Curriculum Vitae

Positions

Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow at the Center for Contemporary Buddhist Studies, Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies, the University of Copenhagen 2020-present.

Research Fellow, The Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, The University of Edinburgh, 2020.

Junior Fellow, Max Weber Center for Advanced Cultural and Social Studies, University of Erfurt, 2019-2020.

Global Perspectives on Society Teaching Fellow, New York University Shanghai. 2017-2019.

Postdoctoral Research working within the group ‘Buddhist Temple Economies in Urban Asia’ at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology. 2014-2017.

Adjunct Professor, Buddhist Studies in India, Antioch University. 2013.

Publications

Book

Enlightenment and the Gasping City: Mongolian Buddhism at a Time of Environmental Disarray. 2019, Cornell University Press.

Forthcoming

‘Toward an Anthropology of Plastics’. 2022. Journal of Material Culture.

Zombie Rubbish and Mummy Materiality: The Undead and the Fate of Mongolian Waste’. 2022. Buddhist and Waste: Excess, Discard, Afterlife of Buddhist Consumption. Eds T. Brox and E. Williams-Oerberg. New York: Bloomsbury Publishing.

‘Buddhism in the Life of Ulaanbaatar: Nucleus, Trace and Bustling Urbanite’ 2022. Religion and Urbanity Online.

Articles in Peer Reviewed Journals

‘Mongolian Buddhism, Science and Healing: A Modernist Legacy’. 2021. Central Asian Survey.

Abrahms-Kavunenko, Saskia and Matthew Milligan. 2021. ‘The Wheel Turning King and the Lucky Lottery: Perspectives New and Old on Wealth and Merriment within Buddhism’ Journal of Contemporary Buddhism. 36, 2: 265-286.

Tenuous Blessings: The Materiality of Doubt in a Mongolian Buddhist Wealth Calling Ceremony, 2020. Journal of Material Culture, 25, 2: 153-166.

Mustering Fortune: Attraction and Multiplication in the Echoes of the Boom, 2019, Ethnos, 84, 5: 891-909.

Mongolian Buddhism in the Democratic Period. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Religion, 2019.

Spiritually Enmeshed, ‘Socially Enmeshed: Shamanism and Belonging in Ulaanbaatar.’ 2016. Social Analysis. 60, 3: 1-16

The Blossoming of Ignorance: Uncertainty, Power and Syncretism among Mongolian Buddhists. 2015, Ethnos, 80, 3: 346-363.

Paying for Prayers: Perspectives on Giving in Postsocialist Ulaanbaatar, 2015, Religion, State and Society. 43, 4: 327-341.

Religious “Revival” after Socialism? Eclecticism and Globalisation amongst Lay Buddhists in Ulaanbaatar. 2012, Inner Asia. 14, 2: 279-297.

Edited Volumes

Monks, Money and Morality: The Balancing Act of Contemporary Buddhism 2021, edited by Christoph Brumann, Saskia Abrahms-Kavunenko and Beata Świtek. New York, London: Bloomsbury

Chapters in Edited Volumes

Regeneration and the Age of Decline: Purification and Rebirth in Mongolian Buddhist Economies’ 2021 in Monks, Money and Morality: The Balancing Act of Contemporary Buddhism edited by Christoph Brumann, Saskia Abrahms-Kavunenko and Beata Świtek. New York, London: Bloomsbury

‘Introduction: Balancing Sangha Economies’ in Monks, Money and Morality: The Balancing Act of Contemporary Buddhism edited by Christoph Brumann, Saskia Abrahms-Kavunenko and Beata Świtek. New York, London: Bloomsbury

Education

Department of Anthropology and Sociology, The University of Western Australia: Doctor of Philosophy. 2007-2012.

History and Philosophy of Science, The University of Melbourne: Postgraduate Diploma. 2005.

Department of Anthropology and Sociology, The University of Western Australia: First Class Honours in Anthropology. 2002.

Faculty of Arts, The University of Western Australia: Bachelor of Arts majoring in Anthropology, Philosophy and Political Science. 1998-2001.

Ethnographic Fieldwork

Ethnographic research in Western Australia for three months funded by the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowhip in 2021

Ethnographic research in Ulaanbaatar for ten months: funded by the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology 2015 and 2016

Ethnographic research in Ulaanbaatar for thirteen months as part of doctoral research: funded by The University of Western Australia 2009 – 2010

Awards

European Union Horizon 2020: Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship, 2020-2022.

The University of Western Australia: PhD Completion Scholarship, 2011.

The University of Western Australia: University Postgraduate Award, 2007-2011.

Faculty of Arts, The University of Western Australia: Dean’s Postgraduate Award, 2009.

School of Social and Cultural Studies, The University of Western Australia: Postgraduate Research Funding, 2009.

Graduate Research School, The University of Western Australia: Graduate Research Travel Award,  2009.

Selected Conferences and Presentations

‘Plastic Purity and Sacred Dairy: Microbes, Life and Purification in Mongolian Dairying.’ Plastic Asia workshop hosted by the Center for Contemporary Buddhist Studies, The University of Copenhagen, 2021.

