Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)

Photographer: Bram Belloni

dr. C.H. (Tina) Harris

  • Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences
    Programme group: Moving Matters: People, Goods, Power and Ideas
  • Visiting address
    REC BC
    Nieuwe Achtergracht 166  Room number: B5.05
  • Postal address:
    Postbus  15509
    1001 NA  Amsterdam
    T: 0205252107


Tina Harris received her Ph.D. in Anthropology in 2009 from the Graduate Center, City University of New York (CUNY). She is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Amsterdam, and is a member of the AISSR Moving Matters research group.

Research Interests

Her main research interests include globalization in Asia and the movement of people and goods across borders, with a particular emphasis on exploring the theoretical connections between cultural anthropology, human geography, and political economy. She has conducted field research in Tibet, Nepal, and India, and has published articles on competing discourses over the reopening of a Sino-Indian mountain pass, borderland airports, and vertical borders. She is author of Geographical Diversions: Tibetan Trade, Global Transactions (UGa Press 2013), a book that examines how state power is both articulated and circumvented by cross-border traders in the Himalayas.

Personal Website

Geographical Diversions 

Working at the intersections of cultural anthropology, human geography, and material culture, Tina Harris explores the social and economic transformations taking place along one trade route that winds its way across China, Nepal, Tibet, and India. How might we make connections between seemingly mundane daily life and more abstract levels of global change? Geographical Diversions focuses on two generations of traders who exchange goods such as sheep wool, pang gdan aprons, and more recently, household appliances. Exploring how traders "make places," Harris examines the creation of geographies of trade that work against state ideas of what trade routes should look like. She argues that the tensions between the apparent fixity of national boundaries and the mobility of local individuals around such restrictions are precisely how routes and histories of trade are produced. The economic rise of China and India has received attention from the international media, but the effects of major new infrastructure at the intersecting borderlands of these nationstates—in places like Tibet, northern India, and Nepal—have rarely been covered. Geographical Diversions challenges globalization theories based on bounded conceptions of nation-states and offers a smaller-scale perspective that differs from many theories of macroscale economic change.

Current Research Projects

At the moment, I have a number of articles (for instance, "From Loom to Machine: Tibetan Aprons and the Configuration of Place;"  "Trading Places: New Economic Geographies of Trade Across Himalayan Borderlands;" "Himalayan Border Crossings: Reopenings and Restrictions") and a full-length book manuscript (Geographical Diversions) based on my research on contemporary trade and trade routes in Tibet. I am currently working on a brand-new research project on airports and aviation in Asia and Europe that will investigate recent changes in labour mobility, capital, and the production of space.

Networks and Organizations

I am currently the academic coordinator of the Asian Borderlands Research Network (ABRN), which held its 5th international conference in Kathmandu, Nepal in late 2016, and is currently planning its next conference in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan in August 2018.

