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Dr. Julian Sommerschuh

Assistant Professor (Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter)

Research Interests

Values, Christianity, Cultural Change, Anthropology of the Good, Ethiopia

Short Biography

I was trained as a social anthropologist at Cambridge (PhD 2019), and I’m now a postdoc in practical philosophy at the University of Cologne.

I have carried out two years of fieldwork in Ethiopia, studying religious conversion and economic transformations in a rural Aari community. I’m presently turning this work into a book called ‘Honour or Love: An Ethnographic History of the Good in Southern Ethiopia’.

The broader aim of my research is to learn something about the role of the good in human life. I’m especially interested in understanding how conceptions of the good can motivate people to pursue social change.


  • Sommerschuh, J. 2021. Respectable Conviviality: Solving Value Conflicts through Orthodox Christianity in Southern Ethioipa. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 27(4)
  • Sommerschuh, J. 2020. From Feasting to Accumulation: Modes of Value Realisation and Radical Cultural Change in Southern Ethiopia. Ethnos. DOI: 10.1080/00141844.2020.1828971
  • Sommerschuh, J. 2020. Legal pluralism and Protestant Christianity: From fine to forgiveness in an Aari community. In Legal pluralism in Ethiopia: Actors, challenges and solutions. Susanne Epple and Getachew Assefa, eds. Pp. 213–34. Culture and social practice: transcript-Verlag. DOI: 10.14361/9783839450215-011
  • Sommerschuh, J. 2019. Whatever Happened to Respect? Values and Change in a Southwest Ethiopian (Aari) Community. Doctoral Thesis, University of Cambridge, Cambridge. DOI: 10.17863/CAM.45917
  • Robbins, J. & J. Sommerschuh. 2016. Values. In The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Anthropology F. Stein, S.Lazar, M. Candea, H. Diemberger, J. Robbins, A. Sanchez & R. Stasch, eds.
  • Sommerschuh, J. (forthcoming) Questioning Growth: Christianity, Development, and the Perils of Wealth in Southern Ethiopia. Journal of Religion in Africa
  • Sommerschuh, J. & J. Robbins. (forthcoming). Values and Ethics. In Handbook of the Anthropology of Ethics and Morality. James Laidlaw, ed. Cambridge University Press
  • Sommerschuh, J. (forthcoming). Speaking Humbly: Speech, Values and Change in Protestant Southern Ethiopia. In Religious Speakers and Religious Speech. Authority and Influence of Word and People.
  • under review: Value Pluralism and Ethical Change: A View from Southern Ethiopia
  • under review: No Love Without Sadness: Kinship and the Perils of Grace


Winter term: Modern Virtue Ethics; Bernard Williams
Summer term: Introduction to the Anthropology of Ethics; Charles Taylor

Winter term: Value and Values; Religion and Modernity
Summer term: Moral Change (with Prof. Hinsch); Religion and Moral Economy

Supervision of undergraduate students at Cambridge; Part IIb (San5): Ethical Life and the Anthropology of the Subject


PhD in Social Anthropology, Cambridge University, 2019
MPhil in Social Anthropology, Cambridge University, 2014
BA in European Ethnology and Sociology, Humboldt-University of Berlin, 2012


2015-2019 Cambridge Trust (Vice-Chancellor’s Award)
2014-2015 German Academic Exchange Service (One-year Grant)
2009-2014 German National Academic Foundation (Stipendiary)