Goldsmiths Anthropology Research Papers


Read Goldsmiths Anthropology Research Papers which is a snapshot of work within the department.

Photo by Dave Lewis

The Anthropology Department at Goldsmiths was formally created in 1985. We are proud of what we have achieved since then, and in particular of the way that people in the Department - students, staff and researchers - have sought to broaden the frontiers of the discipline and to engage critically and creatively with the traditions of Anthropology in the contemporary world.

We hope that the Goldsmiths Anthropology Research Papers will provide a platform to communicate some of the work that makes the Goldsmiths Department distinctive.





goldsmiths college: anthropology dept - by Dave Lewis

Boundaries and Borders: thinking with human-implantable microchips for immigrants - by Sophie Le-Phat Ho

RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology has been developed for a range of applications, including human-implantable microchips. In May 2006, on TV, the CEO of Applied Digital and chairman of Verichip Corporation suggested the implantation of RFID chips into the arms of guest workers and immigrants in response to the U.S. “illegal immigration problem". This paper is an inquiry into the assumptions that render such a proposal thinkable today and the various networks and assemblages that make up the context in which it arises. It also aims to sketch out what it might imply in relation to our conception of the body, of the migrant body, of science and technology, and their relationships to borders and neoliberalism. While the biochip project raises issues of ethics, citizenship, class and race, it brings to the fore the question, and indeed the promise, of identification. This paper could be seen as a practice of ‘slowing down’, an ethnography of something that has not happened yet or an attempted ‘anthropology of having ideas’. 

  GARP17- [pdf, 711 kbs]

Species of Time: sows, stockmen and labour - by Kim Baker

Rapid advances in the industrialisation and increased productivity of British livestock farming since the 1950s have been accompanied by public anxiety concerning a range of issues, especially the ethics attaching to livestock care, slaughter, and consumption. Drawing on ethnographic data derived from fieldwork on an indoor intensive pig unit, this paper aims to address the question of how to combine intensive farming with responsible care of animals, and focuses in particular on how stockmen mobilise the idiom of time in the construction of relationships with their livestock. Stockmen’s accounts of daily routines of care, control, and organisation reveal how elements of clock time, human time, and pig time are synchronized with industrial and technological itineraries. Insights provided by these accounts of overlapping varieties of time are used to suggest conflations of other kinds; between humans and non-humans, time and place, the industrial and the domestic - all of which emerge as fluid, or hybrid, rather than rigidly demarcated categories within the space of intensive livestock farming.

  GARP16- [pdf, 685 kbs]

Indigenism and Cultural Authenticity in Brazilian Amazonia - by Stephen Nugent

  GARP15- [pdf, 220 kbs]

Seascapes: tides of thought and being in Western perceptions of the sea - by Jake Phelan

  GARP14- [pdf, 786 kbs]

The People's Puzzle: crosswords and knowledge politics - by Olivia Swift

Olivia Swift is a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology at Goldsmiths, conducting a village study of trade unionism among Filipino global seafarers. She has a professional background in journalism and the arts and is frustratingly bad at crosswords.

Everyday, millions of people lose themselves in the world of crosswords. This paper considers their motives for doing so and the effect crosswords have on their lives. It stems from my idea that the bars of the crossword grid represent Adorno's prison-like Culture Industry. By tracing the cultural politics pervading the relationships between those involved in the production and consumption of crosswords, I show crosswords to provide opportunities for freedom, escape, inspiration, innovation, mediation, subversion and critique, all existing alongside the potential for alienation, colonial domination and even a possible role in contemporary forms of Empire. Rather than presenting crosswords as a challenge to Adorno's Culture Industry model, I argue that all this potential is entirely compatible with it, so long as the Culture Industry is understood as complex rather than as simply a grim, all-encompassing, impenetrable and alienating social construction.

  GARP13- [pdf, 360 kbs]

The Devil is in the Details: representations of conflict in Northern Maluku, eastern Indonesia - by Christopher R. Duncan

Christopher R. Duncan is an assistant professor in the Department of Religious Studies and in the School of Global Studies at Arizona State University. His research focuses on communal violence in Indonesia, and on the resettlement and conversion to Christianity of the Forest Tobelo of Halmahera, Indonesia. He is currently working on a study of the 1999-2000 conflict in North Maluku Province in eastern Indonesia.

