Prof. Borut Telban, Ph.D.

Coordinator of Anthropology Module. Research Adviser, Institute of Anthropological and Spatial Studies, Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts

Office: ZRC SAZU, Novi trg 2/II, No. 301
Tel.: 01 4706 492
Office hours: Wednesday 10 – 12


B.Sc. Pharmacy (University of Ljubljana, 1983)

M.Sc. Biology (University of Zagreb, 1989)

Ph.D. Social Anthropology (The Australian National University, 1994)



  • Papua New Guinea, Hagahai and Melpa people, 18 months (1986–1987);
  • Vanuatu, Epi Island, 3 weeks (1990);
  • Papua New Guinea, Ambonwari village, East Sepik Province, 18 months (1990-1992), 2 months (1997), 2 months (2001);
  • Russia, north-eastern Siberia, Yakutia, 1 month (2003);
  • Papua New Guinea, Ambonwari village, East Sepik Province: 1 month (2005), 2 months (2007–2008), 1.5 months (2008), 10 months (2010–2011), 3 months (2017). 


Research interests:

  • Melanesian life worlds;
  • Cosmologies and religions;
  • Social organization and kinship;
  • Cultural construction of space and time;
  • Ritual and other practices surrounding birth, growth and death;
  • Language, poetics and society;
  • Relationship between visual and auditory perception and expression;
  • Decolonization of practices and thoughts in small-scale non-European societies;
  • Comparative ethnographic studies (Melanesia, Amazonia, Aboriginal Australia);
  • History of anthropological thought and theoretical approaches;
  • Phenomenology, existentialism, American pragmatism.

  • Research Student, Biology Department, University of Papua New Guinea (1986–1987);
  • Leach/RAI Fellow, University of Manchester (1995–1996);
  • Visiting Professor, Institute for Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Vienna (2003);
  • Fulbright Scholar, University of California, San Diego (2006–2007);
  • Research Scholar, The Cairns Institute, School of Arts and Social Sciences, James Cook University (2010–2011, 2012);
  • Visiting Professor, École de Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), CREDO, Université Aix Marseille (2014);
  • The Royal Society of Edinburgh Visiting Research Fellow, University of St. Andrews (2014–2015). 
  • Visiting Fellow, College of Asia and the Pacific, The Australian National University (many times, the last affiliation 2016-17);
  • Visiting Professor, École de Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) and Université Aix Marseille, CREDO (2017).

  • Editor-in-chief, Anthropological Notebooks, the journal of Slovenian Anthropological Society;
  • Member of the Board of the European Society for Oceanists;
  • Member of Editorial Board of a book series Thought, Society, Culture: Slovenian and South Eastern European Perspectives. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang;
  • Member of Editorial Board of a book series Studies of the European Society for Oceanists. Oxford: Berghahn Books;
  • Member of Advisory Board: Ethnos, The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology, Suomen Antropologi: Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society, Mitteilungen der Anthropologischen Gesellschaft in Wien. 

  • Telban, B. 2017. Commands as a form of intimacy among the Karawari of Papua New Guinea. In: Aleksandra Y. Aikhenvald and Robert M. W. Dixon (eds.). Commands: A Cross-linguistic Typology (Explorations in linguistic typology). Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 266-282.
  • Telban, B. 2017. Seeing and holding time: Karawari perceptions of temporalities, calendars and clocks. Time and Society 26(2):182-202.
  • Telban, B. 2017. The intoxicating intimacy of drum strokes, sung verses and dancing steps in the all-night ceremonies of Ambonwari (Papua New Guinea). In: Chrysagis, Evangelos and Panagiotis Karampampas (eds.), Collaborative Intimacies in Music and Dance: Anthropologies in/of Sound and Movement. Oxford: Berghahn, pp. 234-257.
  • Telban, B. 2016. Places and Times in a New Guinean Landscape (in Slovenian). Ljubljana: ZRC.
  • Telban, B. and D. Vávrová. 2014. Ringing the living and the dead: Mobile phones in a Sepik society. The Australian Journal of Anthropology 25(2): 223–238.
  • Telban, B. 2014. Saying, seeing and knowing among the Karawari of Papua New Guinea. In: Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald and R. M. W. Dixon (eds.), The Grammar of Knowledge: A Cross-linguistic Typology. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 260–277.
  • Telban, B. 2014. The poetics of the flute: Fading imagery in a Sepik society. Folklore 125(1): 92–112.
  • Telban, B. 2013. The power of place: Spatio-temporality of a Melanesian religious movement. Anthropological Notebooks 19(3): 81–100.
  • Telban, B. and D. Vávrová. 2010. Places and spirits in a Sepik society. The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology 11(1): 17–33.
  • Telban, B. 2009. A struggle with spirits: hierarchy, rituals and charismatic movement in a Sepik community. In: Pamela J. Stewart and Andrew Strathern (eds.). Religious and Ritual Change: Cosmologies and Histories (Ritual Studies Monograph Series). Durham, N.C.: Carolina Academic Press, pp. 133–158 (translated and published in 2010 in Chinese, Taipei, Taiwan: Linking Publishing, pp.187–220).
  • Telban, B. 2008. The poetics of the crocodile: changing cultural perspectives in Ambonwari. Oceania 78(2): 217-235 (Special Commendation for 2009 AAS Best Essay Prize, Awarded at The Australian Anthropological Society Annual Conference 2009, Macquarie University, Sydney, 9 – 11/12/2009).
  • Telban, B. 2004. Fear, shame and the power of the gaze in Ambonwari, Papua New Guinea. Anthropological Notebooks 10(1): 5–5.
  • Roscoe, P. and B. Telban. 2004. The people of the lower Arafundi: tropical foragers of the New Guinea rainforest. Ethnology XLIII (2): 93–115.
  • Telban, B. 2001. Temporality of post-mortem divination and divination of post-mortem temporality. The Australian Journal of Anthropology 12(1): 67–79.
  • Telban, B. 2000. Andaypa: Essays on Death in a New Guinea Community (in Slovenian). Maribor: Obzorja.
  • Telban, B. 1998. Body, being and identity in Ambonwari, Papua New Guinea. In: V. Keck (ed.) Common worlds and single lives: constituting knowledge in Pacific societies. Oxford: Berg Publishers, pp. 55–70.
  • Telban, B. 1998. Dancing through Time: A Sepik Cosmology. Oxford: Oxford University Press (Gold Award for excellence in research for the year 1999, Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts).
  • Telban, B. 1997. Being and ‘non-being’ in Ambonwari (Papua New Guinea) ritual. Oceania 67(4): 308–325.


Anthropology of Consciousness and Practices of Awareness ǀ

Assist. Prof. Maja Petrović Šteger, Ph. D.,


Anthropology of Fertility ǀ

Assoc. Prof. Duška Kneževič Hočevar, Ph.D.,


Cosmology of Mesoamerican Societies ǀ

Prof. Ivan Šprajc, Ph.D.,


Epistemological pluralism and “decolonizing” methods in ethnographic research ǀ

Assoc. Prof. Pirjo Kristiina Virtanen, Ph.D.,


Laughing Politically: Toward the Anthropology of Humor ǀ

Prof. Tanja Petrović, Ph.D.,


Public anthropology, social engagement and activism ǀ

Assoc. Prof. Ana Hofman, Ph.D.,


Research Methodology in Anthropological Linguistics ǀ

Karmen Kenda-Jež, Ph.D.,

Prof. Borut Telban, Ph.D.,


Space and Movement: Towards Anthropology of Locations and Migrations ǀ

Assist. Prof. Nataša Gregorič Bon, Ph.D.,