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Public events and seminar series

The department runs a number of seminar series and lectures throughout the Michaelmas, Lent and Summer terms. This year we have had several regional and thematic seminar series. We also have a time-honoured weekly Research Seminar on Anthropological Theory, which has been the venue for cutting-edge, intensive debate on current research in the discipline since Malinowski's time at the LSE. You are welcome and encouraged to attend all departmental seminars.

We hold the annual Malinowski Memorial Lecture which, unlike most named lectures, is awarded to outstanding anthropologists at an early stage of their career. 

In addition to these events we hold occasional Ethnographic film showings on a diverse range of topics. For seminars related to specific research projects please visit their Research Pages.

All events are open to the public on a first come, first served basis where space is limited unless otherwise stated.

Friday seminars

Our regular Research Seminar on Anthropological Theory takes place in OLD 6.05 (Seligman Library) from 10:30am - 12:30pm on Fridays during term time. 

For further information about these Research Seminars on Anthropological Theory please contact Professor Rita Astuti (

Lent Term 2018

12 January 2018
Danger, pleasure, and egalitarianism: laughing when you shouldn’t among the Batek  
Alice Rudge (UCL)

19 January 2018
“Only in it for the money” or the Griot revisited. Action, imputation and restraint as a value in Dakar, Senegal.
Ismaël Moya (CNRS, Centre for Ethnology and Comparative Sociology, Paris Nanterre University)

26 January 2018
From Conjugated Oppression to Predatory Accumulation in the Open Air Narcotics Markets of the US Inner City Puerto Rican Colonial Diaspora
Philippe Bourgois (UCLA)

2 February 2018
The sexual life of the Roman Catholic Church: on hypocrisy, survival, and the continuity of institutions
Maya Mayblin (Edinburgh)

9 February 2018
Faith in the Faithful: Collective Ritual, Social Networks, and Bigness in Rural South India
Eleanor Power (LSE, Methodology)

23 February 2018
Divine Text, National Language, and Their Publics: Arguing an Indonesian Qur’an
Webb Keane (Michigan)

2 March 2018
Where the palm trees were: debts, demands, and "other people" in a rural Namibian town
Megan Laws (LSE)

9 March 2018
Spending sovereigns: on money, sacrifice and necropolitics among Adventists and Catholics in the Gusii highlands, Kenya
Teo Zidaru-Barbulescu (LSE)

16 March 2018
How healing works: insights from Akha indigenous medicine and placebo science
Giulio Ongaro (LSE)

23 March 2018
Hierarchy and cooperation among school children: China-UK comparison
Anni Kajanus (LSE/Helsinki)

The Malinowski Lecture

Rupert Stasch

Primitivist Tourism and Anthropological Research: Awkward Relations

Dr Rupert Stasch, Lecturer, University of Cambridge

Date: Thursday, 25 May 2017 at 6.00pm

Venue: Old Theatre, Old Building, Houghton Street, LSE, WC2A 2AE

This lecture draws on my fieldwork studying Cannibal Tours-type encounters between international visitors and Korowai people of Indonesian Papua. Korowai, tourists, and guides regularly assimilate me to tourism-relevant roles, and I regularly notice similarities between tourism participants’ ideas or practices and my own. In the lecture, I explore the ethnography of the anthropology-tourism relation in this research, following a wider well-established genre of productive reflection on anthropology’s alignments and disalignments with other social complexes it both studies and is historically co-implicated with. I emphasize that the diversity of alignments drawn or enacted by different participants does not fit one predictable construal of the anthropology-tourism relation. Concerning the side of tourists, I attach special significance to a minor but theoretically challenging pattern of tourists being “anthropological” not just in a sense of enacting primitivist ideology with historical connections to our discipline, but also being “anthropological” in a sense of taking tourism’s primitivist ideology itself as an object of inquiry, or otherwise developing ideas about tour interactions parallel to my own.

Rupert Stasch is a lecturer in social anthropology at the University of Cambridge. He previously taught at University of California-San Diego and Reed College, and is the author of Society of Others (2009). 

