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Key Profile Area: Global South Studies

Prof. Dr. Dan Smyer Yü

Member of the Global Faculty

Kuige Professor of Ethnology, the National Centre for Borderland Ethnic Studies in Southwest China at Yunnan University

Dan Smyer Yü is Kuige Professor of Ethnology, School of Ethnology and Sociology and the National Centre for Borderlands Ethnic Studies in Southwest China at Yunnan University. He received his doctoral degree in anthropology from the University of California at Davis in 2006. Prior to his current faculty appointment, he was a Senior Researcher/Research Group Leader at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity and a core member of the Transregional Research Network (CETREN) at University of Göttingen. Currently he is an elected board member of International Society for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture (ISSRNC), a member of the Advisory Board of Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology, and the co-lead of the Thematic Working Group on Himalayan Environmental Humanities.

His research interests include environmental humanities, religion and ecology, indigenous knowledge, modern Tibetan Buddhism, politics of ethnic diversity in China, and Eurasian secularisms. His geographical specializations are modern China, Himalayan borderlands, and the Tibetan Plateau. His research projects have been funded by the British Academy Sustainable Development Program, the Swedish Research Council, Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, German Ministry for Education and Research Fund, the National Social Sciences Foundation of China, and Himalayan University Consortium.

Selected publications:

  • Dan Smyer Yü and Erik de Maaker, eds. 2021 Environmental Humanities in the New Himalayas: Symbiotic Indigeneity, Commoning, Sustainability (Routledge Environmental Humanities Series).  
  • Dan Smyer Yü “The Critical Zone as A Planetary Animist Sphere: Etho-graphing An Affective Consciousness of the Earth.” Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture (JSRNC), 14.2(2020)271-290.
  • Dan Smyer Yü and Jean Michaud, eds. 2017 Trans-Himalayan Borderlands: Livelihoods, Territorialities, Modernities (Amsterdam University Asian Borderland Series)
  • Dan Smyer Yü 2015 Mindscaping the Landscape of Tibet: Place, Memorability, Eco-aesthetics (De Gruyter Religion & Society Series)
  • Dan Smyer Yü 2011 The Spread of Tibetan Buddhism in China: Charisma, Money, Enlightenment (Routledge Critical Studies in Buddhism)
Contribution to the KPA IV: 

Smyer Yü contributes his research and teaching to UoC’s Global South Studies Center (GSSC) primarily in the fields of environmental humanities, religious studies, sustainability studies, climate change, and climate-induced human and nonhuman migrations as well as in area studies of China and Asian borderlands. Under the auspices of the GSSC and the Swedish Research Council, his co-edited book Yunnan-Burma-Bengal Corridor Geographies: Protean Edging of Habitats and Empires is forthcoming from Routledge. Currently he is undertaking a new publishing project on a comparative study of climate change in the Himalayas, the Andes, and the Arctic, funded by Himalayan University Consortium and in partnership with GSSC and World Climate Research Program (WCRP). He actively works with scholars at UoC to explore external grants, conduct collaborative research projects, and contribute to and co-organize thematic seminars and publishing workshops for the greater GSSC community.