Photo of Bernhard Leistle

Bernhard Leistle

Associate Professor

Degrees:PhD (Heidelberg)
Phone:613-520-2600 x 1955
Office:C775 Loeb Building

Areas of Interest

Phenomenological Anthropology, Phenomenology, Psychiatric Anthropology, Anthropology of Performance, Semiotics, Morocco

Notice: I will be on sabbatical from July 2022 to June 2023


I am a cultural anthropologist working at the intersection of anthropology, philosophy and psychology. My main theoretical interest is the translation and application of concepts from philosophical phenomenology (in particular Merleau-Ponty, Levinas and Waldenfels) to empirical research problems in anthropology. I am currently working on the development of a phenomenological theory of performativity and performance in anthropology.

Previously my work concentrated on exploring the fertility of the phenomenological notion of the Other for anthropology. Results of this effort have appeared in form of the edited volume Anthropology and Alterity – Responding to the Other, published by Routledge (2017).

I have conducted ethnographic research on trance- and possession rituals in Morocco and am presently preparing a new ethnographic project on culture and practices of psychiatry in Germany and Canada.

On the undergraduate level, I am teaching a wide variety of courses, e.g. Introduction to Anthropology (ANTH 1001), Psychological Anthropology (ANTH 2070), Culture and Symbols (ANTH 2500), Art, Culture and Society (ANTH/SOCI 3570).

For graduate students I am offering courses corresponding to my research interests: Anthropology of Performance (ANTH 5505) and Phenomenology for Anthropologists and Sociologists (ANTH 5501).

I am available for supervision in the areas of phenomenological anthropology, applied phenomenology, performance and performativity, and semiotics. I am particularly interested in working with students whose projects apply these perspectives to psychiatry and medicine, court trials and legal practices, performative arts, sensory and bodily practices.



Leistle, Bernhard (ed.) 2017. Anthropology and Alterity. Responding to the Other. New York/London Routledge.

Leistle, Bernhard/Koepping, Klaus-Peter/Rudolph Michael (eds) 2006. Ritual and Identity. Performative Practices as Effective Transformations of Social Reality. Berlin: LIT.

Journal Articles and Book Chapters (Selection):

Forthcoming: Leistle, Bernhard “Phenomenological Arguments and Concepts for Anthropology”. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Anthropology.

Leistle, Bernhard 2020. “Einleitung” and “Ethnologie as Xenologie. Bernhard Waldenfels und die Wissenschaft vom kulturell Fremden”. In: Bernhard Leistle (ed.) Themenschwerpunkt: Fremdheit – Ordnung- Antwort. Bernhard Waldenfels und die empirischen Wissenschaften. Deutsche Zeitschrift für Philosophie 68/1, 72 – 78, 101 – 120 (Leistle, Bernhard 2020. “Introduction” and “Ethnology as Xenology. Bernhard Waldenfels and the Science of the Culturally Alien”. In: Bernhard Leistle (ed.) Thematic Focus: Alienness – Order – Response. Bernhard Waldenfeld and the Empirical Sciences. German Journal of Philosophy 68/1, 72 – 78, 101 – 120).

Leistle, Bernhard 2020. “Ethnography as Bewitchment: A Literary Study of Jeanne Favret-Saada’s Deadly Words”. In: Julie Laplante, Ari Gandsman , and Willow Scobie (eds.) 2020. Search After Methods. Sensing, Moving, and Imagining in Anthropological Fieldwork. New York/Oxford: Berghahn, 211 – 230.

Leistle, Bernhard 2018. ““Polyfunctionality”, “Structural Dominant”, and “Poetic Function” in Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception”. Acta Structuralica, Special Issue 2, 69 – 98.

Leistle, Bernhard 2017. “Introduction”. In: Bernhard Leistle (ed.) Anthropology and Alterity. Responding to the Other. New York/London: Routledge, 1 – 24.

Leistle, Bernhard 2017. “The Emergence of the Radical Other in Phenomenology”. In: Bernhard Leistle (ed.) Anthropology and Alterity, Responding to the Other. New York/London: Routledge, 45 – 71.

Leistle, Bernhard 2017. “The Order of the World”: A Responsive Phenomenology of Schreber’s Memoirs”. In: Bernhard Leistle (ed.) Anthropology and Alterity, Responding to the Other. New York/London: Routledge, 254 – 281.

Leistle, Bernhard 2016. “Responsivity and (some) other approaches to alterity”. Anthropological Theory Vol. 16(1), 48–74.

Leistle, Bernhard 2015. “Otherness as a Paradigm in Anthropology”. Semiotica 204, 291 – 313.

Leistle, Bernhard 2014.“From the Alien to the Other – Steps toward a Phenomenology of Spirit Possession”. In: Anthropology of Consciousness 25/1, 53 – 90.

Leistle, Bernhard 2011. “Difficult Heritage. Time and the Other in Moroccan Rituals of Possession”. In: Simon, Udo et al. Reflexivity, Media, and Visuality. Ritual Dynamics and the Science of Ritual, Vol. IV. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 309 – 338.

Leistle, Bernhard 2006a. “Ritual as Sensory Communication – A Theoretical and Analytical Perspective”. In: Klaus-Peter Köpping, Bernhard Leistle, and Michael Rudolph (eds.) 2006. Ritual and Identity. Performative Practices as Effective Transformations of Social Reality. Berlin: LIT, 33 – 74.

Leistle, Bernhard 2006b.“Der Geruch des Djinn – Phänomenologische Überlegungen zur kulturellen Bedeutungsdimension sinnlicher Erfahrung in Marokko” (The Odour of the Djinn. Phenomenological Reflections on the Representative Dimension of Sensory Experience in Moroccan Culture). In: Curare, Journal of Medical Anthropology and Transcultural Psychiatry, 2006/3, 173 – 194.