UCL Anthropology

Dr Aeron O'Connor

Dr Aeron O'Connor

Lecturer (teaching) in Social Anthropology & Humanitarianism

Inst for Risk & Disaster Reduction

Faculty of Maths & Physical Sciences

Joined UCL
1st Oct 2018

Research summary

Aeron is a social anthropologist and an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow at UCL Anthropology.

Her work focuses on multi-generational histories of intellectual, family and urban mobility in and beyond modern-day Tajikistan. She has worked in Tajikistan since 2015 and engages ethno-historically with conceptions of the Persianate world, cosmopolitanism and social mobility, and on questions of longevity and resilience.

In her doctoral thesis (2019) she examined how local accounts of the rise of opera in Central Asia offer a lens into the ambiguous conceptual and historical relationship between cosmopolitanism and orientalism. She also analysed how Persian poetry recital competitions (mushaira) between Soviet Tajik and post-partition Pakistani intellectuals from the 1950s on were a means of existing outside Cold War rivalries - she conducted research in both Lahore and Dushanbe for this.

She is currently analysing the social history of Tajikistan's capital city Dushanbe, the USSR's only village-turned-capital city, which became populated by families of influential cultural figures migrating from Samarqand and Bukhara after the Bolshevik Revolution. In 2021 she will also run an interdisciplinary workshop on the historical relationship between socio-cultural and environmental sustainability in cities.

Alongside her ongoing research in Tajikistan, she also recently conducted a 3 month ethnographic study of remote work experiences among staff at UCL in response to the Covid-19 pandemic (funded by UCL Grand Challenges). In collaboration with Martin Holbraad, Alex Flynn and Steph Patten, she produced a report with ethnographic insights into changes in hierarchy, forms of (in)visibility, immeasurable forms of value and modes of knowledge exchange. As of March 2021 she is also on the advisory committee for a further ethnographic study on the future of work at UCL.  

Teaching summary

Aeron has taught on various core and optional courses and is currently a degree tutor for second year BSc Archaeology & Anthropology students. The courses she has taught on include:

  • Interpreting Culture & Society: Key Texts (UG)
  • Critical Issues in Social & Cultural Anthropology (UG/PG)
  • Method in Ethnography (PG)
  • Material Politics (UG)
  • The Anthropology of War (UG/PG)