Skip to main content

Social Anthropology:


Luke Heslop

Luke Heslop
Dr Luke Heslop
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
3.12 Chrystal Macmillan Building George Square Edinburgh UK EH8 9LD


My work focuses on mercantile kinship, economic anthropology, the politics of infrastructure, and the anthropology of development.  I received my BA from the University of Sussex (2009) and my PhD from the University of Edinburgh (2015). 

I am currently  researching the development of connective infrastructure - roads, bridges, and inter-island causeways – on the Maldives archipelago. I am working on this project, which is funded by the European Research Council, with Dr Laura Jeffery

For more information on this project see:

I am a senior editor for The South Asianist: The Journal of South Asian StudiesI particularly welcome submissions to the journal from early career scholars from South Asia and based in South Asian research and academic institutions.  


(Forthcoming 2017) 'On commission in Sri Lanka's wholesale scene'. Ethnos: The Journal of Anthropology. Anthropology for Sale.

(Forthcoming 2017) '"The only thing you've got in this world is what you can sell": An introduction to Anthropology for Sale'. Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology. Co-authored with Jamie Cross.

(2016). 'Catching the pulse: money and circulation in a Sri Lankan marketplace'. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (JRAI). DOI: 10.1111/1467-9655.12445

(2015). ‘Signboards and the naming of small businesses: promotion, personhood and dissimulation in a Sri Lankan market town’, SAMAJ: South Asia Multidisciplinary Academic Journal. 12, On Names in South Asia: Iteration, (Im)propriety and Dissimulation.

*(2014). 'On Sacred Ground: The Political Performance of Religious Responsibility'. Contemporary South Asia. 22 (1): 21-36.

*An early version of this paper was awarded, 'Outstanding post-graduate essay' by the British Association for South Asian Studies (2013). And informed a document entitled, 'Of Sacred Sites and Profane Politics', prepared by the Secretariat for Muslims, Sri Lanka (2015)

Blog posts

(2016) 'Publishing for PhD students: Four things to know'.  Allegra Lab

(2017) 'Liquidity'. Weather Matters

Book Reviews

 - (2016) Penny Harvey and Hannah Knox's, 'Roads: An Anthropology of Infrastructure and Expertise'. The LSE Review of Books.

- (2016, Aug) 'On the Hooghly', A review of Laura Bear's 'Navigating Austerity: Currents of Debt Along a South Asian River'. Current Anthropology. 57(03): 379-380.

Edited Special Issues

Heslop, L.A. (2015). ‘Protest, Dissent, and Political Change in Post War Sri Lanka’.The South Asianist: The Journal of South Asian Studies. Vol. 4.

front cover

Cross, J & Heslop, L.A. ‘Anthropology for Sale'. Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology. (under review).

Currently Supervising

I am currently supervising two MSc students in Marine Systems and Policies (School of Geoscience)

  • Lieke Mulder  - 'Engaging the tourism industry in marine conservation: assessing social perspectives on different conservation initiatives for safe and sustainable whale shark tourism in South Ari MPA'
  • Nikki de Landmeter - 'Increasing public awareness and co-responsibility for marine litter in the Maldives'


2014 - Global Development Academy Innovation Grant, (£1000)

2013 - Outstanding Post-Graduate Essay. Awarded at the British Association for South Asian Studies (BASAS) Annual Conference, Leeds. 

2013 - Special Project Grant,SPS, (£1000)

2009 - ESRC (1+3) Open Competition Award.

2008 - Junior Research Associate Bursary (JRA): ‘Development Policy and Moral Discourse – The Case of Forestry in Sri Lanka’, with Dr Dinah Rajak. (£2000).

Events Organised

2014 - 'Anthropology for Sale', with Dr. Jamie Cross

2009 - ‘The End of the War in Sri Lanka’, with Francesca Ratnatunga, University of Sussex.

Conference Papers and Presentations 

2016 - 'Projects of urbanity and life under construction in ‘Greater Malé’. Kelaniya University, Sri Lanka. By invitiation, October 6th.

2015 - 'Of houses and households among merchant families in Dambulla'. Rethinking Kinship and Marriage in Sri Lanka: Gender, Intimacy, and Change. Kandy, Sri Lanka. By invitiation from the American Institute for Sri Lankan Studies, AISLS (Sept 4th).

2015 - 'Signboards and the naming of small businesses: promotion, personhood and dissimulation in a Sri Lankan market town' (March 26th).

2015 - 'Catching the pulse: the circulation of money in a Sri Lankan market' (March 13th).

2014 - '(Re)Rethinking Anagarika Dharmapala'. Multiple Modernities and Multiple Colonialisms. Ryukoko University, Kyoto, Japan.

2014 - 'Selling on Commission in Sri Lanka's Vegetable Scene'. Anthropology for Sale. University of Edinburgh.

2013 - ‘Putting the House in Order: Toward an Ethnographic Understanding of “sociètiés á maison” in Sri Lanka’. Open University of Sri Lanka, Colombo.

2013 -  'On Sacred Ground: The Political Performance of Religious Responsibility'. British Association for South Asian Studies (BASAS) Annual Conference, Leeds.

2013 - 'Performance and Paralysis: The Local Politics of Contesting Space in Sri Lanka'. Post War Sri Lanka: Politics, Economy, Peace-Building. London School of Economics.

2011 - 'The Vegetable Trade in Dambulla: An Ethnographic Look at Class, Capital, and Social Change in Central Sri Lanka'. University of Peradeniya (UoP), Sri Lanka.

2010 - 'Roads, Opportunity and Risk: Experiences from Colonial and Post Colonial Sri Lanka'. Presented at the Fourth European South Asia Phd Workshop. Heidelburg University, Germany.

2010 - Utrecht Round Table: 'Sri Lanka in Transition'. Utrecht, Holland.

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

PhD in Social Anthropology; PhD in South Asian Studies; MSc (R) Social Anthropology; MSc (R) in South Asian Studies