Magnus Fiskesjö

Associate Professor


Some of my research and teaching interests are:

General anthropology; historical and political anthropology; civilizations and barbarians; spectacles of sovereignty and state power, citizenship; autonomy; slavery; ethno-politics and interethnic relations; archaeology; cultural heritage, museums and modernity, and more; especially East and Southeast Asia (China, Burma, Taiwan, Japan, etc.), also Europe, and the world at large.



Interview podcast, on “Stories from an Ancient Land: Perspectives on Wa History and Culture.” New Books Network / Southeast Asian Studies. Hosted by Nick Cheesman. Recorded Dec. 3, 2022, publ. Jan. 1. 2023:

•    China Before China: Johan Gunnar Andersson, Ding Wenjiang, and the Discovery of China’s Prehistory.  Stockholm: Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, 2004.

•    The Thanksgiving Turkey Pardon, the Death of Teddy's Bear and the Sovereign Exception of Guantánamo.  Chicago: Prickly Paradigm Press, 2003.

Book Chapters

  • "State Strategies to Implement (and Hide) Genocide in China and Myanmar, Since 2017.” Invited contribution, to Handbook of Genocide Studies, edited by David J. Simon and Leora Kahn. Cheltenham, Glos [England]: Edwar Elgar Publishing, 2023, pp. 123-41. 
  • "Identities and Polities in the Maelstrom of World-System Cycles: The Wa of the Burma-China borderlands." Chapter 25, in Routledge Handbook of the Modern Anthropology of Highland Asia, ed. Michael Heneise and Jelle JP Wouters. London: Routledge, 2022, 339-350. 
  • "Agamben and the Chinese Forced-Confession Ritual." Chapter 2, in Philosophy on Fieldwork: Case Studies in Anthropological Analysis, ed.  Nils Bubandt and Thomas Schwarz Wentzer. London: Routledge, 2022, pp. 27-47. 
  • "Le Xinjiang chinois, "nouvelle frontière" de l'épuration nationale" [China's Xinjiang: The 'New Frontier' of National Purification]. In: Anne Cheng, ed. Penser en Chine. Paris: Gallimard, 2021, pp. 391-433. Collection Folio essais (n° 669). ISBN: 9782072870927. In French.
  • "Who's Afraid of Confucius? Fear of Encompassment in the Global Debates over the Confucius Institutes." Chapter 9, in Franck Billé and Sören Urbansky, eds., Yellow Perils: China Narratives in the Contemporary World. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2018, 221-245. Open access (2022):;                        

•    China's Animal Neighbors. The Art of Neighbouring: Making Relations Across China's Borders. Eds. Martin Saxer and Zhang Juan. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press. 2017. 

•    Chinese Autochthony and the Eurasian Context: Archaeology, Mythmaking and Johan Gunnar Andersson's 'Western Origins.' Fitful Histories and Unruly Publics: Rethinking Temporality and Community in Eurasian Archaeology. Eds. Kathryn O. Weber, et al. Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2016, 303-320. (Proceedings from the Fourth Conference on Eurasian Archaeology, 2012).

•    Art and Science as competing values in the formation of the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities. Collectors, Collections, and Collecting the Arts of China: Histories and Challenges. Ed. Lai, Guolong.  Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2014, 67-98.

•    Gifts and debts: The morality of fieldwork in the Wa lands on the China-Burma frontier.  Red Stamps and Gold Stars: Fieldwork Dilemmas in Upland Socialist Asia. Ed. Turner, Sarah.  Vancouver: UBC Press, 2013, 61-79.

