Luke’s doctoral research traced the lives entrepreneurial families in a bustling market town in central Sri Lanka as they started and developed various businesses, built new homes, married, and campaigned for political office. Publications that stemmed from this research speak to the anthropology of money and economic sociology, kinship, class, and intergenerational relationships, as well as to a burgeoning anthropological interest in politics and protest. Luke is currently preparing a monograph about life, work, and social change among the trading families he has known since 2003 (provisional title: In a Merchant’s House). The monograph builds upon a body of anthropological literature on the production of kinship, class, and politics in Sri Lanka against the backdrop of a broader set of social transformations that have shaped Sri Lanka’s tumultuous post-colonial modernity; notably the war and development, economic and agrarian change, and Sinhala-Buddhist nationalism.
Roads, infrastructure and connectivity
2015-2017 Luke worked on the ERC-funded project ‘Roads and the politics of thought: Ethnographic approaches to infrastructure in South Asia’. Luke’s research explores the development of connective infrastructure – roads, bridges, and inter-island causeways – and its social and environmental effects on the Maldives archipelago and beyond. This project encompasses a number of South Asian sites and is grounded in conceptions of the state’s responsibility for national development and modernity through planned connectivity between cities and towns from the Himālaya to the Indian Ocean. From this project he has published material on infrastructure financing, road building on coralline ecologies, archipelagic connectivity and Indian Ocean mobility. For more information on this project see: http://www.roadsproject.net/.
International Development and ecosystems of advice
Luke is currently developing a new project with Professor David Lewis (LSE), which focusses on the role of business advice across South Asia and examines the changing role of advice in international development. The project makes selective comparison between formal systems of advice and lending for business development across three country case studies (Sri Lanka, Maldives, and Bangladesh).