PD Dr. Viola Thimm
Biographical note and research interests
PD Dr. Viola Thimm is an Associate Professor (Privatdozentin) of Anthropology at Heidelberg University and Senior Lecturer at the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg. Most recently, she was fixed-term Professor (W2) of Social and Cultural Anthropology as well as Managing Director and Program Director at the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg, MA Elite Graduate Programme “Standards of Decision-Making Across Cultures” (SDAC) from 2022–2023. She was awarded her Habilitation and Venia Legendi in Anthropology (German qualification for full professorship) in 2021 with her professoral thesis “Shopping with Allah: Muslim Pilgrimage, Gender, and Consumption in Malaysia and Dubai”.
Paying attention to queer elsewhere, Dr. Thimm has been working on the project “Sexual im/mobilities in Muslim pilgrimage” since 2022 which compares conditions in Malaysia and in Germany. Dr. Thimm was Principal Investigator of the research project “From Malaysia to Dubai: Muslim pilgrimage and gender in the context of consuming practices”, (2013–2021) (funded by the German Research Foundation [DFG, “Eigene Stelle”]; the Olympia Morata Programme in support of young female professors; and by the “Nachwuchsinitiative Universität Hamburg” – Initiative for young scholars). She studied Cultural Anthropology, Gender Studies and Romance Studies and received her doctoral degree in Cultural Anthropology by the University of Göttingen in 2013 with a dissertation on Gender and Educational Migration in Singapore and Malaysia.
Viola Thimm was a guest researcher at, among other things, Universiti Malaya (UM) (2023–2024), Zayed University (Dubai, United Arab Emirates) (2017-2018), Monash University (Malaysia) (2017), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) (2009) and at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) (now ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute) (Singapore) (2008).
Her research interests include cultural practices of im/mobility (especially those of transnational migration, pilgrimage and tourism); gender relations and intersectionality; Islam and its socio-cultural entanglements; kinship and family networks; local economies and consumer culture. Her regional focus lies in Southeast Asia (Malaysia and Singapore) and the Arabian Peninsula (United Arab Emirates, Oman), where she has carried out extensive ethnographic fieldwork since 2007.
She is the sole author of three books: "Shopping with Allah: Muslim Pilgrimage, Gender, and Consumption in a Globalized World" (UCL Press, 2023), “Narrating Intersectional Perspectives Across Social Scales: Voicing Valerie” (Routledge 2022) and “Gender and Educational Migration: Life Projects and Images of Femininity of Female Educational Migrants from Malaysia in Singapore [Geschlecht und Bildungsmigration: Lebensentwürfe und Weiblichkeitsbilder malaysischer Bildungsmigrantinnen in Singapur" (Transcript 2014).
Dr. Thimm welcomes applications from prospective candidates who wish to do a PhD in social and cultural anthropology and would like to work on projects related to her research themes including: mobilities, migration, transnationalism, the anthropology of space and place, gender, sexualities, intersectionality, intergenerational ties, religious transformations, Muslim life-worlds, postcolonial and decolonial critique, feminist ethnography. Dr. Thimm accepts candidates wishing to carry out long-term fieldwork in a range of geographical locations. Current PhD students are:
Laila Borrie, „Indo-lranian Diasporas of the 19th - 21th century: Traders, wives, border runners and citizens“ (First supervisor)
Sumiya Mahmud, „Transnational Homemaking among Bangladeshi Migrants across Continents”, Universität Heidelberg, Institute of Anthropology, (First supervisor)
Shadma Ahmed, “Gendered religious resistance: Exploring the Spatial Dynamics of Identity Formation through the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests in India” (First supervisor, 2022–2023)
Anwar Masduki, “Ziarah Wali: An Inquiry of Contemporary Pilgrimage and Religious Tourism in Indonesia”, University of Groningen, Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies. Second supervisor (First supervisor: Marjo Buitelaar).
2023: Thimm, Viola; Shopping with Allah. Muslim Pilgrimage, Gender, and Consumption in a Globalized World. London: UCL Press.
2022: Thimm, Viola: Narrating Intersectional Perspectives Across Social Scales: Voicing Valerie. Routledge.
2014: Thimm, Viola: Geschlecht und Bildungsmigration: Lebensentwürfe und Weiblichkeitsbilder malaysischer Bildungs¬migrantinnen in Singapur [Gender & Educational Migration: Life Projects and Images of Femininity of Female Educational Migrants from Malaysia in Singapore]. Bielefeld: transcript.
