I am a social anthropologist whose research and teaching combine interests in the political economy of international development, South Asian economy and society, and the social study of science and technology. I am also the Deputy Director of the University of Edinburgh's Global Development Academy.
I have carried out field based research projects in India, Nepal and Papua New Guinea sponsored by grants from the Leverhulme Trust, the Economic and Social Research Council, the Royal Anthropological Institute, among others. Before joining the University of Edinburgh I worked for the International Labour Organisation and the Dutch Centre for Research on Multinationals. I currently write for the LSE Review of Books.
Open access links to my research publications can be found here.
Sponsored by a 3-year Early Career Fellowship from the UK's Leverhulme Trust (2011-2014) I am currently working on a research project that explores the kinds of relationships being built into and shaped by the sale of low-cost, solar powered lighting systems to people who live without reliable access to mains electricity. Through ethnographic fieldwork with solar entrepreneurs, designers, technicians and communities of users in Uttar Pradesh and Orissa this project examines the kinds of knowledge practices and social infrastructures involved in creating markets for solar photovoltaics amongst people living in contexts of global poverty. I blog about this research at The Solar Assemblage.
As a co-founder of the Centre for New Economies of Development this research critically engages with the role of corporations as agents of development and with contemporary models of social business at the 'bottom of the pyramid'.
A second strand of research has explored the economies of hope and aspiration created by India's Special Economic Zones during the 2000s, when they became that country's most controversial sites of planning, investment and industrialisation. Through fieldwork inside a large offshore manufacturing unit and in the villages and highway townships of north coastal Andhra Pradesh this work asks how imagined and anticipated futures shaped spaces of global capital.
A book based on this research, Dream Zones: Anticipating Capitalism and Development in India, will be published by Pluto Press in April 2014.
If you would like to develop a research project around the anthropology of development, industrialisation, technology, energy and climate change feel free to contact me.
Current Research Students
Heid Jerstad, "Causing the Weather: Anthropological Approaches to Climate and Culture in Himalayan India"
Gianluca Iazzolino, "Taking Money: The Integration of Mobile Banking within Somaliland's Monetary Ecosystem"
Hannah Cook, "Tracing Solar Entrepreneurship"
Recently Completed Research Students
Stewart Allen, "Barefoot Technologies: An Ethnographic Study of Learning and Skill Development in Rajasthan, India"