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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 Dr Fenella Cannell (

Summer Term 2018

27 April  2018
‘Living without the dead;  love,  loss and redemption in tribal India.’ 
Piers Vitebsky,  Scott Polar Institute,  Cambridge

4 May 2018
“What kind of a family do we want to be?”
Linda Layne,  Reproductive Sociology Research Group,  Cambridge

11 May 2018
‘Being young,  male and Muslim in Luton.’
Ashraf Hoque,  University College London

18 May 2018
‘Witnessing death; photographing the Philippine drug war.’
Vicente Rafael,  University of Washington,  Seattle

25 May 2018
‘Is property a person? Slavery,  sex robots, cyborgs and the myth of intelligent robots and AI.’
Kathleen Richardson,  De Montfort University

1 June 2018
"The grey area: life in the fascist parenthesis"
Paolo Heywood,  Homerton College, Cambridge

8 June 2018
Grassroots philanthropy in Southeast China; ordinary ethics,  surplus value and social change.’
Jiazhi Fengjiang,  London School of Economics

The Malinowski Lecture

Maxim Bolt updated

Fluctuating formality: anthropology and the structure of difference
Dr Maxim Bolt, University of Birmingham

Date: Thursday, 17 May 2018 at 6.00pm
Venue: Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building

This lecture reflects on an apparently dated concept: structure. Spanning institutions of state and market, it focuses on formality as a kind of structuring, and a lens for understanding the production of difference. Formality is both ethnographic object and theoretical emphasis. One of Malinowski’s legacies was a sensitivity to the ways lives and relationships weave in and out of institutional contexts and social-structural prescriptions. This has acquired fresh significance with the study of state idioms of power and bureaucratic organisation. At the same time, the history of anthropological theory is itself one of fluctuating formality: between the systemised specification of structure or network, and the looser evocation of a world that exceeds either of these. But, instead of picking one side or the other as point of departure, how might anthropologists weave in and out of formalised structures with their informants? The lecture explores these issues with a focus on the enduring entrenchment of racial distinctions in South Africa.

Maxim Bolt is Reader in Anthropology and African Studies at the University of Birmingham, and a Research Associate at WISER, University of the Witwatersrand. He is an anthropologist working on questions of economy, and increasingly law and the state, in southern Africa. His first monograph, Zimbabwe’s Migrants and South Africa’s Border Farms: The Roots of Impermanence (CUP 2015), won the 2016 British Sociological Association / BBC Thinking Allowed Ethnography Award. In 2016, Maxim began a three-year project on wills, inheritance and class reproduction in Johannesburg, connecting questions of socio-economic position to those of kinship, property, and legal and bureaucratic process.

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


 Read about previous Malinowski Memorial Lectures.

Thematic seminars

London Latin American Seminar Series

Unless otherwise indicated, all seminars are held at 17:30 at the Senate House, Room 234 (South Block, Malet St, London WC1E 7HU)

Lent Term 2018

Thursday 18 January 2018 (Room 246) 
Revisiting the Devil: ‘Resource Curses’, ‘Gold Curses’ and Potentiality, by Pablo Jaramillo, Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá 

From bureaucrats worried about mining transparency in the framework of ‘the resource curse’ economic and political theory to small and traditional miners worried about gold’s maldiciones, there is a renewed sense of damnation around the precious metals in Colombia. In the context of current precious metals super-cycle in Latin America, the presentation analyses the ‘varieties’ of gold curses in the Colombia under a common framework that focuses on the temporality, affects and potentiality of capitalism in the country. The presentation is based on ethnographic research around the mining conflict in the town of Marmato carried out between 2016-17.

Thursday 1 February 2018

The Face of the Corporation:’ Understanding Corporate-Community Relations through the Eyes of Villager-Employees, by Anneloes Hoff, University of Oxford

My doctoral research is an ethnographic study of a large gold mining corporation in Colombia, with a focus on its encounters, interactions and entanglements with local communities. It speaks to the emergent body of anthropological scholarship on corporations that seeks to ‘study up’ and shift the ethnographic lens towards corporations, in order to better understand their internal dynamics, interests, boundaries, ambiguities, and responsibilities. In this talk, I will explore the fuzzy boundaries between corporation and community at the village level, by focusing on the village residents who work for the Community Relations Department. They represent, as their manager would frequently tell them, ‘the face of the corporation in the community’. How do they understand and perform their hybrid ‘villager-employee’ identity? To what extent do they identify with the corporation? As the local agents of corporate social responsibility, they are central to the construction of the so-called ‘social licence to operate’. How do they portray and defend ‘their corporation’ to ‘their community’? How are they, and their work, perceived by other local actors? How do they justify their work to themselves and their social environment? Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork with the local Community Relations team of a gold mining corporation, my talk explores how local workers navigate the boundaries between corporation and community, the role they play in building corporate legitimacy in the community, and the implications this has for the anthropological understanding of the corporation.

Thursday 15 February 2018
Sex, Privacy and Violence Online: The Construction of Revenge Porn as a Public Debate in Brazil, by Beatriz Accioly Lins, Universidade de São Paulo 

Smartphones, social networks, the proliferation of technological devices that enable the production and exchange of information online. The term “revenge porn” is being used in several countries and contexts to refer to the non consensual disclosure of intimate, erotic or sexual images via the web. In Brazil, especially after 2013, with the suicide of two teenagers after similar episodes of exposure and the creation of bills to criminalize the practice, the debate around the issue became a concern amongst feminists, different segments of the media, law and policy makers. Sometimes perceived as a sexually permissive country, Brazil can be very conservative when it comes to sexuality and nude bodies. Placing various legal questions about privacy and the liability of Internet providers, sexual morals and the use of online platforms in everyday life, “revenge porn” and the debate that surrounds it allow us to reflect on how some “social markers of difference”—gender, sexuality, class and generation—operate in an intersectional way in creating several forms of conceptualizing and legislating sex.  In this debate, I will bring a Brazilian perspective, with special attention to different nomenclatures in use and in dispute in the identification of this “phenomenon”, underlining differences, similarities, questions and ambivalences in the use of these terms, also thinking about what they can say about the moralities, women, and notions about intimacy and sex.

