Francesca Bray

Francesca Bray
Professor Francesca Bray
Professor of Social Anthropology
Social AnthropologySchool of Social and Political ScienceUniversity of Edinburgh
3.18 18 Buccleuch Place Edinburgh UK EH8 9LN
Research Interests
Material Culture, China and East Asia, Gender regimes, Agriculture and the politics of food, Technology and society

Office hours: by appointment


Biographical statement

I began my research career working on the history of agriculture and of science, technology and medicine in China. After a wonderful year of ethnographic fieldwork, which I spent in Kelantan, Malaysia splashing through the mud of paddy-fields and learning from farmers how they negotiated the challenges of Green Revolution technology, I expanded my interests to anthropology and issues of rural development. More recently, through my interest in the macro- and micro-politics of everyday technologies (including food, housing, communications and hygiene), I have become involved in collaborative projects not only with anthropologists, historians and development studies specialists, but also with STS scholars, and I have just been elected President of the international Society for the History of Technology (SHOT).

For more on my research and teaching interests, and for my online study of California's toilet culture, see

Recent and key publications

Rice: Global Networks and New Histories (Cambridge, 2015):

Rice as Self: Food, History and Nation-Building in Japan and Malaysia (Goody Lecture 2014, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle):

Technology, Gender and History in Imperial China: Great Transformations Reconsidered (Routledge, 2013):

'Tools for virtuous action: technology, skills and ordinary ethics', in Charles Stafford (ed): Ordinary Ethics in China (LSE Monographs on Social Anthropology, 2013):

'Gender and technology', Annual Review of Anthropology 2007:

Technology and Gender: Fabrics of Power in Late Imperial China (California, 1997):

The Rice Economies: Technology and Development in Asian Societies (California, 1996):                           

Topics interested in supervising

I am interested in supervising research that looks at the politics and culture of science, technology or medicine, and in particular projects on gender regimes, technologies of everyday life and material culture. A special interest is agriculture in the global economy, the politics of food, and related issues like the regulation of GM crops. My special areas of expertise are China (or East Asia more generally) and California.

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

PhD in Science and Technology Studies; PhD in Social Anthropology