Dr Luke  Heslop

Dr Luke Heslop

LSE fellow

Department of Anthropology

+44(0)20 7955 7488
Room No
OLD 6.17A
Office Hours
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Key Expertise
South Asia

About me


Dr Luke Heslop trained in anthropology at the University of Edinburgh before moving to the LSE as a Fellow in 2017. His doctoral research focused on trade and mercantile kinship in South Asia, and his recent research focus is on infrastructure and connectivity in the Indian Ocean.

 Luke’s doctoral research traced the lives entrepreneurial families in a bustling market town in central Sri Lanka as they started and developed various businesses, built new homes, married, and campaigned for political office. Publications that stemmed from this research speak to the anthropology of money and economic sociology, kinship, class, and intergenerational relationships, as well as to a burgeoning anthropological interest in politics and protest. Luke is currently preparing a monograph about life, work, and social change among the trading families he has known since 2003 (provisional title: In a Merchant’s House). The monograph builds upon a body of anthropological literature on the production of kinship, class, and politics in Sri Lanka against the backdrop of a broader set of social transformations that have shaped Sri Lanka’s tumultuous post-colonial modernity; notably the war and development, economic and agrarian change, and Sinhala-Buddhist nationalism.

 Since 2015 Luke has been working on the ERC-funded project ‘Roads and the politics of thought: Ethnographic approaches to infrastructure in South Asia’. Luke’s research explores the development of connective infrastructure - roads, bridges, and inter-island causeways - on the Maldives archipelago.  From his work with consultancy firms, outsourced contractors and state owned enterprises he is currently preparing material for publication on infrastructure financing, road building on coralline ecologies, archipelagic connectivity and Indian Ocean mobility. For more information on this project see: http://www.roadsproject.net/.

Selected publications


‘In A Merchants House: an ethnography of kinship and economy from small town Sri Lanka’ (in preparation).


(In preparation) ‘A journey through ‘Infraspace’: The financial Architecture of Infrastructure’.  

(Under review) ‘Encountering Chinese Development: A case study from the Maldives’. In, Heslop, L.A & G. Murton (Eds.) ‘Highways and Hierarchies: ethnographies of mobility from the Himalaya to the Indian Ocean’. Co-authored with Laura Jeffery. 

(forthcoming) ‘Roadwork: expertise at work building roads in the Maldives’. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. Co-authored with Laura Jeffery. 

(2019) ‘Trading on Commission in Sri Lanka's Wholesale Scene’, Ethnos, 84:3, 398-414. 

(2019) ‘Anthropology for Sale’, Ethnos, 84:3, 369-379. (Co-authored with Jamie Cross).

(2016) 'Catching the pulse: money and circulation in a Sri Lankan marketplace'. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (JRAI). DOI: 10.1111/1467-9655.12445  

(2015) ‘Signboards and the naming of small businesses: promotion, personhood and dissimulation in a Sri Lankan market town’SAMAJ: South Asia Multidisciplinary Academic Journal. 12, On Names in South Asia: Iteration, (Im)propriety and Dissimulation.  

(2014) 'On Sacred Ground: The Political Performance of Religious Responsibility'. Contemporary South Asia. 22 (1): 21-36. *

 *An early version of this paper was awarded, 'Outstanding post-graduate essay' by the British Association for South Asian Studies (2013). And informed a document entitled, 'Of Sacred Sites and Profane Politics', prepared by the Secretariat for Muslims, Sri Lanka (2015) 

Edited Collections

(Under Review) ‘Highways and Hierarchies: ethnographies of mobility from the Himalaya to the Indian Ocean’. L. Heslop & G. Murton (Eds.)

(2019) ‘Anthropology for Sale'. Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology.

(2015). ‘Protest, Dissent, and Political Change in Post War Sri Lanka’. The South Asianist: The Journal of South Asian Studies. Vol. 4.


 (2016) Penny Harvey and Hannah Knox's, 'Roads: An Anthropology of Infrastructure and Expertise'. The LSE Review of Books. 

(2016, Aug) 'On the Hooghly', A review of Laura Bear's 'Navigating Austerity: Currents of Debt Along a South Asian River'. Current Anthropology. 57(03): 379-380.

Other Publishing 

(2016) 'Publishing for PhD students: Four things to know'.  Allegra Lab

(2017) 'Liquidity'. Weather Matters