In this section
Details of the departments current MPhil/PhD students and their research
Expand each section below to see what our research students are up to.
Migration, Health and Emotion in London: HIV Prevention among Latin American Men Who Have Sex with Men
Ethnographic study exploring how emotions interact with other socio-cultural and political factors to shape Latin American MSM’s everyday lives to provide a better understanding of their migratory process and experience and its relation to HIV prevention.
Landscape, climate change and scales of environmentalism in northern Sweden
My research explores landscape and scales of environmentalism in a small community in northern Sweden, examining how climate change discourses are received or rejected as they are seen as further environmental meddling from the out-of-touch urban south. Focus is given instead to local concerns such as recycling and the negative impacts of the national hydroelectric project. This research explores therefore how scales are both created and collapsed across environmental issues such as climate change, and the tensions that can emerge across such scales.
Conference presentations and publications:
- Language and the Media Conference 2013 - ‘Rude on Reddit: Building and Breaking Social Identities Online’ (BA Dissertation)
- Queen Mary, University of London’s English Language and Linguistics Postgraduate Conference 2013 - ‘Rude on Reddit: Building and Breaking Social Identities Online’ (BA Dissertation)
- Uses of Aesthetics conference at Karlstad University, September 2019, as part of the Photography and the Method of Art panel - 'Experimental photography in explorations of experienced landscapes'
- Anthropology in London Day, UCL 2019 - 'The threat of climate change discourses in northern Sweden'
- Futures of the Real: Goldsmiths Postgraduate Conference 2019 - 'Experimental photography in explorations of non-human landscapes'
- Directed a short film as part of the 'Arktis: medan isen smälter' exhibition at Nordiska Museet, Stockholm (opening October 2019) and contributed a piece entitled 'Interactions on Ice' to the exhibition's publication and a visual epilogue (in press).
- Bartlett, Flora Mary. 2018. 'Alternative Photography as an Ethnographic Method' - Brief Encounters Vol. 2 No. 1 (Jan 2018), pp. 93-102
- CHASE Encounters 2017 - 'Alternative photography as ethnographic practice'
Making Space for God: Mediation and Aspiration among young Christians in London (working title)
Current doctoral research investigates the experiences, formations, and expressions of Christian faith for young people, particularly students, in London. My specific interest is in the role of global Pentecostal-Charismatic movements in the formation of identity and aspiration in the contemporary African diaspora, working through the dynamics of materials, media and the body, to think about how subjectivities and spaces are made for God.
- May 2019: AAA Society for the Anthropology of Religion (SAR): ‘Politics of Religious Knowledge and Ignorance’. University of Toronto. Paper title: "Between worldly and divine: Transformation and embodied knowledge in anthropological fieldwork"
- June 2019: Anthropology in London Day 2019: ‘Turbulence’. SOAS, University of London. Paper Title: "Hot, cold, and lukewarm: Between Christianity and non-Christianity"
Young Mayan masks: Everyday and theatrical performance among Guatemalan migrants in Chiapas, Mexico.
My project explores the performance of identity in relation to diasporic Guatemalan youths in Southern Mexico. I will look at the performed identities of young Mayans in Chiapas, in a context where refugees, labour migrants, children and grandchildren of these groups, and those in transit to the United States live alongside pre-existing Chiapan Mayan groups. The research will explore the contextual deployment of registers of self through ‘conventional’ ethnographic methods while also employing theatre-based youth work techniques.
Stable Jobs, Precarious Lives: Rural Public Servants in Ethiopia
My thesis explores the functioning of the Ethiopian state through the lives of rural public servants in a peripheral area of Amhara Region. Among the 'ghosts' and 'whispers' of supposedly eviscerated African states, Ethiopia is anomalous: a security state with the proven ability to discipline private capital towards its own developmental ends, and with an expanding state apparatus that combines many modes of governance. In my ethnographic research in North Shewa, however, I found a disconnect between narratives about the coercive and hierarchical power of the state and the lived experience of the government workers, who embody the state yet are constrained by it; who exercise authority yet feel excluded from the means by which to realise their aspirations.
