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Renowned expertise in key areas of social anthropology

Brunel Anthropology is renowned for its pioneering research in international medical anthropology and in the anthropology of childhood, youth and education–and was the first Anthropology department in the UK to offer Masters programmes in both. Cross-cutting these sub-disciplinary interests are the group’s now well-established thematic interests in the history and concepts of anthropological knowledge; and in performance, politics, and violence. Examples of recent key activities in each area are given below:

International Medical Anthropology

  • A three-day international conference in Delhi—co-organised with and funded by the University of Chicago—on ‘Disentangling Disability and Human Rights’;
  • Leprosy Worlds: new pilot research on leprosy in India, 20-years after leprosy was officially eradicated, tracing policy and its implications for the everyday lives of people living with the disease;
  • Brunel-based anthropologist takes on the editorship of Medical Anthropology: Cross-Cultural Studies in Health and Illness, one of the sub-discipline’s leading international journals
  • Innovative new research planned on anti-vaccination movements on Europe

Childhood, Youth and Education

  • Major inter-disciplinary, multi-sited ESRC-funded project entitled ‘Raising Learning Outcomes in Education Systems’, incorporating research in India, Lesotho and Laos;
  • Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Brunel and the Chhattisgarhi government’s education department to use Brunel anthropology research to shape the state-wide curriculum of Chhattisgarh schools and teacher training in the region;
  • Ground-breaking research with young male motorcycle taxi drivers in Kigali, Rwanda

History and concepts of anthropological knowledge

  • Wenner Gren funded workshop on alterity and affinity in Anthropology, co-organised with the University of Cambridge—which explored how forms and notions of collective disciplinary identity shape the way we think, write, and do anthropology;
  • Ongoing work on the intellectual biography of Alfred Radcliffe-Brown, helping to decolonise the curriculum by exploring how he engaged with different colonial contexts marked by racism, political repression and the extermination of indigenous people;
  • Interrogating the tensions between claims to cultural uniqueness and global trends, particularly through Hirsch and Rollason’s 600-page Melanesian Worlds volume.

Performance, Politics, and Violence

  • New Leverhulme-funded research on the extractive industries and changing state dynamics in Africa;
  • Rwandan research on motorcycle taxi drivers, agency, resistance and obedience;
  • State bureaucracy and its role in African migration to Europe
  • The politics of cattle rearing beef-consumption in a Hindu-nationalist regime