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Professor Olivia Harris


We are very sorry to announce that Olivia Harris| died in her sleep at University College Hospital on the morning of 9th April 2009. She had been suffering from cancer.

The Department has set up a tribute page for Olivia which you can visit here|.

Olivia felt wonderfully cared for in a marvellous hospital equipped with all the best that modern medicine has to offer, concerned the dreadfully poor and inadequate medical help available in Ramallah. It is for this reason that donations to MAP are preferred to flowers. Donations can be made at https://www.bmycharity.com/OliviaHarris|.

RAE 2008 Results

We are pleased to report that 40 per cent of the department's submissions gaining the maximum 4* 'world leading' rating on the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise, to highest percentage of top score submissions in the country. Professor Chris Fuller, head of Anthropology at LSE, said: "In 2001 we were one of only two Anthropology submissions to gain the top 5 star ranking. We are extremely pleased that so much of our work has, once again, been deemed of the highest calibre."

A full breakdown of the Anthropology Department's ratings can be found here| and the LSE's performance overall can be seen here|.

News Archive 2007-2009


Dr Matthew Engelke| has been appointed as Honorary Editor of the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute to serve for the three academic years 2010 to 2013. Dr Engelke succeeds Professor Simon Coleman, who completes his term of office in September 2010.


Dr Judith Freedman

We are sorry to hear that Dr Judith Freedman, former student and lecturer at the LSE, has died aged 88. The Times has published an obituary here|.

Dr Matthew Engelke Wins 2009 Victor Turner Prize


Many congratulations to Dr Matthew Engelke|, whose A Problem of Presence: Beyond Scripture in an African Church has been awarded the 2009 Victor Turner Prize in Ethnographic Writing from the Society of Humanistic Anthropology|.

Student Prize and Award Winners 2005-2009

Congratulations to the following Anthropology students on their achievements.

Undergraduate Departmental and LSE prizes in July 2009:

Sarah Hopkins (BSc Social Anthropology) was one of four recipients across the school of the CS MacTaggart Prize for best overall performance across all three years. She also got the department's Jean la Fontaine Prize for her outstanding performance (she got a first in 8 out of 9 of the units which count towards her degree classification).

Alex Frost (BSc Social Anthropology) got the department's Michael Sallnow prize for the best Special Essay mark.

Meadhbh McIvor (BA Anthropology and Law) was one of three second years across the school who got the CS MacTaggart Prize for best overall performance in second year exams with reference to first year results.

Research student prizes

The following PhD students have received the Raymond Firth Prize for the papers they have presented at the Department's Research Seminar on Anthropological Theory:

  • Johannes Steinmuller for "State Formation and Local Sociality in Central China" (2008/9)
  • Nicolas Martin for "Class Formation and the Political Economy of Bonded Labour in the Pakistani Punjab" (2007/8)
  • Fraser McNeill for "'Condoms cause AIDS?': Poison, Prevention and 'Denial' in Venda, South Africa" (2006/7)
  • Amit Desai for "Subaltern vegetarianism: embodiment, witchcraft and sociality in central India" (2005/6)
  • Magnus Course for "Borges, the Mapuche, and My Mother's Brother" (2004/5)

Dr Amit Desai (PhD 2007) was one of four recipients of the LSE's Robert McKenzie Prize for 2006/07 and Dr Johannes Steinmuller (PhD 2009) was one of five recipients of the prize for 2008/09. The prize is awarded each year on the basis of outstanding academic performance. The prize is in memory of the late Professor Robert McKenzie a former student and member of staff from 1949. He was also Professor of Sociology with special reference to politics from 1964 to 1981.

Current PhD students Denis Regnier and Aude Michelet obtained Wenner-Gren Scholarships in 2007/08.

PhD student Alanna Cant obtained a Horniman Award from the RAI in October 2007.

PhD student Elisabeth Engebretsen secured the Radcliffe-Brown Trust Fund / Sutasoma Award 2007. The Trustees state that the award recognizes the potentially outstanding merit of her research.

