Entrepreneurial Citizenship

Principal Investigators

Prof. Dr. Srirupa Roy

Professor of State and Democracy in Modern India and Director, Centre for Modern Indian Studies (CeMIS)

Georg-August-Universität Göttingen

Centre for Modern Indian Studies, Waldweg 26, 37073 Göttingen, Germany

+49 (0)551 39 20236

+49 (0)551 39 14215



Srirupa Roy is Chair of State and Democracy in Modern India and Director of the Centre for Modern Indian Studies (CeMIS), at the University of Göttingen  Her research and publications have focused on two different aspects of the "Politics of the New": (1) the institutional and cultural practices of postwar "nation-building” undertaken in decolonizing nation-states such as India and (2) the politics of  "curative democracy" or democratic reform and the growing importance of non-electoral actors and institutions such as the media, judiciary, and civil society activism in democratic political life.

She is the author of Beyond Belief: India and the Politics of Postcolonial Nationalism (Duke University Press, 2007); co-editor of Visualizing Secularism and Religion: Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey, India (University of Michigan Press, 2012) and Violence and Democracy (Seagull, 2006); numerous chapters in edited volumes and journal articles in Comparative Studies in Society and History; Political Communication; Journal of Asian Studies; South Asia; Interventions; Contributions to Indian Sociology.

Professor Roy has substantive experience in transregional research. She has been a co-recipient of an international collaborative research grant from the Social Science Research Council, which enabled a two-year collaborative transregional research project on the politics of secularism in the Middle East and South Asia. She has also co-directed two transregional research workshops at the European University Institute’s Mediterranean Research programme, which brought together scholars of South Asia and the Middle East. At an institutional level, Professor Roy served as the Senior Advisor for International Collaboration at the Social Science Research Council, where she helped to conceptualize and launch the Inter-Asia initiative for the promotion of transregional research among scholars of Asia. She continues to participate in institution and capacity-building initiatives for advancing transregional research, as a member of International Advisory Board for the Asia Research Institute (ARI) at the National University of Singapore; the senior researcher on the SSRC's Transregional Virtual Research Institute on "Media, Activism, and the New Political"; member of the SSRC's InterAsia Program Steering Committee and Postdoctoral Fellowship Selection Committee; member of the International Advisory Team of the World Social Science Fellows Program, International Social Science Council; and an editorial board member of the journal Critical Asian Studies.

Prof. Dr. Peter van der Veer


Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Göttingen

Hermann-Föge-Weg 11, 37073 Göttingen, Germany

+ 49 (0)551 4956 229

+49 (0)551 4956 170



Peter van der Veer is Director of the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity at Göttingen. He has taught Anthropology at the Free University in Amsterdam, at Utrecht University and at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1992 he was appointed as Professor of Comparative Religion and Founding Director of the Research Center in Religion and Society in the Social Science Faculty of the University of Amsterdam. He served as Dean of the Social Science Faculty and as Dean of the Amsterdam School for Social Science Research at Amsterdam, and as Director of the International Institute for the Study of Islam and Chairman of the Board of the International Institute for Asian Studies, both in Leiden. In 1994 he was appointed as University Professor at Large at Utrecht University, a position he continues to hold. He received the Hendrik Muller Award for his social scientific study of religion. He is an elected Fellow of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Van der Veer works on religion and nationalism in Asia and Europe. He has published “The Modern Spirit of Asia” (Princeton University Press 2013) on the comparative study of religion and nationalism in India and China. Among his major publications are “Gods on Earth” (LSE Monographs, 1988), “Religious Nationalism” (University of California Press, 1994), and “Imperial Encounters” (Princeton University Press, 2001). He was editor or co-editor of “Orientalism and Post-Colonial Predicament” (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993), “Nation and Migration” (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1995), “Conversion to Modernities” (Routledge, 1997), “Nation and Religion” (Princeton University Press, 1999), “Media, War, and Terrorism” (Routledge-Curzon, 2003), and “Patterns of Middle-Class Consumption in India and China” (Sage 2007).

Prof. Dr. Sabine Hess

Professor of Cultural Anthropology / European Ethnology

Georg-August-Universität Göttingen

Institute of Cultural Anthropology / European Ethnology, Heinrich-Düker-Weg 14, 37073 Göttingen, Germany

+49 (0)551 39 25349

+49 (0)551 39 21241



Dr. Gerda Heck

CETREN Postdoctoral Researcher in the project "Entrepreneurial Citizenship"

Georg-August-Universität Göttingen

Heinrich-Düker-Weg 14, 37073 Göttingen, Germany

+49 (0)551 39 21246

+49 (0)551 39 21284



Gerda Heck is a post-doctoral researcher in CETREN’s “Entrepreneurial Citizenship” project. Her main research interests are focused on migration and border regimes, urban studies, transnational migration, migrant networks, self-organizing, religion and new concepts of citizenship. She is a member of “kritnet ”, Network for Critical Migration- and Border- Regime Research (

She received her PhD in Sociology in 2006. In her dissertation she discussed the phenomenon of undocumented immigration in Germany and the US, and mainly focused on the development of the migration regime in both states, the public discussion on the subject and the influencing thereof by relevant initiatives.

From 2006 until 2010 she conducted research in Morocco on the shifting of EU migration policy towards North African countries and the strategies of sub-Saharan migrants on the migration routes towards Europe. For this purpose she undertook several field research trips to Morocco as well as to the Spanish exclaves Ceuta and Melilla.

