Senior Researcher

Thorsten Gieser

Thorsten is an ecological anthropologist and field philosopher, exploring human-wildlife coexistence at the interface between anthropology/ethnology, phenomenology and ethology.

Thorsten Gieser holds degrees from the University of Heidelberg, Germany (MA in Social Anthropology and Religious Studies, 2004) and the University of Aberdeen, UK (PhD in Social Anthropology, 2009). He has been working as a Lecturer in Anthropology at the University of Koblenz-Landau, Germany, for the past ten years and is also Lecturer in the MA program ‘Visual Anthropology, Media and Documentary Practices’ at the University of Münster, Germany.

For the last five years, Thorsten has developed a phenomenology of hunting through an ongoing research project on hunting practices in contemporary Germany. Drawing on an Ingoldian ‘dwelling perspective’, his work offers novel insights into the senses and sensibilities of hunting. He is intrigued by how hunter-animal relations ‘make sense’ through the material and corporeal dimensions, i.e. the ‘flesh, blood and bones’ of hunting experiences. He has explored these issues through written sensory ethnography but also through two documentaries, photos, a multisensory art installation and his website.

More recently, Thorsten has taken up the thread again from his MA research on human-wolf conflicts in the Mongolian Altai to explore the affective dimensions of the return of wolves to Germany (Volkswagen Foundation, 2019-21). In this etho-ethnology (Lestel), he follows how wolves and humans in the Westerwald and Saxony affect and are affected in their shared lives, paying particular attention to the emotions, moods, atmospheres and sentiments that emerge in their ‘becoming-with’.

In the BOAR project, his fieldwork concentrates on the ‘beastly’ lives of wild boar in relation to boar hunting in Germany (Rhineland and Lusatia in Saxony) and the recent transformations that were triggered by the immanent threat of an ASF outbreak and the most recent actual outbreak in 2020.


2009 | PhD in Social Anthropology, University of Aberdeen, UK
2004 | MA in Social Anthropology and Religious Studies, University of Heidelberg, Germany
2004 | Certificate on Interdisciplinary Environmental Sciences, University of Heidelberg 


Selected Publications


  • Thorsten Gieser (2023). Leben mit Wölfen: Affekte, Gefühle und Stimmungen in Mensch-Wolf-Beziehungen. Bielefeld: Transcript



  • (2021). Into the meshwork of the forest: a sensory exploration of hunting landscapes in Germany. Revista Andaluza de Antropologia (Special Issue: Anthropological perspectives on recreational hunting, edited by Garry Marvin and Juan Martin Dabezies) 21: 124-147

  • 2020 | Wald, Wild, Wetter und das Waidwerk: Sinnliche Erkundungen einer Jagdlandschaft. Alltag – Kultur – Wissenschaft 7 (2020): 169-196

  • 2020 | Response (to Nick Overton’s article ‘Can hunter-gatherers ever ‘get to know’ their prey?’). Hunter-Gatherer Research 4 (2): 31-33
  • 2019 | (with Erica von Essen & Eugenie van Heijgen) Hunting communities of practice: Factors behind the social differentiation of hunters in modernity. Journal of Rural Studies 68: 13-21
  • 2018 | The experience of ‘being a hunter’: Towards a phenomenological anthropology of hunting practices. Hunter-Gatherer Research 3 (2): 227-251
  • 2008 | Me, my prey, and I: Embodiment and empathy in the dialogical self of a hunter, Studia Psychologica 6 (8), 41-54 (Special issue on the dialogical self (guest edited by Hubert Hermans & Agnieszka Hermans-Konopka))


Book Chapters

  • 2020 | Beyond ‘Natural Enemies’: Wolves and Nomads in Mongolia. In: Marlis Heyer and Susanne Hose (eds) Encounters with wolves: dynamics and futures. Bautzen: Sorbisches Institut, pp. 50-62.
  • 2020 | Hunting wild animals in Germany: conflicts between wildlife management and ‘traditional’ practices of Hege. In: Michaela Fenske & Bernhard Tschofen (Hrsg.). Managing the Return of the Wild: Human Encounters with Wolves in Europe. London: Routledge, pp. 164-179.
  • 2018 | Killing a wounded sow: a phenomenological approach to a problematic hunting situation. In: Thiemo Breyer & Thomas Widlok (Hrsg.). The Situationality of Human-Animal Relations: Perspectives from Anthropology and Philosophy. Bielefeld:transcript.


Other publications:

  • (2021). (Book review) Harald Stahl: „Die hohen Bäume und das Unterholz und das Tote“. Waldnaturschutz im Nordschwarzwald, Waldbewusstsein und Naturerfahrung, Bayerisches Jahrbuch für Volkskunde 2021, S. 137–138
  • Thorsten Gieser & Erica von Essen (2021). Wolves, ecologies of fear, and the affective challenges of coexistence.
  • Enetwild Consortium et al. (2021). Research protocols for designing studies/pilot trials to evaluate and to improve effectiveness of wild boar management in relation to African swine fever virus. European Food Safety Agency EFSA External Scientific Report EN-6583