Taught graduate student prizes

Julia Belluz, then a student of the MSc in social anthropology, was in 2008 the second winner of the Bernard Levin Award, with her essay London as a Moveable Feast. Julia wrote an original essay split into four 'vignettes' - the first, a conversation about gender-based cultural practices, second, student pursuit of the Italian ice-cream gelato, third, an LSE performance at the Old Vic Theatre and finally, ideas sprung from a trip to Madrid. Read more|.

Undergraduate Departmental and LSE prizes in July 2008:

The Michael Sallnow Prize for best undergraduate dissertation in the Anthropology Department: Rebecca Sprowles - BSc in Social Anthropology.

The Jean La Fontaine Prize for an outstanding first class degree from the Anthropology Department: Insa Koch - BA Anthropology and Law (winner); Eleanor Bush - BA Anthropology and Law (honourable mention); Aula Hariri - BA Social Anthropology (honourable mention).

CS MacTaggart Prize for best overall performance across all three years of study: Insa Koch - BA Anthropology and Law.

CS MacTaggart Prize for the best overall performance in the first year examinations: Philip Proudfoot - BA Social Anthropology.


Undergraduate Departmental and LSE prizes in July 2007:

The Michael Sallnow Prize for best undergraduate dissertation in the Anthropology Department: Katherine Keenan - BSc in Social Anthropology.

The Jean La Fontaine Prize for an outstanding first class degree from the Anthropology Department: Laura Dixon - BSc in Social Anthropology; Preetha Gopalan - BA in Anthropology and Law; Jessica Owens - BA in Social Anthropology.

Huw Weldon Prize for performance in 3rd year exams: Jessica Owens - BA in Social Anthropology.

CS MacTaggart Prize for best performance in 2nd year exams, with reference to 1st year: Aula Hariri - BSc in Social Anthropology.

CS MacTaggart Prize for best performance in 1st year exams: Charlotte Leigh Kingsman - BA in Social Anthropology.

Undergraduate prizes prior to 2007:

Danny Bogado (BSc Social Anthropology 2005) won the RAI's Hocart Student Essay Prize for his final-year dissertation, "Batty fi'Dead (Homosexual must die): God, gender, body, and society in the cultural construction of the Jamaican male homosexual."

Dr Fraser McNeill on AllAfrica.com

A new study by Fraser McNeill, on South Africans' widespread reluctance to practice safe sex despite suffering one of the most severe AIDS epidemics in the world challenges the view that state-sponsored denialism of the disease is to blame, is featured on AllAfrica.com. The full article can be read here.|

Booklaunch of School Passions, Domestic Goddesses, The Vernacularisation of Democracy

Véronique Benei, Henrike Donner and Lucia Michelutti held a joint reception to launch their new publications at the Nehru Centre in Mayfair on 23rd January 2009. The event was introduced by Dr Mukalika Banerjee and photos will follow soon.

Further details on all three publications can be found here|.

Launch of the International Cognition & Culture Institute

The International Cognition & Culture Institute (ICCI) is a new initiative of the LSE Anthropology Department, the LSE Programme in Culture & Cognition (PCC) and the Institut Jean Nicod (ENS, EHESS, CNRS) in Paris. The rationale for this online Institute is twofold: (1) scholars in the emerging cross-disciplinary field of cognition and culture studies are scattered around the world and few (if any) institutions has a sufficient number and variety of them for optimal research and teaching; (2) it is in the very nature of this field to call for international and interdisciplinary collaborations. The website of the International Cognition & Culture Institute has a blog meant to stimulate and a news page meant to inform. In January 2009, a virtual workshop on the use of experimental methods in cross-cultural research will be held online, with a new paper posted every two weeks and left to discussion for a period of one month. This will be the first of many workshops, conferences, and debates that will take place at the Institute. http://www.cognitionandculture.net/|

Clifford Geertz Prize

The Society for the Anthropology of Religion has announced the winners of the 2008 Clifford Geertz Prize in the Anthropology of Religion.

The 2008 Geertz Prize will be awarded to Dr Matthew Engelke| for his 2007 book A Problem of Presence: Beyond Scripture in an African Church, (University of California Press). An Honourable Mention will be awarded to Thomas Gibson, Professor and Chair of Anthropology at the University of Rochester (PhD 1984, LSE) , for his 2007 book Islamic Narrative and Authority in Southeast Asia (Palgrave MacMillan).