Within the scope of the international and interdisciplinary research project “Global Prayers – Redemption and Liberation in the City“ ( she has been investigating since 2010 the role of the new revival church communities on the migration routes in different cities with regard to Congolese migration. To this end she conducted a multi-sited ethnographic research in Berlin (Germany), Istanbul (Turkey), Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of Congo), Paris (France) and Rio de Janeiro (Brazil). In this research she showed how Congolese migrants establish themselves as Christians in the urban context on the migration routes: how transnational mobility, religious networks, religious belief, sacred spaces and informal economy are used by the migrants to establish themselves (temporarily) as sub-Saharan Christians in the various cities.

With her new research at CETREN  she extends her previous work on the entanglement of the religious and commercial,  as well as the importance of the “suitcase trade” within the Congolese diaspora. Drawing on the concept of “flexible citizenship” (Ong 1999), she will investigate the ways in which Congolese migrants and traders in Guangzhou try to establish themselves both locally and in their respective cities of residence (in Europe or Africa) and gain rights.

Postdoctoral Researcher (2014-2016)

Dr. Nellie Chu (2014-2016)

CETREN Postdoctoral Researcher in the project "Entrepreneurial Citizenship"

Georg-August-Universität Göttingen



Nellie Chu is a post-doctoral researcher in CETREN’s pilot program, “Entrepreneurial Citizenship.” As a cultural anthropologist from the University of California, Santa Cruz (2014), Nellie explores the intersection between culture and the economy within post-socialist contexts. Drawing from the subfields of economic anthropology and feminist anthropology, she examines how transnational commodity chains are created and linked through post-socialist transformations of city spaces, gendered labor, and worker identities. By pushing against theories of globalization and neoliberal governmentality that tend to homogenize market practices, her work emphasizes the diversity of people’s placed-based engagements with commodity production and exchange.

Her current book project, Anchors of Desire: The Crafting of Transnational Entrepreneurship in Southern China, draws from ethnographic research she conducted in Guangzhou from 2010-2012. There, she traced the emergence of migrant entrepreneurs within Guangzhou’s fast fashion sector as a case study into how Chinese citizens from the nation’s vast countryside attempted to become urbanized, desiring subjects through their experiments in fast fashion manufacture and trade. More broadly, her research analyzed the spatial and temporal dimensions of “the factory” within home-based workshops. There, workers’ experiences of labor refigured the politics of work that once served as sources of collective belonging. In the contemporary period, temporary factory workers saw their wage labor as intermediary stepping stones to becoming enterprising, self-employed agents.

Nellie’s new research project at CETREN investigates the role of transnational migrant entrepreneurs in linking the commodity chains of fast fashion in Guangzhou. She plans to trace the family and business relations of Korean, Nigerian, and Sengalese diasporic groups whose members live and work in Guangzhou. She examines how transnational migrants’ direct encounters with China’s post-socialist city spaces and labor relations transform their ideas of transnational entrepreneurship, which are increasingly defined by unequal relations of global commodity production and exchange. By observing these encounters, she analyzes the cross-cultural collaborations and contestations that these transnational migrant entrepreneurs from the post-socialist and post-colonial worlds have engendered.

Postdoctoral Researcher (2014-2015)

Dr. Lisa Björkman (2014-2015)

CETREN Postdoctoral Researcher in the project "Entrepreneurial Citizenship"

Faculty of Urban Affairs, University of Louisville



Lisa received a PhD in Politics from the New School for Social Research in 2012. Her research explores how global-level processes of urbanization and urban transformation are redrawing lines of socio-spatial inclusions and exclusions, animating new arenas of political mobilization, contention and political representation. So far she has taken on two big projects. The first is a political ethnography about the encounter in the Indian city of Mumbai between liberalizing market reforms and the materially-dense politics of the city’s water infrastructures, exploring the everyday political, social, and material dynamics that produce and inhabit flows of water through the growing and globalizing city. This project, which was the core of her doctoral dissertation (2011), has resulted in a series of journal articles as well as her forthcoming book, Pipe Politics: Embedded Infrastructures and Mumbai’s Contested Waters (Duke University Press 2015), which was recipient of the American Institute of Indian Studies’ 2014 Joseph W. Elder Prize in the Indian Social Sciences.

Her second project, which she carried out as a postdoctoral fellow with the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity in Göttingen, extended her previous work on the everyday politics of infrastructural provisioning and access to more explicitly engage with the formal institutions of politics and policymaking. This research, which was carried out in Mumbai over eight months in 2012-2013 in conjunction with the city’s Municipal Corporation elections, involved ethnographic research in a popular (“slum”) neighborhood, focusing on the role of election-season cash exchange in producing and reconfiguring socio-political networks of power and authority in the city. Probing popular and scholarly debates about urban politics, bureaucratic corruption and political clientelism, the research reveals how election-season exchange animates intricate, contingent, highly-speculative relational and informational networks by means of which democratic representation is actually produced and instantiated – and political contestations and substantive citizenship claims articulated.

Lisa’s new research as as postdoctoral research fellow with CETREN’s “entrepreneurial citizenship” project extends her previous work on material and infrastructural politics to look at the multiple and contesting iterations and urban imaginaries operative in contemporary Mumbai, focusing on the transregional flows of resources, ideas, materials and desires at work in making and remaking the city. The first phase of this research, which Lisa began during the summer of 2014, studies a massive urban redevelopment and infrastructural upgrading project, conceived of by the spiritual leader of Mumbai’s million-strong Dawoodi Bohra community.  Spread over 16.5 acres in a central Mumbai market district of Bhendi Bazaar, the project aspires to reconfigure one of most prominent and oldest market neighborhoods of Mumbai. Lisa’s research explores the flows of resources, ideas, and materials, and entrepreneurial ethics animating the project, and at the variegated socio-cultural, religious or community networks, political idioms and material practices through which the project is unfolding.


T: +49 551 39 21286
F: +49 551 39 21284


Georg-Universität-Universität Göttingen
Heinrich-Düker-Weg 14
37073 Göttingen