Professor of Anthropology
I have been teaching anthropology at LSE for about 15 years.
LSE is undoubtedly a famous place within the world of anthropology – the home of Malinowski, Maurice Bloch and other well-known figures; but we try hard not to be too complacent about this distinguished past. For me personally, what is more important is that we continue to attract great students and staff, such as Heonik Kwon, a recently-hired specialist on Vietnam, Korea and the process of post "Cold War" remembrance and reconciliation. His work is truly fascinating, and I think our students at all levels – BA/BSc, MSc and MPhil/PhD – will enjoy being taught by him.
My own special interest is in the anthropology of learning and cognition. This is, in fact, a rather niche subject within our discipline, but also an exciting one – closely linked to recent developments in cognitive science. Working with colleagues from other units at LSE, we've established a Programme in Culture and Cognition (PCC). This year we're hosting a series of lectures by leading psychologists, anthropologists and neuroscientists in our field. My colleague Rita Astuti, also a founding member of the PCC, has done some remarkable work in rural Madagascar on cognitive development, and we have a growing cohort of research students with learning/cognition interests.
Since the mid-1980s I've carried out anthropological research in rural China and Taiwan on topics including childhood, schooling, and economic psychology. Right now, I'm developing a new project with colleagues from China and the USA, looking at economic psychology in a comparative perspective. One of these colleagues is, in fact, a former student in our Department, now a professor of anthropology at Nanjing University. Many of our graduate students go on to pursue careers in academia and research, but anthropology – in simple terms the comparative study of human societies and cultures – is undoubtedly relevant to many walks of life. Perhaps more importantly, a good number of our students find studying anthropology a truly transformative experience.