The winning books were selected from an outstanding field of almost 40 nominees through a stringent juried competition. The Society thanked all of those who submitted or nominated books, and especially the members of the jury, for taking part in the process. The awards will be presented at the Society's Business Meeting on Saturday, November 22, 2008, at the American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting in San Francisco.

Australian Anthropology Society Inaugural Essay Prize

Congratulations to Dr Michael W Scott| whose essay 'Neither "New Melanesian History" nor "New Melanesian Ethnography": Recovering Emplaced Matrilineages in Southeast Solomon Islands' (Oceania 77(3), 2007) has received the Australian Anthropological Society's inaugural prize for the best essay published in Australian anthropology journals during 2007.

Elliott P. Skinner Book Award

Many congratulations to Professor Deborah James|, who has received the inaugural Elliott P. Skinner Book Award of the Association of Africanist Anthropology. The prize is to be awarded annually to the book that best furthers both the global community of Africanist scholars and the wider interests of the African continent as exemplified in the work of Elliott P. Skinner. The award will be presented at the AAA meetings in San Francisco on Thursday , November 20 at 6:30 pm. during the AfAA Reception.

Bernard Levin Award

Congratulations to Julia Belluz, MSc student in social Anthropology, who is the second winner of the Bernard Levin Award, with her essay London as a Moveable Feast. The award was set up in 2007 to celebrate the life of outstanding journalist and LSE alumnus Bernard Levin, and it invites students to enter a competition by submitting a 1,000 word article on the life around the School campus in central London.

Last year's award went to Justin Gest, in the Government Department.

Audrey Richards Prize

Fraser McNeill (PhD 2007 and current Research Fellow) was joint winner of the 2008 Audrey Richards Prize for his thesis An ethnographic analysis of HIV/AIDS in the Venda region of South Africa: Politics, peer education and music. The winners were announced on Thursday 11th September 2008 at the ASAUK conference in Lancaster. The Audrey Richards Prize is awarded biennially by the African Studies Association of the UK (ASAUK) for the best doctoral thesis in African Studies which has been successfully examined in a United Kingdom institute of higher education during the preceding two calendar years.

Will Norman (PhD 2005) was joint winner of the Audrey Richards Prize in 2006.

Book Prize in Europeanist Anthropology

Congratulations to Dr Mathijs Pelkmans| who has been awarded the 2007 William A. Douglass Book Prize in Europeanist Anthropology by the Society for the Anthropology of Europe for his book Defending the Border: Identity, religion, and modernity in the Republic of Georgia (2006. Ithaca: Cornell University Press).

New Fellows of the British Academy

Professors Chris Fuller| and Henrietta Moore are among the thirty eight UK based academics and scholars who were elected Ordinary Fellows of the British Academy in July 2007.

Robin Jackson, Chief Executive and Secretary of the British Academy, said: "Election to Fellowship is the principal way in which the Academy recognises scholarly excellence. It comes as the culmination of a rigorous selection process in which each of the Academy's eighteen Sections, organised by academic discipline, is involved. This year we are pleased to welcome new Fellows from all of the disciplines represented in the Academy, displaying a variety of cutting-edge specialisms, from mediaeval art to game theory, from Islamic history to philosophy of physics, from ethnomusicology to the economic analysis of law."

LSE Teaching Excellence Awards

Congratulations to the following members of staff for the awards and prizes they have obtained in 2007.

  • Dr Rita Astuti was been named as one of the five winners of the LSE Students' Union inaugural Teaching Excellence Award in 2007 following her nomination by a group of her current students.
  • Dr Matthew Engelke received a Major Review Teaching Prize in 2006/07 under the aegis of the Academic Staff Development Programme, as did Dr Michael Scott in 2005/06.
  • Rebecca Chamberlain-Creanga has been awarded a Graduate Teaching Assistant Prize.