Upcoming and Recent Conferences, Invited Lectures, and Invited Workshops

  • “Lag: Temporality in the Himalayan Borderlands,” American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, Washington DC, 30 November-4 December, 2017.
  • “4D Bordering in the Himalayas,” Asian Borderlands Conference, Kathmandu, Nepal, 12-14 December, 2016.
  • “Skirmish Season: Bordering Practices in the Himalayas,” Weatherhead East Asia Institute, Columbia University, New York, 28 January, 2016
  • "Borderland Airports, Cosmopolitan Belongings," As sociation of American Geographers Annual Conference, Chicago, April 21, 2015
  • "Himalayan Border Crossings" Invited Lecture, Development Studies Lecture Series, SOAS, October 15, 2013
  • Invited Keynote Lecture, "Tracing Connections – Explorations of Spaces and Places in Asian Multilocalities", Centre for Development Studies (ZELF), Freie Universität Berlin, 20-21 June, 2013
  • "The Yak's Tail: On Contemporary Changes in Trade in the Himalayas", International Association for Tibetan Studies 13th Seminar, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, July 20-27, 2013.
  • "The Mobile and the Material in Sino-Indian Borderlands," American Anthropological Association, San Francisco, November 14-18, 2012
  • "Yak Tails, Rice Cookers, and Changing Corridors in Asian Borderlands" 3rd Conference of the Asian Borderlands Research Network (ABRN), Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore, Oct 11-13, 2012.
  • "Haunting the Border and Flooding the Market: Trade and the Indo-Tibetan Interface," Association of Nepal and Himalayan Studies (ANHS) Himalayan Studies Conference, St. Paul,Minnesota, Oct 28-30 2011 
  • Workshop on Informality and Borders, Comparative Research on Regional Integration and Social Cohesion Conference, University of Johannesburg, November 30-December 2, 2011 
  • "Nature, Capital, and Rule," Symposium on Environment, Society, and Development: Accumulation, Securitization and the Politics of Rule, NUI Galway, August 23, 2011
  • "'A Geographical Excuse' and the Lhasa-Kalimpong Trade Route," MIASU Lecture Series, University of Cambridge, March 1, 2011.
  • "'Zomia,' the Southeast Asian and Himalayan Massifs: Takes on Highland Transnational Spaces," Asian Borderlands Conference, Chiang Mai, Thailand, Nov 5-7, 2010
  • "Cartographic Anxiety: The Lhasa-Kalimpong Trade Route and the Production of Space," for a panel on "The Production of Space: Social and Environmental Change Amidst Development in Tibetan Areas," International Association of Tibetan Studies Conference, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, Aug 15-21, 2010
  • "Qualitative Research Methods in Anthropology," Ph.D. Seminar in Qualitative Research, Department of Mass Communications, Texas Tech University, April 9, 2010
  • "Dispossession, Geographical Blindspots, and the Quest for Coherence in the Indo-Sino-Nepal Borderlands," Panel on Axes of Dispossession: Conflict, Identity, and the Neoliberal Economy in South Asia, American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, PA, Dec 2-6, 2009
  • Antipode Summer Institute for the Geographies of Justice II, University of Manchester/University of Leeds, May 17-22, 2009
  • "Geopolitics and Insecurity II: Encountering Productions of State Security" and "The 2008 Tibetan Uprising: Reflections One Year Later," Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting, Las Vegas, NV, March 22-27, 2009.



  • Harris, T. (2017). Lag. Cultural Anthropology.
  • Harris, T. (2017). The Mobile and the Material in the Himalayan Borderlands. In M. Saxer, & J. Zhang (Eds.), The Art of Neighbouring: Making Relations Across China's Borders (pp. 145-163). (Asian Borderlands). Amsterdam University Press.
  • Harris, T. (2017). Wool, Toothbrushes, and Beards: Kalimpong and the "Golden Era" of Cross-Border Trade. In M. Viehbeck (Ed.), Transcultural Encounters in the Himalayan Borderlands: Kalimpong as a “Contact Zone”
  • Tim-adical Writing Collective (2017). Vulnerabilities, complicities and injustices: ‘Timadical’ actions for change in the neoliberal academy. Ephemera, 17(3), 221-234.


  • Harris, T., & Sijapati, M. A. (2016). From Heavy Beads to Safety Pins: Adornment and Religiosity in Hindu Women’s Pote Practices. Material Religion, 12(1), 1-25. DOI: 10.1080/17432200.2015.1120089  [details] 
  • Harris, T., Holmes-Tagchungdarpa, A., Sharma, J., & Viehbeck, M. (2016). Global Encounters, Local Places: Connected Histories of Darjeeling, Kalimpong, and the Himalayas: An Introduction. Transcultural Studies, 2016(1), 43-53. DOI: 10.17885/heiup.ts.23542  [details] 


  • Harris, T., & van der Veen, H. (2015). Whose security? Regionalisation and human security at borderland airports in Asia. Etnofoor, 27(2), 37-52. [details] 


  • Harris, T. (2014). Tracing trade: contemporary transformations of space and place in the Himalayas. In H. Alff, & A. Benz (Eds.), Tracing connections: explorations of spaces and places in Asian contexts (pp. 41-52). Berlin: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Berlin. [details] 
  • Harris, T. (2014). Yak tails, Santa Claus, and transnational trade in the Himalayas. The Tibet Journal, 39(1), 145-155. [details] 


