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Department of Geography Political Geography

Alice Kern

Alice Kern, Dr.

  • Affiliated researcher

Keywords agricultural geographies, brokerage, marginality, indigenous communities, rural livelihoods, state of nature

Regional focus South Asia: Sri Lanka, Nepal

Research interests Alice is interested in sustainable development and resource access. Her current research focuses on rural livelihoods and indigenous communities in Sri Lanka, particularly the case of the East Coast Veddas. The Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) funds her PhD project. Before beginning her PhD, she conducted a research project on labour migration brokers in Nepal as part of the NCCR North-South. Alice studied political science, geography and economics in Zurich and Paris. Her master’s thesis on marginality in Nepal was funded by the SNSF and awarded with the NZZ Top Master 2013. Besides university, she has been working for the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL, in an economic consultancy, for theatre projects, and in agriculture. She has also won several prizes for her photography.


Kern, Alice. 2021. Waves of Attention and Abandonment. Imaginative Geographies of Veddhaness in the Margins of Post-War Sri Lanka. PhD Thesis, Faculty of Science, University of Zurich. 

Kern, Alice. 2020. "On the Art of Failing Forward". 125 years GIUZ Anniversary Blog. 10.07.2020. Department of Geography, University of Zurich.

Kern, Alice. 2020. "Menschen auf mittleren Wegen in Zeiten von Wandel und Abwegen. Eine Buch-Rezension von Alice Kern." Blogging Political Geography. 15.01.2020. Department of Geography, University of Zurich.

Kern, Alice. 2019. Invited Book Review: "Manuka Wijesinghe: Ein Mann des Mittleren Weges". Südasien 39(3): 89.

Kern, Alice. 2016. "Life on the Edge of Existence: Change and Everyday Life in Eastern Sri Lanka". In: Transactions. Exhibition Catalogue. Ed.: Graduate Campus, University of Zurich, p. 30. Also see the article based on an Interview with Thomas Müller: Zwischen Jagen, Steine klopfen und Skypen. Bürgerkrieg in Sri Lanka. 10.06.2016. UZH News, University of Zurich.

Kern, Alice. 2016. "Sri Lanka. Audiobeitrag". In: Transactions. Manifesta11. Parallel Event der Universität Zürich. Audioguide zur gleichnamigen Ausstellung. ed.: Graduate Campus, Universität Zürich. 

Kern, Alice. 2015. "Accept the Unexpected. Ethnographie als Lernprozess". In: Herausforderungen in der Qualitativen Sozialforschung. Forschungsstrategien von Studierenden für Studierende. Edited by Jeannine Wintzer. Berlin Heidelberg: Springer: 43-50.

Kern, Alice & Müller-Böker, Ulrike. 2015. "The middle space of migration: A case study on brokerage and recruitment agencies in Nepal". Geoforum, 65: 158-169.

Kern, Alice. 2014. "Marginal Magars, Mainstream Migrants: Bridging Strategies of an Ethnic Community in Rural Nepal". In: Poerting, J; Lennartz, T (Hrsg): "Aktuelle Forschungsbeiträge zu Südasien". Geographien Südasiens, 2: 10-13.

Kern, Alice. 2012. The Violence of Marginality. Living through Political Conflict and Transition in Rural Nepal. MA Thesis, Department of Geography, University of Zurich.

Kern, Alice. 2012. "So nah, so fern: Marginalisierte Magar. Eine ethnographische Fallstudie über ein Janajati-Dorf in Mid-Western Nepal". Südasien, 32(3+4): 64-68.

Kern, Alice (Co-Author). 2009. Ethical Fashion – Made in Switzerland? Eine Marktstudie. Endbericht des Projektseminars „Made in Switzerland“. Edited by: Mark Starmanns et al. Zurich: Department of Geography, University of Zurich, Zurich Open Repository and Archive.


  • GEO 112: Human Geography I (One earth, many worlds): HS 2020
  • GEO 122: Humangeographie II: FS 2016, FS 2017
  • GEO 242: Humangeographische Methoden der Datenerhebung: FS 2020
  • GEO 288: Small Group Teaching: FS 2017
  • GEO 326: Bachelor Thesis: FS 2016, FS 2017, FS 2020
  • GEO 363: Vertiefung Humangeographie: Critical Reading and Writing 
(on Critical Geopolitics): HS 2020
  • GEO 511: Master Research Colloquium: HS 2014, FS 2015