Universiteit Leiden

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Erik de Maaker

Assistant Professor

Dr. E. de Maaker
+31 71 527 6612

Short CV

Erik de Maaker is Assistant Professor at the Institute of Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology of Leiden University. He studied at the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, where he obtained his first degree in Cultural Anthropology in 1993. He obtained his PhD degree from the University of Leiden in 2006, on a thesis entitled “Negotiating Life: Garo Death Rituals and the Transformation of Society”.


In my research I have specialized on South Asia, notably on the upland communities of its eastern borderlands. I am working on the transformation of notions of relatedness and belonging. Methodologically, the material and performative dimensions of culture are central to my research. This includes the redefinition and re-appreciation of ‘traditional’ cultural ideas and practices (‘heritage’), and their growing importance in terms of ethnicity, indigeneity and nationalism.

More recently, my research has extended to people’s understanding of land, and the environment, and how access and use is contested between distinct claim holders such as local communities and the state. Research in the peripheries of post-colonial states has raised my interest in the growing importance of Asia’s borders, and I am one of the founders of the  Asian Borderlands Research Network. I am also a Visual Anthropologist, in which capacity I use audiovisual means to strengthen the observational dimensions of qualitative research.


  • Award for Excellence, Society for Visual Anthropology, American Anthropological Association (1998)


  • 2015: Leiden research profile Asian Modernities en Traditions (AMT) ‘Large Grant’ of €150.000, for the research project ‘Postcolonial Displacements: Migration, Narratives and Place-Making in South Asia.’
  • 2013: Marginal Lands? The Commodification and Re-appreciation of Upland Agriculture in the Borderlands of Northeast India
  • 1999-2004: Individual Project Grant, Netherlands Foundation for the Advancement of Tropical Research (NWO/WOTRO)
  • 1999-2001: Cultural Exchange Scholarship, Indian Council for Cultural Relations

