Dr Martin Webb

Staff details

Position Lecturer
Department Anthropology
Email m.webb (@gold.ac.uk)
Phone +44 (0)20 7919 7796
Dr Martin Webb

My research engages with themes of activism and active citizenship, ethical politics, transparency and accountability, urban governance, mediation, and most recently, the effects of digital technology on citizen-state interfaces and access to social protection. I have carried out research exploring these themes in urban India and in the UK.

I am the anthropology convener for the MA Applied Anthropology, youth work, community development and community arts pathways. I also teach modules on the study of social movements and the anthropology of international development

I came to higher education in my mid-thirties as a mature student after a number of years employed in factories, on construction sites, and as a care worker. I am a firm believer in higher education as a way for adults to discover new directions and interests at any stage in their lives.

Academic qualifications

  • Access to Higher Education: City College Brighton 1999
  • BA Anthropology and Development Studies: University of Sussex 2003
  • MSc Social Research Methods: University of Sussex (assisted by seedcorn funding from the university) 2005
  • Dphil (PhD) in Anthropology: University of Sussex. (Supervised by Dr. Elizabeth Harrison and Dr. Geert de Neve) 2011

Teaching and Supervision

Research interests

My doctoral research at the University of Sussex focused on the organisation of Right to Information (RTI) activism in Delhi, India, and how initiatives to promote transparency, accountability and state reform play out across the social and economic terrain of the city.

Subsequent research while at Goldsmiths has followed the rise of anti-corruption movement politics in India, and in the UK Indian Diaspora, which emerged contemporary to the protests of the “Arab Spring”, “Occupy” and anti-austerity movements in the UK and Europe. This work led to the publication, with Prof. Pnina Werber and Dr Kathryn Spellman-Poots, of "The Political Aesthetics of Global Protest: Beyond the Arab Spring" by Edinburgh University Press in 2014.

I am currently the principle investigator of the Goldsmiths QR-GCRF funded project titled Jaankaar (Knowledgeable): Leveraging Everyday Innovations in Governance and Accountability. Jaankaar brings together academic and NGO partners in Delhi to explore the role of community advocates in helping people to negotiate encounters with an increasingly digitised bureaucracy. I am also exploring these themes of digital advocacy and mediation in Lewisham, south east London, as access to essential services and forms of social protection are increasingly shifted online in the UK.

Publications and research outputs

Edited Book

Werbner, Pnina; Webb, Martin and Spellman-Poots, Kathryn, eds. 2014. The Political Aesthetics of Global Protest: The Arab Spring and Beyond. Edinburgh: Edinburgh Univerity Press. ISBN 978-0-7486-9334-4

Book Section

Webb, Martin. 2018. Nongovernmental Organizations and Civil Society in Development. In: Hilary Callan, ed. International Encyclopedia of Anthropology. New Jersey: Wiley Blackwell. ISBN 9781118924396

Webb, Martin. 2014. Short Circuits: The Aesthetics of Protest, Media and Martyrdom in Indian Anti-corruption Activism. In: Pnina Werbner; Martin Webb and Kathryn Spellman-Poots, eds. The Political Aesthetics of Global Protest: The Arab Spring and Beyond. Edinburgh: Edinburgh Univerity Press, pp. 193-221. ISBN 9780748693344


Webb, Martin. 2020. Digital Politics in the Diaspora: U.K. Aam Aadmi Party Supporters Online and Offline. Television and New Media, 21(4), pp. 420-433. ISSN 1527-4764

Webb, Martin. 2019. Seeking Signs of Transparency: Audit, Materiality and Monuments to Active Citizenship in New Delhi. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 25(4), pp. 698-720. ISSN 1359-0987

Webb, Martin. 2017. Our Electric Air. Cultural Anthropology, ISSN 0886-7356

von Hellermann, Pauline and Webb, Martin. 2017. On the Frontline: Travelling the Line, British Commuters and Southern Rail. Discover Society(43),

Webb, Martin. 2017. review of DEMOCRACY AND TRANSPARENCY IN THE INDIAN STATE: The Making of the Right to Information Act. Routledge/Edinburgh South Asian Studies Series. By Prashant Sharma. London; New York: Routledge, 2015. xx, 238 pp. (Tables.) US$145.00, cloth. ISBN 978-1-13-880217-9. Pacific Affairs, 90(1), pp. 163-165.

Webb, Martin. 2015. “Contemporary Indian anti-corruption movements and political aesthetics”. FocaalBlog: Art and Visual Anthropology,

Webb, Martin. 2013. Meeting at the Edges: Spaces, Places and Grassroots Governance Activism in Delhi. South Asia Multidisciplinary Academic Journal(8),

Webb, Martin. 2013. Disciplining the everyday state and society? Anti-corruption and Right to Information activism in Delhi. Contributions to Indian Sociology, 47(3), pp. 363-393. ISSN 0069-9667

Webb, Martin. 2012. Activating Citizens, Remaking Brokerage: Transparency Activism, Ethical Scenes, and the Urban Poor in Delhi. PoLAR: Political and Legal Anthropology Review, 35(2), pp. 206-222. ISSN 1555-2934

Webb, Martin. 2010. Success stories: rhetoric, authenticity, and the right to information movement in north India. Contemporary South Asia, 18(3), pp. 293-304. ISSN 0958-4935

Further profile content

Grants and awards

2018: Goldsmiths QR-GCRF award for Jaankaar (Knowledgeable): Leveraging Everyday Innovations in Governance and Accountability. Phase 1

2019: Goldsmiths QR-GCRF award for Jaankaar (Knowledgeable): Leveraging Everyday Innovations in Governance and Accountability. Phase 2