•    Science across borders: Johan Gunnar Andersson and Ding Wenjiang. In Denise M. Glover, Stevan Harrell, Charles McKhann, and Margaret Swain, eds. Explorers and Scientists in China's Borderlands, 1880-1950. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2011, 240-66. ISBN: 9780295991177

•    Giorgio Agamben och den kommande gemenskapen [Giorgio Agamben and the coming community]. Sociologik: Tio essäer om socialitet och tänkande [Sociologics. Ten essays on sociality and thought]. Eds. Christian Abrahamsson et al. Stockholm: Santérus, 2011, 53-87. In Swedish

•    The Politics of Cultural Heritage.  Reclaiming Chinese Society: The New Social Activism. 225-245. 2010

•    The Autonomy of Naming: Kinship, Power and Ethnonymy in the Wa lands of the Southeast Asia-China Frontiers.  Personal Names in Asia: History, Culture and Identity. Singapore: University of Singapore Press. 150-174. 2009 


Webcast events/lectures/interviews, selection:

•    "Heritage and Ancestors: The Politics of Chinese Museums and Historical Memory." Elvera Kwang Siam Lim Memorial Lecture/Center for Chinese Studies, University of California-Berkeley, November 6, 2015.


Academic Articles, and more:

•    "Cultural genocide is the new genocide." Pen/Opp, May 5, 2020.

•    "Bury Me With My Comrades: Memorializing Mao's Sent-Down Youth." Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, Volume 16, Issue 14, Number 4 (July 15, 2018).

"Confessions Made in China." Made in China 3.1 (January-March 2018), p. 18-22; 108-109 (list of references).

•    The Return of the Show Trial: China’s Televised “Confessions.”  Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, Volume 15, Issue 13, Number 1. (June 25, 2017). 

•    “The Legacy of the Chinese Empires: Beyond ‘the West and the Rest.’” Education About Asia 22.1 (Spring 2017), 6-10. Special issue on “Contemporary Postcolonial Asia.”

•    “People First: The Wa World of Spirits and Other Enemies.” Anthropological Forum: A Journal of Social Anthropology and Comparative Sociology. Published online: 19 Apr 2017.

•    Self and Subjectivity in a World of Diasporas: Nicholas Tapp's Anthropology of Hmong Identities. Journal of Social Science (Chiang Mai University, Thailand), (Special issue: "Ethnicity and Mobility: Nicholas Tapp's Anthropology," ed. Aranya Siriphon). 28 (2017), 125-148.

•    "Foreword." In Samak Kosem, ed. Border Twists and Burma Trajectories: Perceptions, Reforms, and Adaptations. Chiang Mai: Center for ASEAN Studies, Chiang Mai University, 2016, pp. iii-v.

•    "Lyxkonsumtion och utrotningskrig" [Luxury consumption and wars of extinction]. Kina-Rapport (Göteborg: Svensk-Kinesiska Föreningen) no. 4 (2015), 32-35. (In Swedish; on the Chinese smuggling and trade in elephant ivory and rhinoceros horn from Africa)

•    Terra-cotta Conquest: The First Emperor's Clay Army's Blockbuster Tour of the World.  Verge: Studies in Global Asias.  1 (2015): 162-183.

•    "Universal Museums." Article for "World Heritage" section, ed. Helaine Silverman, in _Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology_. Claire Smith, general editor. New York: Springer, 2014, pp. 7494-7500.

•    "Oscar Montelius and Chinese archaeology." Co-authored with Chen Xingcan. Bulletin of the History of Archaeology [Melbourne, Australia] 24:10 (2014).

•    Wa Grotesque: Headhunting Theme Parks and the Chinese Nostalgia for Primitive Contemporaries .  Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology 79 (2014): 497-523.

•    Introduction to Wa Studies.  Journal of Burma Studies 17 (2013): 1 -27.

•    Outlaws, Barbarians, Slaves: Critical Reflections on Agamben's homo sacer.  Journal of Ethnographic Theory.  2 (2012): 161-180.

•    Slavery as the Commodification of People: Wa "Slaves" and Their Chinese "Sisters".  Focaal: Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology.  59 (2011): 3-18.

•    The Reluctant Sovereign: New Adventures of the US Presidential Thanksgiving Turkey.  Anthropology Today.  26 (2010): 13-17.

•    Mining, History, and the Anti-State Wa: The Politics of Autonomy Between Burma and China.  Journal of Global History 5 (2010): 241-264.

