Dr Mark Johnson

Staff details

Position Professor, Head of Graduate School
Department Anthropology
Email m.johnson (@gold.ac.uk)
Phone +44 (0)20 7078 5397
Dr Mark Johnson

Mark Johnson is currently Head of Graduate School and is PI of the following AHRC, British Academy and RCUK GCRF funded research projects: The AHRC Curating Development project (2016-18) investigates Filipino migrants’ contributions to development; the British Academy project, Big Data, Live Methods and Surveillance Subjectivities (2016-18) explores perceptions and experiences of surveillance among Filipino and British transnationals in Hong Kong and the recently awarded RCUK GCRF GlobalGRACE (Global Gender and Cultures of Equality, 2017 - 2021) project investigates the production of cultures of equality in fragile contexts across the world.

Prior to joining Goldsmiths, he taught at the University of Hull where he served as Director of Research and REF lead for a large multidisciplinary School of Social Sciences. He was a Visiting Scholar in the Department of Anthropology at Stockholm University, Autumn 2014, funded by the Forum for Asian Studies and was Visiting Professor in the Graduate School of Space and Gender, Universities of Gottingen-Kassel in April, 2011. He is the chair of the expert advisory committee for the EU funded GRACE (Gender and Cultures of Equality in Europe) project, based at the University of Hull, and is a member of the editorial boards of American Ethnologist, Sociological Review and South East Asian Research.



Dr Johnson is currently supervising 7 PhD students (four at Goldsmiths and three as an external supervisor at Hull University).   He has previously supervised 13 students to successful completion, the majority of whom are now working in universities in the UK and across the world.  Recent topics include studies of love and queer subjectivities in the UK and the investigation of cultural intimacy and heritage in Laos. 

Research Interests

Dr Mark Johnson's research interests and writing are focused broadly around the issues of gender/sexuality, landscape and material culture, migration and transnationalism. He has conducted ethnographic research in the Philippines, Vietnam, Costa Rica and more recently Saudi Arabia. Research in the Philippines was concerned with gender and sexual diversity, in the context of both real and imagined movements of people and the growth of ethno-nationalist discourse.  Research in Vietnam was concerned with the making of place and heritage at the World Heritage site of Hue, Vietnam. Together with Suzanne Clisby, he undertook a small pilot study focused on the social relations of environmentalism in Costa Rica. Later AHRC funded research focused on the place of religion in the experiences of Filipino migrant workers in the Middle East and Saudi Arabia in particular.

His current funded research projects are as follows:

The British Academy project, Big Data, Live Methods and Surveillance Subjectivities among British and Filipino Transnational Migrants in Hong Kong (2016-18) investigates ordinary people’s awareness of and perceptions about different sorts of surveillance they encounter travelling to and living and working in Hong Kong. The research explores in particular the connections between care and control in processes of watching and being watched.  The research is a collaborative project with Prof Maggy Lee, University of Hong Kong, and Mike McCahill (University of Hull) working in conjunction with Lenlen Mesina, a freelance researcher.

The AHRC Curating Development project (2016-18) investigates Filipino migrants’ contributions to development in the Philippines and involves academic and non-academic partners in Hong Kong, London and the Philippines (PI Johnson, CIs Deirdre McKay, Keele University and Maggy Lee, University of Hong Kong & Research Associate, Gabriela Nicolescu, Goldsmiths).  The research involves a series of arts based workshops that enabled participants, mainly Filipino care and domestic workers, to reflect on the different meanings of development and their contributions to that.  Specifically participants were asked to share digital images stored on smartphones.  Participants were also asked to bring objects which they either carried with them from their home place or that they had or intended to send back to people in the Philippines:  prints were made of the digital images and the objects were photographed individually. Participants were then invited to write on and talk about objects, images, life projects and obstacles faced.  We also worked with and commissioned artists to respond to the workshops and the images produced.  The major output from this research has been an exhibition, entitled Beyond Myself, that was launched by His Excellency, Antonio M Lagdameo, the Philippine Ambassador to the UK, at Goldsmiths in December 2017 and will travel to Manila and Hong Kong in 2018.

The RCUK GCRF funded GlobalGRACE (Global Gender and Cultures of Equality) project investigates the production of cultures of equality in fragile contexts across the world.  Co-directed by Suzanne Clisby and Mark Johnson and led by a team of researchers at Goldsmiths, including Yasmin Gunaratnam, Nirmal Puwar and Jimmy Turner, GlobalGRACE brings together a large consortium of academic co-investigators and non-academic partners from Bangladesh, Brazil, Mexico, the Philippines, South Africa and the UK, as well as expert consultants from Europe and the USA.  The project has two basic organising ideas.  The first is that equality is a cultural artefact:  our project seeks to investigate the variety of ways that equalities are made and contested in different parts of the world.   The second is that cultures might best be understood as the practices through which people create the worlds they inhabit:  our project investigates how people’s creativity produce moments when inequality can be challenged and engender new possibilities for more equitable ways of living together. 