2021: Thimm, Viola (editor): (Re-)Claiming Bodies: Gendered Configurations in Islam. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan.
2021: Buitelaar, Marjo*; Manja Stephan-Emmrich*; Viola Thimm* (editors; *The order of editor names for the volume as a whole is purely alphabetical, reflecting equal contribution and responsibility): Muslim Women's Pilgrimage to Mecca and Beyond. Reconfiguring Gender, Religion, and Mobility. Abington/New York: Routledge.
2018: Thimm, Viola (editor): Understanding Muslim Mobilities and Gender. Basel: MDPI.
2018: Chaudhuri, Mayurakshi und Viola Thimm (guest editors): Special Section “Postcolonial Intersections: Asia on the Move” Transfers: Interdisciplinary Journal of Mobility Studies, Vol 8 (3).
2018: Thimm, Viola (guest editor): Special Issue “Understanding Muslim Mobilities and Gender” Social Sciences Vol. 6–7.
2016: Thimm, Viola (associate editor): The International Journal of Diverse Identities, Vol. 16 .
Under review Reconfiguring Gender, Kinship, Spirituality: Space- and Placemaking in Muslim Malaysia
In preparation ‘How I Connect to God is Very Personal’: Malaysian Muslim Transgender Men, the Meaning-Making of Gender and Faith, and the Formulation of an Intimate Relationship with Allah. Co-authored with Joseph Goh
2023: Bringing Intersectionality to the Core of Social and Cultural Anthropology: Scaling Holistic Intersectionality. Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology.
2021: Thimm, Viola: Gendered Pilgrimage: Hajj and umrah from women’s perspectives. Journal of Contemporary Religion, Vol 36 (2): 223–241.
2021: Thimm, Viola: Muslim Fashion: Challenging Transregional Connectivities between Malaysia and the Arabian Peninsula.TRaNS: Trans -Regional and -National Studies of Southeast Asia, Vol 9 (2): 117–128.
2019: Thimm, Viola und Mayurakshi Chaudhuri: Migration as Mobility? An Intersectional Approach. Applied Mobilities.
2018: Chaudhuri, Mayurakshi und Viola Thimm: Postcolonial Intersections – Asia on the Move: Introduction. Special Section “Postcolonial Intersections: Asia on the Move”
Transfers: Interdisciplinary Journal of Mobility Studies, Vol 8 (3):28–35.
2018: Thimm, Viola: Embodying and consuming Muslim pilgrimage: Gendered shopping and clothing practices by Malaysian women on “umrah and ziarah Dubai.“
Asian Anthropology, Vol 17 (3): 185–203.
2018: Thimm, Viola: Muslim Mobilities and Gender: An Introduction. Social Sciences, 7(1), 5.
2017: Thimm, Viola: Commercialising Islam in Malaysia: Ziarah at the intersection of Muslim pilgrimage and the market-driven tourism industry. UKM Ethnic Studies Paper Series No. 56, December. Bangi: Institute of Ethnic Studies.
2017: Thimm, Viola; Mayurakshi Chaudhuri; and Sarah J. Mahler: Enhancing intersectional analyses with polyvocality: Making and illustrating the model. Social Sciences. 6(2), 37.
2016: Thimm, Viola: “I really love that guy!” Romantische Liebe als Weg zur Moderne im regionalen Kontext Singapurs und Malaysias. [“I really love that guy!” Romantic love as a path to modernity in the regional context of Singapore and Malaysia]. Asien – The German Journal on Contemporary Asia 139 2/2016: 25-43.
2016: Thimm, Viola: “I can give you money but there is no use. The best thing I [can] give you is education.” Negotiating educational migration and gender in a Chinese Malaysian family. TRaNS: Trans-Regional and National Studies of Southeast Asia, 4(1): 65-84.
2015: Thimm, Viola: Die arabische abaya in Malaysia: Verhandlungen von muslimischen Kleidungspraktiken, weiblicher Körperlichkeit und Modernität The arabic abaya in Malaysia: negotiations of Muslim practices of clothing, female corporeality and modernity]. Paideuma, 61:95-116.
2014: Thimm, Viola: Soziale Mobilität für Frauen durch bildungsmotivierte Land-Stadt-Migration: Eine Biographie aus Malaysia [Social mobility for women through education-motivated rural-urban migration: A biography from Malaysia]. Ethnoscripts, 16(2):27-41.
2013: Thimm, Viola: Education, Migration, Gender: Policies of Education in Malaysia and Singapore.
GSE Journal of Education 2013:1-11.
