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Dr. Tilmann Heil


Iberian and Latin American Department of the Historical Institute
Maria Sybilla Merian Center Conviviality-Inequality in Latin America
DE - 50923 Cologne

Global South Studies Center
Classen-Kappelmann-Str. 24
50931 Köln

E-Mail: tilmann.heil(at)uni-koeln.de
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram @tilmannheil
Web: https://tilmann.me



Tilmann Heil is trained a doctorate in Social and Cultural Anthropology and an MPhil in interdisciplinary Migration Studies (both University of Oxford). His current research project Valued Difference is on urban hierarchies and inequalities based on ethnographic research with West African and Southern European migrants in Rio de Janeiro. Since his doctoral work, he has sharpened the notion of conviviality in his book Comparing Conviviality as a process of interaction, negotiation and translation from which forms of minimal and fragile sociality emerge. He has addressed situations of ethnic and religious plurality and multilingualism.

Until 2020, he was a FWO PEGASUS Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellow at IMMRC/Anthropology at KU Leuven. In the same period, he collaborated with Meron Zeleke on gendered migration from East and West Africa, funded by the VolkswagenStiftung. In the past, he held a postdoctoral research fellowship at the Centre of Excellence "Cultural Foundations of Social Integration" at University of Konstanz where he also coordinated a four-year doctoral programme. His current and past research collaborations include the PPGAS/National Museum, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro; the Fundação Casa Rui Barbosa (Rio de Janeiro), the Institut Fondamental d'Afrique Noire, Cheikh Anta Diop University Dakar; InCoLaS, University of Tilburg, the Max Planck Institute of Religious and Ethnic Diversity(Goettingen, Germany); and the Oxford Diaspora Programme (International Migration Institute, Oxford).


Research Areas

  • Urban Studies
  • Migration and Im/Mobility
  • Transnationalism and Globalization
  • Inequality and Social Stratification
  • Conviviality, Cooperation and Conflict
  • Race and Ethnicity
  • Intersectionality and Queer
  • Religion and Ethics

Most Important Publications

Heil, Tilmann 2020. Comparing conviviality. Living with difference in Casamance and Catalonia. Global diversities. Basingstoke: Palgrave. Publisher, Springer link

Heil, Tilmann 2020. Post/colonial reconfigurations: The disregarded, renewed arrival of Spaniards in Rio de Janeiro. Journal of Immigrant and Refugee Studies (online first). doi: 10.1080/15562948.2020.1754994,OpenAccess

Heil, Tilmann, and Fran Meissner 2020. Deromanticising integration: On the importance of convivial disintegration. Migration Studies online first. doi: 10.1093/migration/mnz056, OpenAccess

Heil, Tilmann 2019. Muslim – Queer encounters in Rio de Janeiro: Making sense of relative positionalities. Ethnography (online first): 1–20. doi: 10.1177/1466138119859601. Link

Heil, Tilmann 2019. Conviviality as diasporic knowledge. African Diaspora 11 (1-2): 53–70. doi: 10.1163/18725465-01101006. Link

More Publications


Research Project

Valued Difference. Assembling Social Hierarchies in Rio de Janeiro

Based upon the experiences and views of urban dwellers in Rio de Janeiro, who arrived in the last 10 years from West Africa and Southern Europe, this project investigates how they relate to their new surroundings and become part of an urban population that is culturally diverse and socially stratified in complex and historically laden ways. I ask how they find a place in the city and how they see their own position relative to other urban dwellers. An important aspect is their ability to compare to the experiences made in the places they grew up in and passed through. Also, they contextualise their current experience with their imaginations and hopes for the future. I investigate this evaluation process with ethnographic methods, mainly participant observation, open-ended interviews and a mobile phone app with which my interlocutors document and share their experiences and reflections. I shift perspectives on urban socialities in a rapidly changing city in the global south by way of inquiring into the most recent migration movements. Link