Find out what Anthropology graduates had to say about their time at Goldsmiths.
Annie Ash, Head of Teen Spirit at Body and Soul Charity
MA Applied Anthropology, Community and Youth Work
"My course was useful in gaining the necessary practical work experience required by employers in the sector, while providing an opportunity to engage in the theoretical questions that motivated my desire to pursue a career working with young people.
"Studying part-time for my MA allowed me to pursue work opportunities, while the course continued and the three placements required as part of the course were vital in enhancing my understanding of opportunities available and employability. The methodological considerations and skills I gained on this course have directly informed my work with young people as Head of Teen Spirit at Body & Soul."
Omar Roomi, Real Estate Paralegal
"After graduating from Goldsmiths, I studied the Graduate Diploma in Law. I then completed the Legal Practice course (LPC) and attained a distinction. Currently I work as a Real Estate Paralegal at Practical Law Company. My work involves supporting property, construction and environment lawyers in preparing material for publication. I look forward to obtaining a training contract at a law firm and to qualifying as a solicitor in the coming years.
"The experience of studying Anthropology at Goldsmiths was the most formative element of my educational career. This is a credit to the wonderful team of lecturers and tutors at the department who were approachable, supportive and showed genuine interest in helping me to achieve my goals. Over the years I have been asked why I made the 'jump' from anthropology to the law. I feel that the two disciplines complement each other."
Luciana Saldanha, Playwright
"The degree was fundamental in giving me confidence to take on my current path (and long life dream) as a writer. I am writing you to forward information on my very first play which was selected as one of the winners of the New Writer's Awards 2008 by Angle Theatre in association with Hackney Empire. I am very proud of the fact I am part of the students at Goldsmiths."
Alexandra Parry, Artist
BA Anthropology and Media
"Studying Anthropology at Goldsmiths gave me an insight into cultures and societies throughout the world. The understanding I gained from this learning allowed me to imagine possibilities and ways in which my own society could be different. The department was a really stimulating environment to be in and conversations with fellow students were often continued long after the seminar in the café across the road. My experience at Goldsmiths has influenced my work hugely and I continue to be inspired by my time there."
Ed Owles, Independent filmmaker
MA Visual Anthropology
Ed has worked entirely on a freelance basis in a variety of roles: director, researcher, and cameraman. He recently directed eight short documentaries for broadcast including four ‘3 Minute Wonders’ for Channel 4. Ed makes films for NGOs, runs participative film workshops for young people and works closely with the Education officer at the Royal Anthropological Institute.
"For me the most enjoyable aspect of the MA Visual Anthropology was the balance between theory and practice. Being able to apply some of the anthropological theory I had studied previously at undergraduate level in the visual medium was a great experience.
The course gives you the space and time to experiment so that you end it with a wide range of skills and puts you in a really good position to pursue whatever path you decide upon."
Our Research Alumni
Negotiating Patron-Client Relationships in Conflict: Recreating the Sectarian Identity of Lebanon’s Football Champion Club
My research investigates how people negotiate, reproduce and subvert the construction of conflict boundaries and sectarian antagonism within the city of Beirut. I did ethnographic research with Nejmeh club, Beirut’s largest football club, which has been struggling with internal conflicts splitting it across Sunnite-Shiite lines. I explore the multiplicity of roles that fans and other intermediaries assume in negotiating the changes in the club’s sectarian identity and shaping the conflict’s fault lines, as well as continuities and disruptions that exist in the culturally ascribed power distribution system across periods of relative stability and overt violence.
Supervisors: Roger Sansi-Roca; Sari Wastell
From the Archive to the Grave: Identifying the Civil War and Post-War Dead in Contemporary Extremadura
My research explores different forms of scientific, historical and social identification endeavors in connection to the exhumation of the bodies of the Spanish Civil War and postwar dead, in the southwestern region of Extremadura. Focusing on notions of evidence production, I study the role that material remains, bodies and oral accounts play in the construction of different sociopolitical claims about the repressive past. Moreover, I examine the exhumations of unmarked graves in relation to the meaning they attain for different family collectives, associations, historians and archaeological teams and in the context of wider practices of mourning, commemoration and war remembrance.
