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Department of Anthropology

How to contact us

Department of Anthropology
6th Floor, Old Building
London School of Economics
Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE


Head of Department
Professor Katy Gardner


Departmental Manager
Ms Yanina Hinrichsen
+44 (0)20 7955 7202


Mr Tom Hinrichsen (Thu & Fri)
+44 (0)20 7955 6775

Administrative Officer
Ms Andrea Elsik
+44 (0)20 7107 5037

Administration and Communications Officer 
Ms Renata Todd
+44 (0)20 7852 3709 


Fax: +44 (0)20 7404 4907


General Enquiries




LSE's Anthropology Department, with a long and distinguished history, remains a leading centre for innovative research and teaching. We are committed to both maintaining and renewing the core of the discipline, and our undergraduate teaching and training of PhD students is recognised as outstanding.

Follow this link to see a short film about the Department and some of its students.


LSE Department of Anthropology tops the

University guide 2017 league table for anthropology

We were thrilled to see that the University guide 2017  announced LSE as having the best anthropology department. To see the full league table, click here


We are thrilled to announce that we have established a Departmental exchange arrangement with the University of Melbourne, offering undergraduate students reading Social Anthropology or Anthropology and Law the opportunity to spend a Year Abroad in Australia as part of their degree. This is in addition to the School-wide exchanges with Sciences-Po and the University of California, Berkeley.

The Melbourne anthropology department is widely recognised as amongst the best in the world, with particular expertise in anthropology of migration, the body and the environment. Students taking a Year Abroad at Melbourne will also be able to select from a wide range of outside options, including in subjects not available at the LSE. We're very excited about this addition to our programme.



The latest NSS results reveal LSE to be the best anthropology department for student satisfaction across the Russell Group. Students from our 2015 cohort awarded us a mark of 4.7 for overall satisfaction (out of a possible 5), putting us ahead of rival institutions such as Cambridge, Oxford and UCL.  We also received the highest marks of any Russell Group institution for our teaching, with 100% of students praising the intellectual stimulation of the course, and the enthusiasm of the lecturers. Interested in joining us? To find out more about our courses click here

Irony, Cynicism and the Chinese State Book Cover Small
Wednesday, 10 February 2016
Seligman Library, Old Building

Discussants: William A. Callahan (LSE) and Caroline Humphrey (Cambridge) 

Unprecedented social change in China has intensified the contradictions faced by ordinary people. In everyday life, people find themselves caught between official and popular discourses, encounter radically different representations of China's past and its future, and draw on widely diverse moral frameworks.
This volume explores irony and cynicism as part of the social life of local communities in China, and specifically in relation to the contemporary Chinese state. It collects ethnographies of irony and cynicism in social action, written by a group of anthropologists who specialise in China. They use the lenses of irony and cynicism - broadly defined to include resignation, resistance, humour, ambiguity and dialogue - to look anew at the social, political and moral contradictions faced by Chinese people. The various contributions are concerned with both the interpretation of intentions in everyday social action and discourse, and the broader theoretical consequences of such interpretations for an understanding of the Chinese state.
As a study of irony and cynicism in modern China and their implications on the social and political aspects of everyday life, this book will be of huge interest to students and scholars of social and cultural anthropology, Chinese culture and society, and Chinese politics. https://www.routledge.com/products/9781138943148
Andersson, R. - Illegality Inc

Dr Ruben Andersson, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Civil Society and Human Security Research Unit within the Department of International Development, has won the British Sociological Association / BBC Thinking Allowed (Radio 4) ethnography award for his book Illegality, Inc. Clandestine Migration and the Business of Bordering Europe.

The book argues that increasing border controls leads migrants to seek more dangerous routes to enter Europe. It is based on his PhD dissertation awarded from the Department of Anthropology, LSE for which he won the 2014 IMISCOE – Maria Ioannis Baganha dissertation award. One of the judges said: ‘…it was very powerful; it was a very beautifully written very evocative book…’

The shortlist was announced in Thinking Allowed on 15 April and the programme ran a special on the book on 22 April.

Alpa Shah BCr4 head shot
Lessons in Development.  Click here to listen to Alpa Shah on BBCr4 Four Thought on democracy, mining and tribal people.
David Graeber Head shot

Promises, Promises: A History of Debt.  Click here to listen to David Graeber's 10 part series on BBC Radio 4 where he explores the ways debt has shaped society over 5,000 years.