This event is free and open to all with no ticket or pre-registration required. Entry is on a first come, first served basis. 

Listen/Download audio


Read about previous Malinowski Memorial Lectures.

Thematic seminars

Anthropology of Africa Seminar Series

All seminars take place in the Seligman Library (OLD 6.05) Old Building, Houghton Street, London, WC2A 2AE between 4.00pm-6.00pm.

Michaelmas Term 2017

24 October 2017
Faithful suffering at a Christian mission hospital in rural Zambia
Jamie Wintrup (Division of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge)

In this paper, I consider the multiple meanings of suffering at a mission hospital in rural southern Zambia. For Zambian patients, attitudes to pain are related to wider conceptions of affliction, the body, and the meanings of suffering. I show how afflictions are not contained within the individual body of the sufferer and how forbearance can be a dignified and morally praiseworthy response to pain. For the American missionary doctors and nurses at the hospital, such attitudes to pain and suffering were testament to their patients being ‘closer to God’ than American patients, proof that Zambians live in a world not as corrupted by sinful temptation. This ‘productive misunderstanding’ (Livingston 2007), I will argue, has wider implications in terms of anthropological understandings of the moral and political meanings of ‘the suffering subject’ (Robbins, 2013), which has its own Christian genealogy.

21 November 2017
Middle-class aspiration and the limits of professionalism in South Africa
Dr Elizabeth Hull (Department of Anthropology and Sociology, SOAS

More than twenty years after the fall of apartheid, South Africa remains one of the world’s most unequal societies. The ostentatious lifestyles of the elite contrast starkly with the growing unrest of a large ‘wageless’ population. But what about the educated middle tier of society? What has been their experience of democracy? 'Contingent Citizens' examines the ambiguous state of South Africa’s public sector workers and the implications for contemporary understandings of citizenship. It takes us inside an ethnography of the professional ethic of nurses in a rural hospital in KwaZulu-Natal, shaped by a deep history of mission medicine and changing forms of new public management. Liberal democratic principles of ‘transparency’,  ‘decentralization’ and ‘rights’, though promising freedom from control, often generate fear and insecurity instead. But despite the pressures they face,  nurses draw on a range of practices from international migration to new religious movements, to assert new forms of citizenship.

5 December 2017
Crisis as resource: “entrepreneurship” and motorcycle taxi drivers in Kigali
William Rollason (Brunel University)

Crisis has been a common experience in sub-Saharan Africa, at least since the 1980s with disastrous results for countless Africans. Such crises, however, can represent opportunities for entrepreneurship for those prepared to take the often-mortal risks involved, or the imposition of entrepreneurship as a strategy for getting by. In this paper, I explore the case of motorcycle taxi drivers in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital. I argue first that Rwanda is not a state in crisis, exhibiting instead tight governmental control and effective social and economic regulation. To make a living in this political environment, motorcyclists are compelled to generate crisiswithin the systems that supposedly regulate their business. This converts governmental control into a simulacrum, at the same time as it compels motorcyclists to ‘invest’ life and limb to make a living. Thus, while current developments in Rwanda suggest that there is now no ‘crisis’, but as elsewhere in Africa, it is very present for many people. Indeed, the way in which the country is governed demands the creation of a state of crisis for many, since it is only in crisis that the opportunities to make a living can be created. Correspondingly, the creation of crisis and its entrepreneurial exploitation at the bottom of the social hierarchy creates a kind of ‘meta-crisis’ in the relation between a formalising, modernising and heavily regulatory government and the population – a potentially explosive disjointing of the relations of domination.

Public events


Angie HeoThe Political Lives of Saints: Christian-Muslim Mediation in Egypt
Speaker: Angie Heo (University of Chicago)
Date: Tuesday, 27 February 2018
Time: 4.00-5.30 pm
Location: Seligman Library (6th Floor, Old Building, LSE) 

From the Arab uprisings in 2011 to ISIS's rise in 2014, Egypt's Copts have been at the center of anxious rhetorics around the politics of Christian-Muslim coexistence in the Middle East.  Despite the unprecedented levels of violence they have suffered in recent years, the current predicament of Copts signals more durable structures of church and state authoritarianism that challenge the ahistorical kernel of persecution politics and Islamophobia.  