Supervisors: Emma Tarlo, Mark Lamont
Making nonreligious matter- mapping non-religious semiotics, ceremony and media in the UK
My research focuses on individuals and organisations in Britain mobilising publicly around values of non-religion and secularism, exploring their ritual symbolism, textual and visual language. In the late 19th Century a number of free-thought organisations were formed, with varying degrees of success, and some continue to operate today. This thesis maps a contemporary landscape of organised and everyday non-religious action and places it in the context of these early beginnings. I argue that heritage dictates particular traits which emerge in the contemporary landscape of Britain, and nonreligious discourse has been affected by the rise in significance of the internet as a social space, religious pluralism, consumer awareness and the shifting role of community.
Supervisors: Emma Tarlo, Fiona Kerlogue
Beyond the Horniman Museum: history, heritage and craftsmanship in the collection of Romanian artefacts
My project provides an exploration and critique of the 1957 Horniman Museum’s Romanian collection of folk art through an investigation of the front stage and back stage of the collection. Firstly, the museum’s holdings are unpacked through archival study of the events that led to their collection, including the cultural exchanges of the 1950s and the myriad institutional and personal encounters that informed their collection and original display.
Investigation of the historical context of the objects’ arrival in London reveals the importance of their performance on the Cold War cultural stage, where acts of exhibiting and giving away folk art across the Iron Curtain became a pretext for building diplomatic relations and creating particular representations of the state. A second form of backstage is explored through a series of ethnographic encounters that generate insights into the afterlives of the art forms represented in the Horniman Museum collection by bringing these objects into dialogue with contemporary craft makers in Romania.
The investigation of the past lives and afterlives of craft objects held in the Horniman museum offers a window onto the diversity of modes of production and meaning-making that co-exist in Romania and the embedded historical relations and specific social, economic and political milieus in which different art forms have developed and become valorized.
This combination of archival and ethnographic research provides a means of locating the Horniman collection in time and space whilst at the same time recognizing the dynamic and ever-changing nature of craftsmanship. This research highlights both the limitations of folk art and heritage discourses within the museum and their contemporary relevance and reinvention beyond the museum.
Research interests: Museums, cultural heritage, material culture, craftsmanship, design, built environment
Presentations and exhibitions
2014 “Encounters with makers – On the ethnographic museum and craft communities”
Museum Ethnographers Group Conference, Aberdeen
2013 “Tensions in the archive: Collections on the move and histories in flux”
Royal Anthropological Institute Postgraduate Conference, Aberdeen
2013 “To weave or not to weave – Vernacular textiles and historical change in Romania” Pasold Conference, London
2013 “Folk Art Traffic – How did the Cold War shape the Romanian collection?”
Romania Study Day, Horniman Museum, London
2012 “Thinking through craftsmanship - A historical perspective on ethnographic objects, handicrafts and knowledge transmission”,
Romania Study Day, Horniman Museum, London
2011 “Apprenticeship anthropology in museums: Perspectives on fieldwork and curatorship” Royal Anthropological Institute Postgraduate Conference, Durham
2011 (with Alexandra Urdea) “Memory, identity and material culture: An exploration of perspectives on the past through a museum collection of Romanian artefacts”
Romanian – Moldovan Studies Day, UCL SSEES London
Supervisors: David Graeber; Frances Pine
Planning regimes on and off the grid: low-impact dwelling, activism and the state in west Wales
My PhD thesis examines the discrepancy between policy and practice for low-impact dwelling in rural Wales. The study uses anthropological theories of dwelling to inform an analysis of rural development in Wales. This research was funded by a full “1+3” ESRC doctoral studentship. The thesis is based on ethnographic fieldwork, consisting primarily of participant observation at an off-grid eco-village in west Wales for a period of fifteen months between 2010-2011.
My doctoral research has contributed to a body of Welsh ethnography by providing a rigorous examination of the notion of community in the context of local planning and development. The research breaks from theoretical and methodological constraints which have constructed communities as conceptual mediums for the interrogation of the interaction between modernity and social solidarity.
Focusing on off-grid eco-villages, my research contributes a timely alternative to the logic of community with a focus on grids, networks, and assemblages to ask wider questions about how global processes are brought to bear at the domestic scale. I reject the notion of the Celtic Fringe and the centre-periphery dyad to show instead that rural Wales has been a forward-thinking locus of cultural change.
