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Maria Louw

Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, School of Culture & Society, Aarhus University 

During her Carlsberg Monograph Fellowship, Maria Louw will be working on the project 'Spectral Ethics: Rebuilding Moral Worlds in Post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan'

Project description

Massive social changes have swept through former Soviet Central Asia in the decades that have passed since the breaking up of the Soviet Union, leaving many people in precarious circumstances and putting into question received moral values and ideas. Most recently, the war in Ukraine has left its marks on the region, which is situated at a geopolitical crossroads between Russia, China, the Western world, and the Islamic world. Based on ethnographic material gathered in 2006-2022 and engaging with moral theory in philosophy and anthropology as well as feminist care ethics, and using imagistic methods, the monograph explores how people in Kyrgyzstan redefine what a good life, a good person and a good society may be. Each of the chapters of the monograph takes a point of departure in encounters with ancestor spirits who, in Kyrgyzstan, are ethically motivated beings who appear to care for the living when their moral worlds break down.

Short bio

Maria Louw is associate professor in anthropology and leader of the interdisciplinary Centre for the Study of Ethics and Community at Aarhus University. Since 1998, she has conducted extensive fieldwork in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, focusing on everyday religion, secularism and atheism, intergenerational relations and care. She has a particular interest in exploring the spectral dimensions of human life and does so from phenomenological and imagistic perspectives.

Project title: Spectral Ethics: Rebuilding Moral Worlds in Post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan

Area of research: Anthropology

Fellowship period: 1 Sep 2023 - 31 Aug 2024

Fellowship type: Carlsberg Monograph fellow

This fellowship has received funding from The Carlsberg Foundation under the monograph fellowships.