•    Participant Intoxication and Self–Other Dynamics in the Wa Context.  The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology 11 (2010):111-127.

•    Collections of Chinese Antiquities Outside China: Problems and Hopes.  Public Archaeology 5 (2006): 111-126.

•    Rescuing the Empire: Chinese Nation-Building in the Twentieth Century.  European Journal of East Asian Studies 5 (2006): 15-44.

•    A Foreign Bird in a Golden Cage: Sweden's Asia Collections.  Res Publica 65 (2005): 68-80.In Swedish

•    Lost Civilizations, Lost Choices.  Dushu No. 4 (2003), 72-75. In Chinese

•    The Barbarian Borderland and the Chinese Imagination -- Travellers in Wa Country.  Inner Asia .  4.1 (2002): 81-99.

•    Rising From Blood-Stained Fields: Royal Hunting and State Formation in Shang China. Bulletin of the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities.  72 (2001): 48-192.


Recent reviews:

  • Review of Bertil Lintner, The Wa of Myanmar and China’s Quest for Global Dominance (Chiang Mai, Thailand: Silkworm Books: 2021), Journal of Asian Studies 82.4, 759-61. 
  • Review of two books:  by Darren Byler, In the Camps: Life in China’s High-Tech Penal Colony (New York: Columbia University Press, 2021), and by Gulbahar Haitiwaji, How I Survived a Chinese "Re-education" Camp: A Uyghur Woman's Story (New York and Oakland: Seven Stories Press, 2022). Journal of Asian Studies 82.4, 663-665. 
  • Review of Gregory Forth, Between Ape and Human: An Anthropologist on the Trail of a Hidden Hominoid (New York: Pegasus,2020; 336 pp. ISBN 978-163-936-143-4). Kvartal, 1 dec. 2022. [In Swedish]. 
  • Review of Justin M. Jacobs, The Compensations of Plunder: How China Lost Its Treasures (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2020; vii, 348 pp. ISBN 978-0-226-71201-7). American Historical Review 127.3 (Sept. 2022), 1496–1497. Published: 29 November 2022. 
  • Review of John McWhorter, Woke Racism: How a New Religion Has Betrayed Black America (New York: Portfolio/Penguin, 2021). Kvartal, 11 augusti 2022.  [In Swedish]. 
  • Review of Enze Han, Asymmetrical Neighbors: Borderland State Building between China and Southeast Asia (New York: Oxford University Press, 2019; 240 pp. ISBN 978-0-19-006078-7). South East Asia Research [Great Britain], Online, 24 Feb 2021. 
  • Review of Jonathan Friedman, PC Worlds: Political Correctness and Rising Elites at the End of Hegemony (New York: Berghahn, 2019). Kvartal, 8 sept. 2020.

•    Review of Haiming Yan, World Heritage Craze in China: Universal Discourse, National Culture, and Local Memory. (New York: Berghahn Books, 2018. ISBN 978-1-78533-804-5). Asian Perspectives 58.2 (2019), 401-404.

•    Review article: "Ancient China reconsidered." Review of Katheryn M. Linduff, Yan Sun, Wei Cao, & Yuanqing Liu, Ancient China and its Eurasian neighbors: Artifacts, Identity, and Death in the Frontier, 3000-700 BCE (Cambridge University Press, 2018); Roderick Campbell, Violence, Kinship and the Early Chinese State: The Shang and Their World (Cambridge, 2018); and Xiaolong Wu, Material Culture, Power, and Identity in Ancient China (Cambridge, 2017). Antiquity, Volume 92, Issue 366 (Dec. 2018), pp. 1671-1673.

•    Review of Alice Yao, The Ancient Highlands of Southwest China: From Bronze Age to the Han Empire (Oxford 2016); & Erica Brindley, Ancient China and the Yue: Perceptions and Identities on the Southern Frontier, c.400 BCE-50 CE (Cambridge 2015), for the Zhejiang University Journal of Art and Archaeology (Hangzhou, China), Vol. 3 (2018), 260-272.

