Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History

Dr. Matthäus Rest

Kahlaische Strasse 10

07745 Jena


Dr. Matthäus Rest

Dr. Matthäus Rest

Dr. Matthäus Rest


  • +49 (0) 3641 686-692


Main Focus

I am a social anthropologist interested in the relations between environment, economy and temporalities, mostly through the prism of peasant lifeforms.

My current research deals with the history and future of dairying microbes and their interaction with humans in Jordan, Mongolia and the German-speaking countries.

In my PhD project, based at the University of Zurich and completed in 2014, I dealt with transnational infrastructure development in the Global South and the fundamental shifts it has gone through since the 1990s. On the example of Nepal's unbuilt Arun-3 dam, I trace the emergence of a global civil society network against large dams, the World Bank's pull-out from funding these projects and the recent comeback of large dams under the aegis of emerging regional powers like China and India through the mechanism of public-private-partnerships. I am in the process of turning this work into a monograph that aims to conceptualise the state of suspension unfinished infrastructure projects produce. Or, to put it bluntly: What happens when nothing happens?

Additionally, I have been involved in a research project on the global rise of the Krampus.

Curriculum Vitae

2015-2017: Lecturer, Ludwig-Maximilian University Munich

2014-2015: Visiting Scholar, University of California Los Angeles

2014: Visiting Scholar, Nepā School for Social Sciences and Humanities, Kathmandu

2012-2013: Visiting Scholar, University of Oxford

2009-2014: PhD student, University of Zürich

since 2009: Adjunct Lecturer, University of Vienna

2002-2007: M.A. in Social Anthropology and Organic Agriculture, University of Vienna

Selected Publications

Rest M, Seiser G (2018) The Krampus in Austria: A Case of Booming Identity Politics, Ethnoscripts 20(1).

Rest M (2018) Dreaming of Pipes: Kathmandu's long delayed Melamchi Water Supply Project Project, Environment and Planning C: Politics & Space, forthcoming.

Rippa A, Murton G & Rest M (2018) Hyperstructures: Building Highland Asia in the 21st century, The Highlander 1(1), forthcoming.

Butler C & Rest M (2017) Calculating Risk, Denying Uncertainty. Seismicity and Hydropower Development in Nepal. Himalaya 37(2).

Rest M & Rest F (2017) Vom Almsommer zum Bauernherbst. Der Wandel der bäuerlichen Welt in den Alpen. In: Alpenreisen. Erlebnis, Raumtransformationen, Imagination edited by Luger K & Rest F.

Rest M & Seiser G (eds.) (2016) Wild und Schön. Der Krampus im Salzburger Land.

Rest M (2012) Generating Power. Debates on Development around the Nepalese Arun-3 Hydropower Project, Contemporary South Asia 20(1).

Rest M, Lord A & Butler C (2015) The Damage Done and the Dams to Come. Cultural Anthropology website.

Rest M (2015) The Politics of Earthquake, Daily News and Analysis.

Organizational Unit (Department, Group, Facility):

  • Department of Archaeogenetics
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