Agnieszka Joniak-Lüthi

Department of Social Sciences

PER 21 bu. G340
Bd de Pérolles 90
1700 Fribourg


I joined the Unit of Social Anthropology as a professor in charge of the German-language program in September 2020. Prior to that, I had completed a Master’s degree in Chinese Studies from Adam Mickiewicz University in Poland and then a PhD in Social Anthropology from the University of Bern. I have lectured and researched at my Polish alma mater and at the Universities of Bern, St Gallen, Zurich and Fribourg, at LMU Munich and at Xinjiang University and Sichuan University in China. I have also been a visiting researcher at the Universities of Washington, Oslo and Cambridge. Before my appointment in Fribourg, I was an SNSF Professor at the Institute of Social Anthropology, University of Zurich.


My primary research area is China. I have studied and researched there for more than four years in total, first in tropical southwest China, then in the metropolises of Beijing and Shanghai, and since 2011 in the arid Xinjiang region at the border with Central Asia. In the last few years, I have expanded my research to Kyrgyzstan and other Central Asian post-socialist countries. In my doctoral dissertation, I wrote about nationalism and ethnicity in China. At the postdoctoral level, I researched settler colonialism and identity politics. In recent years, I have increasingly devoted myself to considering infrastructure. Since 2018, I have led the SNSF-funded team project ROADWORK: An Anthropology of Infrastructure at China’s Inner Asian Borders, which focuses on roads being built in the border regions between China and Central Asia as part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. As part of the project, I have initiated an online art exhibition Asphalt – Lines and Lives, which is curated by four curators from Europe and Central Asia and is going to open in summer 2021.


Apart from my research activities, I am involved in the field of Open Access (OA). I strongly support the idea of free access to scientific publications and advocate a decisive restructuring of the scientific publishing market. Together with ten other researchers, I therefore founded the diamond Open Access journal Roadsides, of which I have been Managing Editor since 2019. In Roadsides we publish high-quality research in innovative formats; at the same time, it is also an experiment for us as an editorial collective to find out how to manage an ethical OA journal in terms of decision-making processes, employment conditions and gender parity, as well as regional representation, peer review and citation policy.


My publications can be accessed here:üthi

Research and publications

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