2012: Thimm, Viola: “My dad wants to see me graduate with a good degree (…)” Bildungsmigration und Geschlecht im regionalen Kontext Malaysias und Singapurs. Journal Netzwerk Frauen- und
Geschlechterforschung NRW, 31: 62-67.
In preparation, by invitation Pilgrims. In: Salazar, Noel (ed.): Anthropological Handbook of Mobility. Berghahn.
2021: Thimm, Viola: Introduction: (Re-)Claiming Bodies through Fashion and Style. Gendered Configurations in Muslim Contexts. In: Thimm, Viola (ed.): (Re-)Claiming Bodies: Gendered Configurations in Islam, pp. 1-18. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan.
2021: Thimm, Viola: Men’s Non-Fashion: Embodying Traditionality in the Gulf. In: Thimm, Viola (ed.): (Re-)Claiming Bodies: Gendered Configurations in Islam, pp. 109-126. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan.
2021: Buitelaar, Marjo*; Manja Stephan-Emmrich*; Viola Thimm* (*The order of author names in the introduction and that of editor names for the volume as a whole is purely alphabetical, reflecting equal contribution and responsibility): Introduction: Muslim Women’s Pilgrimage to Mecca and Beyond. Reconfiguring Gender, Religion, and Mobility, pp. 19-35. Abingdon/New York: Routledge.
2021: Thimm, Viola: Under male supervision? Islamic belief and nationality as basis for Muslim women’s pilgrimage. In: Buitelaar, Marjo; Manja Stephan-Emmrich; Viola Thimm (eds.): Muslim Women’s Pilgrimage to Mecca and Beyond. Reconfiguring Gender, Religion, and Mobility, pp. 19-35. Abingdon/New York: Routledge.
2019: Chaudhuri, Mayurakshi; Viola Thimm und Sarah J. Mahler: Scaling Educational Policy and Practices Intersectionally: Historical and Contemporary Education Policies, Practices and Effects in South and Southeast Asia. In: Hankivsky, Olena and Julia Jordan-Zachery (eds.): The Palgrave Handbook of Intersectionality in Public Policy, S. 367-385. Houndsmills: Palgrave MacMillan.
2018: Thimm, Viola: Muslim Mobilities and Gender: An Introduction. In: Viola Thimm (ed.): Understanding Muslim Mobilities and Gender, S. 1-10. Basel: MDPI.
2014: Chaudhuri, Mayurakshi; Viola Thimm and Sarah J. Mahler: Gendered Geographies of Power:
Their Value for Analyzing Gender across Transnational Spaces. In: Gruhlich, Julia and Birgit Riegraf (eds.): Transnationale Räume und Geschlecht, S. 94-209. Münster: Westfälisches Dampfboot.
2014: Thimm, Viola: The Female Body in Transnational Space between Malaysia and Singapore. In: Buccieri, Kristy (ed.): Body Tensions: Beyond Corporeality in Time and Space, S. 55-72. Oxford: ID-Press.
2014: Thimm, Viola: Gender and the Body in Transnational Space: Female Educational Migrants from Malaysia in Singapore. In: McLean, Loyola et al. (eds.): Exploring Bodies in Time and Space, S. 37-45. Oxford: ID-Press.
2014: Thimm, Viola: “Gendered Geographies of Power”. Ein Modell zur Analyse von Bildungsmigration und Geschlecht am Beispiel von Malaysia und Singapur. In: Förschler, Silke et al. (eds.): Verorten – Verhandeln – Verkörpern, S. 61-84. Bielefeld: transcript.
2013: Thimm, Viola: Education, Migration, Gender: Policies of Education in Malaysia and Singapore.
In: Mokmin Basri et al. (eds.): Emerging Trends for Sustainability in Global Education: Opportunities and Challenges, Kajang (Malaysia): WorldConferences.net, S. 1-11.
2018: Jongmanns, Georg and Viola Thimm: Förderprogramme in der Lehre und die Frage der personellen Nachhaltigkeit: Kriterien für eine tragfähige Aufgaben- und Personalstruktur (Funding programmes in teaching and the question of “personnel sustainability”).
2014: Thimm, Viola: Die Bersih-Bewegung in Malaysia [The Bersih movement in Malaysia]. Südostasien 1/2014:27-29.
2012: Thimm, Viola: “Singapore sucks!” – Skateboarding als Grenzraum zwischen Subkultur und staatlicher Kontrolle [“Singapore sucks!” – Skateboarding as a contested space between subculture and state control]. Südostasien 4/2012: 26-28.