‘On the Sanctity of (Some)Things: Mongolian Buddhist Perspectives on Mutual Obligation with Animate Materials.’ Buddhism, Economy and Value(s) workshop hosted by the Center for Contemporary Buddhist Studies, The University of Copenhagen, 2021.

‘Monstrous Waste in the Anthropocene’ lecture for Crisis and Transition: Environmental Humanities in a Global World Summer School, The University of Copenhagen, 2021.

‘Troubled Breath: Windhorse, Smog and the Stagnation of Vital Energies’ presentation as part of the Buddhism and Breath Summit, The University of Toronto (online), 2021.

‘Monstrous Waste in the Anthropocene: Tracing the Contours of Disconcerting Materialities.’ Re-opening the Bin. Workshop hosted by the School of Business Economics and Law, University of Gothenburg (online), 2021.

‘Zombie Trash, Mummy Materiality: Rethinking Monster Waste in the Anthropocene.’ The Materiality of Blessings in the Anthropocene: Fusion and Rupture in Transecological and Transdimensional Relatedness in Asian Highland Ecosystems. Workshop hosted by the Center for Contemporary Buddhist Studies, University of Copenhagen (online), 2021.

‘Body of Light, Body of Energy: Buddhism, Science and Healing a Modernist Legacy.’ The Medical and Medicinal Margins workshop (online), 2021.

‘Zombie Trash, Mummy Materiality: Rethinking Buddhist Waste in the Plasticene.’ European Association of Social Anthropologists Conference, Lisbon (online), 2020.

Obscure Purity: Smoke, Smog and the Quasi-Material in Urban Ritual, International Mongolian Studies Vienna Symposium, Vienna, 2020

Choking Light and Breath: Air Pollution and Purification in Urban Mongolia, American Anthropological Association/ Canadian Anthropological Society Annual Meeting, Vancouver, 2019

Cosmologies Fast and Slow: Karma, Fortune and Corruption in Mongolia’s Capital, Biennial Conference of the Finnish Anthropological Society, Helsinki, 2019

Understanding Religion on a Heating Planet: Smoke as Purification in Mongolia, 7th Congress of the Portuguese Anthropological Association, Lisbon, 2019

The Hidden Force of Things: Potency, Objects and Urban Waste in Mongolia. Buddhist Consumption, Excess and Waste Project, Helsingør, University of Copenhagen, 2019

The Social Life of Difficult Things: Navigating Air Pollution in Mongolia’s Capital. European Association for Social Anthropologists Biennial Conference, Stockholm, Sweden, 2018

Tenuous Blessings: Wealth and Ignorance in Mongolian Prosperity Ceremonies. Association of Asian Studies Annual Meeting, Washington DC, USA, 2018.

Calling Money: Mongolian Religion in Ulaanbaatar. Center for Global Asia and Global Perspectives on Society Young Scholars Colloquium on Asia and the World, NYU Shanghai, China, 2018

Enlightenment and the Gasping City: Mongolian Religion in Ulaanbaatar, Faculty Lunch Speaker Series, NYU Shanghai, China, 2018.

Regeneration and the Age of Decline: Understanding the Influence of Transregional Buddhist Economies in Mongolia, Sangha Economies Workshop. The Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Germany, 2017

Materializing Wealth: Mongolian Buddhist Objects and Prosperity Ceremonies, Trade and Translation of Buddhist Material Culture across Asia Panel, Asian Dynamic Initiative Conference, The University of Copenhagen, Denmark, 2017.

Returning Lamas: Life After the Monastery, Mongolian Buddhism in Practice, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary, 2017.

Calling Wealth: Attraction, Multiplication and the Fickleness of Money, University College London, Emerging Subjects of the New Economy research group, United Kingdom, 2017.

Money as Seed, Money as Fruit: Karma, Poverty and Wealth in Ulaanbaatar, Buddhism, Believers and Economic Relations in Asia and Beyond. Buddhism, Business and Believers Conference, The University of Copenhagen, Denmark, 2016.

Aspiring to Enlightenment: Practicing Purification in Postsocialist Mongolia, Religious Revivals and Artistic Renaissance in Central Asia and the Himalayan Region – Past and Present. Fourth International SEECHAC Colloquium, Heidelberg, Germany, 2015.

Pollution and Purification: Metaphors of Spiritual Danger and Social Inequality, Geographies of Capitalism and Landscapes of Globalization Panel, Biennial Conference of the Finnish Anthropological Society, Helsinki, Finland, 2015.

Enlightenment and Purification: Spirituality, Education and Lay Buddhist Religiosity in Mongolia. Anthropologie Comparée du Bouddhisme, Dynamiques Asiatiques, Paris, France, 2015.

New Buddhist Economies in Mongolia: Accrual, Dispersal and the Vicissitudes of Wealth, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle, Germany, 2015.

Contemporary Mongolian Buddhism: Meditation, Ritual and New Forms of Religiosity, Mongolian Buddhism – Past Future and Present, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary, 2015.

Karma and the Permeability of Personhood: Perspectives from Mongolian Buddhists, University College London, Emerging Subjects of the New Economy research group, United Kingdom, 2015.

