UCL Anthropology


Alice Rudge

Alice Rudge - UCL Anthropology

Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow



I am a social anthropologist working on language and the environment among hunter-gatherers. My current research centres on how multispecies interactions and sensory experiences shape ethical values, and asks how these values may change in the Anthropocene. I focus on everyday interactions among Batek hunter-gatherers in Peninsular Malaysia, with whom I have been conducting extended fieldwork since 2014.

My Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship investigates how environmental transformation might cause Batek people to speak about plants in new ways. Through exploring how people express ethical dilemmas surrounding plant personhood, I ask broader questions surrounding how humans might be reimagining plants in contexts of plantation agriculture. Concurrently, I hold a grant from the British Museum’s Endangered Material Knowledge Programme, for a fieldwork project entitled ‘Material Culture of Batek Hunter-Gatherers in Pahang State, Malaysia’. This project documents the sensory experiences involved in Batek weaving practices, and will allow me to examine how certain plants become intertwined with notions of identity and ethics.

These current projects further two previous research strands: first, they develop the work on ethics and laughter I undertook during my previous postdoctoral fellowship at UCL’s Institute of Advanced Studies. Second, they build on the research into sensory aesthetics in Batek speech and music that I undertook both for my PhD in Anthropology from UCL, and during my subsequent Coleridge Research Fellowship at the British Library.

Research Interests

  • environmental anthropology
  • hunter-gatherers
  • linguistic anthropology
  • ethics and aesthetics
  • human-plant relationships
  • plantation agriculture and colonial Malaya
  • anthropology of music and sound
  • sensory ethnography


Southeast Asia, Malaysia


Lavi, N., Rudge, A., Warren, G. 2023 [Accepted, Forthcoming]. Rewild your inner hunter-gatherer: how an idea about our ancestral condition is recruited into popular debate in Britain and Ireland. Current Anthropology.

Rudge, A. 2022 [Accepted, Forthcoming]. Cultivating ‘care’: colonial botany and the moral lives of oil palm at the turn of the Twentieth Century. Comparative Studies in Society and History.

Rudge, A. 2021. Hidden Likeness: Iconicity and Avoidance in BatekJournal of Linguistic Anthropology 30(4), early view.

Rudge, A. 2019. Laughing when you shouldn’t: Being “good” among the Batek of Peninsular MalaysiaAmerican Ethnologist 46(3), pp. 290-301.

Rudge, A. 2019. The sounds of people and birds: Music, memory, and longing among Batek people of Pahang State, Malaysia. Hunter Gatherer Research 4(1), pp. 3-23.

Rudge, A. 2019. Flexibility and egalitarianism: Musical insights from hunter-gatherers. Ethnomusicology Forum 28(2), pp. 163-183.

Endicott, K.M., Lye, T.P., Zahari, N., Rudge, A. 2016. Batek playing Batek for tourists at Peninsular Malaysia’s National Park. Hunter Gatherer Research, 2(1), pp. 97-121.

Online essays & blog posts

Rudge, A. & Ehrenstein, V. ‘Dreams of purity: Improved palms, refined oils, and ethical consumption’. Society and Space Magazine, 12 April 2021.

Rudge, A. ‘Thinking beyond the “wild” pandemic’. Edge Effects, 25 March 2021.

Rudge, A. ‘Don’t make me laugh: How getting it wrong shapes interspecies entanglements in the Batek’s forest’. Allegra Lab, 1 October 2020.

Rudge, A. ‘Time to ditch the harmful myth of the ‘noble’ hunter-gatherer’. The Guardian, 2 December 2019.

Rudge, A. ‘Why we laugh when we know it’s wrong’. The Conversation, 23 August 2019.

Rudge, A. ‘Ju|’hoansi healing songs from the Kalahari’. NTS Radio editorial, 23 September 2018.

Rudge, A. ‘Whistling to the bujɔk: Batek fishing techniques’. British Library Sound and Vision Blog, 18 September 2019.

Rudge, A. ‘Listening to mammals with the Batek’. British Library Sound and Vision Blog, 13 September 2018.