Publications and research outputs


Johnson, Mark. 1997. Beauty and Power: Transgendering and Cultural Transformation in the Southern Philippines. Oxford: Berg. ISBN 9781859739204

Edited Book

Clisby, Suzanne; Johnson, Mark and Turner, Jimmy, eds. 2020. Theorising Cultures of Equality. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge. ISBN 9781138571242

Johnson, Mark and Werbner, Pnina, eds. 2011. Diasporic Journeys, Ritual, and Normativity among Asian Migrant Women. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-59201-7

Edited Journal

Johnson, Mark and Lindquist, Johan, eds. 2019. Care and Control in Asian Migrations, Ethnos, 85(2). 0014-1844

Johnson, Mark and Werbner, Pnina, eds. 2012. Aesthetics of Diaspora, Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology, 78(2). 0014-1844

Blackwood, Evelyn and Johnson, Mark, eds. 2012. Asian Studies Review Special Issue: Queer Asian Subjects, Asian Studies Review, 36(4). 1035-7823

Johnson, Mark and McKay, Deirdre, eds. 2011. Mediated Diasporas: Material Translation of the Philippines in a Globalized World, South East Asia Research, 19(2). 0967828X

Johnson, Mark and Werbner, Pnina, eds. 2010. Diasporic Encounters, Sacred Journeys: Ritual, Normativity and the Religious Imagination among International Asian Migrant Women., Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology, 11(3-4). 1444-2213

Johnson, Mark; Jackson, Peter and Herdt, Gilbert, eds. 2000. Gender and Sexual Diversity in East and South-East Asia., Culture, Health and Sexuality, 2(4). 1369-1058

Book Section

Clisby, Suzanne and Johnson, Mark. 2020. Theorising Gender and Cultures of Equality. In: Suzanne Clisby; Mark Johnson and Jimmy Turner, eds. Theorising Cultures of Equality. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, pp. 1-24. ISBN 9781138571242

Johnson, Mark. 2018. From Victims of Trafficking to Freedom Fighters: Rethinking Migrant Domestic Workers in the Middle East. In: Laura Brace and Julia O’Connell Davidson, eds. Revisiting Slavery and AntiSlavery: Towards A Critical Analysis. London: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 179-206. ISBN 9783319906225

Johnson, Mark; Lee, Maggy and McCahill, Mike. 2018. Race, Gender and Surveillance of Migrant Domestic Workers in Asia. In: Mary Bosworth; Alpa Palmer and Yolanda Vasquez, eds. Race, Criminal Justice and Migration Control: Enforcing the Boundaries of Belonging. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 13-28. ISBN 9780198814887

Johnson, Mark and Wilcke, Christoph. 2015. Caged in and breaking loose: intimate labour, the state and migrant domestic workers in Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries. In: Sara Friedman and Pardis Mahdavi, eds. Migrant Encounters: Intimate Labor, the State, and Mobility Across Asia. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, pp. 135-159. ISBN 9780812247541

Johnson, Mark and Elyas, Nada. 2014. Caring for the Future in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: Saudi and Filipino Women Making Homes in a World of Movement. In: Bina Fernandez and Marina de Regt, eds. Migrant Domestic Workers in the Middle East. Palgrave MacMillan, pp. 141-164. ISBN 978-1-137-48211-2

Johnson, Mark. 2010. Aspiring to the ‘Tourist Gaze’: selling the past, longing for the future in Hue, Vietnam. In: Michael Hitchcock; V.T. King and Michael Parnwell, eds. Heritage Tourism in Southeast Asia. Copenhagen: NIAS Press, pp. 173-201. ISBN 978 87 7694 059 1

Johnson, Mark. 2008. Transgression and the Making of ‘Western’ Sexual Sciences. In: Hastings Donnan and Fiona McGowan, eds. Transgressive Sex: Subversion and Control in Erotic Encounters. 13 Oxford: Berghan, pp. 167-190. ISBN 978-1-84545-539-2

Johnson, Mark. 2005. Living like men, loving like women: tomboi in the S. Philippines. In: Shirley Ardener and Alison Shaw, eds. Changing Sex and Bending Gender. 1 Oxford: Berghan, pp. 85-102. ISBN 978-1-84545-053-3

Johnson, Mark. 2002. Renovating Hue, Vietnam: Authenticating Destruction, Reconstructing Authenticity. In: R Layton; P Stone and J Thomas, eds. The destruction and conservation of cultural property. 41 London: Routledge, pp. 75-92. ISBN 9780415216951

Johnson, Mark and Dawson, Andres. 2001. Exile and landscapes of the imagination. In: Barbara Bender and Margot Winer, eds. Contested Landscapes Movement, Exile and Place. London: Bloomsbury / Berg, pp. 319-332. ISBN 9781859734674

