Erik de Maaker is Assistant Professor and Director of Graduate Studies at the Institute of Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology of Leiden University. He studied at the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, where he obtained his first degree in Cultural Anthropology in 1993. He obtained his PhD degree from the University of Leiden in 2006, on a thesis entitled “Negotiating Life: Garo Death Rituals and the Transformation of Society”.
In my research I have specialized on South Asia, notably on the upland communities of its eastern borderlands. I am working on the transformation of notions of relatedness and belonging. Methodologically, the material and performative dimensions of culture are central to my research. This includes the redefinition and re-appreciation of ‘traditional’ cultural ideas and practices (‘heritage’), and their growing importance in terms of ethnicity, indigeneity and nationalism.
More recently, my research has extended to people’s understanding of land, and the environment, and how access and use is contested between distinct claim holders such as local communities and the state. Research in the peripheries of post-colonial states has raised my interest in the growing importance of Asia’s borders, and I am one of the founders of the Asian Borderlands Research Network. I am also a Visual Anthropologist, in which capacity I use audiovisual means to strengthen the observational dimensions of qualitative research.