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Edinburgh Centre for Medical Anthropology: People

Michael Heneise

Michael Heneise
Michael Heneise
South Asian Studies
Chrystal Macmillan Building 15a George Square Edinburgh UK EH8 9LD
+91 708 596 1330
Research Interests
Indigenous healing, personhood, vision, and the state, Cosmopolitics, Anthropology of dreaming, Biomedical knowledge(s), practices and technologies, Medical Anthropology, Himalaya, South Asia, Amazonia and Latin America, Sacred ecology

My doctoral research explored the relationship between dreams, sacred ecology, and personhood among the Nagas in Northeast India. In my field work (2012-2015) I documented the ways in which ancestral knowledge continues to exert itself in the daily lives of the Nagas, whether through passed down clan genealogical knowledge, or through new forms obtained from communication with other-than-humans in dreams, and omens in waketime reverie. The Angamis in particular articulate a close relationship between ancestral spirits and ruopfü (one’s always-perceiving soul or life being), complicating the boundary that would separate dreaming and waking states. In mediating these two states, the Angami ruopfü therefore has a powerful ability to inhabit these two spaces simultaneously, thus allowing for their reversibility. These processes of inhabiting the ‘real’ in waking and dreaming, occur in the midst of significant political turmoil, and I examine the ways in which dreams index terrains of clan and state power in relation to a broader cosmic struggle. Moreover, as a guiding principle of subjectivity, dreaming, and reversibility elucidate the ways in which Angamis explore, understand, and generate alternative futures. 


2012-2015 Graduate School International Award, Graduate School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh

2012-2015 Graduate School Scholarship, Graduate School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh

2012 Tweedie Exploration Fellowship, University of Edinburgh

2013 PhD Grant, Centre for South Asian Studies, University of Edinburgh


PhD University of Edinburgh (2016)

MTh University of Wales (2005)

BME Florida State University (2000)


Dr. Jacob Copeman, Social Anthropology

Dr. Arkotong Longkumer, Religious Studies



Founder/editor-in-chief of The South Asianist, an Open Access, peer-reviewed, online journal published by the Centre for South Asian Studies, University of Edinburgh

Co-founder/managing trustee of The Kohima Institute, a research and post-graduate teaching institute located in Kohima, Nagaland, that focuses primarily on ethnographic research methodologies, community health, religious practices, and in exploring the intersection between ecology, indigenous cosmology and well-being in highland Asia.