Despite their achievement of stable, formal work in a context where such work is scarce, the public servants in my research see themselves as marginalised and struggling to get by. Discourses about success and modernity push them away from the rural areas where they are unwillingly posted to bounce between villages in a quest to get closer to the urban, or to exit from government work for the 'struggle economy' of petty trade or the siren lure of illegal migration. This thesis argues that their inability to forge or maintain stable and enduring kin and friendship ties, or insert themselves into reciprocal relationships, has the effect of rendering them isolated and socially precarious, extending the notions of precarity and dependency to the domain of the state. Furthermore, their diminished status destabilises the widely accepted notion of an innately hierarchical political culture in Ethiopia that contributes to the narrative of a strong state, and challenges received ideas about the aspirational nature of government work as a means of progress.
Chapters that investigate three areas of state intervention - primary education, breastfeeding and child nutrition, and latrine building - contribute to a picture in which the way that government workers 'perform' the state comes up against resistance and apathy, while the daily labour they expend in making the state legible has significant material, financial, emotional and affective consequences for the government workers themselves. I also examine the ways in which material substances such as shit and breastmilk are inextricably bound up in constituting the state.
Panels, publications and awards
- Article: 2018. 'Coffee and the State in Rural Ethiopia.' Anthropology Matters 18(1)
- Winner of the 2017 Christine Wilson Award from the Society for the Anthropology of Food and Nutrition (SAFN) of the American Anthropological Association.
- Panels: 2019. Rural Governance. Governance at the Edge of the State conference, University of Copenhagen.
- 2018. Moral Dimensions of Economic Life in Africa workshop, University of Cologne.
- 2017. Comparative Municipal Ethnographies. SANT conference, University of Stockholm. Ethics, Faith and Self-making. Anthropology in London, UCL.
- 2016. The Politics of Coffee in Rural Ethiopia. Invited lecture, SOAS. Food Politics. Anthropology in London, UCL.
Supervisors: Nicholas De Genova, Victoira Goddard
My research looks at the tensions and contradictions in the modernist narrative of ‘moving forward’, salir adelante, in the emerging city of Pachacutec, built on top of sand mountains north of Lima, Peru. This I do by focusing on educational discourses, land-politics, youth’s gendered practices, employment aspirations and use of social media. I am specifically interested in the role citizenship takes in newly emerging spaces, and I locate my research in the context of changing state-society relations.
Remembering turbulent times: accounting for adult ADHD through the reconstruction of childhood.
Brief working synopsis: ADHD has recently been redefined as a lifelong disorder. Based on ethnographic research in a specialist psychiatric clinic and in collaboration with a patient organisation, this thesis examines how adult ADHD is diagnosed in the UK. Most research in this field has been concerned with exposing the medicalisation of human experiences, with the potential to obscure adult experience of disabling symptoms.
Moving across clinic and support groups, my research traces the diagnostic process as it takes place between these sites, highlighting the multiple ways that ADHD in adults is conceptualised and enacted through memory practices and everyday ethical actions. Exploring the diagnosing of adult ADHD at this moment in time, a process stretched in time and space, also brings out unexpected ways of making kin in the UK, whereby children are making parents and kin relations are extended to strangers.
Presentations and exhibitions
24/6/14 “The Child is Father of the Man: Kinship and Memory as medical evidence”
Anthropology in London day, UCL, London
11/10/13 “The Scale and Scope of Adult ADHD support Groups in the UK”
ADDISS conference (Attention Deficit Disorder Information and Support)
21/09/13 “Towards a Social Efficacy of treatment.”
IMPACT conference (International Multicentre Persistent ADHD CollaboraTion),
Institute of Psychiatry, London
8/7/14 “A detour into Qualitative Longitudinal Research during fieldwork”
NCRM research festival, Oxford
10/09/14 “Treating the Family: kinship relations and ADHD”
UKAAN 4th international Congress "Mind, Brain and Body"
“And that’s how it was”: Small stories of big histories in post-Soviet Ukraine
My research investigates the transmission of alternative histories and memory in post-Maidan Ukraine. I carried out three periods of ethnographic fieldwork in Lviv, Ukraine, collecting life histories and examining the role of storytelling, material objects and landscape in the way the past is articulated.
CHASE AHRC Doctoral Studentship
- (2018) - "To the eternal memory of the event": Walking as a methodology for exploring the silent histories of Lviv, Ukraine. Elena Liber. EASA 2018: Staying Moving Settling. Stockholm, Sweden.
- (2019) “It didn’t happen here or happen now but it happened to us”: How young people activate the memory of the Holodomor through fasting in Lviv, Ukraine. Anthropology in London Day 2019: Turbulence, UCL, University of London.
