UCL Anthropology

Dr Miranda Sheild Johansson

Dr Miranda Sheild Johansson

Senior Research Fellow

Dept of Anthropology

Faculty of S&HS

Joined UCL
19th Sep 2016

Research summary

I am a social anthropologist specialising in the dynamics of fiscal systems and the sociality of tax, with a particular emphasis on the Andean region, where I have undertaken long-term fieldwork in a rural Quechua-speaking community, as well as in the peri-urban zones of Cochabamba city. My Leverhulme project, ‘Becoming a Tax Payer: Fiscal Expansion and Economic Subjectivities in Bolivia’, explores the experiences of recent rural-to-urban migrants as they encounter and make sense of expanding national tax structures into which they are being incorporated. Key areas of focus in my work on the anthropology of tax include: indigenous perspectives on tax, decolonising tax, statecraft in Latin America, the relationship between ‘formal’ and ‘informal’ money flows, fiscal exchange logics, and the social contract. I am the co-editor (with Dr Johanna Mugler, University of Bern and Dr Robin Smith, Oxford University) of a forthcoming volume on the anthropology of tax, and the author of the Tax entry in The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Anthropology. In collaboration with Dr Gwen Burnyeat at Oxford University, I have also been exploring the social contract as a traveling concept and lived experience, interrogating it anthropologically. My other strand of work has focused on agricultural labour and the value of transformation in the Bolivian Andes. In exploring the cultural context of a rural Andean notion of work, and an emic approach to transformation as a fundamental element of life, I weave in and out of themes of personhood, animate landscapes, migration, local politics and religious conversion.


In 2021 I joined Professor Lucia Michelutti’s ERC-funded project ‘Anthropologies of Extortion’ where I examine the relationship between logics of contract and extortion, and voluntary and involuntary inclusions/exclusion in fiscal systems in Bolivia. In 2022 I commence my UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship project The Sociality of Tax: A Multiperspective Study of Fiscal Relations (SocTax). The project will investigate fiscal regimes in an anthropological fashion, exploring the types of social relations that paying and not paying tax produce.

Teaching summary


- The Anthropologyof Latin America 

- Introduction toSocial Anthropology 

- CriticalIssues 

- Theory,Ethnography and Professional Practice 

- Being Human


In 2021 I was awarded the UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship, my project, The Sociality of Tax: A Multiperspective Study of Fiscal Relations (SocTax), will start in early 2022. In 2021 I joined the ERC-funded project ‘Anthropologies of Extortion’. I have worked as a Teaching Fellow in the Anthropology department at UCL and in 2016 I was awarded the Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship. I hold a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the London School of Economics (ESRC-funded), an MSc (Research) from London School of Economics (ESRC-funded), and an MA (hons) in Social Anthropology from the University of Edinburgh.