UCL Anthropology


Rebecca Empson

Rebecca Empson UCL Anthropology

Professor of Anthropology

Head of Social Anthropology

Programme Tutor, MRes in Anthropology

I am an Anthropologist who grew up in an all-female multi-lingual household in West London and received a Froebel education. I studied anthropology at the LSE and went straight onto a PhD with Prof. Caroline Humphrey at the University of Cambridge, where I held three consecutive postdoctoral positions (funded by the British Academy and the Leverhulme Foundation), before joining UCL Anthropology in Sept 2009. 

While at UCL I have had the huge privilege of supervising and teaching many brilliant students. I recently held a European Research Council (ERC) Consolidatory Grant tracking the ‘emerging subjects’ of Mongolia’s rapidly changing mineral economy, bringing together a diverse group of creative scholars, artists, activists and practitioners from all around the world in fieldwork, in writing, in collaborative art work, and in different kinds of public debate. I am currently working on human/nonhuman interactions across the Baltic Sea, as sites of political and environmental negotiation. I teach on the anthropology of capitalisms and critical issues.

I have contributed and published in public forums outside Academia (2018), as well as several articles and chapters (a brief sample, 2019, 2017, 2014, 2007, 2006), edited volumes (2006), and two monographs Harnessing Fortune (OUP 2011) and Life in the Gap (UCL 2020) - see my IRIS and Academia.edu page for more details. I am Series Editor for UCL Press book series, Economic Exposures in Asia (for which you can send me proposals), a judge for the Bayly Prize, and an Advisory Board Member for ‘Energy Assemblages’, a research project funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation at the University of Lausanne on the lithium Industry.

Questions regarding William Empson, my paternal grandfather, should be directed to Mogador Empson.

PhD Students – past and present

  • Amandas Ong, PhD (Funded by the Mary Douglas Scholarship)
  • 2021 Matthew French
  • 2019 Liz Fox (funded by ESRC)
  • 2018 Hedwig Waters (funded ERC)
  • 2019 Tobia Franetti (funded by ESRC)
  • 2016 Joseph Bristley (funded by ESRC)
  • 2013 Tom McDonald (funded by ESRC)
  • 2013 Aude Michelet (LSE)
  • 2014 Alexandra Antohin
  • 2012 Alice Elliot (funded by ESRC)
  • 2012 Alison MacDonald (funded by ESRC)
  • 2012 Catalina Tesar (funded by Wenner Gren)