This talk examines the political lives of saints to specify the role that religion has played in the making of national unity and sectarian conflict in Egypt since the 1952 coup. Based on years of fieldwork throughout Egypt, it argues that the public imaginary of saints – the Virgin, martyrs (ancient and contemporary), miracle-workers - has served as a key site of mediating social relations between Christians and Muslims.  It further delves into the material aesthetics of Orthodox Christianity to grasp how saintly imaginings broker ties of sacrifice across faiths, reconfigure sacred territory in times of war, and present threats to public order and national security.  Above all, it draws attention to the ways in which an authoritarian politics of sainthood shores up Christian-Muslim unity in the aftermath of war, revolution and coup.  In doing so, this talk directly counters recurrent and prevalent invocations of Christianity's impending extinction in the Arab Muslim world.   Angie fieldwork image

Past events

Local Theory of Mind: why people experience the same God differently in different parts of the world

Tuesday 19 January 2016, 6.30-8pm, Wolfson Theatre, New Academic Building

Speaker: Professor Tanya Luhrmann
Chair: Professor Rita Astuti (LSE)

Cognitive science of religion has made significant advances in understandings of supernatural agency. Yet cultures emphasise mental processes in distinctive ways that matter for the experience of God.

Tanya Luhrmann  is Watkins University Professor, Stanford University and contributing opinion writer, New York Times

Info: or call 020 7955 6494  #LSEanthro


Anthropology and Neoliberal Capitalism: implications for theory and ethnography

Wednesday 9 December  2015, 6.30-8pm, Old Theatre, Old Building

Speaker: Professor Sherry Ortner
 Professor Charles Stafford

In this lecture, Sherry Ortner will argue that the emergence of neoliberal capitalism since the 1980s has had profound effects on anthropology, at the levels of both theory and ethnography. At the level of theory, she will consider shifts in the ancestral status of the Marx-Weber-Durkheim set, and the significance of the rise of Foucauldian theory. At the level of ethnographic description and interpretation, she will consider the proliferation of work in which neoliberalism is either the framework or object of research.  

Sherry Ortner
 is Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at UCLA.

Charles Stafford
 is Professor of Anthropology at the LSE and also the editor and publisher of the popular online review journal, Anthropology of this Century. 


Celebrating LSE’s 120th Anniversary in the Department of Anthropology

Listen to/download audio

On Friday, 11 December 2015, as part of the celebrations for the LSE’s 120th anniversary, the Department of Anthropology will hold a one-day event to explore its history in the formative period of Malinowski’s leadership and the years immediately after. In the 1930s, Malinowski, together with his younger colleagues and research students, who mostly worked in Africa, established the LSE department as the home of the new, fieldwork-based, functionalist social anthropology that would become dominant in Britain in the following years. Although several historians of British anthropology have described Malinowski’s achievements and their importance, most practising anthropologists have only a rough idea about them and, perhaps especially in LSE, Malinowski is often little more than a legendary name. Through a series of short talks and exhibits, designed to inform and entertain both anthropologists and others interested in the LSE’s history, this event will explore the department between the early 1930s and the 1950s, looking at some topics that have been thoroughly investigated by historians, as well as others that have not.

When: Friday, 11 December 2015 from 09:30 to 17:15
Where: Tower 1, Room G.01, LSE 


9:30 – 9:40: welcome/introduction by Katy Gardner, Head of Department

9:40 – 10:30: Michael Young’s new chapter on Malinowski at the LSE (read by Catherine Allerton in his absence) and with Adam Kuper’s commentary 

10:30 – 11:00: coffee break 

11:00 – 11:30: Michael Cox on the place of Anthropology in the LSE, c. 1930-1950

11:30 – 12:00: Sherry Ortner on Hortense Powdermaker, LSE PhD 1928

12:00 – 12:30: Jean La Fontaine on Audrey Richards, LSE PhD 1930 

12:30 – 1:30 lunch 

1:30 – 2:00: Chris Fuller on Anthropology and the LSE’s links with India and China