Discussions of various outbreaks of communal violence in Indonesia at the turn of the century have tended to focus on what caused these conflicts. Academics have debated the merits of culturalist interpretations versus instrumentalist ones. In focusing primarily on the causes of the conflict, these accounts fail, or in some cases outright refuse, to look at the actual violence that took place. They overlook the details of particular events and how these events have been lived and understood by both perpetrators and victims. As a result, little attention has been paid to the nature of the violence and the way it was experienced on the ground. The suffering has been neatly removed and events sanitized for an academic audience. In this working paper, I argue that one way to better understand the role of those directly involved, and to find more insight into their decisions concerning the violence, is to examine the ways these people talk about the violence amongst themselves or! with others. In addition, I also argue that in examinations of violent conflict, the details of that violence - the horrific nature of the killings, the trauma experienced by those involved - are often vital to understanding how people experienced and actualized the violence. The removal of these details can complicate attempts at explanation. I examine these questions through an exploration of how people from North Maluku in eastern Indonesia discussed their experiences during a period of communal violence from 1999-2000.

  GARP12- [pdf, 966 kbs]

Anthropology and Anarchy: their elective affinity - by Brian Morris

Brian Morris is Professor Emeritus in the Anthropology Department at Goldsmiths College. He carried our fieldwork in South India, and has published on the anthropology of religion, conceptions of the self, and on herbalism in Malawi. He has also written on ethnobotany, ethnozoology, classification, religion, ritual and symbolism, hunter-gatherer societies, herbalism and fungi. His most recent publication is Animals and Insects, a study of human-insect interactions in Malawi.

The Brian Morris Prize was founded in 2004 and is awarded to the undergraduate anthropology dissertation at Goldsmiths that most embodies the creative spirit of Brian Morris. Each prize-winning paper will be published as an issue of GARP.

This essay brings together anthropology and anarchism, first by an examination of anthropologists who have expressed an interest in anarchism, then by discussion of classical anarchist thinkers who have drawn upon anthropological literature to develop their ideas. The second part of the essay offers some reflections on anarchism as a political tradition and deals with certain misconceptions that have been forwarded by its liberal and Marxist critics.

  GARP11- [pdf, 1,479 kbs]

Negotiating Autonomy: girls and parental authority in multi-ethnic Norway - by Hilde Liden

Dr Hilde Liden is a senior researcher at the Institute for Social Research, Oslo, Norway. She has published on issues relating to young people, citizenship and co-determination in everyday lives. Her current work is on the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child and minority rights. She can be contacted at

Gender, equality and autonomy are key concepts in the discourse on multi-ethnicity in Norway, highlighting intergenerational relationships and processes of cultural continuity and change. In policy documents and in the media, debate on the integration of the relationship between parents and children has become the focal point, particularly with regard to how they practice autonomy and authority. The practices of ethnic minorities are compared with those of the ethnic majority, which are used as the standards of normal freedom and independency.

However, the actual practice of autonomy and authority is taken for granted and seldom made clear. This paper explores what is involved in the process of becoming independent in contemporary Norway. It examines the sources of autonomy and how these are linked with the practice of parental authority through studies of four 15 year old girls growing up in a multi-ethnic neighbourhood in Oslo.

  GARP10- [pdf, 2,458 kbs]

Studying world society as a vocation - by Keith Hart

Keith Hart is a researcher at the University of Aberdeen and lives in Paris. He grew up in Manchester and read classics at Cambridge before taking up social anthropology. His principal research has been on Africa and the African diaspora. He contributed the concept of the informal economy to development studies and has worked as an economic journalist and development consultant. He has some experience of gambling and criminal enterprise. Recently he published Money in an Unequal World (Texere). But the main theme of his anthropology has been movement and identity. He has taught at the following universities: East Anglia, Manchester, Yale, Michigan, McGill, Chicago, Cambridge, West Indies, Pavia, Stellenbosch, Turin, Oslo, Northwestern. While at Cambridge, he was Director of the African Studies Centre and won the first teaching prize in the humanities and social sciences. He was an examiner at Goldsmiths during the 1990s. At this time he founded Prickly Pear Press (with Anna Grimshaw) and the amateur anthropological association. The present pamphlet is one in a series of essays aimed at reconstituting anthropology as the personal study of world society. 

