Following brief dalliances with History and museum work, I ‘converted’ to Social Anthropology in 2002, and obtained my PhD from Cambridge in 2007. Before joining Brunel, I held a Research Fellowship in Social Anthropology at Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge (2007-2011), where I was also Evans Fund Fellow from 2011 to 2012.
- PhD in Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge (2007)
- MPhil in Social Anthropological Analysis, University of Cambridge (2003)
- BA (Hons) in Modern History, University of Oxford (2001)
- Anthropology of religion
- Materiality and museology
- Development and conservation
- Human-animal relations
Membership and affiliation
- Executive Committee member, Association for Southeast Asian Studies in the UK (2011 - 2014 )
- Fellow, Royal Anthropological Institute (2008 - )
I have worked in Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo, since 2003. My PhD and early postdoctoral research centred on conversion to Christianity and ethnic and cultural politics among rural Bidayuh communities, while a second postdoctoral project entailed the study of landscape, morality and development in the context of a dam-construction and resettlement project in which four Bidayuh communities were entangled.
My fieldwork in Sarawak drew me to my current research interest: the social, political and affective dimensions of the global nexus of orangutan conservation. Having recently explored the aesthetics and dynamics of social media in mediating popular perceptions of orangutan conservation, I am currently developing a major research project that will explore the emergent socialities, intimacies and political possibilities of orangutan conservation through both small-scale fieldwork and larger-scale perspectives.
Beyond these specific ethnographic foci, I also have enduring research interests in theories of materiality, the body, indigenous museology and anthropological knowledge practices at large.
Research project(s) and grant(s)
The Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research (2014)
Who are ‘we’? Reimagining Alterity and Affinity project and workshop (co-organized with Nayanika Mathur)
Brunel Research Initiative and Enterprise (BRIEF) Award (2014-15)
Evans Fund, University of Cambridge (2011-12)
British Academy Small Research Grant (2008-2010)
Crowther-Beynon Fund, University of Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology and the Firebird Foundation, United States (2008-9)
Borneo and the Torres Strait Expedition: People, Places and Photographs, 1898 – 1899 exhibition, workshop and photographicrepatriation project
£1,063.05 + USD 2,304.00
William Wyse Studentship (2003-2006) and Gonville & Caius College (2007-2011), University of Cambridge – PhD and postdoctoral research on conversion to Christianity and ethnic and cultural politics among Bidayuhs in Malaysian Borneo
- Ethnicity, Culture and Identity (UG and PG)
- Anthropology of the Body (UG and PG)
- Anthropology and the Contemporary World: Current Debates (UG)
- Ethnographic Research Methods (PG)
- Fieldwork Encounters: Thinking Through Ethnography (UG)
- MRes degree convenor
- Anthropology work placements convenor
- Departmental coordinator, Brunel University Anthropology Society
Chua, L. (2015) 'Horizontal and vertical relations: Interrogating "in/dividualism" among Christian Bidayuhs'. HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory, 5 (1). pp. 339 - 339. doi: 10.14318/hau5.1.016 Download publication
Chua, L. (2015) 'Troubled landscapes, troubling anthropology: co-presence, necessity and the making of ethnographic knowledge'. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 21 (3). pp. 641 - 659. doi: 10.1111/1467-9655.12254 Download publication
Chua, L. (2012) 'Conversion, continuity, and moral dilemmas among Christian Bidayuhs in Malaysian Borneo'. American Ethnologist, 39 (3). pp. 511 - 526. doi: 10.1111/j.1548-1425.2012.01378.x Download publication
Chua, L. (2011) 'Soul encounters: Emotions, corporeality, and the matter of belief in a bornean village'. Social Analysis, 55 (3). pp. 1 - 17. doi: 10.3167/sa.2011.550301
Chua, L. (2009) 'What's in a (Big) Name? The Art and Agency of a Bornean Photographic Collection'. Anthropological Forum, 19 (1). pp. 33 - 52. doi: 10.1080/00664670802695608
Chua, L. (2009) 'A Cambridge anthropologist in Borneo: The A.C. Haddon photographic collection, 1898-1899'. Borneo Research Bulletin, 40 pp. 129 - 146.
Chua, L. (2009) 'To know or not to know? Practices of knowledge and ignorance among Bidayuhs in an “impurely” Christian world'. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 15 (2). pp. 332 - 348. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9655.2009.01556.x Download publication
Chua, L. (2007) 'Fixity and flux: Bidayuh (dis)engagements with the Malaysian ethnic system'. Ethnos, 72 (2). pp. 262 - 288. doi: 10.1080/00141840701387937
Chua, L. (2006) 'Looking for the Tambok: Some ethnographic notes on contemporary Bidayuh basketry'. Sarawak Museum Journal, 62 (83). pp. 1 - 32.
Chua, L. and Elliott, M. (2013) Distributed Objects: Meaning and Mattering After Alfred Gell. Oxford: Berghahn Books
Chua, L. , Cook, J. , Long, N. and Wilson, L. (2012) Southeast Asian Perspectives on Power. Routledge
Chua, L. (2012) The Christianity of Culture: Conversion, Ethnic Citizenship, and the Matter of Religion in Malaysian Borneo. Palgrave MacMillan
Chua, L. , High, C. and Lau, T. (2008) How Do We Know? Evidence, Ethnography, and the Making of Anthropological Knowledge. Cambridge Scholars Publishing
Chua, L. (2015) 'Anthropological perspectives on ritual and religious ignorance', in Gross, M. and McGoey, L. (eds.) Routledge International Handbook of Ignorance Studies. London and New York Routledge pp. 247 - 255.
Chua, L. (2014) 'Everyday religiosity and the ambiguation of development in East Malaysia: Reflections on a dam-construction and resettlement project', in Platzdasch, B. and Saravanamuttu, J. (eds.) In Religious Minorities in Muslim-Majorities Localities in Southeast Asia: Areas of Toleration and Conflict. Singapore Institute of Southeast Asian Studies pp. 400 - 417. Download publication
Chua, L. and Elliott, M. (2013) 'Introduction: Adventures in the Art Nexus', in Chua, L. and Elliott, M. (eds.) Distributed Objects: Meaning and Mattering After Alfred Gell. Oxford Berghahn Books
Chua, L. (2012) 'The problem with 'empty crosses': Thinking through materiality in Bidayuh religious practices', in The Spirit of Things: Materiality and Religious Diversity in Southeast Asia. Ithaca, New York Cornell University Press pp. 111 - 128.
Chua, L. , Cook, J. , Long, N. and Wilson, L. (2012) 'Introduction', in Chua, L. , Cook, J. , Long, N. and Wilson, L. (eds.) Southeast Asian Perspectives on Power. Routledge pp. .
Chua, L. and Salmond, A. (2012) 'Artefacts in Anthropology', in Fardon, R. and Gledhill, J. (eds.) The SAGE Handbook of Social Anthropology. Sage Publications Ltd pp. .
Chua, L. (2010) 'Eating one’s way through fieldwork: Reflections on food and (Malaysian) sociality', in Lee, JCH. (ed.) The Malaysian way of life. pp. 73 - 77.
Chua, L. , High, C. and Lau, T. (2008) 'Introduction', in Chua, L. , High, C. and Lau, T. (eds.) How Do We Know? Evidence, Ethnography, and the Making of Anthropological Knowledge. Cambridge Scholars Publishing pp. 1 - 19.