- (2019) Generous Engagements: Towards an ethics of generosity in the classroom and beyond. ASA 2019: Anthropological Perspectives on Global Challenges, University of East Anglia.
- (Forthcoming) Mobilising the past: The presence of history and memory in the political lives of young people in L'viv, Ukraine. AAA/CASCA 2019: Changing Climates. Vancouver, BC, Canada.
- (2019) Generosity and Analysis. ASA 2019: Anthropological Perspectives on Global Challenges, University of East Anglia.
- (2019) "Queue-munity engagement: Collaborative Event Ethnography at the Antiques Roadshow, Kent", Weston, G. Liber, E. Urdea, A. Cornish, H. in Ethnography
Toby Austin Locke
Commoning Anthropologically: an attempt at the co-creation of general and moral economies of the commons in New Cross
The project is based in an attempt to establish a new institution for the commons and self-organisation in a previously derelict building in New Cross. Aiming to employ recursive, practice-based and co-productive methods, the research seeks to directly engage in commoning processes, understood as attempts to move outside the oppositions of public and private, and state and market.
The Living and the Dead. Toby Austin Locke. 2016. London: Repeater. ISBN 978-1910924327
The Figure of Death in The-Place-Where-The-Black-Caiman-Walks. Toby Austin Locke. 2016. Cultural Anthropology, Dialouges
Playing With The Possible. Toby Austin Locke. 2014. Wick Zine #5. Pp. 17-19. London: Public Works
Self-Organising the Commons, The Right to the City and The Limits of Horizontalism. Toby Austin Locke. 2016. Urban Appropriation Strategies Conference. University of Kassel.
Government, industry and experts claim ultra-fast fibre optic telecommunications are essential to deliver the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution of big data applications, cloud computing, the “Internet of Things” and automation of work. Yet at the heart of the upgrade is an intricate task for engineers working in a congested urban landscape — replacing copper wiring, and threading fibre optic cables under pavements and roads.
This ethnographic research will follow the changing conditions, livelihoods and material complexities of the work for London engineers involved in upgrading broadband to “ultrafast”. The research will examine what these infrastructure workers produce, how they produce it, the perspectives they have on bringing connectivity to society.
The research will also investigate a micro-urban context for these installations — the uses, desires, and relationships that are being reshaped by the advent of ultrafast.
SeNSS ERSC studentship
Supervisors: Steve Nugent
Philanthropy in Brazil and the UK: Wealth, Responsibility and the Pursuit of Social Change by Economic Elites
My PhD thesis explores the philanthropy of economic elites in Brazil and the UK, positing their practice as part of a global elite philanthropic project. It argues that this project serves to further the aims of global capitalism, while attempting to mitigate the negative effects of capitalism’s fallout. Although the historical development of elite philanthropy in Brazil and the UK has been markedly different, accounting for technical differences in contemporary practice in these countries, recent decades have seen attempts to build an institutionalised philanthropic sector in Brazil based on British (and American) models. Today, the conceptual and ideological framework for the design of philanthropy in both countries is remarkably similar. In ethnographic enquiry into this common project, practices under the banners of ‘philanthrocapitalism’ and ‘strategic philanthropy’ emerge as the expression of deeply held ideologies of social change. These relate to the transposition of corporate strategies to philanthropy, to market-based solutions to social problems, and to attempts to eradicate poverty via better incorporation of the poor into existing economic structures. This enquiry, however, reveals how other aspects of elite experience also become entangled in the philanthropic project. In Brazil and the UK, elites use philanthropy to forge positive identities of wealth, and as a tool for managing inheritance. Among Brazilian family businesses, historical family narratives of philanthropy and corporate social responsibility aid business succession processes, in attempts to keep family firms – and family capital – intact with the passing of time. Finally, this thesis explores the work of philanthropic intermediaries, and the central role played by philanthropy advising and donor education programmes in shaping and disseminating philanthropic trends. Ethnography among intermediaries, however, reveals myriad ambiguities in their work. These serve to highlight elite philanthropy’s inability to confront the structures of inequality inherent to global capitalism, and the corresponding limits to its own project.
Sklair, Jessica. 2010. A Filantropia Paulistana: Açoes sociais em uma cidade segregada. São Paulo: Editora Humanitas.
