Johanna Mugler

Johanna MuglerFormer Member

Johanna’s primary research goals are directed at understanding the inner workings of states. It is the intersection of state institutions such as justice, trade and public finances, which interests her most. Her current focus on the negotiation and making of international tax norms, rules and standards grew out of her PhD work “Measuring Justice” where she explored the relationship between accountability, quantification and law amongst legal professionals within the National Prosecuting Authority in South Africa.

More generally, she is interested in how people and institutions accomplish social phenomena and precious public goods such as equality, accountability, justice and solidarity within and beyond nation states. When they make far-reaching decisions, what defines their actions and practices and how do they traverse self-interest, national interests and a global sense of responsibility?

Johanna has been since 2012 a Lecturer and Researcher at the Institute for Social Anthropology at the University of Bern, Switzerland. She holds a Ph.D in Social Anthropology (Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, Germany 2015), and a Magister in Social Anthropology (Ludwig Maximilians University Munich, Germany 2006) and an Honours Degree in Social Anthropology (University of Cape Town, South Africa, 2004). She was a member of the International Max Planck Research School on Retaliation, Mediation and Punishment, based at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle and a doctoral student of the LOST Group between 2008 and 2012.

She is married and has two children.

Current position
Assistant Professor
University affiliation
University of Bern


Johanna’s current research project “The Emergence of Global Taxpayers” explores transnational legal and fiscal expert networks and the organisational environments in which they negotiate international tax norms, rules and standards for an increasingly digitalized global economy. She currently conducts ethnographic field research at the OECD in Paris, at the UN in Geneva, at G20 treasury and finance ministries and at leading international tax conferences worldwide (from Mumbai to Washington to Berlin and Rio).

By exploring the changing fiscal accountabilities of global tax payers Johanna is interested to (1) provide a tangible understanding of the consequences and effects of the growing disjuncture between the national territorial organization of national states and the increasing transnational organization of today’s economic activity. (2) She perceives international tax policies as a powerful lens into modern societies, since they offer crucial insights into the production of regional, national and global social hierarchies in the distribution of revenue flows. They reveal which inequalities we, as an emerging global society, wish to accept, and those we wish to address and reject collectively. With whom we share what, when and for what reasons?

Her research combines legal, political and economic anthropology, socio-legal studies and classic/new fiscal sociology.


  • Mugler, Johanna (2019) "Regulatory Capture? Fiscal Anthropological Insights into the Heart of Contemporary Statehood." in The Journal of Legal Pluralism and Unofficial Law 50 (3): 379-395. →
  • Mugler, Johanna (2019) "Measuring Justice: Quantitative Accountability and the National Prosecuting Authority in South Africa." Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Mugler, Johanna and Corinne Schwaller (2019) "Visionen bedeuten Hoffnung in einer Zukunft ohne Arbeit." in Uni Aktuell, Uni Bern, 28.5.2019. →
  • Mugler, Johanna (2018) "The Empty Chairs: On the Tedious Constraints of Trans-local Research." in Anthroblog of the Institute for Social Anthropology at the University of Bern, February 2018. →
  • Mugler, Johanna (2017) "(Keine) Angst vor Zahlen? Gefühle gegenüber Performance Measurement innerhalb der südafrikanischen Staatsanwaltschaft." in Gerechtigkeitsgefühle: Zur affektiven und emotionalen Legitimität von Normen , edited by Jonas Bens and Olaf Zenker, 129-158. Bielefeld: transcript.
  • Rottenburg, Richard, Sally Engle Merry, Sung-Joon Park, and Johanna Mugler (eds.) (2015) "A world of indicators: The making of governmental knowledge through quantification." Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Mugler, Johanna (2015) "By Their Own Account: (Quantitative) Accountability, Numerical Reflexivity, and the National Prosecuting Authority in South Africa." in The World of Indicators: The Making of Governmental Knowledge through Quantification , edited by Richard Rottenburg, Sally Engle Merry, Sung-Joon Park and Johanna Mugler, 76-101. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.