UCL Anthropology


Liz Fox

Liz Fox

UCL Email: Elizabeth.fox.10@ucl.ac.uk
Websites: https://ucl.academia.edu/ElizabethFox
Year of Start: 2014
Supervisors: Dr Rebecca Empson (UCL); Dr Alex Pillen (UCL)
Subject: Social Anthropology/Material Culture
Fieldsite: Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

PhD Research


I have been carrying out anthropological research in Mongolia since 2012. Focused mainly on the capital city, Ulaanbaatar, I have examined a variety of urban livelihoods, including how young elite women construct their futures through their self-presentation, the daily work of seamstresses in a shamanic gown workshop, how cashmere workers negotiate their aspirations in a context of factory employment (published in Inner Asia), and the training of young contortionists. My PhD research consisted of 22 months based in the outskirts, or ger districts, of Ulaanbaatar, areas that surround the built-up city centre and are characterised by their distinctive mix of architectural styles, containing both felt-walled 'yurts' (ger in Mongolian) and self-built brick and wood houses contained within fenced homesteads, called hashaa. These understudied areas have been expanding since the 1990s and are now home to a majority of Ulaanbaatar's population, including many recent rural-to-urban migrants who often struggle to find employment in the city and rely heavily on kin networks for access to goods and services. My research is therefore focused at the intersection of domestic life and the post-socialist welfare state, examining how people get by in these underserved areas. The themes include kinship and kin networks, the politics of infrastructure, the post-socialist welfare state, ethnographies of industry and bureaucracy, the anthropological use of scale, linguistic anthropology approaches to sociality, performativity, temporality and new ways to conceptualise relations in anthropology.

Research Interests

  • Mongolia and Inner Asia
  • Post-socialist cities
  • Peri-urban and informal urban forms
  • Material culture studies
  • Linguistic anthropology
  • Anthropology of the state and welfare systems


  • FOX, L. (2017). Tsartsaani Nüüdel (Mongolia) In Ledneva et al. (Eds.) The Global Encyclopaedia of Informality: Understanding social and cultural complexity vol.2 (pp.458-461). London: UCL Press.
  • FOX, E. (2015). Making Cashmere, Making Futures: The Work of Hope and the Materialisation of Dreams in a Mongolian Cashmere Factory. Inner Asia, 17 (1), 77-99.

Presentations, Conferences, Exhibitions & Blog Posts


'State of Abandonment: Mobility and Liminality among the 'Fixed Gers' of Ulaanbaatar' Paper given at the joint AAS, ASA and ASAANZ conference, 'Shifting States', University of Adelaide, Australia

11/2017 'Between Iron and Coal: Regulated lives in an Ulaanbaatar ger district' Paper given at the Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association, Washington D.C.
09/2017 'One Day In Mongolia: Rethinking the intersections of domestic and state care on the margins of Ulaanbaatar' Paper given at the workshop Care in Asia: Beyond and across a clinic, Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (NIAS), University of Copenhagen

'Cashmere, Contortionists and Coal: An Introduction to Anthropological Research in Mongolia' Lecture given at the 'Young Mongolists' Summer School' International Program, National University of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar

07/2017 'The Price of an Election: Split Hopes and Political Ambivalence in the Ger Districts of Ulaanbaatar' Guest post on the ESRC-Funded Emerging Subjects Project Blog
04/2017 'Scales of Trust: Reflections on Crisis and Solidarity in the Ger Districts of Mongolia' Paper given at the Sovereignty, Contestation and 'The Economy' International Conference, SOSCO, Utrecht University, The Netherlands
08/2016 'The Road to Power' Guest post on the ESRC-Funded Emerging Subjects Project Blog
05/2015 ''The Night That Changed Their Lives': Hope and Expectation Among Young Mongolian Contortionists' Guest post on the ESRC-Funded Emerging Subjects Project Blog
12/2014 'Making Cashmere, Making Futures: The Work of Hope and the Materialisation of Dreams in a Mongolian Cashmere Factory' Paper given at the Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association, Washington D.C.
07/2014 'Making Religious Subjects: Charting Bodily Distance and Proximity through Materials of Religious Subjectivation' Exhibition Curator, UCL
04/2014 Conference Organiser: Whither Anthropology? UCL
03/2014 'Techniques of Contextualisation: The Monological Argument and the Ontological Turn' Paper given at CUSAS Workshop 'Ethnographic Starting Points: Theoretical Directions for 'New' Anthropologists', University of Cambridge
05/2013 'To Hypothesise or not to Hypothesise?: That is the Question!', Comments on an AnthroSoc debate published in Anthropolitan, Department of Anthropology, UCL
03/2013 '"Rich Lambs" of the "Wolf Economy": Self-Presentation and Performativity Among Mongolia's Urban Elite', Paper given at Workshop 'Economic and Political Transformations in Inner Asia', UCL

Teaching Experience

  • 2017 Postgraduate Teaching Assistant, Anthropology of War
  • 2016 Postgraduate Teaching Assistant, Introduction to Material Culture.

Education History

  • PhD Anthropology, University College London, (2014-2019).
  • MRes Anthropology, University College London (2014; Distinction).
  • BSc Anthropology, University College London (2013; First Class Honours).

Honours, Awards & Funding

  • ESRC 1+3 MRes and Doctoral Studentship (2013-2018)
  • 9 month ESRC language extension RTSG
  • Rosa Morrison Prize (2012, UCL Anthropology)