Recent PhDs Awarded


Dr. Emma-Jayne Abbots
Past encounters: Historical time, monuments and power in highland Ecuador

Dr. Audrey Allwood
Life in a Sheltered Housing Scheme in Lambeth: the contemporary life experience of elderly people from the Caribbean

Dr. Kim Baker 
Making Meat: People, Property and Pigs in East Anglia

Dr. Veronica Barassi
Mediated Resistance: Alternative Media, Imagination and Political Action in Britain

Dr. Elaine Bauer
Family kinship and mixed-race couples in London 1950-2003

Dr. Udi Butler
Coming of age on the streets of Rio

Dr. Melania Calestani
An anthropology of well-being: local perspectives and cultural constructions in the Bolivian plateau

Dr. Fabian Cataldo
New Claims to Citizenship and Socio-Political Inclusion: An Anthropological Investigation of Brazil’s Programme to Provide Universal HIV/AIDS Treatment

Dr. Helen Cornish
Recreating historical knowledge and contemporary witchcraft in Southern Britain

Dr. Katrina Crear 
The Material Live and Deaths of Contemporary Artworks

Dr. John Curran
Policy, nursing & identity: an ethnographic study of ward-based psychiatric care

Dr. Nicola Frost
In Negara Kangguru: Indonesian Organisations in Australia

Dr. Luna Glucksberg 
Alternative Consumption in conventional settings: an Anthropological Approach

Dr. Elena Gonzalez
From transition to transitioning: an anthropological study of female to male transsexuality

Dr. Into Goudsmit
So far from God so near the Mountains: Peasant Deference to the State and Landlords in the Bolivian Andes

Dr. Agnes Kamya
A study of the impact of state gender policy on urban women in Uganda

Dr. Anna Lavis
The Boundaries of a Good Anorexic: Exploring Pro-Anorexia on the Internet and in the Clinic

Dr. Ricardo Leizaola
Folkbotanical knowledge in the Chacao Sub-Valley, Caracas, Venezuela

Dr. Eva Liu
Problem Gambling reconsidered in the Chinese community in Britain

Dr. Claire Loussouarn
'Buying moments of happiness': luck, time and agency among Chinese casino players

Dr. Aimée Joyce
Negotiating Space in a Contested Landscape: the interactions of three confessions on the Polish borderlands

Dr. Kate Cooper 
Migration and the London sex industry

Dr. Tim Martindale
Livelihoods, Craft and Heritage: Transmissions of Knowledge in Cornish Fishing Villages

Dr. Patricia Matos
Precarious labour in Portugese call centres: An anthropological study

Dr. Nandera Mhando
Meaning, Gender and Kinship Making Among the Kuria of Tanzania: Male and Female Agency

Dr. Joy Miles
The impact of welfare policy on social workers: everyday practice in a fostering and adoption unit

Dr. Atticus Narain
Hindi film consumption and identity politics amongst Indo-Guyanese

Dr. Sarah O'Neill
Defying the law, negotiating change: The Futanke’s opposition to the national ban on FGM in Senegal

Dr. Giovanni Orlando
New Moral Economies in Western Sicily

Dr. Michelangelo Paganopoulos
The Land of the Virgin: An ethnographic study of monastic life in two monasteries of Mount Athos

Dr. Petula Peters
Liquid Gold, an Ethnographic Exploration of the Water - Gender - Power Nexus in Tigrai, Highland Ethiopia

Dr. Andrea Pisac
Trusted Tales: Creating authenticity in literary representations from ex-Yugoslavia

Dr. Marcel Reyes-Cortez
Making memory in a megalopolis: a photographic ethnography of the daily life of cemeteries in Mexico City

Dr. Tom Rice
Stethoscapes: Listening to hearts in a London Hospital

Dr. Dominique Santos
All Mixed-Up: Music and Inter-Generational Experiences of Social Change in South Africa

Dr. Cyril Siorat
Painful Aesthetics: Embodiment, Appropriation, and Fame in the Production of a Global Tattoo Community

Dr. Mary Smith
'Citizens Plus': The Politics of Citizenship and Belonging in Western Canada

Dr. Olivia Swift
A model union village: Filipino international seafaring

Dr. Johannes Wilm
Nicaraguan Sandinismo, Back from the Dead? An Anthropological Study of Popular Participation within the Frente Sandinista de Liberacion Nacional

Dr. Justin Woodman
Modernity, Selfhood, and the Demonic: Anthropological Perspectives on 'Chaos Magic' in the United Kingdom

Dr. Bonnie Vandesteeg
Senses of place and the struggle for the Cairngorms, Scotland

Dr. Amy Johnstone
The social life of human rights images

Dr. Krzysztof Bierski 
Mental Health: Something We All Have

Dr. Elizabeth Saleh
Families of the Lebanese Vine: the kinship-land nexus/ Naming the land: trademarking tradition in Kefraya


Current PhD students



Dominique Santos

Supervisors: Sophie Day

All Mixed Up: Music and Inter-Generational Experiences of Social Change in South Africa

My PhD looks at how popular music as social practice plays a role in articulating and tracking social change in South Africa from the 1940’s to the first decade of the 21st Century. I use popular music to track, map and elicit biographies in relation to racialised identities across generations in the inner western areas of Johannesburg, though the material extends into other areas of the city and the coastal city of Durban. Music, including but not limited to Kwaito, an electronic dance music form that emerged in the early 1990’s, provided a canvas for me to explore personal memories in very close connection to historical developments and groups of people ageing alongside each other.

