UCL Anthropology


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19 June 2017


The academic year 2016/17 is coming to an end, with staff and students now looking forward to researching, writing, travelling and relaxing over the summer, whilst our graduates move on to the next stage of their lives.It's been a busy academic year. We have seen the culmination of some of our large ERC grants. For instance, Daniel Miller's social networking project 'Why We Post' involved a team of nine anthropologists each conducting 15 month ethnographies on the use and consequences of social media in China, the Syrian-Turkish border, Brazil, Chile, Trinidad, South India, Italy and the UK. We have now seen the publication of the first eight of 11 volumes of research as free Open Access volumes by UCL Press (183,000 downloads), the launch of the Why We Post free e-learning course (on FutureLearn in eight languages), and the launch of the project website (www.ucl.ac.uk/why-we-post) with over 100 films in eight languages.

Likewise coming to an end is Lucia Michelutti's ERC project 'Muscular Politics in South Asia', a collaborative study of the criminalisation of politics in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Concentrating on local 'muscular systems of political and economic governance' ('Mafia Raj'), the project provides the first ethnographic account of the relationship between formal politics, violence and extra-legal accumulation of wealth in the region. For full details, please see the project website: www.ucl.ac.uk/democratic-cultures.

Lucia's project has now become the basis for the development of a new MSc in Politics, Violence and Crime to be launched in the department in October 2018 (supporting the training of our Sigrid Rausing PGR Fellows). Also commencing in 2018 will be the MSc in Bio-Social Medical Anthropology (infectious diseases/epidemiology/genetics). More immediately, September 2017 sees the inception of the MA in Creative & Collaborative Enterprise (run in conjunction with UCL Enterprise), and the MA in Ethnographic and Documentary Film will introduce a new strand of VR, immersive and interactive digital media. The existing non-fiction cinema strand of the MA will form a two-year MFA from 2018.

We've had some excellent success in our Research Grant applications this year, with Daniel Miller being awarded his second ERC grant (€2.5 million); Hannah Knox being awarded the British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship; Timothy Carroll receiving the British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship, and Miranda Sheild Johansson receiving the Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship.

We said farewell to Chris Russell, our PGR and Exams Officer, who departed after 5 years with us - we wish him well in his coming endeavours. Former PhD student Jill Reese is currently doing an outstanding job covering the role on a temporary basis.

With deep sadness, PhD student Gill Conquest passed away following a courageous battle with cancer at the young age of 33. She was a brilliantly gifted individual, loud, energetic and positive. We miss her deeply. We thank her supervisor Jerome Lewis for writing an obituary to Gill on page 46 of this issue.

In 2016-17 and 2017-18, close to 70 third-year undergraduates are experiencing a year's study abroad.  Each year new placement opportunities have opened up, as Dr Ruth Mandel establishes new partnerships. As well as our new Erasmus partners in Amsterdam, Berlin and Vienna, we now have students studying in Asia and Oceania: Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Japan. In North America, our students study at University of British Columbia, University of Toronto, McGill, UCLA, Berkeley, Harvard, Universities of Santa Barbara and San Diego, University of Chicago, Northwestern, and more. Abroad, students are able to branch out, taking courses beyond anthropology, and many use the period to intern and carry out in-depth research for their final year dissertations.

Our 2nd year student Katja Holtz, who herself shortly heads off to Japan for her year abroad, took over the Anthropology Book Club, with titles such as Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and On the Run by Alice Goffman, providing memorable discussions in the common room. Meanwhile Anthro Society has organised several events for the year, ending with the glorious annual AnthroSoc Ball.

For 2017-18, I will be taking a one year sabbatical to catch up on my writing. Dr Christophe Soligo will be stepping in as Head of Department. He will do a phenomenal job, but I wish him well all the same!

To all staff and students, have a wonderful summer break.

Professor Susanne Kuechler
Head of Department

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