Research has shown that planners and activists in west Wales do not share universal notions about the meaning or purpose of low-impact, despite models which would contain them both. Notions were so differentiated in fact that I have identified low-impact dwelling as categorically different from low-impact development, a distinction which enhances the existing body of literature about UK low-impact development by revealing how the inequalities implicit in the notion of development shape the possibilities for alternative models of rural land-use.
Research on the interplay of these two models has highlighted areas of potential compromise and areas where compromise is unlikely, and as such has examined how and when policy has an effect on everyday practice. The notion of a global environment has been at the core of the Welsh Assembly's planning strategies and has shaped activists' approach to the goal of sustainable living. What is at stake in a wider sense is the morality of rural land use, which raises questions about who may decide what is proper and improper use of land and resources, in general, and at what scale(s) such conversations should take place.
Gypsies in the Market: Nomadic economic strategies of the Calons in Brazil
The study explores the functioning of the nomadic economy across the interior of Bahia, Brazil, where the Gypsies – the Calons - have become important money lenders. My research investigates how the Calons earn their living, develop a social organization of subsistence and create value through this recognized niche. It shows how the indigenous form of credit functions in the interface of various local economies, while remaining at the outside of official economy and localized social relations. Such exploration from the point of view of an endogamous community of service providers offers an opportunity to examine alternative adaptation of subaltern people unequal and unstable economic conditions and the functioning of rural credit institutions.
Waiting for Elijah: Memory and Conversation in the Bosnian Landscapes
Safet HadžiMuhamedović is an Associate Lecturer and a Doctoral Researcher in Anthropology at Goldsmiths, University of London. His current research looks at landscape and memory in Bosnia, syncretism, folk concepts of time and space, and oral histories. His PhD thesis, supervised by Dr Sari Wastell and Dr Frances Pine, traces the sacral geographies framed by harvest and fertility festivities in Gacko, a small town on the south-eastern Bosnian border. Safet’s publications include the forthcoming edited volume titled Arts of Memory: Skilful Practices of Living History (CSP) and a chapter on the agentive qualities of the Tree of Gernika in the ASA Monograph edited by Dr Penny Dransart. Safet contributes to Dr Sari Wastell’s ERC-funded project Bosnian Bones, Spanish Ghosts: ‘Transitional Justice’ and the Legal Shaping of Memory after Two Modern Conflicts and is the founder of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research of Visual Culture in Sarajevo. He holds graduate and post-graduate degrees in Anthropology, Sociology and History of Art from the universities of Cambridge, Sarajevo and Kenyon College.
Research and teaching interests
Anthropology of space, place and landscape, time, religion, ritual and syncretism, proximity, memory, violence and resilience, non-human agency, ethics of historiographic and ethnographic research, qualitative methods, borders and migration, Bosnia, Balkans, Roma people and post-socialist geographies.
Teaching at Goldsmiths
2013/14 - Associate Lecturer - Politics, Economics and Social Change
2013 - Visiting Tutor - Anthropological Methods
2013 Listening Landscapes, Speaking Memories (organiser and convenor of the panel) - 'Evolving Humanity, Emerging Worlds', 17th Congress of the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES), Manchester, UK
2013 Transitional Justice – Early Researcher Roundtable (co-convenor of the panel), as part of the Conference 'Beyond the One-Size-Fits-All Model of Transitional Justice', Bilbao, Spain
2012 Looking at Landscape: a Brief Exercise in Bosnian Placedness (organiser of workshop), 7th International Summer School 'Youth and Heritage', International Forum Bosnia, Stolac, Bosnia
2012 The Many Faces of Elijah (organiser of the symposium), St Elijah's Day celebrations in Gacko, Bosnia
2012 Arts of Memory: Skilful Practices of Living History (organiser and convenor of the panel), 'Arts and Aesthetics in a Globalising World' Conference, Association of Social Anthropologists of UK and Commonwealth (ASA), New Delhi, India
