Notre équipe

Basile Zimmermann

Dr. Basile Zimmermann

Director, Senior lecturer

+41 22 379 07 32

Adresse postale: Rue de Candolle 5, 1211 Genève 4

Research and publications

Keywords: anthropology of innovation; China; Middle East

Basile Zimmermann is a Senior lecturer at the Rectorate and Director of the Confucius Institute at the University of Geneva (Institut Confucius de l’Université de Genève). The Confucius Institute is a science diplomacy platform based on a partnership between Renmin University in Beijing and the University of Geneva. He also collaborates with Human-ISTSTSLab, and the Agalma Fondation.

For more information, visit : the research projects, and the team page.


Humanités Populaires. La culture des objets. Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 2023. Voir la vidéo Comment résoudre la crise des humanités par les Cafés philosophiques des Bains des Pâquis. Compte rendu [1].

Waves and Forms: Electronic Music Devices and Computer Encodings in China. Inside Technology Series. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2015. Download the first chapter. See also the conference Technology and Cultural Difference at Lift10, the presentation Waves and Forms at Cornell University, and the research project. Reviews [1] [2] [3] [4]. Chinese edition forthcoming: "波与形:电子音乐设备和计算机编码在中国" 翻译:袁邈桐,中国传媒大学出版社 (即将出版).

The Impact of Western Technology on Chinese Culture: Beijing Electronic Musicians Practices as Observation Field of the Relationship Between Technical Objects and Artistic Creation, PhD thesis, Cyberthèses, University of Geneva, 2006 [in French]. See also the interview by the Swiss National Television  History of Knowledge, Outstanding Swiss young scientists series, and the presentation at the ANR IMPROTECH project in Tatihou.


Lexique du chinois contemporain, with Grâce Poizat-Xie and Delphine Goldschmidt-Clermont. Paris: L'Asiathèque,  2013.

Caractères chinois courants, with Nicolas Zufferey. Paris : Youfeng, 2007.


"The Ontology of Keyboard Cleaning." Position paper for the Workshop Governance By Infrastructure. Université de Lausanne, 2022.

"Similarity and difference in sound studies (and elsewhere)." In Rethinking Music through Science and Technology Studies, edited by Hennion, Antoine, and Levaux Christophe, 227-238. London: Routledge, 2021.

CERTIFY : Leveraging fact-checkers and crowdsourcing to provide informed opinions on unreliable or misleading information. With Alrafeea, Fayez, and Di Marzo Serugendo, Giovanna. Working Paper, 2020. Https://

"Waves and Forms: Constructing the Cultural in Design." with Ammar Halabi. AI & SOCIETY 34 (3), pp. 403-417, 2019. See also the editorial Opening up the culture black box in community technology design.

"Trois regards sur la notion de « culture chinoise » ". Asiatische Studien / Études Asiatiques, 72(1), pp. 87-116, 2018.

"Conflict in a Digital Place." with Ammar Halabi and Michèle Courant. First Monday, December 2017.

Database Green: Software, Environmentalism and Data Flows In China.” with Matteo Tarantino. China Quarterly 29 (2017): 205-17.

Taxonomy and Notation of Spatialization.”, with Emile Ellberger, Germán Toro Pérez, Linda Cavaliero, Johannes Schütt, and Giorgio Zoia. TENOR Conference 2016 proceedings, pp. 212-219 (for an overview of the taxonomy, select "Secondary files " and then "Supplemental data - Poster").

Circulation: A Theoretical Toolkit”, with Nicolas Nova. Design and Culture Vol. 7-2 (2015), pp. 167-184.

Expect the Unexpected: Experimental music, or the ignorance of sound design.” In Routledge International Handbook of Ignorance Studies, edited by Gross Matthias, and McGoey Linsey, 97-104. London: Routledge, 2015. [Chinese translation forthcoming in Music and Sound Studies: "等待意外:实验音乐,抑或对声音设计的蒙昧" 翻译:袁邈桐 (即将出版)].

Participate, Collaborate, and Decide: Defining Design Problems in a Syrian Community.”, with Ammar Halabi and Michèle Courant. Sixth International Conference on Information and Communication Technologies and Development (ICTD’13), 2013.

Materiality, Description and Comparison as Tools for Cultural Difference Analysis.” In A Companion to New Media Dynamics, edited by John Hartley, Jean Burgess, and Axel Bruns, 439-49. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013.

"Designing Social Media using Social Media : Lessons from a Syrian Community”, with Ammar Halabi and Michèle Courant. CHI 2013 workshop on Designing Social Media for Change, 2013.

The Use of Comics to Reveal the Action of Technical Objects.” In Howard Becker et les mondes de l’art, edited by Pierre-Jean Benghozi, and Thomas Paris, 259-73. Paris: Editions Ecole Polytechnique, 2012 [in French].

“Words of the Second Level”, with Grâce Poizat-Xie. In G. Poizat, Vocabulaire du chinois contemporain 2, 135-63. Paris: L’Asiathèque, 2012.

"Le présent des objets". In Blog Scientifique de l’Institut Confucius, Université de Genève. Lien permanent:, [2012] 2017.

"La Chine aujourd'hui: Techniques d'analyse du présent", en collaboration avec Nadia Sartoretti. Asiatische Studien / Études Asiatiques 66, no. 1 (2012): 163-87.

Analyzing Social Networking Web Sites: The Design of Happy Network 开心网 in China” In Global Design History, edited by Glenn Adamson, Giorgio Riello, and Sarah Teasley, 153-62. New York: Routledge, 2011.

Redesigning Culture: Chinese Characters in Alphabet-Encoded Networks”, Design and Culture (Berg Publishers), vol. 2-1 (2010), pp. 27-43.

“Words of the First Level [in French]”. In G. Poizat, Vocabulaire du Chinois Contemporain 1, 135-163. Paris: L'Asiathèque, 2008.

"The Containers Approach : An Inductive Method to look at Cultural Difference in a Technological Environment." Poster presentation, World Knowledge Dialogue, Crans-Montana, Switzerland, September 10-13, 2008 (Best Poster Contribution Award).

"Doing Chinese Studies at the Crossroads of Grounded Theory and Actor-Network-Theory." 7th International Conference on Social Science Methodology, Cd-rom (Balbi S, ed.), Naples, Italy, 2008.

Uncovering Cultural Issues in the Internet of Things: A Design Method.” Paper presented at the Internet of Things 2008 (Social-IoT Workshop, Designing the Internet of Things for Workplace Realities: Social and Cultural Aspects in Design and Organisation), Adjunct Proceedings, Florian Michahelles (Ed.), pp. 100-104, Zurich, 2008.

«Tracing the Action of Technical Objects in an Ethnography: Vinyls in Beijing », In Qualitative Sociology Review, Vol. III Issue 3 (2007), pp. 22-45. See also the video on Cornell University's website.

«When the Chinese Teach Us What Technology is Really About» To wards a Knowledge Society: Is Knowledge a Public Good?, ESSHRA Conference proceedings, Bern 12-13th of June 2007.

«Technology is Culture: Two Paradigms». In Leonardo Music Journal, (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press), 15.1 (2005), pp. 53-57.

«Technology's Attitude Toward The Chinese: Synthesizers, Music Software and Turntables in Contemporary Beijing», Harvard Project for Asian and International Relations 2004, Science and Technology Workshop proceedings, Shanghai, 18-21 of August, 2004 (19 p.)

Basile Zimmermann