Relevant links

PhD candidates

Assistant Professor

  • Faculteit der Sociale Wetenschappen
  • Instituut CA/Ontwikkelingssociologie

Work address

Pieter de la Court
Wassenaarseweg 52
2333 AK Leiden
Room number 3A35


  • De Maaker E. (2015), Ambiguous Mortal Remains, Substitute Bodies, and other Materializationsof the Dead among the Garo of Northeast India. In: Berger P., Kroesen J. (Eds.) Ultimate Ambiguities: Investigating Death and Liminality. New York: Berghahn Books. 15-36.book chapter
  • De Maaker E. (2015), Book review: Borderland lives in Northern South Asia Review of: Gellner D.N. (2013) Borderland lives in Northern South Asia, South Asia. Journal of South Asian Studies 38(2): 349-350.book review
  • De Maaker E. & Van Schendel W. (2014), Asian borderlands: Introducing their permeability, strategic uses and meanings, Journal of Borderlands Studies 29(1): 3-11.article in journal: refereed
  • De Maaker E. (2014), Book review: Beatrix Hauser. 2012. Promising rituals: Gender and performativity in Eastern India Review of: Hauser B. Promising Rituals: Gender and Performativity in Eastern India, Contributions to Indian Sociology 48(442).book review
  • De Maaker E. (2014), Researching Garo death rites. In: Chaudhuri S.K., Chaudhuri S.S. (Eds.) Fieldwork in South Asia: Memories, Moments and Experiences. New Delhi, India: Sage Publications. 167-186.book chapter
  • De Maaker E. (2014), Why do South Asian documentaries matter?, The Newsletter 68(summer): 30.other
  • De Maaker E. (2013), Have the mitdes gone silent? Conversion, rhetoric, and the continuing importance of the lower Deities in Northeast India. In: Young R., Seitz J.A. (Eds.) Asia in the Making of Christianity. no. 35 Leiden: Brill. 135-159.book chapter
  • Ruscheweyh M.B. & Lauser A. (2013), Performing the Garo nation? Garo Wangala dancing between faith and folklore. [Performing Identity Politics and Culture in Northeast India and Beyond] (translation: De Maaker E.), Asian Ethnology 72(2): 221-239.article in journal: refereed
  • Maaker E. de (2012), Becoming a Borderland: The Politics of Space and Identity in Colonial Northeastern India. Review of: Sanjib Baruah Becoming a Borderland: The Politics of Space and Identity in Colonial Northeastern India., 640, Seminar 640(640): 98-99.book review
  • Maaker E. de, Dubois F., Polit K. & Riphagen M. (2011), From rituals ground to stage.. In: Grimes R.L., Hüsken U., Simon U., Venbrux E. (Eds.) Ritual, media and conflict. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press. 35-61.book chapter
  • Maaker E. de (2011), Negotiations at death: Assessing gifts, mothers, and marriages.. In: Hüsken U., Neubert F. (Eds.) Negotiating Rites.. New York: Oxford University Press. 43-57.book chapter
  • Maaker E. de, Venbrux E. & Quartier Th. (2011), Reinventing "All Souls' Day": Spirituality, contemporary art, and the remembrance of the dead. In: Ahn Gregor (Ed.) Ritual dynamics and the science of ritual. Reflexivity, media and visuality. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag. 617-634.book chapter
  • Maaker E. de (2010), Functie bij : Asian Borderlands Research Network (ABRN). [other]other
  • Maaker E. de & Schleiter M. (2010), Indigeneity as a cultural practice: 'Tribe' and the state in India. Introduction to the focus section 'Indigenous India', IIAS Newsletter (Special Issue, The Asia-Pacific War 60 Years On: History and Memory) 53: 16-17.article in journal
  • Maaker E. de & Schleiter M. (2010), Member of editorial staff IIAS Newsletter 53, special issue The Focus 'Indigenous' India .editorship of journal
  • Venbrux E., Maaker E. de, Heessels M. & Wojtkowiak J. (2009), Kunst als religie. Allerzielen Allicht van Ida van der Lee op de Nieuwe Oosterbegraafplaats in Amsterdam. In: Verdult P. (Ed.) God en kunst. Over het verschijnen en verdwijnen van het religieuze in de kunst. Tielt: Lannoo. 272-287.book chapter
  • Maaker E. de (2009), Narratives of Garo Witchcraft. In: Jansen J., Luning S.W.J., Maaker E. de (Eds.) Traditions on the move. Essays in Honour of Jarich Oosten. Amsterdam: Rozenberg Publishers. 147-157.book chapter
  • Jansen J., Luning S.W.J. & Maaker E. de (Eds.) (2009), Traditions on the move. Essays in honour of Jarich Oosten. Amsterdam: Rozenberg.editorship of book
  • Maaker E. de (2008), Een nieuw bestaan voor de doden: Ritueel en spiritualiteit in het kunstproject Allerzielen Alom. In: Lee I. van der (Ed.) Allerzielen Alom: Kunst tot Gedenken. Zoetermeer: Meinema.book chapter
  • Maaker E. de, Quartier Th., Wojtkowiak J. & Venbrux E. (2008), Kreatives Totengedenken: Rituelle erinnerungsräume in einem Niederländischen Kunstprojekt. In: Jaarboek voor liturgieonderzoek. Groningen. 155-176.book chapter
  • Maaker E. de (2007), Rituals for a Garo Nation. Paper presented at the seminar: Ritual dynamics of conlicts. Heidelberg. [other]other
  • Maaker E. de (2007), De transformatie van een traditie: post-seculiere vieringen van Allerzielen in Nederland.. Openluchtmuseum Arnhem. [other]other
  • Maaker E. de (2007), Garo perspectives on illness and healing.. Leiden University. [other]other
  • Maaker E. de (1 February 2007), Negotiating life: Garo death rituals and the transformation of society. (Lecture). Heidelberg.other
  • Maaker E. de, Nijland D.J. & Geirnaert-Martin D. (2007), Ashes of life, the annual rituals of Laboya, Sumba 1996. An ethnographic multimedia DVD. Göttingen: IWF Knowledge and Media (release no. C 12594).book
  • Maaker E. de (2007), Comment on the policy of the Indian government towards the Burmese military rulers in relation to the volatile situation in Northeast India.. [other]other
  • Maaker E. de & Joshi V. (2007), Editor of Northeast India and beyond: Region and culture, special issue of South Asia: Journal of South Asian studies. [other]other
  • Maaker E. de (2007), From the Songsarek faith to Christianity: Religious change and cultural continuity in West Garo Hills., South Asia 30(3): 517-530.article in journal: refereed
  • Maaker E. de & Joshi V. (2007), Introduction in Northeast India and beyond: Region and culture., South Asia 30(3): 381-390.article in journal: refereed
  • Maaker E. de (2006), Organizer of a lecture by prof. Ute Husken. Leiden University: Leiden University. [other]other
  • Maaker E. de (2006), On the efficacy of the funerals of Songsarek Garo. Tura, Meghalaya State, India. [other]other
  • Maaker E. de (2006), Tribes of mind? Exploring, contesting and redefining notions of tribe. Leiden, the Netherlands. [other]other
  • Maaker E. de (2006), On the efficacy of the death rituals of Songsarek Garo. [other]other
  • Maaker E. de (2006), Towards an understanding of the changing Hill Societies of Northeastern India. Leiden University, Leiden, the Netherlands. [other]other
  • Maaker E. de (30 March 2006), Negotiating life : Garo death rituals and the transformation of society (PhD thesis, Faculty of Humanities, Leiden University). Supervisor(s): Oosten J.G., Schendel H.W. van.PhD thesis
  • Maaker E. de (2006), Towards an understanding of the Changing Hill Societies of Northeastern India. Leiden: Leiden University. [other]other
  • Maaker E. de (2006), De doden onder de levenden.. In: Senten M. (Ed.) Verwondering, wetenschap in Nederland 2006. Amsterdam/Den Haag: Boom Publishers. 206-208.book chapter
  • Maaker E. de (2006), Functie bij : Organized by IWF Knowledge and Media. [other]other
  • Maaker E. de (2006), Recording, constructing and reviewing Teyyam, the annual visit of the God Vishnumurti. In: Crawford P., Postma M. (Eds.) Reflecting Visual Ethnography: Using the camera in anthropological research. Leiden/ Aarhus: CNWS Publishers/ Intervention Press. 103-118.book chapter
  • Maaker E. de (2002), "The Negotiation of Kinship: Mortuary Rituals of the Garo of North Eastern India.". Leiden: CNWS. [other]other
  • Maaker E. de (2002), "Between Own And Other: Garo Perceptions Of Descent, Affinity And Seniority". Leiden. [other]other
  • Maaker E. de (2002), Dynamics of Death. Mortuary rituals and social transformation among the Garo, North Eastern India.. Utrecht: Wotro Researchers Day. [other]other
  • Maaker E. de (2002), "It's Not Niam" The Articulation Of Kin Relations On Death Of A Garo. Heidelberg. [other]other
  • Maaker E. de & Nijland D.J. (2001), Ashes of life, the annual rituals of Laboya, Sumba 1996. Part II: Padu Patyala. Leiden: Institute for Cultural and Social Studies. [other]other

No relevant ancillary activities

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