  GARP9- [pdf, 2,024 kbs]

'Sit anywhere you like, we're all friends together': reflections on bingo culture - by Katherine Mann

Katherine Mann completed her MA in Anthropology and Cultural Process at Goldsmiths in 2001. She is now based at Sussex University working as a research officer at the Institute for Employment Studies. She can be contacted on

This paper constitutes a response to stereotyped notions of life at the bingo hall, notions which have created barriers of derision, snobbery, patronising fondness, even taboo, between bingo as a socio-cultural fact and mainstream society. Research interviews and observation sessions were carried out in an attempt to question clichés on the basis of accounts of lived experience and personal reflection. The idea that the bingo hall represents, particularly for working-class women, a place of social focus, almost of social refuge, is challenged and assumptions about bingo's social side critically explored. Rather than upholding the notion that game players have autonomously restructured bingo culture to suit their needs and lifestyles, I argue that other forces, over which players have little or no control, have shaped social life at the bingo hall, namely notions of opportunity, possibility, and safety in a male-dominated, capitalist society. I therefore also discuss the presence of money at the bingo hall, and I speculate upon its impact on socialising there, as well as on the taboos surrounding gambling and competitiveness. The suggestion that bingo might not constitute an entirely positive and socially-affirming experience for some players is explored, and set against those cultural stereotypes which characterise the bingo hall as more a social centre than a place to win money.

  GARP8- [pdf, 2,318 kbs]

Life Down Under: Water and Identity in an Aboriginal Cultural Landscape - by Veronica Strang

Veronica Strang is an environmental anthropologist working primarily in Australia and the UK. She was the Royal Anthropological Institute Research Fellow in Urgent Anthropology at Goldsmiths from 2000-2002, and is currently the Professor of Anthropology at Auckland University of Technology.

Focusing on water resources this paper traces the conceptual relationships between the formal characteristics of water, the ways in which these are experienced and observed, and the imaginative use made of these qualities in the representational imagery which describes each aspect of Aboriginal life. It considers how these relationships provide systemic coherence in Aboriginal cosmology, and how they are used to define Aboriginality internally and to other groups. It argues that the consistent location of linked conceptual models in 'real world' material objects and processes gives great resilience to Aboriginal cultural forms, enabling indigenous groups to maintain ideational continuities in a challenging political context.

  GARP7- [pdf, 2,840 kbs]

The 'politics of the everyday': populism, gender and the media in La Paz and El Alto, Bolivia - by Sian Lazar

Sian Lazar completed her MA in Area Studies (Latin America) at the Institute of Latin American Studies, University of London, in 1997. She is currently writing up her PhD in Social Anthropology at Goldsmiths College, which is about citizenship practices in El alto, Bolivia. 

Condepa was, until 1999, a relatively successful populist politica party with a strong base of support among rural-urban migrants, particularly women, living in La Paz and El Alto, Bolivia. In this paper I assess the reasons for Condepa's appeal, through an examination of the link between Condepa and its power base, an extremely popular TV and radio programme. Both the programme and the political party have been successful because of their direct, and often emotional, appeal to their core constituency, focussing on issues of daily concern. They created a sense of family and community, which coalesced around the figure of Condepa's founder, Carlos Palenque.

  GARP6- [pdf, 3,042 kbs]

Enabling Fictions: Politics, Representation, and the Environment in Maluku, Indonesia - by Nicola Frost

Nicola Frost completed her MA in Social Anthropology at Goldsmiths in 2000. She is now conducting doctoral research on local authority and community peacebuilding in Maluku. She can be contacted by email at

For more than three decades, the highly centralised, arch-modernist ideology of the New Order dominated every aspect of Indonesian political, economic, and cultural life. The drive towards modernisation and development, rationalisation and control has had profound implications for the relationship between people and state. This paper explores this relationship through an examination fo the debates around the control of natural resources in Maluku, eastern Indonesia. It traces the logic of state development discourse, and the creative responses of local communities to its far-reaching influence.

  GARP5- [pdf, 2,961 kbs]

The Virile Nation: gender and ethnicity in the construction of Argentinian Pasts - by Victoria Goddard

Dr Victoria Ana Goddard is a lecturer at the Department of Anthropology at Goldsmiths College, University of London. She has worked on issues relating to gender ideologies, work and kinship in Southern Italy and the Mediterranean and has recently become involved in research on gender and politics in Argentina. Her recent publications include an edited volume, Gender, Agency and Change: Anthropological Perspectives (Routledge 2000), Women and Computing ( 2000), and Gender, Family and Work in Naples (Berg: 1996).