The cohorts and individuals I engaged with cross the boundaries of the construction of racial categories in South African discourse, either through individual family background or by the composition of cohort membership. Notions of what ‘mixed’ means in South African discourse, where rigid and static racialised identities are assumed, are thus destabilized by the biographies that emerge. This allows for an elucidation of the dynamic tensions between lived experience and the hegemonic structures of identity that dominate. The material presented in the thesis draws on a period of 18 months of dedicated fieldwork in Johannesburg, where I was employed as a DJ in a number of night clubs, as well as many years living in the city as a South African national both as a child and an adult.

As well as the popular culture and dynamics of social change in South Africa, I am interested in the use of multiple research methodologies, issues of representation and writing, and the sharing of academic work with groups who are not conventionally engaged with in the presentation of academic knowledge. I have worked with Widening Participation at Goldsmiths since 2004 to facilitate engagement with the subject of Anthropology in local schools.

Nandera E Mhando

Supervisors: Frances Pine; Nici Nelson

‘The Need for Wives and the Hunger for Children: Marriage, Gender and Livelihood among the Kuria of Tanzania’

My study focuses on what is on the surface a deeply patriarchal society, the Kuria, very typical of patrilineal, cattle-owning, lineage-based East Africa. Although little agency is overtly ascribed to women, I demonstrate how some women and disadvantaged men manage to overcome the constraints in their lives either by utilising the existing structures of marriage to their advantage or else by engaging in entrepreneurial activities, alone or with others, to improve their economic situations. I show how the various forms of marriage help individuals to achieve full personhood in Kuria terms. I explain why people want to have so many children and how they are able to overcome infertility and even death to increase the number of their descendants. I position my study against the backdrop of Kuria unions and take an historical perspective. I look at the ways these unions are tied into and shaped by wider social structures, including the laws and ideologies of Christianity, Islam, and the state in its various forms. I concentrate more on local meanings than on legal or political rules.

Marcel Reyes-Cortez

Making Memory in a Megalopolis: A photographic ethnography of the daily life of cemeteries in Mexico City

Krzysztof Bierski

Supervisors: Sophie Day, David Graeber

‘We All Have Mental Health’ – Landscapes of Activism, Experience and Responsibility in the United Kingdom’(ESRC Funded)

In the contemporary United Kingdom, activists who challenge stigma and prejudice associated with mental illness have developed a number of pioneering strategies for campaigning. In addressing what they declared to be the ‘last great form of discrimination’, activists have proved to be effective at employing a wide range of broadcast and social media. Among the multitude of media productions, individual narratives, social actions and discussion there has emerged a concept of universal mental health. Promotion of mental health as something that ‘everybody has’ aims to make the issues of suffering and discrimination relevant to the whole of society.

Contemporary mental health activists, instead of demanding acceptance and tolerance for difference, as social movements in the past involved in struggles against exclusion have done, are instead encouraging/demanding recognition of sameness embedded in the ubiquity of mental health. Therefore, their practices should be understood as a groundbreaking, if not revolutionary, form of social action.

However, as lived experience of mental illness serves as the foundation for narratives and media representations and, subsequently, as the basis for arguments against social exclusion, the concept of mental health requires ethnographic scrutiny. This is particularly significant given that the discourse of universal mental health is capable of obscuring vast differences between the experiences of various mental illnesses and, by overlooking illness-specificity, might lead to inaccurate or misleading representations and, effectively, become counter-productive.

The concept of universal mental health materialised as fundamental to the activist struggle during the research conducted between January 2009 and March 2011 across different locations in the United Kingdom and on the Internet. Data collected during fieldwork, which included participant observation during events, meetings and conferences, and on Facebook, interviews with activists and individuals affected by mental health problems, and, most notably, participation in making of experience-based media representations serves as evidence for the hypothesis that mental health is not only a discourse, but also individual and activist practice and a basis for emergent senses of sociality and belonging.

Adding to the complexity of these practices are recent political discourses and governmental projects which encourage social responsibility. The activist emphasis on responsibility for one’s own mental health seems to converge, at least at the ideological level, with policies of care in the community, New Labour projects encouraging patient involvement and Conservative ideas of the Big Society.