  • Harris, T. (2013). Geographical diversions: Tibetan trade, global transactions. (Geographies of justice and social transformation; No. 18). Athens: University of Georgia Press. [details] 
  • Harris, T. (2013). The Border Worlds of Wim van Spengen: Preface to "Beyond Annapurna, or How to Interpret Success in Himalayan Trade". Himalaya, 33(1&2), 106. [details] 
  • Harris, T. (2013). Trading places: new economic geographies across Himalayan borderlands. Political Geography, 35, 60-68. DOI: 10.1016/j.polgeo.2012.12.002  [details] 


  • Harris, C. H. (2012). From loom to machine: Tibetan aprons and the configuration of place. Environment and Planning D - Society & Space, 30(5), 877-895. DOI: 10.1068/d11210  [details] 
  • Birch, K., Bond, S., Harris, T., Hoogeveen, D., Laliberte, N., & Rosol, M. (2012). What can we do? The challenge of being new academics in neoliberal universities. Antipode, 44(4), 1055-1058. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8330.2012.01011.x  [details] 



  • Harris, C. H. (2007). Towards a Geographical Anthropology of Trade in the Himalayas. In Michael Gervers, Uradyn Bulag, & Gillian Long (Eds.), Traders and Trade Routes of Central and Inner Asia, Then and Now. (pp. 189-206). (Toronto Studies in Central and Inner Asia; No. 8). University of Toronto.


  • Birch, K. (Author), Bond, S. (Author), Catungal, J. P. (Author), Harris, T. (Author), Hoogeveen, D. (Author), Laliberte, N. (Author), & Rosol, M. (Author). (2012). 'Tim-adical' action: a reply to Culum Canally. [details] 


  • Harris, T. (2015). [Review of: E.T. Yeh (2013) Taming Tibet: landscape transformation and the gift of Chinese development]. The Journal of Asian Studies, 74(4), 1029-1030. DOI: 10.1017/S0021911815001345  [details] 



  • Harris, C. H., & Rapport, E. (2007). [Review of: Music of the Silk Road; The Silk Road: A Musical Caravan]. Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology, 8(3), 275-277.


  • Harris, T. (2015): Shortlist - ICAS Book Prize, Best Book in the Social Sciences.

Scientific position

  • Harris, C.H. (2014): member of the IIAS (International Institute for Asian Studies) Board, IIAS.
  • Harris, C.H. (2013): Editorial Board, Himalaya, Himalaya Journal.

Talk / presentation

  • Harris, C.H. (invited speaker) (2016): Skirmish Season: Bordering Practices in the Himalayas, Weatherhead East Asia Institute, Columbia University, New York.
  • Harris, T. (invited speaker) (7-12-2015): Time, Space, and Transition in the Himalayan Borderlands, Tata Institute of Social Sciences Colloquium Series, Guwahati, Assam, India.
  • Harris, T. (invited speaker) (17-8-2015): Introductory Lecture on Asia, at Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Den Haag.


  • Harris, C.H. (organiser) (2016): Asian Borderlands Research Conference, Kathmandu, Kathmandu, Nepal (organising a conference, workshop, ...).
  • van Schendel, H.W. (other) & Harris, C.H. (other) (2014): Book series editor: Asian Borderlands, Amsterdam University Press (other).
  • Harris, C.H. (participant) (8-12-2014 - 10-12-2014): at City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong (participating in a conference, workshop, ...).
  • van Schendel, H.W. (organiser) & Harris, C.H. (organiser) (16-11-2013 - 18-11-2013): Conference 'Anomie in Asia', University of Kyoto (Kyoto, Japan) (organising a conference, workshop, ...).
  • Harris, C.H. (participant) (15-10-2013): Development Studies Lecture Series, SOAS, SOAS, London (participating in a conference, workshop, ...).
  • Harris, C.H. (participant) (20-6-2013): Crossing Borders Conference, Centre for Development Studies (ZELF), Freie Universität Berlin (participating in a conference, workshop, ...).
  • Harris, C.H. (participant) (6-4-2013): Tracing Transnational Trade in 20th Century Kalimpong, University of Toronto-Scarborough (participating in a conference, workshop, ...).
  • Harris, C.H. (participant) (11-10-2012 - 13-10-2013): Organizer: 3rd Conference of the Asian Borderlands Research Network, Singapore (participating in a conference, workshop, ...).


  • Lertchavalitsakul, B. (2017). Living with four polities: States and cross-border flows in the Myanmar-Thailand borderland [details] 
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