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Social Anthropology

Workers in a field


Explore some of our current projects in Social Anthropology.

This is not an exhaustive list - all our staff are active researchers and you can find out more about what they are doing via the list of academic staff members.

Political ecology, cultural history, soundscapes and traumatic memory in Okinawa.

This research is led by Rupert Cox and has been supported by The Japan Society for the Promotion of Science and the Toyota Foundation. It began with a focus on the impact of aircraft noise from US military bases and has now shifted include a broader category of sounds that create a new awareness of environmental change and of traumatic memory. Find out more by exploring these two audio-visual works: Kiatsu: The Sound of The Sky Being Torn and The Cave Mouth and The Giant Voice.

The post-industrial transformation of east London

Gillian Evans has spent five years exploring the urban regeneration associated with the London 2012 Olympic Games. Her book entitled London's Olympic Legacy: the inside track makes the argument that London will become the test case city for other host cities bidding for the Olympic Games. 

The Beam nuclear and social research network

This network researches the debates around nuclear power and the civil nuclear industry, which have profound implications for the future of the planet. Penny Harvey is a key member of the cross-disciplinary team that runs The Beam and Petra Tjitske Kalshoven is a Research Fellow. 

Sellafield Site Futures

What could the nuclear site of Sellafield look like in 2140, once decommissioning will have ended?

A multidisciplinary team (Anthropology's Petra Tjitske Kalshoven among them) explores ethical, ecological, technological and societal implications of Sellafield end-state options. 

For an update on this UKERC-funded project and the workshops that were organised in Summer 2019, read Petra's blog on the Beam website

The Silent Time Machine: recovering early ethnographic film

On the basis of a Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship (2014-2018), Paul Henley has created a major web-based resource for the study of early ethnographic film.

Deaf Camera South Africa

This research project is led by Andrew Irving and also involves Lorenzo Ferrarini, in collaboration with colleagues at the University of the Witwatersrand (SA). It is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Medical Research Council and uses community based film methods to explore issues of vulnerability and resilience faced by deaf youth in South Africa. 

Filmmaking For Fieldwork

Andy Lawrence and Paul Henley established Filmmaking For Fieldworkin 2009 to concentrate on the development of filmmaking as a research method. In conception it is linked to AllRitesReversed a production name for filmmaking that explores the more paradoxical aspects of human life, established by Andy Lawrence in 2000.

Community adaptations and knowledge sharing in Alaska and Siberia

Olga Ulturgasheva works on this project which is led by the University of Alaska Fairbanks and is funded by the National Science Foundation. The goal of the project is to discover indigenous patterns of adaptive and resilient responses to critical situations through an exchange of knowledge between members of two arctic communities in Alaska and Siberia.

Latin American Antiracism in a ‘Post-Racial’ Age

Project summary

This project, which starts in  January 2107 and runs for two years, aims to investigate anti-racism in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Mexico; to contribute to conceptualising and addressing problems of racism and racial inequality in the region, and to use the Latin America context to provide lessons of wider relevance to anti-racism. We propose that Latin American countries present new opportunities for thinking about anti-racism in the supposedly “post-racial” world of Europe and the United States, where anti-racism has apparently gone into “crisis” and emerged as often insipid and hard-to-defend multiculturalism. Influential currents in Europe and the United States think that paying attention to race simply exacerbates racism. Meanwhile, racial inequality and racism continue.

We will explore how Latin Americans involved in anti-racism address key problems for anti-racism in Latin America and increasingly for other regions. First, how to practice anti-racism when most people are mixed, may deny the importance of race and racism and may themselves be the victims and the perpetrators of racism. Second, how to practice anti-racism when “culture” seems to be the dominant discourse for talking about difference, but when physical differences remain a powerful but often unacknowledged basis for discrimination. Third, how to create effective anti-racist action when race and class coincide and make it easy to deny that race and racism are important factors. Fourth, how to make sure anti-racist action addresses gender difference effectively. Fifth, how to pursue anti-racism when it is often claimed that little overt racist violence is evidence of racial tolerance.

Our project aims to work with a wide variety of organisations in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Mexico to explore how anti-racism is pursued in state and non-state circles, in legislation and the media, and in a variety of campaigns and projects. We aim to strengthen anti-racist practice in Latin America by feeding back our findings and by helping build networks. We have hired four post-doctoral researchers, who will work in each country supported by a local academic co-investigator.

The project is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council of the UK (ref. ES/N012747/1).

The project team

  • Project Director: Dr Mónica Moreno Figueroa, University of Cambridge.  
  • Project Co-director: Prof Peter Wade, University of Manchester.  
  • Research Associate: Dr Krisna Ruette-Orihuela, University of Manchester. Krisna was based at the Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Cientificas. She will be doing fieldwork in Colombia.
  • Research Associate: Dr Luciane Rocha, University of Manchester. Luciane was based at the Universidade Federal de Rio de Janeiro. She will be doing fieldwork in Brazil.
  • Research Associate: Dr Gisela Carlos Fregoso, University of Cambridge. Gisela was at the Universidad Veracruzana.  She will be doing fieldwork in Mexico.
  • Research Associate: Dr María Moreno Parra, University of Cambridge. María was based at Miami University.  She will be doing fieldwork in Ecuador.
  • International Co-investigator for Colombia: Dr. Mara Viveros Vigoya, Universidad National de Colombia. 
  • International Co-investigator for Brazil: Prof Antonio Sérgio Guimarães, CEBRAP (Emeritus of Universidade de São Paulo). 
  • International Co-investigator for Mexico: Dr Juan Carlos Martínez, Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social (CIESAS, Oaxaca branch). 
  • International Co-investigator for Ecuador: Fernando García, Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales, FLACSO Ecuador. 

Disaster Cooperation between Japan and Chile

In this research, funded by the British Academy and Leverhulme (2016-2018) and the Toyota Foundation (2018-2019), Chika Watanabe takes 'preparedness' in disaster risk reduction efforts as an ethnographic artefact to study how catastrophic pasts and futures are made present through material and bodily practices.

Specifically, Chika explores how various actors design, learn, embody, and export/import Japanese disaster preparedness (bosai) education/training efforts around the world, particularly in Chile. 

She explores the possibility that 'playful' approaches such as using child-friendly games can be effective methods for translating values across countries and embedding preparedness in people's everyday lives.

Cultures of Anti-Racism in Latin America

Continuing previous research on anti-racism actions in Latin America, Peter Wade, along with Manchester colleagues Lúcia Sá and Ignacio Aguiló, were awarded a £1million grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Starting in January 2020, the project will explore how artists in Argentina, Brazil and Colombia address racial diversity in their work and how they use their art to challenge racism.

The project involves three post-doctoral researchers (Ana Vivaldi, Jamille Pinheiro Dias, and Carlos Correa Angulo), three Latin American collaborators (Ezequiel Adamovsky from the Universidad Nacional San Martin, Felipe Milanez from the Universidade Federal da Bahia, and Mara Viveros Vigoya from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia), and three Latin American advisers (Alejandro Frigerio from the Pontificia Universidad Católica Argentina, Pedro Mandagará from the Universidade de Brasilia, and Liliana Angulo, an Afro-Colombia artist).