Dr Luke  Heslop

Dr Luke Heslop

Visiting fellow

Department of Anthropology

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. He specialises in trade and mercantile kinship in South Asia, and infrastructure and connectivity in the Indian Ocean.

Mercantile Kinship
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.

Roads, infrastructure and connectivity
2015-2017 Luke worked 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 – and its social and environmental effects on the Maldives archipelago and beyond. This project encompasses a number of South Asian sites and is grounded in conceptions of the state’s responsibility for national development and modernity through planned connectivity between cities and towns from the Himālaya to the Indian Ocean. From this project he has published material 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/.

International Development and ecosystems of advice
Luke is currently developing a new project with Professor David Lewis, which focusses on the role of business advice across South Asia and examines the changing role of advice in international development. The project makes selective comparison between formal systems of advice and lending for business development across three country case studies (Sri Lanka, Maldives, and Bangladesh).

Selected publications

Book Projects

Heslop, L.A. In a Merchant’s House: An ethnography of life and work from small town Sri Lanka (in preparation). 

Heslop L.A, & Murton, G. (eds.) Highways and Hierarchies: ethnographies of mobility from the Himālaya to the Indian Ocean. (Under contract with University of Amsterdam)

Peer Reviewed Journal Articles - (please contact me directly for access to any articles behind a paywall). 

Under review - Heslop, L. A. ‘From haunted houses to housed hauntings: ghosts, oracles, and kinship ambivalence in a Sri Lankan merchant family’. Current Anthropology

Under review - Heslop, L.A, Rotter, R & L. Jeffery. ‘“It’s a learning process”: Ethnographic reflections on interdisciplinary socio-ecological mixed methods training. Science and Technology Studies. (Co-authored with R. Rotter & L. Jeffery). 

2020 – Heslop, L.A. ‘A journey through ‘infraspace’: The financial architecture of infrastructure’. Economy and Society. DOI:10.1080/03085147.2020.1733843 

2020 - Heslop, L.A & Jeffery, L. ‘Roadwork: expertise at work building roads in the Maldives’. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. DOI: 10.1111/1467-9655.13236. 

2019 - Heslop, L.A. ‘Trading on Commission in Sri Lanka's Wholesale Scene’, Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology, 84:3, 398-414. 

2019 - Heslop L, A. & Cross, J. ‘Anthropology for Sale: introduction’, Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology, 84:3, 369-379. 

2016 - Heslop L. A. 'Catching the pulse: money and circulation in a Sri Lankan marketplace'. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (JRAI). Vol. 22:3, 535-551. 

2015 - Heslop, L. A. ‘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 - Heslop, L.A. '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 

Heslop L.A, & Murton, G. (eds.) Highways and Hierarchies: ethnographies of mobility from the Himalaya to the Indian Ocean. University of Amsterdam Press (under contract). 

2019 - Heslop L, A. & Cross, J. ‘Anthropology for Sale'. Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology

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

Book sections 

Heslop, L.A. 2020. ‘Anthropology, Development and Decolonisation: reflections on principles, practice, and student organising’. Prepared for the ASA 2019 Conference Book. (Forthcoming). 

Heslop L.A & Murton G. ‘Why highways make hierarchies: A regional study’. In, Heslop, L.A & G. Murton (Eds.) ‘Highways and Hierarchies: ethnographies of mobility from the Himalaya to the Indian Ocean’. University of Amsterdam Press. 

Heslop L.A & Jeffery, L.  ‘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’. University of Amsterdam Press.

Reviews, blogs, magazines and online publishing 

Heslop, L.A. 2020. ‘Roadside suspicion, island development, and runways to the sky’. Roadsides/ Alegra Lab.

Heslop, L.A. 2017. 'Liquidity'. Weather Matters. 

Heslop, L.A. 2016. 'Publishing for PhD students: Four things to know'.  Allegra Lab 

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

Heslop L.A. 2016. '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.