Dr Jean Wencélius

Dr Jean Wencélius

Postdoctoral fellow

Department of Anthropology

About me

Jean Wencélius completed his PhD in Social Anthropology at the Paris Ouest University (Nanterre, France) in 2016. His work focuses on the cognitive, social and symbolic dimensions of domestication in Sub-Saharan Africa. He is particularly interested in the indigenous conceptions related to certain properties of living kinds such as reproduction or inheritance.

He carried out his doctoral research and ethnographic fieldwork in Northern Cameroon where he examined farmers’ practices and representations concerning the circulation, production and reproduction of a large diversity of sorghum landraces. Furthermore, he explored the relations, as conceived of by the Masa, between the reproduction of sorghum and that of humans. Undertaking his research in an interdisciplinary perspective, he sought to systematically combine both qualitative and quantitative research methods.

In January 2017, Jean joined the Anthropology Department at LSE as a post-doctoral fellow with a two-year grant awarded by the FYSSEN Foundation. The purpose of his research project is to document and uncover the indigenous theories of ‘genetics’ in African agro-pastoral societies. More specifically, his aim is to investigate the local conceptions and knowledge related to the mechanisms underlying the transmission of traits (whether morphological or behavioural) between generations of cattle and between generations of crops. Building on his previous ethnographic fieldwork, he will carry out further research in Zimbabwe in order to address such issues in a comparative perspective.


Cameroon; Zimbabwe; ecological anthropology; ethnobiology; anthropology of life; kinship; social network analysis; domestication; crop diversity

Selected publications

2016. (with M. Thomas, P. Barbillon and E. Garine) Interhousehold variability and its effects on seed circulation networks. A case study from northern Cameroon. Ecology & Society  21(1), 44.

2015. (with E. Garine) Dans les sillons de l’alliance. Ethnographie de la circulation des semences de sorgho dans l’Extrême-Nord du Cameroun. Les Cahiers d’Outre-Mer, 265: 93-116.