2013 Ethnography after Ethnic Cleansing?: Post-war Lives of Entangled Bosnian Landscapes, New Approaches to the History and Memory of War and Conflict, Symposium organised by the Centre for Research in Memory, Narrative and Histories at the University of Brighton
2013 Landscapes and Territories between Cosmologies and Nationalisms in the Bosnian Town of Gacko, 17th World Congress of the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES), University of Manchester
2013 Transitional Bosnian Landscapes, 'Beyond the One-Size-Fits-All Model of Transitional Justice' Conference, Bilbao, Spain
2013 Chronotopes or Elijah's Pitfall: Sharing Life and Death in the Bosnian Town of Gacko, Thinking Memory through Space: Materiality, Representation & Imagination Symposium, Goldsmiths, University of London
2012 'And God Saw that It Was Good': Bosnian Landscape as the Language of Organic Unity, 7th International Conference on Unity and Plurality in Europe, IFB, Mostar, Bosnia
2011 Bosnian Sacral Geography: Ethnographic Approaches to Landscape Protection, Spiritual Values of Protected Areas of Europe Conference, Federal Agency for Nature Conservation, Isle of Vilm, Germany
2011 Designing the Eternal Jew, Otherness, Subjectivity and Representation Conference, Åboo Akademi, Turku, Finland
2011 The Tree of Gernika: Political Poetics of Rootedness and Belonging, Vital Powers and Politics: Human Interactions with Living Things ASA Conference, University of Lampeter, Wales
Arts of Memory: Skilful Practices of Living History, Cambridge Scholars Publishing (forthcoming Jan 2014)
'The Tree of Gernika: Political Poetics of Rootedness and Belonging' in Penny Dransart (ed). 2013. Living Beings: Perspectives on Interspecies Engagements, ASA Monograph, Berg/Bloomsbury
'What if Mnemosyne was One of Us?' in S. HadžiMuhamedović (ed). Arts of Memory: Skilful practices of Living History, Cambridge Scholars Publishing (forthcoming 2014)
'Bosnian Sacral Geography: Ethnographic Approaches to Landscape Protection' in Josep-Maria Mallarach (ed.). 2012.Spiritual Values of Protected Areas of Europe, German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation
'This Too Shall Pass: Narrated Object and Objected Narratives in Sarajevo', in S. HadziMuhamedovic (ed). Arts of Memory: Skilful practices of Living History, Cambridge Scholars Publishing (forthcoming 2014)
'Bosnia: a “Landscaped” Story'. Dialogue of the Seas, No. 7/2013
'Босния: «ландшафтная» история'. Диалог морей, но. 7/2013
'Corpuses and Corpses: Mediaeval Bosnian Manuscripts', in Zine 4/2010, The Cambridge Student, Cambridge: CUSU
Funding and awards
2011 – 2014 - Open Society Foundation – PhD scholarship - Global Supplementary Grant Programme
2010 – 2013 - European Research Council - PhD scholarship - under the auspices of the ERC-funded project Bosnian Bones, Spanish Ghosts, 'Transitional Justice' and the Legal Shaping of Memory after Two Modern Conflicts
2010 – 2013 Department of Anthropology, Goldsmiths, University of London - PhD fee waiver
2009 – 2010 - Cambridge Overseas Trust with Open Society Foundation and UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office – MPhil scholarship
2007 – 2008 - Federal Ministry of Education and Science, Bosnia - Annual Academic Excellence Award
2006 - Kenyon College – Recognition for Contribution to Intercultural Dialogue
2005 – 2006 - US Department of State - Partnership for Learning – BA Exchange Programme Scholarship
The Reproduction of Poverty and Inequalities in Urban Romania
Aniko Horvath is a PhD student at the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology at the Central European University, Hungary and a visiting research student at Goldsmiths, University of London. Aniko came to Goldsmiths as a Marie Curie Research Fellow in 2009 and stayed to work as a visiting tutor both in 2010 and 2011, teaching seminars for the Ethnography of Post-Socialism class. Between 1999 and 2002 Aniko worked as an assistant professor at Babes-Bolyai University, Romania where she taught courses in media theory and practice.
Aniko’s three main areas of research include nationalism studies (with a focus on identity formation), social exclusion and inequalities (with a focus on anthropological readings of post-socialist economic transformations), and urban anthropology. Her PhD research examines how changes of the past decades contributed to the reproduction of old inequalities and the establishing of new ones among urban poor in Romania.
