David Loher

Social Anthropologist PhD


As a social anthropologist, I am an expert in “deep hanging out” (Geertz 1998). Curious to know more about the social world, I consider iterative research designs as a productive way to leave space for the unexpected.
Others call it the principle of serendipity.

—Geertz, Clifford. 1998. “Deep Hanging Out.” The New York Review of Books, 22 October 1998.

I am a social anthropologist and a specialist in higher education development based in Switzerland. As an anthropologist, I am interested in questions at the intersections of legal anthropology, environmental anthropology, and the anthropology of the state. As a higher education development specialist, I am working on questions of public education. Intrigued by the idea of the university not only as a space for individual learning, but as a public and cultural institution, I am interested in creating learning environments that foster critical thinking and collaboration, and hold dear the idea of human freedom as a basic idea of pedagogy.

I received my PhD in social anthropology from the University of Bern in 2016 with a research on so-called assisted voluntary return migration, tracing the transnational migration trajectories of Tunisian migrants between Tunisia and Switzerland. In my following project as a Post-doc researcher, I was working on the legacy of the asbestos industry in Northern Italy. Since 2021, I am a higher education development specialist at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and the Arts HSLU.

In addition to my expertise in ethnographic research methods, mixed methods research designs, and my knowledge in anthropological theories, I have extensive teaching experience at universities and universities of applied sciences, and a background as an elementary school teacher.

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About - David Loher