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Social Anthropology:


John Harries

John Harries
Dr John Harries
More-Than-Senior Teaching Fellow and Director of Student Experience and Engagement (DSEE) for the School of Social and Political Science
5.25 Chrystal Macmillan Building Edinburgh UK EH8 9LD
+44 (0)131 651 3065
Research Interests
Time and temporality, indigeneity and identity (particularly in postcolonial settler societies), matter and materiality, the senses and the environment, Canada, Newfoundland, the Beothuk, social memory, contentious heritage, Human-animal relationships, cats

Guidance and Feedback Hours

  • Tuesdays 15.30-17.00 or by appointment

Academic Profile

I received by PhD in Social Anthropology from the University of Edinburgh in 2002. Since then I have held teaching posts the Critchton Campus of the University of Glasgow in Dumfries, the Centre of Canadian Studies and the School of Health and Social Science at the University of Edinburgh and, since September 2013, as a senior teaching fellow in Social Anthropology at the School of Social and Political Science. Of late my research and teaching has focused on issues of memory, materiality and identity in the context of settler colonialism, with particular reference to the politics of belonging in Newfoundland, Canada. 


Remembering the Beothuk

Over the last few years I have been conducting research concerning the ways in which the people of Newfoundland, Canada, remember the Beothuk, a native people of that island who became extinct (or were exterminated) in the early 19th century. Through this research I have been addressing the question of how we may theorise the presence of the past. This is particularly a concern with the material traces of past lives, be they human bones or scratches on stones, and how these traces are enfolded into the work of individual and collective memory, particularly in the context of settler colonialism.

The affective presence and emotive materiality of human remains

This concern with the material traces of the past and politics of heritage and commemoration has lead to an interest in human bones and specifically the techniques by which we constitute the "voice" of bones and how this "voice" speaks, or is made to speak, within contemporary politics of identity and recognition, particularly in the context of histories of violence and dispossession. This interest has led me to become  a founding member of the bones collective - a network of anthropologists, archaeologists, historians and artists who are concerned with the "emotive materiality" and "affective presence" of human remains. For more information see: The Bones Collective. Emerging from this collective have been a series of  colloborative arts interventions including "The Bones Beneath the Face", "Word of Mouth", as well as the "Dead Images" project.  

Human-animal relations and CATS (it may never happen)

Emerging from a long standing affection for, and entanglement with, my feline friends, I am imagining a project which explores the relationship between small cats and humans in the urban environment. The focus would be on emerging interspecies cosmopolitainisms, ontological otherness and the mircopolitics of cat-human socialbility in diverse ethnographic settings. Admittedly, this is at the moment an idea more than a reality, but maybe someday soon? 

Topics interested in supervising

Indigeneity and the politics of identity in settler societies (particularly in Canada); social memory and contentious heritage; materiality and memory (particularly with reference to the unearthing, keeping and repatriation of human remains). Also, depending on how the cat thing goes, may be interested in supervising work about interspecies conviviality.

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

PhD in Social Anthropology; MSc (R) Social Anthropology