In this context, activists have identified the general public as their prime audience and focused on giving visibility in public spaces to the issues surrounding mental illness. In fact, spaces are pivotal in activist practices and discourses. Social media, in particular, have provided new context for negotiating meanings of health and illness. A necessity for campaigning at a local (community) level has also been emphasised.

Furthermore, case studies from Richmond, one of the key fieldsites, bring evidence of the crucial importance of place to individual recovery, narrative-making and collective effort to (re)build ‘community spirit’. In the light of the issues outlined above, this thesis presents an ethnographic exploration of the practices and discourses of mental health in particular locations, which I argue can be conceived of as ‘landscapes of mental health’.

Aimee Joyce

Supervisors: Frances Pine; Emma Tarlo

Negotiating Space in a Contested Landscape: the interactions of three confessions on the Polish borderlands

Based on fieldwork conducted on the Polish-Belarusian border this project explores ideas of religion and nationality through dissecting the local landscape. The landscape is a continuously reworked palimpsest, a witness to history, and identity building, a trigger to memory and the space for emotional and religious engagement. In this area the shifting of state borders, the transition to and from socialism, the ascendancy of different confessions and the disappearance of religions have left their imprints on the countryside.

This work explores the negotiations and conflicts between the local Catholic, Polish Orthodox and Uniate congregations and also pays attention to the silences caused by the obliteration of the once vibrant Jewish community. Moving through the landscape heavy with ghosts of previous ideologies also brings you into contact with the “afterlives” of different struggles. Even the local Church buildings and graveyards have many past lives that continue to act on the local population, attesting to the different groups and confessions who have laid claim on them. The question is what do these conflicts preserved in the topography of this municipality say about the notion of a “Polish” identity on the borders of Europe?

Michael Paganopoulos

Supervisor: Victoria Goddard

The Land of the Virgin: An ethnographic study of monastic life in two monasteries of Mount Athos

The thesis is an ethnographic account of contemporary monastic life on Mount Athos, the ‘Garden of the Virgin Mary’, an autonomous Christian Orthodox Republic of twenty monasteries with only male monks, situated in north Greece. The thesis is based on participant observation and historical research carried out between 2002 and 2004 in the monasteries of Vatopaidi and Esfigmenou. It covers a number of themes, beginning with how the notion of ‘virginity’ informs ideals of purity reflected upon the landscape and in the daily life of the monks, as well as providing a central point of reference in the process of striving to become a monk in Vatopaidi. This is explored through a detailed account of practices of faith, such as ordinations, prayer, and confessions, focusing on the Vatopaidian notion of the ‘economy of passions’.

Through this, the thesis considers the personal and communal regimes of life and prayer, obedience and labour in the monastery. Further, the thesis explores this in the context of the organization of time and space in Vatopaidi, in particular drawing on ideas about tradition and the unchanging quality of time in the monastery, and of the importance of private and collective practices. Finally, the thesis compares the social life and values of Vatopaidi to its rival neighbour Esfigmenou, which represents a contrasting and indeed competing view of monastic life. The most salient differences over ‘matters of faith’ are a contrasting relationship to the landscape, different sets of priorities and understanding of the aims and nature of monastic life, and a contestation of the same tradition based on a different way of counting time.

Externally, Esfigmenou has a very different attitude towards recent changes on the Mount, such as the importation of technology, the rise of religious tourism, and the impact of EU funding, keeping an extremist political agenda in the Orthodox world, and consequently, a different set of motivations for becoming a monk in this particular monastery. Here too, the contrast between internal and external is fundamental to the identity of Esfigmenou, even though it is approached as an explicit criticism of Vatopaidi. Interestingly however, both monasteries find themselves entangled in conflict ridden relationships with the Greek state.

The material shows how the external vocation of the monasteries reflects upon their internal regimes, highlighting the heterogeneity and recent changes in the life of the monks. In this way, the material investigates the paradox of monastic life: its moral disconnection from a material ‘world’ to which it financially and politically depends. This paradox further reflects upon methodological issues regarding the gap between theory and practice.

Sarah O'Neill

Supervisors: Sophie Day; Nici Nelson

Defying the law, negotiating change. The Futanke’s opposition to the national ban on FGM in Senegal

My PhD research is concerned with the politics of the preservation and ‘abandonment’ of female circumcision in Fouta Toro, Senegal. The focal point of analysis is the overt opposition to the law criminalising Female Genital Cutting in 1999 and to development projects raising awareness about excision in human rights and reproductive health education programmes.

Based on 15 months ethnographic fieldwork in Fouta Toro and 9 years working in and researching the impact of development in Senegal the thesis looks at how different interest groups justify their position towards excision. Some claim the female body – a reproducer of cultural identities – with reference to duties through kin obligations and their honour and respectability, others with reference to ’human rights’ and ‘the state’. I am interested in how excision is embedded in constructions of personhood, sociality and ethnic identity, and how the body is imagined and located in this process.