Dr Megan Laws

Dr Megan Laws

Visiting fellow

Department of Anthropology

Key Expertise
Namibia, Botswana, South Africa

About me


I am a specialist in the anthropology of southern Africa and have conducted ethnographic research in the Kalahari Desert region of Namibia and Botswana. My work focuses on doubt and uncertainty and the way these shape redistributive practices in the region. I work predominantly with Ju|’hoan speakers in north-eastern Namibia; well known as hunter-gatherers with a strongly egalitarian ethos. My work is concerned with the way these categories shape the lives of Ju|’hoan speakers and it challenges the way these categories inform public discourse surrounding problems of inequality.

My doctoral thesis, ‘All things being equal: uncertainty, ambivalence and trust in a Namibian conservancy’ (2019), funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), examines the role that egalitarian values play in efforts to navigate different experiences of uncertainty and traces the way people negotiate the ambivalence that often follows. By engaging with recent approaches to financial inclusion and land redistribution within the region, I extend this discussion to broader efforts to address inequality across southern Africa. 

I hold a BSc Hons in Anthropology from University College London, and an MRes and PhD in Anthropology from the London School of Economics and Political Science. I am also currently a researcher on an ERC-funded project ‘Extreme Citizen Science: Analysis and Visualisation’ in the Department of Geography at University College London. On this project, I work closely with Ju|’hoan eco-guards to develop digital tools for collecting geo-referenced data to complement their ongoing environmental monitoring and reporting efforts. My main research interest is in how new geo-spatial technologies (with a special focus on remote sensing and mobile data collection) are being used to address ecological uncertainties, and the consequences these have for people living at southern Africa’s rural margins. 

In addition, I work closely with a team of Ju|’hoan language specialists to produce mother-tongue language learning tools and to develop a digital archive of Ju|’hoan language resources.

Expertise Details

Namibia; Botswana; South Africa; informal economies and egalitarianism; communal lands; biodiversity; and climate change; trust and uncertainty; shamanism; language; digital ethnography; citizen science.

Selected publications

Published Articles:

2019. "'You're a trickster': mockery, egalitarianism, and uncertainty in north-eastern Namibia". Social Analysis 63(1): 1-21

2019. All things being equal: uncertainty, ambivalence and trust in a Namibian conservancy. PhD thesis, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).