Harmandeep Kaur Gill


Carlsberg Junior Research Fellow, Linacre College


Faculty / College Address:

Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies 





Research interests:

  • Exile and belonging

  • Solitude 

  • Old age and death 

  • Care

  • Selfhood

  • Sensorial scholarship

  • Visual anthropology


I have worked with the Tibetan exile community in India for a decade. My work has taken several paths: I have done fieldwork on and written about the Tibetan self-immolations, the Tibetan freedom struggle in exile, and most recently about aging and dying among elderly exiled Tibetans. The latter project has resulted in my book manuscript: “Waiting at the Mountain Pass: Coming to Terms with Solitude, Decline, and Death in Tibetan Exile”, to be published with University of Pennsylvania Press in March 2025. I am currently working on a new project that explores animal-human relations in Dharamsala, India, by following the work of Tibetans and non-Tibetans who provide care for stray animals through daily feeding and medical help. It explores how people develop a compassion-based ethics through their encounters with animals and whether it cuts across species. The project hopes to generate broader lessons on compassion, violence, ethics, and selfhood.

My latest two projects share several thematic and theoretical overlaps through their attention to 1. People who occupy marginal spaces (especially in the project on those who provide care for stray animals) 2. Practices of care 3. Selfhood 4. The role of touch. In both projects, I attempt to capture people’s life worlds not only through words, but also visually with my camera. I am especially drawn to the latent and intangible dimensions of people’s emotional lives. My work strives to find a language for this and for that which exists between people, and between people and animals. I take inspiration from phenomenology, socially and politically engaged scholarship, and art and literature among others.



  • Accepted. "Nothing is ever lost or forgotten": The Traces of Mo Dickyi Sangmo. Visual Anthropology Review.

  • Accepted/In press. Waiting at the Mountain Pass: Coming to Terms with Solitude, Decline, and Death in Tibetan Exile. Contemporary Ethnography series. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. 

  • 2023. [Special Issue]. Writing with Care: Ethnographies from the Margins of Tibet and the Himalayas, edited by Harmandeep K. Gill and Theresia Hofer. HIMALAYA: The Journal of the Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies: http://journals.ed.ac.uk/himalaya/issue/view/573 

  • 2023. “Old Tibetan Hands.” In Writing with Care: Ethnographies from the Margins of Tibet and the Himalayas, edited by Harmandeep. K. Gill and Theresia Hofer. HIMALAYA: The Journal of the Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies: http://journals.ed.ac.uk/himalaya/article/view/8858/12153 

  • 2023. "‘Setting off from the Mountain Pass’: Facing Death and Preparing for the Journey Ahead in  Tibetan Exile." In Aspiring in Later Life: Making Selves, Places, Relations Across Locales, edited by M. Amrith, V.K. Sakti, and D. Sampaio. Rutgers University Press.

  • 2022. "Imagining Care: Carers, TV and Touch." In Imagistic Care: Growing Old in a Precarious World, edited by Cheryl Mattingly and Lone Grøn. Fordham Press.

  • 2021. Det forestilte baklandet: Hjem og tilhørighet i alderdom/The Imagined Hinterland: Home and Belonging in Old Age, co-authored with Mette M. Schlutter and Abir Ismail. Norsk Antropologisk Tidsskrift.

  • 2015. Tibetan Self-Immolations: A Sacrifice and the Tibetan Freedom Struggle in Exile, India. Betwixt and Between, University of Oslo.

  • 2015: Knapt en prosent av befolkningen har styrt Kina med jernhånd siden 1949. Aftenposten.

harmandeep gill