At a more general level the thesis addresses questions about urban development in socialism and post-socialism; labor market relations in the past 100 years; property relations in socialism and post-socialism; industrialization in socialism; and the reorganization and repossession of industrial spaces after the collapse of the totalitarian system.
Mining postsocialism: work, class and ethnicity in an Estonian mine
My thesis focuses on a Russian-speaking community of oil shale miners in North-East Estonia. I look at how miners’ work, class and family relations have changed after the collapse of the Soviet Union and twenty years of neoliberal economic reforms. I show what it means to be a miner in the situation where the working class has been stripped from its glorified status and stable and affluent lifestyle; stigmatised and orientalised as Others. I argue that in the context of celebrating neoliberal economy, entrepreneurialism and individualism, ethnicity and class become overlapping categories and being Russian also means being a worker. This has produced a particular set of practices, moralities and labour politics characterising working-class in contemporary Estonia, which are not only a result of Soviet past and nostalgia, but deeply embedded in the global economy after the 2008 economic crisis, the EU and national economic, security and ethnic policies.
Livelihoods, Craft and Heritage: Transmissions of Knowledge in Cornish Fishing Villages
My thesis examines meanings and ideologies attached to the work of fishing in Cornwall and the forms of knowledge it entails. I have adopted an innovative historical ethnographic methodology examining changing material cultures of fishing. This has enabled me to counter tendencies in policymaking and social science to treat fisheries in terms of naturalistic models of isolated, individual producers but also resist romantic, homogenizing notions of bounded, cohesive communities. The research identifies co-dependency but also movement fragmentation and conflict as significant features of fishing places and histories in Cornwall. Especially focusing on the intersection of practical knowledge, memory and heritage, I have found that ‘memoryscapes’ of fishing reflect not only conflict and loss but also creativity, renewal and innovation. The study provides a fresh perspective on social change in fisheries and rural contexts and the relationship between livelihoods and heritage.
Supervisors: Victoria Goddard; David Graeber
Land, Law, Labour and Moralities in a Changing Sicily
My thesis examines, within the framework of Economic and Political Anthropology, and paying attention to history, issues of cooperatives, material resources, and social change. It explores the social, political and economic relations constituted in relation to agrarian cooperatives that work land confiscated by the state from mafiosi owners in the Alto Belice valley, Sicily. It examines access to resources (work and land), and the cooperatives’ division of labour, paying attention to the material changes that the cooperatives (considered in the context of the anti-mafia movement) have brought to people’s lives, as well as the tensions regarding social, labour and property relations that emerged from these changes.
The thesis argues that the state’s intervention entailed the promotion of values (‘legality’) and relationships antithetical to those that obtained locally, such as kinship obligations and local reciprocities, continuities between local workers’ moralities, and practices with mafia codes are seen as contradicting the state ideology of radical change.
These tensions are explored in the specificities of the cooperatives’ division of labour, which, informed by class, relatedness and locality, pose obstacles to the development of horizontal, equal work relationships. In this context, the thesis explores the contradictions and unintended consequences of the state policy of ‘antimafia transformation’, creating fissures between the cooperatives’ administrators, the local workforce and the wider community.
The thesis provides an ethnographic account of a political project of change that challenged the complex phenomenon of the mafia by radically shifting the conditions of access to material resources. The cooperative project provides alternative values and means of livelihood to those associated with mafia dominance in the area, but largely fails to address the local social arrangements within the project unfolds. The thesis also addresses debates about horizontal relations in cooperatives, looking at how access to resources (land, labour, reputation) is organised across different moral claims and evaluations, articulated within and outside the cooperatives’ framework.
Supervisors: Sophie Day, Mark Lamont
‘The Ball is Round’: football and social divisions in Black River, Jamaica
In my work, I follow football in the lives of informal football players in Black River, Jamaica. I look at how analysts might conceptualize a football ‘field,’ following and locate how football intersects with social hierarchies. I am particularly interested in how what happens on the football field might be translated into capital away from the field.
I use data gained through playing in daily football matches, attending ‘schoolboy’ football matches, and socializing with players and non-players away from the field. Football emerges as an articulation of age, class, and belonging, and is used by people to locate themselves in locally and globally.
In an area of distinct social divisions, moreover, it offers the potential for sociality across those divisions, and operates in a particular way to teach younger, precariously employed men how to become successful, older men.