Helveta joint winner of the TTJ Environmental Achievement Award

At the annual Timber Trades Journal Awards held at The Savoy in London in September, Helveta Ltd jointly won the Environmental Achievement Award for the innovative technology application CIEarth and its deployment in Central Africa. Helveta| won the Environmental Achievement Award with its partner Tropical Forest Trust.

CIEarth is an application designed for forest inventory and community resource mapping. It is being used in a joint project combining Helveta, the Tropical Forest Trust, Forest Peoples Programme, the Department of Anthropology London School of Economics (LSE) and Congolaise Industrielle des Bois (CIB), to map the surroundings and sensitive resources of indigenous communities in Congo-Brazzaville and Cameroon. Based on a design by LSE anthropologist Dr Jerome Lewis, non-literate Pygmy tribes are able to use icon-driven handhelds equipped with GPS capabilities to capture the data themselves, which is then used to automatically generate maps in GoogleT Earth and ESRI's ArcView.

Commenting on the deployment of CIEarth at CIB, Dr Lewis said: "The speed and efficiency of the Helveta system has astonished me. In 3 months the Helveta system has done far more than 8 months with the GPS system favoured previously."

Patrick Newton, CEO of Helveta, commented: "We are very pleased that CIEarth has been recognized by TTJ for the innovation it delivers in generating fast track inventory mapping. CIEarth brings both significant cost efficiencies and transparency to the mapping process. Our product forms the basis for enhanced inventory management and back-to-stump traceability across the supply chain."

Helveta Limited's CIS (Control Intelligence System) technologies enable the prediction and prevention of environmental and production problems for Blue Chip and Fortune 1000 companies through analysis of real-time data from client physical assets anywhere in the world. Helveta's CIS deploys a sophisticated library of analytics to asset data using a combination of handheld computing and Internet technologies. http://www.helveta.com|.

Download the CIB case study|.

Nature has published an article about the CIB project (Nature 448, 402-403 (26 July 2007) | doi:10.1038/448402a; Published online 25 July 2007). This is only directly available to Nature subscribers, but a summary can be found on the Science and Development Network web site at http://www.scidev.net/content/features/eng/congolese-pygmies-use-gps-to-save-trees.cfm| as can a link to the full Nature article. In addition, there is a podcast dated 26 July 2007 that can be downloaded from the following Nature web page: http://www.nature.com/nature/podcast/archivetranscripts.html|. The part of the podcast about the CIB project starts at about minute 30.

The Ba-Li Ethnographic Experience

This year's Royal Anthropological Institute annual report features a description and photographs of Dr Luke Freeman and Dr Evan Killick conducting the Ba-Li Ethnographic Experience with A level students at the London Anthropology Day| 2007. The Experience was devised for the DART| project at LSE as a means of giving students insights into the dilemmas of conducting anthropological fieldwork.

Members of Staff on BBC Radio

Dr Luke Freeman's report on the Batwa Pygmies of the Great Lakes region of Africa, The Twa: Rwanda's fogotten victims|, was broadcast in two parts on The World Today, BBC World Service on August 14th and 15th 2007.

Several current and former members of staff have been interviewed on Radio 4 about their research. You can listen to their interviews again via the BBC's weblinks:

Henrietta Moore on the business suit on Thinking Allowed|
Deborah James| on land reform in South Africa on Thinking Allowed|
Maurice Bloch| on the need for grand theory in anthropology on Thinking Allowed|
Charles Stafford| on numbers and China on Thinking Allowed|
Luke Freeman on Malagasy cows on Journey of a Lifetime|
Jerome Lewis on the sounds of the Mbendjele Yaka on Thinking Allowed
|Matthew Engelke| on Christians who don't read the Bible on Thinking Allowed|

Marett Lecture

Professor Jonathan Parry| gave the Marett Lecture entitled "Hegemony and resistance: Trade union politics in central India" at the University of Oxford's Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology on 27 April 2007.

Dr Luke Freeman in The Guardian

See Anthropology unites humankind rather than dividing it| in The Guardian for Luke Freeman's excellent response to a Simon Jenkins Guardian article It isn't civilised to draw attention to what divides the human race| about how anthropology "buries itself in rainforests and deserts" in search of "lost tribes".