotions that affect observation, influence the understanding of local worlds and guide the formation of theories. My continued assumption is that fieldwork in its manifold appearances can serve as a paradigm for researchers’ emotions in general, since only fieldwork creates an extensive corpus of subjective reports (e.g. field diaries) that can be studied systematically. The project examines the role of documented emotions within the scientific practice of translating locally encountered knowledge into the writings for global (academic) audiences.


The project targets the formulation of a methodological and epistemological paradigm, that amplifies researchers’ self-awareness during field research and enhances the transparency and quality of ethnographic writing. Since this project collaborates with over thirty junior researchers, it would greatly benefit from the advice of and discussion with fellow post-doctoral and senior researchers trained in different disciplinary and transnational research landscapes.


The vigorous documentation and analysis of researchers’ emotions is not only innovative, but a crucial step to systematically address the inter-affective dimension of ethnography. The possibility is that genuine anthropological inquietude and epistemological resourcefulness may account for an inter-affective perspective that builds on the critical reflections of cultural phenomenology. Further, the approach promises to yield methodical empirical frameworks that are provided for future ethnographers and other empirical social, political, and cultural scientists.




Thomas Stodulka is Junior Professor at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology of the Freie Universität Berlin. He holds a Ph.D in Ethnology from that very university. Thomas Stodulka’s research focuses on stigma, marginality, and the interplay between culture, emotion, health, and illness. He conducted long-term fieldwork with street-related young men in Yogyakarta, Indonesia between 2001 and 2013.


Selected publications


Coming of Age on the Streets of Java: Coping with stigma, marginality and illness, Emotion Cultures Series, vol. 1, Transcript, Bielefeld, 2016.

'Storms of Slander: Relational Dimensions of Envy in Java, Indonesia', in R. Smith, M. Duffy & U. Merlone (eds), Envy at Work and in Organizations, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2016, pp. 297-320.


'Emotion Work, Ethnography and Survival Strategies on the Streets of Yogyakarta', Medical Anthropology, vol. 34, no. 1, 2015, pp. 84-97.


'Spheres of Passion: Fieldwork, Ethnography and the Researcher’s Emotions', Curare - Journal for Medical Anthropology, vol. 38, no. 1-2, 2015, pp. 103-116.


'Feldforschung als Begegnung: Zur pragmatischen Dimension ethnographischer Daten', Sociologus, vol. 64, no. 2, 2015, pp. 179-206.


Feelings at the Margins. Dealing with Violence, Stigma and Isolation in Indonesia, with

B. Röttger-Rössler (eds), Campus, Frankfurt/New York, 2014.



junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2016/2017
Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS-KNAW)
discipline Psychology
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2012/2013
Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS-KNAW)
discipline Political Science
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2018/2019
Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS-KNAW)
discipline Political Science
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2017/2018
Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS-KNAW)
discipline History