•    Review of Pál Nyíri and Danielle Tan, eds., Chinese Encounters in Southeast Asia: How People, Money, Ideas from China are Changing a Region (Seattle, WA and London: University of Washington Press, 2017). ISBN: 9780295999302; 9780295999296. China Quarterly 234 (2018), 577-578.

•    Review of Craig Clunas, Chinese Painting and Its Audiences (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2017). The Art Newspaper, 295 (Nov. 2017), p. 22.

•    Review of Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney, Flowers That Kill: Communicative Opacity in Political Spaces (Stanford 2015). American Anthropologist 118.3 (2016), 685-686.

•    Review of Tamara T. Chin, Savage Exchange: Han Imperialism, Chinese Literary Style, and the Economic Imagination (Cambridge, 2014). Journal of Asian Studies 75.3 (2016), 806-807.

•    Review of Sarah Turner, Christine Bonnin, and Jean Michaud, Frontier Livelihoods: Hmong in the Sino-Vietnamese Borderlands (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2015). Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 22.3 (2016), 750-751.

•    Review of David Faure and Ho Ts'ui-p'ing, eds. Chieftains into Ancestors: Imperial Expansion and Indigenous Society in Southwest China (Vancouver 2013). Asian Highlands Perspectives 40 (2016), 479-488.

•    Review essay: "The Museum Boom in China and the State efforts to Control History" (on Marzia Varutti, Museums in China: The Politics of Representation after Mao [Woodbridge, Suffolk, UK, 2014]; Kirk Denton, Exhibiting the Past: Historical Memory & the Politics of Museums in Postsocialist China [Honolulu, 2014]; Amy Jane Barnes, Museum Representations of Maoist China: From Cultural Revolution to Commie Kitsch [Surrey, UK, 2014]. Museum Anthropology Review 9.2 (2015), 96-105.

•    "Hail to the King!" Review of two books by David N. Keightley: Working for His Majesty: Research Notes on Labor Mobilization in Late Shang China (ca.1200-1045 B.C.), as Seen in the Oracle-Bone Inscriptions, with Particular Attention to Handicraft Industries, Agriculture, Warfare, Hunting, Construction, and the Shang's Legacies (Berkeley: University of California-Berkeley, Institute of East Asian Studies, 2012); and The Ancestral Landscape: Time, Space, and Community in Late Shang China, ca. 1200-1045 B.C. (Berkeley: University of California-Berkeley, Institute of East Asian Studies, 2000). Early China 37.1 (2014), 567-573. DOI:

•    Review of Unearthing the Nation: Modern Geology and Nationalism in Republican China. By Grace Yen SHEN. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2014. Journal of Asian Studies 73.4 (2014), 1120-1122. DOI:

•    Review of Mandy Sadan, Being and Becoming Kachin: Histories Beyond the State in the Borderworlds of Burma. (Oxford & London: Oxford University Press & the British Academy, 2013; with an accompanying website, "Research Notes: Fieldwork Notes, Photographs and Translations" ). Thailand-Laos-Cambodia [TLC] network/New Mandala Review LXX.  In: New Mandala: New Perspectives on Southeast Asia, May 16, 2014.

•    Review of Michael Oppitz et al, eds. Naga Identities: Changing Local Cultures in the Northeast of India (Gent: Snoeck Publishers, 2008). Asian Highlands Perspectives 28 (2013): 299-304.

•    Review of Gunnar Skirbekk, Multiple Modernities: A Tale of Scandinavian Experiences (Hong Kong: Chinese Univ. Press, 2011). Journal of World History 24.3 (2013), 707-10.

•    Review of Berma Klein Goldewijk et al, eds. Cultural Emergency in Conflict and Disaster (Rotterdam: NAI Publishers, 2011). Anthropological Forum: A Journal of Social Anthropology and Comparative Sociology (2012; iFirst article, pp. 1–3.

•    Review of Michael Keevak, Becoming Yellow: A Short History of Racial Thinking (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2011). Journal of World History 23.3 (2012), 676-80.  


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