Johnson, Mark. 1998. At Home and Abroad: inalienable wealth, personal consumption and the reformulation of femininity in the Southern Philippines. In: Daniel Miller, ed. Material Cultures: Why Some Things Matter. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp. 215-238. ISBN 9780226526010

Johnson, Mark. 1996. Negotiating Style and Mediating Beauty: Transvestite Beauty Queens in the Southern Philippines. In: C Cohen; R Wilk and B Stoeltje, eds. Beauty Queens on a Global Stage. London: Routledge, pp. 89-104. ISBN 978-0415911535

Johnson, Mark. 1992. The Ceramic Fabrics at Ban Don Ta Phet: a preliminary report with special reference to the classification of ceramic fabric. In: Ian Glover, ed. Southeast Asian archaeology 1990: proceedings of the third Conference of the European Association of Southeast Asian Archaeologists. Hull: Centre for Southeast Asian Studies, pp. 179-186.


Johnson, Mark; Lee, Maggy; McCahill, Mike and Mesina, Ma Rosalyn. 2020. Beyond the ‘all seeing eye’: Filipino migrant domestic workers’ contestation of care and control in Hong Kong. Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology, 85(2), pp. 276-292. ISSN 0014-1844

Johnson, Mark. 2017. Gendering pastoral power: masculinity, affective labour and competitive bonds of solidarity among Filipino migrant men in Saudi Arabia. Gender, Place and Culture A Journal of Feminist Geography, 24(6), pp. 823-833. ISSN 0966-369X

Johnson, Mark. 2015. Surveillance, Pastoral Power and Embodied Infrastructures of Care among Migrant Filipinos in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Surveillance & Society, 13(2), pp. 250-264. ISSN 1477-7487

Johnson, Mark. 2013. The Aesthetics of Diaspora within Colonial Field of Power: Elite Nationalism, Art and the Love to Die for. Ethnos, 78(2), pp. 175-199. ISSN 0014-1844

Blackwood, Evelyn and Johnson, Mark. 2012. Queer Asian Subjects: Transgressive Sexualities and Heteronormative Meanings. Asian Studies Review, 36(4), ISSN 1035-7823

Johnson, Mark. 2011. Freelancing in the Kingdom: Filipino Migrant Domestic Workers Crafting Agency in Saudi Arabia. Asia Pacific Migration Journal, 20(3), pp. 459-478.

Johnson, Mark. 2011. Mediated Diasporas: Material Translations of the Philippines in a Globalized World. South East Asia Research, 19(2), pp. 181-196. ISSN 0967828X

Johnson, Mark. 2010. Diasporic Dreams, Middle Class Moralities and Migrant Domestic Workers among Muslim Filipinos in Saudi Arabia. Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology, 11(3-4), pp. 428-448. ISSN 1444-2213

Johnson, Mark. 2010. Diasporic Encounters, Sacred Journeys: Ritual, Normativity and the Religious Imagination Among International Asian Migrant Women. Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology, 11(3-4), pp. 205-218. ISSN 1444-2213

Johnson, Mark and Clisby, Suzanne. 2009. Naturalising Distinctions: The Contested Field of Environmental Relations in Costa Rica. Landscape Research, 34(2), pp. 171-187. ISSN 0142-6397

Johnson, Mark and Clisby, Suzanne. 2008. Both 'One' and 'Other': Environmental Cosmopolitanism and the Politics of Hybridity in Costa Rica. Nature and Culture, 3(1), pp. 63-81. ISSN 1558-6073

Johnson, Mark; Jackson, Peter and Herdt, Gilbert. 2000. Critical Regionalities and The Study of Gender and Sexual Diversity. Culture, Health and Sexuality, 2(4), pp. 361-375. ISSN 1369-1058

Johnson, Mark. 1998. Global Desirings and Translocal Loves: Transgendering and Same Sex Sexuality in the Southern Philippines. American Ethnologist, 25(4), pp. 695-711. ISSN 0094-0496


Gunaratnam, Yasmin; Puwar, Nirmal; Johnson, Mark; Clisby, Suzanne; McGuirk, Siobhan; Turner, James; Choudhury, Tanzina; Ashraful, Ovi; Fernandez, Marta; Gill, Andréa; Souza, Isabela; Arámburo, Pável Valenzuela; Morales, Deyanira Clériga; Pereyra, Aldo Jorge Ledón; Garcia, J Neil; Guevara, Nerisa del Carmen; Jacobo, Jaya; Ramil, Kate Alyzon; Clarke, Yaliwe; Matchett, Sara; Mbasalaki, Phoebe Kisubi and Hahn, Catherine. 2022. Experiments in Cultures of Equality: A GlobalGRACE online course.

Johnson, Mark; McKay, Deirdre; Nicolescu, Gabriela; Lee, Maggy and Nathalie, Dagmang. 2021. Beyond Myself.