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Dr. Catherine Scheer

Conference and roundtable organisation
Field research

Profilbild Scheer

Catherine Scheer’s research focuses on the intersection of Christianity, development and indigeneity in continental Southeast Asia. In her doctoral dissertation, she explored the multifaceted encounters between members of an ‘indigenous minority’ living in the Cambodian highlands and foreign as well as local Protestant development actors. She analysed the articulations of cosmologies, ritual practices and missionary teachings in a rapidly changing socio-economic environment – going back to the Vietnam War, and up to the loss of land and the rapid expansion of the market economy in the new millennium. The question of how these articulations and negotiations have been influencing indigenous conceptions of morality and personhood was hereby of central interest.
In the course of her post-doctoral fellowship, she extended her research to examine the production of a “moral economy” of language in development by following Christian NGO representatives active in transnational networks of knowledge production and policy-making in South-East Asia. Her ethnographic field research has involved Bunong highland dwellers, Christian NGO representatives, indigenous rights activists, Cambodian government officials and international experts.


Employment history

2017- current
Lecturer at the Institut für Ethnologie, Ruperto-Carolus University Heidelberg

2015 – 2017
Post-Doctoral Fellow, Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore

June 2015
Teaching Fellow Manusastra – Université des Moussons, Royal University of Fine Arts, Phnom Penh

2014-June 2015
Global Citizenship Facilitator, Action Solidarité Tiers Monde, Luxembourg

2011- 2nd sem.
Teaching Assistant in Anthropology, Université de Picardie – Jules Verne, Amiens


Educational background

2008 – 2014
PhD in Anthropology, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris
directed by Prof. Yves Goudineau, highest honours
Dissertation The Reformation of the Gongs: Dynamics of Christianisation among the Protestant Bunong of Cambodia’s Highlands

2007 – 2008
Master 2 in Anthropology, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales
Thesis Missions of Development: Protestant NGO Educators in the Cambodian Highlands

2006 – 2007
Master 1 in Ethnology, Université Paris X – Nanterre
Thesis From “Phnong” to “Montagnard”: Hegemonic Representations of the ‘Autochtonous’ Populations of Cambodia’s Highlands
Practical Diploma of Khmer language, INALCO

2005 – 2006
Bachelor 3 in Ethnology, Université Paris X – Nanterre
Khmer Language Certificate, INALCO

2003 – 2005
Bachelor 1-2 in History, Université Paris 7 – Denis Diderot



Peer-reviewed journal articles

  • “Khmers et autochtones: Des études orientalistes aux idéologies ethno-nationalistes”, Péninsule, 2012, n°64, pp.95-121
  • “When the spirits are angry, God gains in popularity: Exploring the emergence of Bunong Protestantism in the Highlands of Cambodia”, Aséanie, December 2011, n°28, pp. 45-72


  • with Michael Feener, “Development’s Missions” in Scheer, Fountain, and Feener. (eds.), The Mission of Development: Religion and Techno-Politics in Asia (Leiden, Brill, forthcoming)
  • “New Life in an expanding market economy : Moral issues among Cambodia’s highland Protestants” in Koning, Juliette, Njoto-Feillard, Gwenaël (eds.), New Religiosities, Modern Capitalism and Moral Complexities in Southeast Asia (London, New York, Palgrave-Macmillan, 2017), pp. 65-88.

Conference and roundtable organisation

  • together with Giuseppe Bolotta, R. Michael Feener and Philip Fountain: Charitable Faiths? NGOs and Religion in Asia, International Conference, CURA, Boston University, 15 May 2017 
  • together with Giuseppe Bolotta, Amelia Fauzia and Nurfadzilah Yahaya: How to Study Religion in Times of Crisis?, Roundtable, Asia Research Institute / NUS, 28 June 2016
  • together with R. Michael Feener and Philip Fountain: The Mission of Development: Religion and Techno-Politics in Asia, International Conference, Asia Research Institute / NUS, 3-4 December 2015

Field research

  • Bangkok (Thailand) : punctual visits from 2015-2017
  • Mondulkiri province & Phnom Penh (Cambodia): March–April 2008, Jan 2009–Jan 2010, Aug–Nov 2010, April–May 2012, punctual visits since August 2015
  • North Carolina (US) and Småland (Sweden): June-July 2010
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