Richard Baxstrom

Richard Baxstrom
Dr Richard Baxstrom
Social AnthropologySchool of Social and Political ScienceUniversity of Edinburgh
5.29 Chrystal Macmillan Building 15a George Square Edinburgh UK EH8 9LD
+44 (0)131 650 4051
Research Interests
Urban anthropology, Cinema, Art, popular culture, Southeast Asia, disability, Anthropology and Philosophy, Anthropology of ethics

Guidance and Feedback Hours:

Tuesdays, 1-3pm


Research Interests:

  • Urban Anthropology
  • Cinema, Art and Popular Culture
  • Malaysia and Southeast Asia
  • The anthropology of disability, particularly blindness

PhD Supervision:

Interested in supervising students in areas related to:

  • Everyday life in urban settings
  • Malaysia and Southeast Asia
  • Art and popular culture, particularly cinema and visual anthropology
  • Bodily difference and disability, particularly blindness

Biographical Statement:

Richard Baxstrom's research interests include Malaysia and Southeast Asia, everyday life in urban settings, art, cinema, and popular culture, and bodily difference and disability. His first book regarding problems of belief and experience in urban Malaysia was published in 2008 and he has co-edited a volume and DVD entitled anthropologies that was also released in 2008. Currently he is completing two books: Film and Anthropology (part of the new Routledge series Critical Topics in Modern Anthropology) and (with Todd Meyers) Benjamin Christensen's Häxan. Richard has been published in a variety of journals, including Parachute: review d'art contemporain, Crossroads: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, Rue Descartes, Esse: arts + opinions, and Focaal: A Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology. He is active in the Scottish Training in Anthropological Research (STAR) programme and in efforts to form a Scottish Centre of Art and Anthropology, and his next ethnographic project will be a study of an urban community of blind and partially sighted persons in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Richard received his PhD from Johns Hopkins University in 2006 and, in addition to Edinburgh, he has also taught at Johns Hopkins University, the Maryland Institute College of Art and Gettysburg College.

Selected Publications:

2012 (forthcoming) "Fugitive Circuits of Belief and the Experience of Place in Urban Kuala Lumpur", in Subaltern Kuala Lumpur: Developmentalism and its (dis)contentents (Yeoh Seng Guan, ed). Singapore: Routledge.

2011/2012 (forthcoming) "Even Governmentality begins as an Image: Institutional Planning in Kuala Lumpur", in Focaal: Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology, special issue "Anthropology and Planning". Article will be republished in Elusive Promises: The Anthropology of Planning (Simone Abram and Asa Boholm, eds) as part of the Dislocations series, Berghahn Books.

2011 (forthcoming) "Living on the Horizon of the Everlasting Present: Power, Planning, and the Emergence of Baroque Forms of Life in Urban Malaysia", in Power: Southeast Asian Perspectives (Chua, Cook, Long, and Wilson, eds), as part of the Modern Anthropology of Southeast Asia series. London: Routledge.

2010 Transforming Brickfields: Governance and Development in a Malaysian City. Singapore: National University of Singapore Press [Asian version of Houses in Motion with new Preface].

2009 "Cities of Slow Spirits" in  文化研究月報 (En: Cultural Studies Monthly; Yang ed). Shofeng: National Dong Hwa University, TAIWAN.

2008  Houses in Motion: The Experience of Place and the Problem of Belief in Urban Malaysia. Stanford: Stanford University Press (Cultural Memory in the Present series).

2008  anthropologies, editor (with Todd Meyers) and contributor. Baltimore: Creative Capitalism.

2008 "Quand le public n'en est pas un/When Publics Go Public [Creative Capitalism]" with Todd Meyers, in Esse: arts + opinions. Montreal. No. 63 (special issue: Actions réciproques/Mutual Actions). 

2007 "Living Between Promise and Danger: the Law, Urban Development, and the Transformation of Everyday Life in Kuala Lumpur". Edinburgh. Edinburgh Papers in South Asian Studies, Centre for South Asian Studies, University of Edinburgh. 

2006 “Dead Man de Jim Jarmusch: La Poésie du fusil Arriflex” (tr: “Arriflex Shotgun Poetry: Jarmusch’s Dead Man”), with Todd Meyers, Stefanos Geroulanos (French translator: Paola Marrati), in Rue Descartes. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France (PUF). No. 53 (special issue: A quoi pense le cinéma?).

2006 “Cinema Thinking Affect: The Hustler’s Soft Magic,” with Todd Meyers, in Parachute: review d’art contemporain. Montreal. No. 121 (special issue: Extra Humain/Extra Human).

2005 “Networks Actual and Potential: Think Tanks, War Games and the Creation of Contemporary American Politics” with Deborah Poole, Bhrigupati Singh, Naveeda Khan, in Theory and Event. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. Vol. 8, No. 4.

2000 "Governmentality, Bio-Power and the Emergence of the Malayan-Tamil Subject on the Plantations of Colonial Malaya," in Crossroads:  An Interdisciplinary Journal of Southeast Asian Studies. DeKalb:  Northern Illinois University. Vol. 14, No. 2.

Topics interested in supervising

I welcome applications from students who are interested in any combination of the following areas: (1) the experience of contemporary urban life, particularly in Southeast Asia; (2) cinema, art, and popular culture; (3) contemporary societal change and emergent forms of living; (4) bodily difference and disability, particularly blindness; (5) concepts of 'the human' and its limits (limits - the virtual, the animal, the inanimate 'thing')

If you are interested in being supervised by Richard Baxstrom, please see the links below for more information:

PhD in Social Anthropology