Polytropy and Eclecticism in Popular Mongolian Religious Practices: White Foods and Meditation in Ulaanbaatar, Department of Inner Asian Studies, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary, 2014.

‘Who is a Real Monk?’ Monastic Practice and Ideas of Lineage in Ulaanbaatar, The 13th Seminar of the International Association for Tibetan Studies, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, 2013.

The Topography of Morality: Global Buddhist Institutions and Morality in Postsocialist Ulaanbaatar, Research Seminars, Mongolia and Inner Asia Studies Unit, University of Cambridge, 2012.

Teaching Experience  

Global Perspectives on Society Teaching Fellow, NYU Shanghai, 2017-2019, Teaching Fellow.

Contemporary Buddhist Cultures, Buddhist Studies in India, Antioch University Abroad 2013, Adjunct Professor.

Independent Study, Buddhist Studies in India, Antioch University Abroad 2013, Project Supervisor.

Meditation Traditions, Buddhist Studies in India, Antioch University Abroad 2013. Tutor.

Religion: Anthropological and Sociological Approaches and Being Human: Culture, Identity and Society, The University of Western Australia, 2013. Guest lecturer and student assessment

Anthropology Department, National University of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar, 2009. Tutor.

Religion, The University of Western Australia, 2008. Lecturer, tutor

Development of Social Thought, The University of Western Australia, 2008. Lecturer, tutor.

Professional Service  

Peer reviewer for:

Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology, Ethos: Journal of the Society for Psychological Anthropology, American Ethnologist, Central Asian Survey, Swiss National Science Foundation, Études Mongoles & Sibériennes, Centrasiatiques & Tibétaines, Focaal: Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology, Social Analysis, Cambridge Journal of Anthropology, Anthropological Quarterly, Prace Etnograficzne, MAVCOR.

Co-organising the ‘Plastic Asia’ workshop hosted by the Center for Contemporary Buddhist Studies, University of Copenhagen, 2021.

Co-organising the ‘Buddhism, Economy and Value(s)’ workshop hosted by the Center for Contemporary Buddhist Studies, University of Copenhagen, 2021.

Co-convening The Materiality of Blessings in the Anthropocene: Fusion and Rupture in Transecological and Transdimensional Relatedness in Asian Highland Ecosystems workshop hosted by the Center for Contemporary Buddhist Studies, University of Copenhagen with Kalzang Bhutia (University California, LA) and Trine Brox (University of Copenhagen), 2021.

Association for Asian Studies Annual Conference, Washington DC, 2018. Co-convening a panel titled ‘Jewels from the Mouth of a Mongoose: Buddhist Conceptions of Value, Prosperity and Fortune in East and Inner Asia and the Himalayas’ with Kalzang Bhutia (Occidental College).

Sangha Economies: Temple Organisation and Exchanges in Contemporary Buddhism. Workshop at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, 2017. Co-convening a workshop with Prof Christoph Brumann and Dr Beata Switek.

The 13th Seminar of the International Association for Tibetan Studies, National University of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar, 2013. Co-convening a panel titled ‘Novelty and Lineage: Contemporary and Historical Relations between Mongolian and Tibetan Buddhism’ with Lhkagvademchig Jadampa (National University of Mongolia).

International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences, the Australian Anthropological Society and the Association of Social Anthropologists of Aotearoa / New Zealand Conference, The University of Western Australia, 2011. Co-convening a panel titled ‘Faith as Heresy: Translocal Religion in a Global Era’ with Associate Professor Debra McDougall

Interviewing Incoming Students at New York University Shanghai, 2018

Professional Affiliations  

Associate: The Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology: 2017-present

Research Fellow: The American Center For Mongolian Studies: 2016

Research Affiliate: School of Culture, History and Languages, The Australian National University: 2014-2015

Professional Development

Cenote, Portugal: 2019, Running and participating in an dance/academic residency program. Academic writer in residence. http://www.cenote-art.com

University of Copenhagen, Denmark: 2019 and 2021. Participating in grant writing workshops and a writing workshops.

Max Planck Institute, Goettingen, Germany: 2015, Voice and Body Coaching: Communicating with Confidence and Accuracy.

Centre De Recerca I Creació Casamarlès, Catalonia, Spain: 2014, Academic writer in residence.

Centre for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning, The University of Western Australia: 2008. Postgraduate Teaching Intern.

Public Presentations

Light, Enlightenment, and Purification: Contemporary Mongolian Buddhism in Ulaanbaatar, 2016. The American Center for Mongolian Studies, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

Studying Buddhism: Culture, Tradition and Globalization, 2016. Rotary Club of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

Radio Interview, 2016, The Voice of Mongolia Radio Show.

Television Interview, 2015. Mongolian National Broadcaster

Contemporary Buddhism and New Forms of Religiosity in Ulaanbaatar, 2015. Zhun Khuree, Past and Present. Dashchoiliin Hiid, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

Interdependent Co-arising: Contemporary Ideas of Buddhism in Ulaanbaatar, 2010. American Centre for Mongolian Studies, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.