UCL Anthropology


Miranda Sheild Johansson

Miranda Sheild Johansson

Senior Research Fellow

Email: m.johansson@ucl.ac.uk
Website: https://tax-anthro.nethttps://ucl.academia.edu/MirandaSheildJohansson

FHEA (2018)
PhD Anthropology, LSE (2014)
MSc Res Anthropology, LSE (2007)
MA (hons) Social Anthropology, The University of Edinburgh (2005)

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 Bolivia 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 join Professor Lucia Michelutti’s ERC-funded project ‘Anthropologies of Extortion’ where I will examine the relationship between logics of contract and extortion, and voluntary and involuntary inclusions/exclusion in fiscal systems in Bolivia.

I have been Teaching Fellow at UCL and a Teaching Assistant at LSE.

Research interests

  • Taxation
  • Work and Productivity
  • Agricultural Labour
  • Economic and Political Subjectivities
  • The Social Contract
  • Citizenship
  • Landscape and Personhood
  • The Andean Region


  • The Anthropology of Latin America
  • Introduction to Social Anthropology
  • Critical Issues
  • Theory, Ethnography and Professional Practice
  • Being Human


Sheild Johansson, M. (2020) ‘Tax’. The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Anthropology (eds) F. Stein, S. Lazar, M. Candea, H. Diemberger, J. Robbins, A. Sanchez & R. Stasch.

Sheild Johansson, Miranda (2020) ‘Taxes for Independence: Rejecting a Fiscal Model of Reciprocity in Peri-urban BoliviaSocial Analysis, 64: 2, 18–37

Kauppinen, Anna-Riikka & Sheild Johansson, M. (2020). The fiscal lives of pandemics. Allegra Laboratory

Sheild Johansson, Miranda. (2020), ‘Resource rumours in the Bolivian highlands: The potential of gold in community lands.’ Part of special issue on Resource Entanglements in Latin America. Bulletin of Latin American Research. 39: 334-347.

Sheild Johansson, Miranda (2019) ‘The mountain ate his heart:’ Agricultural labour and animate land in a Protestant Andean community. Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology 24:2

Sheild Johansson, Miranda (2019) Tax season woes have complex root. SAPIENS (Wenner-Gren Foundation)

Sheild Johansson, Miranda (2018) ‘Taxing the indigenous: A history of barriers to fiscal inclusion in the Bolivian highlands’, History and Anthropology 29:1, 83-100.

Selected Presentations 

(Invited) Paying ‘tax’ to non-state actors to build communal worlds. Workshop: Becoming Taxpayers: Establishing the Anthropology of Tax.’ Stockholm University and Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, Stockholm. 27-30/10/2019

(Invited) Taxes for independence: Rejecting a fiscal model of reciprocity in peri-urban Bolivia. Departmental Seminar, Dept. of Anthropology and Archaeology, University of Bristol. 09/10/2019

(Invited) Taxes as a route to independence from the State: Rejecting a fiscal model of reciprocity in peri-urban Bolivia. Departmental Seminar, School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography, University of Oxford, UK. 07/06/2019

Making homes, making citizens: Viviendas sociales in peri-urban Bolivia
Panel: The house in notions of living well in Latin America (Panel Convener). Society for Latin American Studies, University of Leicester, UK. 04/2019

The last Cacique: The move from hereditary to rotative leadership in a Bolivian ayllu
Panel: Locating Identity: Politics of Indigeneity in Bolivia. Society for Latin American Studies, University of Leicester, UK. 04/2019

(Invited) The eager taxpayer and the evasive collector: Fiscal relations in peri-urban Bolivia. Friday Seminar, Dept. of Anthropology, LSE. 02/2019

Fiscal visions and bureaucratic barriers in peri-urban Bolivia. Panel: Collective Futures: An Anthropology of Preparation. AAA, San Jose 2018, USA. 11/2018

Contradictions of fiscal expansion in peri-urban Bolivia. Panel: The Sociality of Taxes. ASA 2018, Oxford. 09/2018

(Invited) The meanings of work in an Andean ayllu. Conference: The Social Life of Work, Centre for Research for in the Arts, Social Science and Humanities, Cambridge. 10/2018

(Invited) ‘Working for the municipality is like ploughing the land’ – Understanding non-agricultural productivity in an Andean ayllu. Productive Articulations workshop, Dept. of Anthropology, LSE. 06/2017.