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Dr. Hannah Rosa Klepeis

Dr. Hannah Rosa Klepeis

Fellow in the project "Social Worlds: China's Cities as Spaces of Worldmaking" (October-November 2022)

Short Biography

Hannah Rosa Klepeis is a social anthropologist and research fellow on the project “Social worlds: China’s cities as spaces of worldmaking”. She is currently working on her book manuscript based on her PhD reseach which explores Tibetan identity and subjectivities through ideas of relational personhood, morality, mistrust in the context of state-led development and urbanization in post-reform China. Between October 2021 to July 2022, she was a postdoctoral research fellow at the International Institute for Asian Studies at Leiden University; since 2020, she is a research associate the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology (Halle), where she worked as a doctoral researcher from January 2015 to June 2018.


Urban governance and the (un)making worlds on China’s ethnic margins

Her research project examines the making and unmaking of social worlds in a Tibetan borderland city, and evolving understandings of global economic and social changes, in the context of China’s urban governance and geopolitics. Building on previous long-term research, she intends to spend a one month research period conducting ethnographic fieldwork in Shangri-La, Yunnan. Since the city’s rebranding as an ethnic tourist site in the early 2000s, Shangri-La has undergone a large scale and ongoing urbanisation process. The first decades of Shangri-La’s development were characterised by an opening up to the world. Social worlds were re-made not only by the arrival of Han and foreign entrepreneurs and tourists, but also due to an increase in transnational mobilities between Tibetans in China and India. As new social worlds have formed in Shangri-La’s expanding and increasingly connected urban centre, so the influx of different ideas and information has re-shaped Tibetans’ reflections upon the world, and upon their own place within China and its global relations. During the mid-2010s, China’s increased control of Tibetans’ mobility, and rising nationalism in and beyond China, have had an impact upon Shangri-La’s social worlds, as certain forms of social interaction and communication have been marginalised or ended entirely, trends that have been accentuated by the global COVID-19 pandemic. As part of the Worldmaking Project, she will investigate how social worlds are (un)made in the face of political interference that facilitates and limits social connections; how urban Tibetan lives are politicised and entangled in China’s global machinations; and how China’s urban governance at its (multiethnic) margins can be understood within the context of its own worldmaking project.