2:00 – 2:30: Stephan Feuchtwang on Fei Hsiao-t’ung, China, LSE PhD 1938

2:30 – 3:00: Filippo Osella on A. Aiyappan, India, LSE PhD 1937 

3:00 – 3:30: coffee break 

3:30 – 4:00: David Mills on what happens after Malinowski leaves the LSE

4:00 – 4:30: Adrian Mayer, LSE PhD 1953 on being a PhD student at the LSE + the seminar

4:30 – 5:15: Maurice Bloch on the Department in more recent times with commentaries and a round table discussion by Laura Bear and Hans Steinmuller


Evenings of 12 November,  26 November and 10 December


to discuss their ethnographies

These are OPEN SEMINARS of "The Anthropology of Revolution" 


Anthropology and Development: challenges for the 21st century

Wednesday 28 October 2015, 6.30-8pm, Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building

Speakers: Professor James Fairhead,  Professor Katy Gardner, Professor David Lewis, Professor David Mosse
 Professor Deborah James

This is a panel discussion in support of the following publication Anthropology and Development Challenges for the Twenty-First Century, which will include both authors, Katy Gardner and David Lewis who are both LSE academics.

James Fairhead is Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Sussex.
Katy Gardner is Professor of Anthropology and Head of the Department of Anthropology at LSE.
David Lewis (@lewisd100) is Professor of Social Policy and Development and Head of the Department of Social Policy at LSE.
David Mosse is Professor of Social Anthropology at SOAS. 
Deborah James is Professor of Anthropology in the Department of Anthropology at LSE.


Displacement, Belonging, and Longing: Notes on Traveling Heavy

Thursday, 30 October 2014, 6.30 - 8pm, Ground Floor 1, Tower One, LSE

Speaker: Professor Ruth Behar (University of Michigan)
Chairs: Dr Ana Gutierrez and Olivia Mena

Travelers are those who go elsewhere because they want to. Immigrants are those who go elsewhere because they have to. Professor Ruth Behar explores these two different contemporary forms of movement across spatial borders. Drawing from a range of family stories and ethnographic travels described in her new book, Traveling Heavy, she will speak about issues of identity and place and the dilemmas of doing research in Cuba.

Ruth Behar was born in Havana, Cuba, and grew up in New York. She is the Victor Haim Perera Collegiate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Michigan. Among her honors, she is the recipient of a MacArthur “genius” Award, a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, and a Distinguished Alumna Award from Wesleyan University. Ruth has worked as an ethnographer in Spain, Mexico, and Cuba, and is known for her humanistic approach to understanding identity, immigration, and the search for home in our global era.

Her books include The Presence of the Past in a Spanish Village; Translated Woman: Crossing the Border with Esperanza’s Story; The Vulnerable Observer: Anthropology That Breaks Your Heart; and An Island Called Home: Returning to Jewish Cuba. She is co-editor of Women Writing Culture, editor of Bridges to Cuba/Puentes a Cuba, and co-editor of The Portable Island: Cubans at Home in the World. Her documentary, Adio Kerida/Goodbye Dear Love: A Cuban Sephardic Journey, has been shown in festivals around the world.

As much a provocative scholar as a creative writer, Ruth is also known for her essays, poetry, and fiction. Her literary work can be found in King David’s Harp: Autobiographical Essays by Jewish Latin American Writers; Telling Stories: An Anthology for Writers; Burnt Sugar/Caña Quemada: Contemporary Cuban Poetry in English and Spanish; and The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature. Her latest book is Traveling Heavy: A Memoir in between Journeys.

This public lecture is part of the Sociology Department ‘Race’, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies (REPS) PhD Network Seminar Series and is put on jointly with the Department of Anthropology. It was also made possible through additional support from the LSE Student Union and Mike Savage's ESRC Professorial Fellowship.


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