LSE Student Led Teaching Excellence Awards 2015
Congratulations to Matt Wilde, who has been announced the winner in the category of LSESU Award for Excellent Welfare and Pastoral Support.

The LSE's Student Led Teaching Excellence Awards are run by the Students’ Union, supported by the Teaching and Learning Centre and sponsored by the Annual Fund. This year 1362 nominations were received from students, with nominations for 555 individual members of staff.
LSE student honoured at prestigious Chinese language competition
Angel Naydenov, undergraduate student in the Department of Anthropology, has won an award for ‘The Best Performance’ at the UK finals of the Chinese Bridge College Student Competition. The competition, which runs annually, contains a three minute speech in Mandarin, two minutes of questions on Chinese language, culture and geography, and a three minute talent show. Angel, who is from Bulgaria and studying Mandarin Language and Society Advanced Level, competed against 30 candidates from 15 universities across the UK to reach the finals, where he went up against another nine candidates. This is the second time LSE has won an award in the competition - last year Edward Knight, from the Department of International Relations, won another individual award for 'The Most Eloquent'.
Student Migration small bookcover
Chinese Student Migration, Gender and Family by Anni Kajanus follows the sons and daughters of Chinese single-child families who go abroad to study and their families; exploring the increase of familial investment in daughters' education within the wider socio-moral transformation of China. The relationships of support in the family are renegotiated, and lines of generational and gendered power are changing. While this generation of young women have been raised in an environment that fosters individual achievement and competition, they must eventually find their place in the marriage and job markets that are highly gendered. Women are directed towards less demanding career paths and are wary of becoming 'too successful' to marry. Both female and male student migrants draw from their cosmopolitan experiences and resources when negotiating these tensions. Through their individual journeys of migration, they are at the forefront of the current transformation of the Chinese symbolic markets.
Democracy as Death
The revolution that brought the African National Congress (ANC) to power in South Africa was fractured by internal conflict. In analyzing this conflict, Jason Hickel contributes to broad theoretical debates about liberalism and democratization in the postcolonial world. Democracy as Death interrogates the Western ideals of individual freedom and agency from the perspective of those who oppose such ideals, and questions the assumptions underpinning theories of anti-liberal movements. The book argues that both democracy and the political science that attempts to explain resistance to it presuppose a model of personhood native to Western capitalism, which may not operate cross-culturally.
  Money From Nothing
Money from Nothing by Deborah James explores the dynamics surrounding South Africa's national project of financial inclusion—dubbed "banking the unbanked"—which aimed to extend credit to black South Africans as a critical aspect of broad-based economic enfranchisement. The book reveals the varied ways in which middle- and working-class South Africans' access to credit is intimately bound up with identity, status-making, and aspirations of upward mobility. It draws out the precarious nature of both the aspirations and the economic relations of debt which sustain her subjects, revealing the shadowy side of indebtedness and its potential to produce new forms of oppression and disenfranchisement in place of older ones. Money from Nothing captures the lived experience of indebtedness for those many millions who attempt to improve their positions (or merely sustain existing livelihoods) in emerging economies.
Tamil Brahmans Book Covercropped
In this book, C. J. Fuller and Haripriya Narasimhan examine one particularly striking group: Tamil Brahmans—a formerly traditional, rural, high-caste elite who have transformed themselves into a new middle-class caste in India, the United States, and elsewhere.
