Research

Judith Beyer’s current research project investigates land and property regimes of non-Buddhist religious communities in Myanmar’s former capital Yangon. The project is among the first long-term anthropological investigations into how religious minorities are dealing with the legal, political, and economic changes triggered by the country’s opening-up over the last few years. Her findings will contribute to research on transmaritime connections through law, investment and religion across the Bay of Bengal. Her envisioned book will flesh out the contours of an anthropology of investment in times of global inequalities.

Beyer’s doctoral research in the Project Group Legal Pluralism (Franz and Keebet von Benda-Beckmann) was devoted to studying legal pluralism in Central Asia. She wrote her thesis on the “customization” of law in Kyrgyzstan (Martin-Luther-University 2009). This investigation revealed how her informants in rural Kyrgyzstan invoked the purported stability of customary law (salt) while situationally incorporating state law, shari’a and international norms into this legal repertoire, as a practical means and a justifiable claim to order their ever-changing lives.

Her master’s thesis Law in transformation: The rhetoric of the constitutional reform in Kyrgyzstan (Eberhard-Karls-University Tübingen 2004) was based on field research in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan. It critically challenged the then-ubiquitous concept of “transformation” after the demise of the Soviet Union, and was based on participant observation among legal scholars, judges and lawyers during the country’s nationwide constitutional referendum in 2003.

She has published on legal pluralism, the state, authority, constitutional politics, descent and oral history. Her recent book publications include Ethnographies of the state in Central Asia. Performing politics (co-edited with Madeleine Reeves and Johan Rasanayagam; Indiana University Press 2014); Baiyz Apanyn zhashoo tarzhymaly – The life history of Baiyz Apa (with Zemfira Inogamova; Gulchynar 2010) and Kyrgyzstan. A photoethnography of Talas (with Roman Knee; Hirmer 2007).

Judith Beyer is currently Board Member of the European Society for Central Asian Studies (ESCAS); Review Editor of the legal anthropological platform Allegralaboratory.net , Peer-Review Coordinator for the cross-disciplinary journal Glocalism. Journal of Culture, Politics and Innovation , Member of the Network for Ethnographic Theory and Associate Member of the European Network on Statelessness (ENS).