UCL Anthropology


Igor Cherstich

Igor Cherstich
Email: i.cherstich@ucl.ac.uk

Teaching Fellow
Joined UCL 1 September 2014

PhD, Social Anthropology (2013)
MA, Social Anthropology, SOAS (2005)
Laurea, Archaeology and Classics, University of Chieti (2004)

Research Interests

My main interests are Theory in Anthropology, the Anthropology of Islam, Local Articulations of Revolution, Sufism, Ritual Secrecy, Transmission of Mystical Knoweldge, Politics of the Miracolous, Tribal Dynamics, State Surveillance and Mortuary Archaeology. I have conducted anthropological research in Libya before and after the 2011 revolution, and I am currently a core member of the team for the ERC project CARP - Comparative Anthropologies of Revolutionary Politics

I have taught anthropology courses in a number of London universities, and in addition to my anthropological work, I have published journalistic pieces on Libya dealing with access to justice and the role of revolutionary militias. I have authored expert reports for Libyan asylum seekers, and I am also member of the archaeological mission of the University of Chieti in Eastern Libya.


  • The Social Forms of Revolution - Convenor
  • Anthropological Theory - Co-convenor
  • Critical Issues in Anthropology - Lecturer
  • Introdution to Social Anthropology - Lecturer
  • Being Human - Lecturer
  • Individual Studies Support - Lecturer
  • Anthropologies of Islam - Convenor
  • Anthropology of Islam in the Diaspora - Convenor


Italian, Arabic, Ancient Greek, Latin, French (basic) Spanish (basic).


  • Research Ethics Committee, UCL Anthropology, Mar - Apr 2018
  • Libya Expert, Witness Directory, since Jul 2017
  • Analyst for North-Africa, Wikistrat Network, since Apr 2015
  • Analyst for North-Africa, Fahamu Refugee Programme, since Aug 2014
  • Libya Expert, ILPA and EIN Directory of Experts, since Apr 2014
  • Libya Expert, Rights in Exile Programme, since Jan 2014
  • Archaeologist, Mission in Libya, University of Chieti, since May 2002



(2020) "Anthropologies of Revolution - Forging Time, People and Worlds" (With M. Holbraad & N. Tassi). Berkeley: University of California Press.

(Under Completion) "Seventy Thousand Secrets: Sufism, Revolution and Concealment in Libya".

Chapters in Books

(2014) "The Body of the Colonel - Caricature and Incarnation in the Libyan Revolution", In The Political Aesthetics of Global Protest - the Arab Spring and Beyond, P.Werbner, M. Webb & K. Spellman (Eds.), 93-120. Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh Press.

(2009) "Violent Dialogues between Mourners and Tombs: Disfiguring Cyrenean Cemeteries in Imperial Times" (with Luca Cherstich), in The Archaeology of Destruction, Racozky, L. (Ed.), 210 - 238. Cambridge Scholars Publishing: Newcastle.

Edited Volumes

(2014) (with Matteo Capasso), "The Multiple Narratives of the Libyan Revolution", Middle-East Critique, Special issue, 23, 4.


(Forthcoming) Phero Semeros e i Contesti Spezzati - Nuovi Schemata Iconografici dalla Necropoli di Cirene: Dal Traffico Illecito alla Ricostruzione dei Contesti (with S. Alannabi, M. Belzic, L. Cherstich, O. Mei, O. Menozzi, A.S. Sharif) In Libya Antiqua, Vol. XIII 2020. Roma: Fabrizio Serra Editore.  

(Forthcoming) Now I want the Law! – Libyans seeking ‘Non-State Justice’ in the Hope of ‘State Justice’, In Middle East Law and Governance’. Leiden: BRILL.

(2018) Oltre il Tribalismo: Dinamiche Tribali e Sentimento Nazionale nella Libia post-rivoluzionaria In Giornale di Bordo di Storia, Letteratura e Arte, Serie III, N.47-48, 133-148. Firenze: LoGisma Editore.

(2018) A ‘Living’ Necropolis: Change and Reuse in the Cemeteries of Cyrene (et al.) In Libyan Studies, 49, 121- 152. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 

(2017) Review of ‘Arab Spring: Uprisings, Powers Interventions’, K. Fosshagen Ed., In The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 22: 4, 1011 - 1012. 

(2015) "Sufis, Salafis and Militiamen in Post-Qaddafi Libya", In The Middle East in London, 11, 3, 15. London: London Middle East Institute SOAS.

(2015) "Tribal Divisions in Libya: Cause or Effect?" In Afkar/Ideas, 47, 26-27.

(2014) Guest Editors’ Note - The Libyan Event and the Part for the Whole (with M. Capasso), In The Multiple Narratives of the Libyan Revolution, Middle East Critique, Special Issue, 23, 4, 379-385.  

(2014) "When Tribesmen do not act Tribal : Libyan Tribalism as Ideology (not as Schizophrenia)", In The Multiple Narratives of the Libyan Revolution, Middle East Critique, Special Issue, 23, 4, 405- 421.

(2014) No Space to Breathe - Spaces of Worship as ‘Generators’ of Social Cohesion, The Center for Academic Shi’a Studies, Occasional Papers, 1-16, London.  

