I am an anthropological archaeologist focusing on pre-historic and early historic China. My main research interest lies with questions of inter-cultural contact and human-environment interaction. Geographically I am focusing on the so-called border regions of China, which have been zones of interactions since early prehistoric times. I have received a broad training in Archaeology, Chinese Studies, East Asian Art History, and Geography at various research institutions in Germany, China, and the United States, which provides me with the necessary background for such an interdisciplinary approach. After completing my doctoral studies at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) in 2013, I served as postdoctoral fellow at Hebrew University and at the University of Munich. In January 2016, I joined the faculty of the Institute of Archaeology, University of Oxford, where I am also affiliated with the Oxford China Centre and with St Hugh's College.
Much of my research focuses on the mountains of western China as an important intersection point of long-distance interactions reaching as far as Central Asia on the one hand and Southeast Asia on the other. Additionally, I have conducted ethnographic fieldwork on the Nuosu (Yi) ethnic group, their adaptation to the environment on the eastern rim of the Tibetan Plateau, and their interactions with other ethnic groups. Another interest of mine concerns burial data as a source of evidence for various forms of past identities. Choosing Southwest China as a case study, I have developed a new approach to mortuary archaeology that is appropriate for analyzing particularly complex and inhomogeneous bodies of data.
In my current research, I am focusing my attention to another expression of group identities reflected in patterns of ceramic production and usage. In this case, I am focusing on Northwest China during the middle Bronze Age that sees a great variety of ceramic traditions existing next to each other. Combining macroscopic analysis, petrography, use-wear analysis, residue analysis, use-wear analysis, and ethnoarchaeological research, I investigate changes in ceramic production and usage as expressions of identity and in their connection to patterns of food preparation and consumption.
Together with my colleague Jade d'Alpoim Guedes and colleagues from the Sichuan Provincial Institute of Archaeology, Sichuan University, and Beijing University, I am furthermore conducting research on Human Response To High Altitude Environmental Change on the eastern rim of the Tibetan Plateau.