In July 1996 I attended the closing ceremony of the annual exhibition held at the Argentine Rural Association., the organisation that embodies the interests and identity of the country's agrarian sector and in particular of the land-owning elite. The ceremony culminated in a dramatisation of the ordeals endured by ordinary soldiers during the 'Conquest of the Desert'. This was a protracted war aimed at eradicating the Indian presence from an ever increasing territory, a task that was completed at the end of the nineteenth century, providing more land and resources to underwrite the elite's aspirations of nationhood and progress.

As evening fell the outline of the cavalrymen who filled the arena became fainter until the only evidence of their presence was the swaying movement of the torches they carried.

  GARP4- [pdf, 2,804 kbs]

Identity, Resettlement and Perceptions of Change: The Vasava Bhils of Gujarat, India - by Roxanne Hakim

Dr Roxanne Hakim was the first Fellow in Urgent Anthropology and held the post at Goldsmiths College from 1985-1987. She completed her PhD from King's College, University of Cambridge and recently joined the World Bank under its Young Professionals Program and is based in Washington. 

The Vasava Bhils of the Makhadkhada, an isolated village on the banks of the River Narmada in the Satpura Hills of Gujarat, western India, have recently been displaced by the controversial Sardar Sarovar (Narmada) Dam Project. Through long-term fieldwork both prior to and following displacement, my research examines the impact that resettlement has had on the community's economy, religion and social relations. In this paper I discuss the different attitudes to and perceptions of change that come into play in a situation where an isolated hill community is resettled in the plains. I do this through a reflexive discussion of my fieldwork experience.

  GARP3- [pdf, 2,178 kbs]

Perilous Ideas: anthropological debates in cross-cultural arts projects - by Eleanor Jupp

Eleanor Jupp completed her MA in Anthropology and Cultural Process at Goldsmiths in 1999 and now works in community development and urban policy at the Architecture Foundation.

My essay is concerned with the nature of cross-cultural exchanges and representation in arts projects which work with other cultures. I am using this exploration as a way of grounding some of the more abstract debates in anthropology around the politics of representation, and contemporary understandings of 'community', 'identity' and 'locality' within urban cultures. My analysis is based on personal experiences of three different projects which worked with the South Asian community in London - a London-wide arts festival about Bangladesh, the 'community arts' projects which formed a strand of it, and an exhibition of young British-Asian artists and the Whitechapel Art Gallery.

  GARP2- [pdf, 2,901 kbs]

Gorer's Gaze: aspects of the inauguration of audience studies in British Television - by Gareth Stanton

Dr Gareth Stanton is a lecturer in Media and Communications at Goldsmiths and has had a longstanding involvement with the Anthropology Department through teaching and research. He is a member of the editorial board of the journal Critique of Anthropology

This article is intended for anthropologists, but not solely for them. The main focus is on television in Britain in the 1950s - something which, at the time, we might have though anthropology had very little to say about. In this regard we would be wrong, as I shall attempt to demonstrate. Specialists of various persuasions were attempting to come to terms with this new domestic technology, indeed, general interest was such that intellectuals who engaged in popular debate were asked to contribute their own views and thoughts on the matter. This paper will look at such an intervention and examine one of the first sustained efforts to study the effects of television in the British context. This study was commissioned by the Sunday Times who invited the anthropologist Geoffrey Gorer to write a series of lengthy articles on the relationship between the English people and television. ... These articles, originally published in 1958, provide a fascinating insight into the concerns and preoccupations of a country faced with the fact of television becoming for the first time a 'mass' phenomenon. They also give us an insight into the mind of Gorer himself.

  GARP1- [pdf, 2,140 kbs]

Works in Progress: Anthropology Postgraduate Symposium - by Zahira Araguete, Cy Elliott-Smith, Sarah Howard, Claude Jousselin, Clate Korsant and Charli Livingstone

The papers in this volume are all revised versions of papers given at ‘Works in Progress’, the
annual Anthropology Department Postgraduate Symposium, held in the Ben Pimlott Lecture
Theatre, Goldsmiths, University of London, 22nd March 2013.

  GARP18- [pdf, 5,815 kbs]