(2011) "Struggling for a Framework, Prolegomena to the study of the Libyan Issawiya", In Libyan Studies, 42, 59- 68. Oxford: Society for Libyan Studies.

(2011) "Libya: Tribal War or Popular Revolution?" In The Middle-East in London, 7, 9, 7. London: London Middle-East Institute SOAS.

(2008) Oroscopo e Astrologia : Ideologie Leggere nell’Europa Contemporanea, In Studi Etno-Antropologici e Sociologici, 36, 35-43, Naples:  S.e.a.s. Napoli, collana "Prisma".

(2008) Invisible Rituals and Cyclical Trends in the Tombs of Haleg Stawat, In SOMA 2005, Symposium of Mediterranean Archaeology, L. Cherstich, O. Menozzi, D. Fossataro & M.L. Di Marzio (Eds), 121-128, Oxford:  British Archaeological Review, International Series 1739.

(2006) "Il Vocabolario Archetipico di una disciplina Mitopoietica (Apologia di una terminologia meravigliosamente imprecisa)", In Studi Etno-Antropologici e Sociologici, 34, 87-95, Naples:  S.e.a.s. Napoli, collana "Prisma".

(2005) "Votive Niches in Funerary Architecture in Cyrenaica, Libya" (with E. di Valerio, M. Carinci, G. D'Addazio, A. Cinalli, F. Siciliano) In SOMA 2003, Symposium of Mediterranean Archaeology, J.Green, A.Kaldelis, A.Stellatov (Eds), 53-58, Oxford: British Archaeological Review; International Series 1391.

(2005) Richard Burton and Jalal Al-Ahmad: L’Esperienza Liminale di due Pellegrini senza Fede In Studi Etno-Antropologici e Sociologici, 33, 90-97, Naples:  S.e.a.s. Napoli, collana "Prisma".  

National Newspapers

(2015) (with Giuseppe Acconcia) "In Libia il Business della Disperazione", In Il Manifesto, 12th February

(2013) "Se le Brigate Armate dirigono anche il Traffico", In il Manifesto, 12th June

(2013) "Parigi non e' sempre Parigi, per i Salafiti", In Il Manifesto, 24th April

(2012) "Persecution of Sufis in Libya is a relic of Qaddafi's Stratagem", In The National, 5th December.

(2011) Da Tripoli a Benghasi il Rebus delle Tribu', vera incognita del dopo -Gheddafi, In Il Corriere della Sera, 22nd June.

(2011) Qaddafi's Corpse dispels the Illusions Conjured by his Rule, In The National, 24th October

Blog Entries

(2020) Salvini, il Virus e il Pensiero Magico, In Gli Stati Generali, 26th April

(2020) Attenti alle Serpi: In Quarantena, parlano spesso come Liberatori, In Gli Stati Generali, 20th April

(2015) "Charlie, Secular Culture and Practical Wisdom", In Huffington Post , 21st January www.huffingtonpost.com/igor-cherstich/charlie-secular-culture-a_b_6508328.html

(2013) "Brand's Revolution has not happened yet", In Huffington Post, 8th November www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/igor-cherstich/russell-brand_b_4227108.html

(2013) "Perché oggi in Libia Nessuno rimpiange Gheddafi" (with Giuseppe Acconcia), In Linkiesta, 20th October 2013 www.linkiesta.it/morte-gheddafi

(2013) "Libia divisa: senza Gheddafi proliferano i Terroristi ? " (with Giuseppe Acconcia), In Linkiesta, 12th October 2013 www.linchiesta.com/milizie-armate-libia?device=desktop

(2012) "Religious Violence in Libya, Who is to Blame?" In Huffington Post, 5th December www.huffingtonpost.com/igor-cherstich/religious-violence-in-lib_b_2245265.html

(2011) "Libya's revolution: Tribe, Nations, Politics", In Open Democracy,  3rd October. www.opendemocracy.net/igor-cherstich/libyas-revolution-tribe-nation-politics

(2011) "Libyan Sanusis, Libyan Citizens", In Sufi News and Sufism World Report, 6th September http://sufinews.blogspot.com/2011/09/libyan-sanusis-libyan-citizens.html

(2011)"Qaddafi Death Shows He Was just a Man", In Huffington Post, 26th October. www.huffingtonpost.com/igor-cherstich/qaddafi-dead_b_1033463.html


(2017) "Review of 'Arab Spring: Uprisings, Powers Interventions', Edited by Kjetil Fosshagen, In The Journal of the Anthropological Institute, 22: 4, 992 - 1011.

(2014) "Review of 'Sufism and the 'Modern' in Islam', edited by Martin Von Bruinessen and Julia Day Howell, In Contemporary Islam, 9, 3, 345-347.

(2014) "Review of "Tuhami: Portrait of a Moroccan", Vincent Crapanzano, In Mouseion/Macat Catalogue www.macat.com

(2011) Response to Issandr El Amrani's "Is there a Libya?"In The London Review of Books, 33, 14.


