Quirin Rieder, BA MA MSc

University assistant (prae doc)

Contact Details

Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology
Universitätsstraße 7, 1010 Vienna
NIG, 4th floor
Room: C0422

E-Mail: quirin.rieder@univie.ac.at 

Member of the research group CaSt: 

Research Focus Areas

  • Anthropology of the State
  • Economic Anthropology
  • Anthropology of Infrastructure and Energy
  • Postcolonial Theory
  • Environmental Justice

Short Biography

Quirin is a PhD student and University Assistant (prae-doc) at the Department of Cultural and Social Anthropology since October 2021. He studied social anthropology as well as literary and cultural theory in Munich, Tübingen, Durham (UK), and London. During his studies he worked, among other things, on the socio-political implications of energy transitions, especially regarding energy cooperatives in Germany but also the enduring power structure of carbon energy more general. Overall, he is interested in the making of ‘the state’ as well as in the relation between the distribution of state resources (including infrastructure) and the reproduction of social inequalities.


Infrastructure, understood as networks of distribution of goods, people or ideas, has been coming into focus of the social sciences in recent decades. Two main streams of research can be identified: one deals with the material-environmental dimension of infrastructure, the other considers infrastructure as a more or less direct manifestation of the state. This usually ignores how infrastructures and their surrounding practices furthermore produce or prevent meaningful social relations. The dissertation project addresses this research gap and investigates the role of infrastructure in the production, maintenance, and dissolution of social relations, in terms of state-subject relations but also beyond.

This topic can be explored particularly well in contexts where negotiations around access to infrastructure are open and visible. The ethnographic focus therefore lies on electrical infrastructure in Gilgit-Baltistan, a region in northern Pakistan. There, most households have access to the electricity grid for only a few hours a day, according to a governmentally fixed schedule. In addition to the Pakistani state, neighbouring China as well as various religious and humanitarian actors play a major role in electricity generation and distribution, especially through the construction of hydropower plants. At the same time, some villages attempt to organise decentralised community-run hydropower plants, while socially influential and wealthy households take advantage of separate power lines and operate individual back-up power generators. In this context, electricity is deeply connected to various political structures and social dynamics. The dissertation project ethnographically traces these infrastructural lines along which social relations as well as economic inequalities, forms of statehood and affiliations run.

Selected Publications

  • Forthcoming 2022. “Living Along Infrastructural Lines: Following Electricity in Hunza, Pakistan”. In: Martin Porr and Niels Weidtmann (ed.). One World Anthropology and Beyond: A Multidisciplinary Engagement with the Work of Tim Ingold. London: Routledge.
  • 2021. Tim Ingold: Eine kurze Geschichte der Linien. Konstanz: Konstanz University Press. (German translation of Lines: A Brief History) https://www.k-up.de/9783835391284-eine-kurze-geschichte-der-linien.html