Cover of The Social Life of Achievement 62x86
The Social Life of Achievement, edited by Nick Long and Henrietta Moore. This theoretically eclectic volume promises to be of interest to anyone with interests in the anthropology of education, the anthropology of neoliberalism, theories of agency and motivation, or the study of ethical life.
Elusive Promises homepage
Featuring contributions by Richard Baxstrom, Laura Bear, Åsa Boholm, John Gledhill, Deborah James, Sarah Lund, Halvard Vike, and an introduction by Simone Abram and Gisa Weszkalnys, this volume and links planning to a set of anthropological concerns regarding the state, development, entitlement, agency and the imagination.
Cover of Vital Relations
Fenella Cannell's book Vital Relations: Modernity and the Persistent Life of Kinship, published in August 2013, will be of interest to anyone who wishes to gain a different perspective on the concept of modernity itself, and on the place of kinship and 'family' in modern life.
Under a watchful eye book cover
Harry Walker’s book Under a Watchful Eye: Self, Power and Intimacy in Amazonia, published in November 2012 examines the formation of self among the Urarina, an Amazonian people of lowland Peru and raises fundamental questions about what it means to be alive, to be an experiencing subject, and to be human.
Potent Landscapes: Place and Mobility in Eastern Indonesia, by Catherine Allerton, has recently been published by the University of Hawai'i Press. Based on two years of fieldwork in rural Flores, the book situates Manggarai place-making and mobility within the larger contexts of human-environment interactions. Potent Landscapes will appeal to students and specialists of Southeast Asia and to those interested in the comparative anthropological study of place and environment.
In and out of each others bodies book cover
Maurice Bloch’s book In and Out of Each Other’s Bodies was published in November 2012. It offers an accessible introduction to fundamental human questions such as: What is human sociality? How are universals such as truth and doubt variously demonstrated and negotiated in different cultures?
Ordinary Ethics in China book cover
Ordinary Ethics in China, edited by Charles Stafford, has been published by Bloomsbury as part of the LSE Monographs on Social Anthropology series. The book includes chapters by LSE faculty and former students including Laura Bear, Hans Steinmuller, Stephan Feuchtwang, Eona Bell, James Johnston and Daniel Roberts.
Communities of Complicity book cover
Hans Steinmuller’s book Communities of Complicity: Everyday Ethics in Rural China, has been published by Berghahn Books. An ethnographic study of the village of Zhongba (in Hubei Province, central China), the book attempts to grasp the ethical reflexivity of everyday life in rural China. Drawing on descriptions of village life, interspersed with targeted theoretical analyses, Steinmuller examines how ordinary people construct their own senses of their lives and their futures in everyday activities.
Ethnographies of Doubt book cover 
Mathijs Pelkmans’ title, Ethnographies of Doubt: Faith and Uncertainty in Contemporary Societies has recently been published by I.B. Tauris. The volume contains several chapters by members and friends of the LSE Anthropology department: Alpa Shah on doubting revolutionaries; Maurice Bloch on types of shared doubt among Zafimaniry forest-dwellers; Giulia Liberatore on the doubtful belief of newly practicing Muslim women; and Mette High on doubting the cosmos in Mongolia.
Anthropology and the Cognitive Challenge book cover
In this new study: Anthropology and the Cognitive ChallengeMaurice Bloch proposes that an understanding of cognitive science enriches, rather than threatens, the work of social scientists. Arguing for a naturalist approach to social and cultural anthropology, Bloch introduces developments in cognitive sciences such as psychology and neurology and explores the relevance of these developments for central anthropological concerns: the person or the self, cosmology, kinship, memory and globalisation.

