Erik Mueggler is a Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Michigan, afilliated with the University’s Center for Chinese Studies and the Interdepartmental Doctoral Program in Anthropology and History. His research covers a variety of topiccs in social and cultural theory, focusing on the politics of ritual, religion, science and nature in the border regions of China.

Mueggler’s first book, The Age of Wild Ghosts: Memory, Violence and Place in Southwest China (2001), explores the history of a minority community in Yunnan province in the last half of the twentieth century. The book shows how rural mountian people used resources of language and ritual to create a habitable place for themselves in the face of many, sometimes devastating, projects to bring modernity to them.

In The Paper Road: Archive and Experienc in the Botanical Exploration of West China and Tibet (2011), Mueggler investigates British and American botanists and their Yunnanese collaborators. In the first half of the twentieth century, Western botanists undertook an intensive exploration of western China, collected and named thousands of new species, shipped tens of thousands of specimens back to the Royal Botanic Gardens at Edinburgh and Kew, and introduced hundreds into cultivation in British gardens. By focusing on the relations of these explorers to the mountain inhabitants who worked as their guides, porters, and collectors, Mueggler explores this region as a place of multiple, experimental encounters amongst the world’s human and nonhuman inhabitants.

In his most recent projects, Mueggler has returned to ethnographic work in Yunnan and Sichuan, on death and death ritual, and on the practices and ideologies of printing in monastic settings.

Mueggler is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including a Macarthur Foujndation “Genius” fellowship, a a Center for the Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences Fellowship, and a British Academy Fellowship, and fellowships from the Wenner Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, the Social Sciences Research Council, and the Woodrow Wilson Foundation.