(2014) et al. Affective Politics in Transitional North Africa: Imagining the Future, Occasional Paper. Maria Frederika Malmstrom (Ed.) Maria Lindback (Rapporteur). Alexandria: The Nordic Africa Institute & Swedish Institute.

Touristic Guides

(2004) "Un Culto tra Polis e Chora: Il Santuario di Demetra e Kore a Wadi - Bel Gadir" In Laserpiciferae Cyrene - Viaggio nella Città del Silfio, 38, Pescara: Università Gabriele D'Annunzio.


(2019) A History of Circles, Animation (with David Burrows). In Morphologies of Invisible Agents, exhibition, Apr 26rd - May 18th, curator: Lucy A. Sames, Space Studios, London

(2019) Two Bodies, Drawings and Installation (with David Burrows). In Morphologies of Invisible Agents, exhibition, Apr 26rd - May 18th, curator: Lucy A. Sames, Space Studios, London

(2018) Anthropology: Dialogue with the Other, Cartoon, In ATS Grupo de investigação, Ambiente, Território e Sociedade do ICS-ULisb, 4th July  https://ambienteterritoriosociedade-ics.org/2018/07/04/agora-tens-de-escrever-um-paper-sobre-isto-producao-e-devolucao-etica-de-conhecimento-cientifico/#more-4612 

(2015) "Anthropology: Dialogue with the Other", cartoon, In Allegra Lab: Anthropology, Law, Art & World 16th January 2015 http://allegralaboratory.net/anthropology-dialogue-with-the-other/

(2014) "Effeminising Gaddafi", photograph, In The Middle-East in London, 11,1, 6. London: London Middle-East Institute SOAS.

(2014) "Effeminising Gaddafi", digital photography in The Political Aesthetics of Global Protest, exhibition, October 3rd- November 6th, curator: Paula Serafini, Agha Khan University, Goldsmith University

(2014) "Gaddafi VS Che", digital photography in The Political Aesthetics of Global Protest, exhibition, October 3rd - November 6th, curator: Paula Serafini, Agha Khan University, Goldsmith University

(2006) "Tomb W 98", archaeological drawing in Alcune Tombe della Necropoli Occidentale di Cirene, E. Fabbricotti, in E. Fabbricotti & O. Menozzi (Eds.), Cirenaica: Studi, Scavi, e Scperte, Parte 1, 121-140, Oxford: British Archaeological Review.

Interviews on Libya


Indus News, 19th Apr 2019
Attacks on Tripoli

Al Jazeera English Live, 11th Dec 2016
National Aspirations in Libya

ABC News - Australia, 3rd Mar 2012
Tribal Politics in Libya

Islam Channel , 10th Nov 2012
National Aspirations in Libya


Voice of Islam/ 28th Jan 2019
Humanitarian Crisis in Libya

Monocle 24 Radio, 18th May / 15th Sep 2016
Regionalism and Tribal Identity in Libya

Radio France Internationale, 18th of Aug 2016
Regional Governments in Libya

RMC Doualiya, 18th Aug 2016
Regional Governments in Libya

Radio Svizzera, 2nd Feb 2013
Regional Governments in Libya

National Newspapers

Il Corriere della Sera, 3rd Apr 2013
Tribalism in Libya

Il Manifesto, 5th May 2013
The Role of Militias in Libya

Websites and Magazines

The New Arab, 3rd Jul 2019
Tuareg in Post-Revolutionary Libya

The Ministry of Counterculture, 20th February 2019 
Qaddhafi’s Policies and Western Intervention

Zenith, 8th Feb 2019
Youth in Post-Revolutionary Libya

Anthropolitan, 9th March 2017
Revolutionary Politics in Libya

La Migrana, 16th June 2016
Revolutionary Politics in Libya

Knack, 12th Dec 2012
National Aspirations in Libya

Trouw, 12th Dec 2012
National Aspirations in Libya

The Gentleman's Journal, 20th Dec 2012
National Aspirations in Libya

Consultancies on Libya

Clinica Legale per I Diritti Umani (University of Palermo), Sep 2017
Persecution of Homosexuals in Libya

Cultural Heritage Center, Sep 2017
Smuggling Archaeological Artifacts from Libya

The Antiquities Coalition, Apr 2017
Smuggling Archaeological Artifacts from Libya

National Geographic, Apr 2016
People Smuggling in Libya

Factcheck.com, Apr 2016
Salafism in Libya

Dutch Council for Refugees, Feb 2014 - Apr 2016
Violation of Human Rights in Libya

Agence France Press - AFP, Sep 2013
Salafism in Libya

Monitor 360, Apr 2013
National Aspirations in Libya

Channel Four, Oct 2013
Sufism in Libya

SCL Group, Nov 2013
Libyan Diaspora in the UK; Aug 2013
Militias and Tribes in Libya

UNESCO / Al Khoee Foundation, Jul 2013
"Protection of Places of Worship in Times of Conflict"
Attacks on Sufi Shrines in Libya

Human Rights Watch, Feb 2012
Persecution of Sufis in Libya

Van Vollenhoven Institute (University of Leiden), Feb-Mar 2012
Translations from Arabic / Libyan Affairs