LSE Anthropology holds many events throughout the year, ranging from the annual Malinowski Memorial Lecture to regional seminars, a weekly research seminar, and a host of conferences and workshops.  To view details of all our events, please click here

Every Friday during term time we hold a research seminar on anthropological theory between 10:30am and 12:30pm in the  Seligman Library (OLD 6.05). Follow the link (which is in red) for details of speakers, and the dates and titles of their papers.

Speakers for Summer Term are:

David Graeber  The People as Nursemaids of the King: notes on monarchs as children, women's uprisings, and the return of the ancestral dead in central Madagascar

Yunxiang Yan  The Rise of Neo-Familism in Contemporary China

Dan Smer Yu Trans-Himalayan Secularities: Buddhist Governance and Social Engagement in Modern Burma, India, and Tibet

Geoff Hughes Towards an Anthropological Theory of Envy: Insights from Middle Eastern Ethnography

Chris Martin School Pageants and Educational Spectacle in the Philippines

Ryan Davey “You can’t argue with them”: domination in the time of debt)

Fernande Pool “We don't want your freedom”: the imagination of virtue among Muslim Bengalis 

The Programme for Religion and Non-Religion offers a number of Forum on Religion events which are free and open to all. 

Fernande Pool The ethical life of Muslims in secular India. Islamic reformism in West Bengal

Francesca Mezzenzana Living through forms: similarity, knowledge and gender among the Runa of Pastaza (Ecuadorian Amazon)
Andrea Pia The vanishing margin: an ethnography of rural water provisions in the environmentally degraded Chinese countryside
Amy Penfield Material morality: an ethnography of value among the Sanema of Venezuelan Amazonia

Johanna Whiteley The ancestors remain: dynamics of matrilineal continuity in West Gao, Santa Isabel, Solomon Islands

Christian Laheij A country of trial: Islamic reformism, pluralism and dispute management in Peri-Urban Northern Mozambique
Di Wu The everyday life of Chinese migrants in Zambia: emotion, stability and moral interaction

Michael Berthin Touch future x ROBOT: examining production, consumption, and disability at a social robot research laboratory and a centre for independent living in Japan

Tamara Hale Mixing and its challenges: an ethnography of race, kinship and history in a village of Afro-indigenous descent in coastal Peru

Jovan Lewis Sufferer’s market: sufferation and economic ethics in Jamaica

Mohamed Zaki And they say there aren't any gay Arabs: ambiguity and uncertainty in Cairo's underground gay scenes

Ana Gutierrez-Garza The everyday moralities of migrant women: life and labour of Latin American domestic and sex workers in London

Zorana Milicevic Children and the benefits of gender equality: negotiating traditional and modern gender expectations in a Mexican village

Sarah Grosso Extraordinary ethics: an ethnographic study of marriage and divorce in Ben Ali's Tunisia

Miranda Sheild Johansson To work is to transform the land: agricultural labour, personhood and landscape in an Andean ayllu

Anna Tuckett The ambiguities of documentation: migrants' everyday encounters with Italian immigration law

Sitna Quiroz Uria Relating as Children of God: Ruptures and Continuities in Kinship among Pentecostal Christians in the South-East of the Republic of Benin

Xiaoqian Liu The state through its mirrors: an anthropological study of a ‘Respect-the-Elderly Home’ in Rural China at the turn of the 21st century

Gustavo Barbosa Non-cockfights: on doing / undoing gender in Shatila, Lebanon

Daniela Kraemer Planting roots, making place: an ethnography of young men in Port Vila, Vanuatu

Marek Mikus What reform? Civil societies, state transformation and social antagonism in 'European Serbia'

Gus Gatmaytan Indigenous autonomy amid counter-insurgency: cultural citizenship in a Philippine frontier
Aude Michelet No longer kings: learning to be a Mongolian person in the Middle Gobi

Dina Makram Ebeid Manufacturing stability: everyday politics of work in an industrial steel town in Hulwan, Egypt

Giulia Liberatore Transforming the self: an ethnography of ethical change amongst young Somali Muslim women in London

Agnes Hann An ethnographic study of family, livelihoods and women's everyday lives in Dakar, Senegal
Matthew Wilde We shall overcome: radical populism, political morality and participatory democracy in a Venezuelan barrio

Dave Robinson Continuity, communion and the Dread: the Maori Rastafari of Ruatoria, Aotearoa - New Zealand

Yasna Singh Satnami self-assertion and Dalit activism: everyday life and caste in rural Chhattisgarh (central India)

Ruben Andersson Clandestine migration and the business of bordering Europe

Hakem al-Rustom Anatolian fragments: Armenians between Turkey and France

Michael Hoffmann  Patronage, exploitation and the invisible hand of Mao Tse Tung in an urban municipality in western Nepal

Alanna Cant Practising aesthetics: artisanal production and politics in a woodcarving village in Oaxaca, Mexico

Daniel Roberts The family in changing China: a local history of kinship in rural Zhejiang province

Cathrine Furberg Moe Peripheral nationhood: being Israeli in Kiryat Shemona

Denis Regnier Why not marry them?: history, essentialism and the condition of slave descendants among the southern Betsileo (Madagascar)

Luca Pes Building political relations: cooperation, segmentation and government in Bancoumana (Mali)

Tom Boylston The shade of the divine: Approaching the sacred in an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian community

Rebecca Chamberlain-Creanga Cementing modernisation: Transnational markets language and labour tension in a Soviet-era factory in Moldova

Kimberly Chong The work of financialisation: An ethnography of a global management consultancy in a post-Mao China

I-Chieh Fang Growing up and becoming independent: an ethnographic study of new generation migrant workers in China

Eona Bell An anthropological study of ethnicity and the reproduction of culture among Hong Kong Chinese families in Scotland