Frúgoli Jr., Heitor and Sklair, Jessica. 2013. O bairro da Luz (São Paulo) e o Bairro Alto (Lisboa) nos entremeios de mudanças e permanências. In: Fortuna, Carlos and Leite, Rogerio Proença, (eds.) Diálogos Urbanos: Territórios, culturas, patrimónios. 1 ed. Coimbra: Almedina, pp. 75-103.
Article / Other
Sklair, Jessica. 2016. Philanthropy as Salvation: Can the rich save the world and should we let them try? Voices from Around the World (Online Journal of the Global South Studies Center Cologne), Jan. 2016 Issue. http://gssc.uni-koeln.de/node/1178
Frúgoli Jr., Heitor and Sklair, Jessica. 2009. O Bairro da Luz em São Paulo: Questões antropológicas sobre o fenômeno da gentrification. Cuadernos de Antropología Social (Argentina), 30, pp. 119-136.
Sklair, Jessica. 2006. A Quarta Dimensão no Trabalho de Trinh T. Minh-ha: Desafios para a antropologia ou aprendendo a falar perto. Cadernos de Campo, Universidade de São Paulo, 14/15, pp. 133-143.
Living Room: dwelling, demolition and displacement on a South London housing estate
Housing estate regeneration and demolition is a widespread phenomenon in contemporary Britain. Demolition often results in the displacement of housing estate residents, many of whom cannot afford to remain in the area once regeneration is complete. In my research I work in collaboration with residents of one estate in South London, both tenants and homeowners, to understand how dwelling within demolition works. In particular I focus on how regimes of expertise, infrastructure and temporality structure life within a demolition landscape.
- 2019 ASA "Contested spaces, unequal knowledge"
- 2018 Society for Cultural Anthropology and the Society for Visual Anthropology Displacements Conference "Return to Sender: Your Building doesn't Exist"
- 2019 Athens Ethnographic Film Festival "Living Room" (2019, 8', UK)
Supervisors: Stephen Nugent, Massimiliano Mollona
The economic impact of the international copper commodity trade on local mining populations in Peru.
My research explores the economic impact of the global copper commodity trade on high Andean communities local to a multinational mine in Peru. The study examines the changes to subsistence, wage-labour and trade patterns brought by large mines to local populations. Further, through the analysis of international copper trade flows and mining company structures, I examine potential linkages between actions and effects at different points in the commodity chain thereby linking the experience of copper extraction in Andean communities to the global trade in copper.
Become Human: Affective Personhood and the Emergent Body in Single-Player Video Games
My doctoral research explores ideas about and attitudes towards personhood and the body - of what it means to be human - in the 'age of the machine'. It specifically focuses on the figures of Artificial Intelligence, Cyborgs and the Posthuman as they manifest within the virtual environments of single-player video games, examines what these figures reveal about what it means to be human, and seeks to trace the entanglement of these ideas out of the 'confines' of the virtual world into "meat-space" by tracing the network across video games, game developers, players, AI developers and roboticists.
- December 2019. "I Prefer My Body: Narratives of AI as Tactile, Affective and Embodied Subjects". 'The Senses of Science-Fiction: Visions, Sounds Spaces', American Studies Center, University of Warsaw, Poland.
- September 2019. "How far will you go for love?: Gendered Android Labour in Detroit: Become Human". 'Productive Futures: The Political Economy of Science Fiction'. London Science Fiction Research Community, Birkbeck, UK.
- June 2019. "Is what you're doing really anthropology?: Anthropological research in an increasingly digital world". 'Turbulence'. Anthropology in London Day, UCL, UK.
- August 2018. "Transmasculine figures in wartime history". 'History's Hidden Heroes'. Nine Worlds.
- August 2017. "Cons-ROAR-vation: Animal Rights and Conservation in the Jurassic Park Franchise". Nine Worlds.
- August 2019. World Con, Dublin - Introduction to Own Voices: Moderator. The Popularity of Live-Streaming Games: Panelist. In the Background: Class in YA Fiction: Panelist.
- April 2019. Ytterbium, Easter Con, London - Approaches to Gender in Genre Fiction: Moderator.
- August 2018. Nine Worlds, London - Sexuality in BioWare: Co-Panelist. Let the Past Die: Star Wars The Last Jedi: Moderator. Representation in Dating Sims: Panelist. Women in Star Wars: Moderator.
- August 2017. Nine Worlds, London - Queer Coding in Disney: Presentation.