Thursday 1 March 2018
Young Lives at the Outskirts of Progress: A Child-Centred Study of Indigenous Exclusion and Marginalisation in Amazonian Peru, by Camilla Morelli, Bristol University 

This talk examines the challenges faced by indigenous children and youth in Peru who are rejecting hunter-gathering lifestyles in the rainforest in the hope to access market-based, urban livelihoods. Using visual collaborative methods, I examine how young indigenous people are receiving, and actively negotiating, the impact of urbanisation, political readjustments, and rapid expansion of neoliberal markets in Latin America. The analysis draws on ethnographic fieldwork with Matses people in Peru, who have recently ended a long period of voluntarily isolation in the rainforest and are currently adjusting to the national economy and enhanced relations with the state. I argue that children and youth play an active role in appropriating national and transnational influences beyond their communities, including urban practices, globalised media, and developmental policies centred on specific ideas of ‘progress’ promoted by the Peruvian state. And in choosing to do so, they are entering unprecedented conditions of poverty and marginalisation as they become part of a global economy in which they occupy a peripheral position.

Thursday 15 March 2018
Childlessness in Colombia: Changing Family Formation and Non-Motherhood in Intergenerational Perspective, by Cristina Perez, UCL 

Between 1965 and 2015, Colombia experienced a dramatic fertility decline, as the ‘average’ woman went from having 7 children to just 2. Since the 1980s, in particular, this decreasing family size has been accompanied by concomitant, and substantial, increases in women’s educational and professional achievements: Colombian women now outperform men at every level of education, and female labour-force participation has also expanded markedly. This broadening of non-reproductive roles and opportunities has transformed society, particularly in urban areas, by opening space for new choices like voluntary childlessness, albeit unequally across class, racial, and regional boundaries. While ‘childlessness’ unrelated to infertility has received increasing attention in Europe and North America, Latin American perspectives remain relatively uncharted. 

The proposed paper seeks to address this gap, by exploring childlessness (in all its forms) against the backdrop of the socio-demographic transformations described above. Drawing on a year of ethnographic fieldwork and in-depth life history interviews with women living in Bogotá, Colombia, it will critically engage with demographic transition theories from a gender-sensitive, anthropological perspective. This paper presents part of an interdisciplinary study that integrates anthropological fieldwork with the analysis of large-scale demographic survey data, to address childlessness as both a micro- and macro-level phenomenon. 

 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.

Lent Term 2018

20 February 2018
"Rural Herders, Urban Elites, and the Political Economy of Kinship in Kenya"
Cory Rodgers (School of Anthropology & Museum Ethnography, University of Oxford)

The expansion of urban economies, state funding and rural development in Kenya is placing more power in the hands of political elites. These changes engender new claims of kinship and patronage among many rural families. I explore this process through the example of Turkana County, a predominantly pastoral region in north-western Kenya. In Turkana, customary kinship principles such as patrilineality that are historically based on herd ownership and bride-wealth exchange are now being renegotiated to accommodate contemporary relations across the rural-urban divide. To understand the contestations and ambiguities that ensue, I approach patrilineality not as a model of social organisation, but as a basis of belonging that is variously invoked, disputed, and circumvented by differently positioned people.

13 March 2018 
Urban Baptists and the Ritual Force of Wedding Ceremonies in Harare, Zimbabwe
Leanne Williams Green (University of California, San Diego)

The focus of this paper is deliberations about marriage practices taking place among a group of Baptist Christians in Zimbabwe’s capital. As part of a cosmopolitan and multicultural middle-class, these urbanites find themselves navigating processes of social change in a tumultuous economic and political climate. When they marry, they may do so by one or more cultural institutions available for wedding: a civil court process, the increasingly popular European-style white wedding ceremony, lobola brideprice payment, or some combination thereof. Each option, however, entails risk for the believer: the material power of white weddings has the potential to overshadow the immaterial importance of marriage recognition in God’s sight, while lobola payment poses a parallel risk of excessive commodification of a ritual relation-making process. The risks are addressed in part by believers’ efforts to rework the performative power of the wedding ceremony. I suggest that the practice of choosing and performing the wedding ceremony, for pastors and participants alike, becomes an avenue to reorder ritual meaning according to both urban, cosmopolitan sensibilities and Baptist religious values.

Public events

 The LSE International Inequalities Institute and the Department of Anthropology

welcome you on 25 January 2018 
to a half day conference on ‘Neoliberalism, Social Oppression and Class Relations’ 
with Philip Bourgois (keynote lecture), Jeffery Webber, Shelley Feldman, Tithi Bhatacharya and Beverley Skeggs 
(1-6pm, Room 9.04, Tower 2, Clements Inn, LSE) 

and an LSE public event evening panel discussion of
‘Ground Down by Growth: Tribe, Caste, Class and Inequality in 21st Century India’
with Alpa Shah, Jens Lerche, Philip Bourgois and Katy Gardner
(6.30-8.00 pm followed by a drinks reception, Old Theatre, Old Building, LSE) 

For further details and to get your free ticket for the conference, please see:

Please note that everyone is welcome to attend LSE public events on a first come-first serve basis, so to avoid disappointment, come early to the Old Theatre for the evening discussion.


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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