UCL Anthropology


Laura Haapio-Kirk

Laura Haapio-Kirk

UCL Emaill.haapio-kirk@ucl.ac.uk
Websites: https://www.laurahaapiokirk.com/
Year of start: 2017
Supervisors: 1st Professor Daniel Miller and Dr Inge Daniels (co-supervisor, University of Oxford), 2nd Dr Adam Drazin
Subject: Social Anthropology
Fieldsite: Kyoto and Kochi, Japan

PhD Research

Ageing with Smartphones in Japan

I am a researcher on the ERC-funded Anthropology of Smartphones and Smart Ageing project based at UCL Anthropology. My research examines experiences of ageing in Japan, particularly among people in mid-life, and questions the impact of mobile phones on daily life for older adults. I am also interested in how the challenges and opportunities afforded by this life stage shape the way that the smartphone is used, including the phenomena of care-at-a-distance. Between 2014-2019 I spent two years in Japan, during which I conducted 16 consecutive months of ethnographic fieldwork primarily in Kyoto city and rural Kochi prefecture. In 2018 and 2019 I was a visiting researcher at the Graduate School of Human Sciences, Osaka University. Prior to starting my PhD I was a research assistant and public engagement fellow on the ERC-funded Why We Post project at UCL Anthropology, and have published about digital approaches to public anthropology here

My training in Visual Anthropology informs my ethnographic approach which combines participant observation with drawing and film as research methods. I am interested in pushing traditional modes of academic dissemination, and am currently writing a book about my research in Japan which combines reportage illustration and text. I was previously a research assistant for Dr Inge Daniels (University of Oxford) for whom I produced a series of maps documenting visitor observation I conducted at her exhibition At Home in Japan (Geffrye Museum, London) in 2011. The maps are published in Daniels’ book titled What are Exhibitions for? An Anthropological Approach (2019, Bloomsbury Publishing).

Research Interests

  • Ageing and the life course
  • Digital technology
  • Health and wellness
  • Visual Anthropology
  • Public Anthropology


  • Miller, D. and Haapio-Kirk, L., ‘Making Things Matter’. In Carroll, T., Walford, A., and Walton, S. (eds.) Lineages and Advancements in Material Culture Studies: Perspectives from UCL Anthropology. (Forthcoming with Bloomsbury 2020).
  • Coates, J. and Haapio-Kirk, L. 2019 ‘Chapter 23 Gender in Digital Technologies and Cultures’. In Coates, J., Fraser, L., & Mark, P. (eds.) The Routledge Companion to Gender and Japanese Culture. Routledge.
  • Haapio‐Kirk, L. 2018. ‘Book Review: Fassin, Didier (ed.). If truth be told: the politics of public ethnography’. 358 pp., bibliogr. Durham, NC.: Duke Univ. Press, 2017. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 24(2), 415-416.
  • Miller, D., Costa, E., Haapio-Kirk, L., Haynes, H., McDonald, T., Nicolescu, R., Spyer, J., Venkatraman, S. and Wang, X. March 2018. In Tong, V. C. H., Standen, A. and Sotiriou M (eds.) ‘Involvement of students’ Connecting Research and Teaching: Students as Partners in Shaping Higher Education. UCL Press
  • Haapio-Kirk, L. 2017 ‘Why We Post: Digital Methods for Public Anthropology’, Teaching Anthropology: A Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 2017 Vol 7, No.1 pp 33-44. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.22582/ta.v7i1.455
  • Miller, D., Costa, E., Haapio-Kirk, L., Haynes, H., McDonald, T., Nicolescu, R., Sinanan, J., Spyer, J., Venkatraman, S. and Wang, X. 2017 ‘Contemporary Comparative Anthropology’ in Ethnos https://doi.org/10.1080/00141844.2017.1397044
  • Miller, D., Costa, E., Haapio-Kirk, L., Haynes, H., McDonald, T., Nicolescu, R., Spyer, J., Venkatraman, S. and Wang, X. 2016 ‘Taking Anthropology to the World’ in Anthropology News (American Anthropological Association) 08.09.2016.

Presentations & Conferences

  • Association of Social Anthropologists Conference, Norwich, U.K. September 2019. ‘Digital Visual Health Communication Among Older Adults in China and Japan’. With Dr Xinyuan Wang, UCL.
  • Ritsumekan University, Kyoto, Japan. Skills of Feeling with the World – Fourth Workshop: Technologies of Affective Encounter. January 2019. ‘Smartphones and Ageing in Japan’.
  • UNESCO Chair Seminar Series, Osaka University, Japan. October 2018. ‘Smartphones, Ageing and mHealth in Japan, the U.K., and China.’
  • The Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures: Digital Japan Mini-Festival, Norwich, U.K. September 2018. ‘Smartphones and Smart Ageing in Japan’
  • Graduate School of Human Sciences, Osaka University, Japan. April 2017. ‘Public Anthropology’.
  • Department of Anthropology, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark. February 2017. ‘Socialising Infrastructures: How the World Changed Social Media’.
  • Institut for Marketing & Management, University of Skydansk, Odense, Denmark. February 2017. ‘Why We Post: Our Results and Dissemination’.
  • EASA: Why The World Needs Anthropologists conference, Tartu, Estonia. November 2016. ‘Digital Anthropology and mHealth’ poster presentation.
  • Anthropology in London Day (RAI), British Museum. London, U.K. June 2016. ‘Anthropology Teachers’ Session’.
  • FutureLearn Partners Forum. Imperial War Museum, London, U.K. June 2016. ‘Research Dissemination and MOOCs’.
  • UCL Festival of Culture, London, U.K. May 2016. ‘Why We Post: the Anthropology of Social Media’.
  • IUAES - World anthropologies and privatisation of knowledge, Dubrovnik, Croatia. May 2016. ‘New Ways of Disseminating Anthropological Research’.
  • Why We Post Workshop, Institute of Advanced Studies, UCL. London, U.K. March 2016. ‘Extending Modes of Dissemination in Anthropology’.
  • Visual, Material and Museum Anthropology Seminar, Pitt Rivers Museum. Oxford, U.K. May 2015. ‘Live Photo Sharing in the Museum’.             
  • Electronic and Visual Arts (EVA) conference, London, U.K. June 2013. ’The Sharypic PhotoWall at the Royal Ontario Museum: An Experiment in Real-time Crowdsourcing’.

Exhibitions and Film Screenings

  • UCL Multimedia Anthropology Lab: Multimedia Anthropology Now Exhibition, London, U.K. February 2019. ‘Graphic Ethnography in Japan’
  • The Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures: Digital Japan Mini-Festival Exhibition, Norwich, U.K. September 2018. ‘Drawings from Fieldwork’
  • UCL Urban Migration Film Festival, London, February 2012. Film: ‘Little Georgia’
  • Romanian Cultural Centre, London, 2011. Film: ‘Little Georgia’

Education History

  • PhD Social Anthropology, 2017 - ongoing, University College London
  • Visual Anthropology MSc 2011, University of Oxford
  • BA Archaeology and Anthropology 2008, University of Bristol

Honours, Awards & Funding

  • 2019 UCL-Osaka Strategic Partnership Fund (£10,000)
  • 2017 ERC PhD Studentship
  • 2010 The Philological Foundation Award (£2,500)
  • 2010 Forrest and Grinsell Education Award (£2000)
  • 2010 Strand Parishes Trust Award (£500)
  • 2010 St. Anne’s Trust (£500)
  • 2010 St. James Piccadilly Award (£500)
  • 2005 Forrest and Grinsell Foundation Full Exhibition Award (£4,000)