2015 Workshops

London Anthropology Day 2016 workshops for 30th June 2016 will appear here shortly



The strangest people in the world are WEIRD (western, educated, industrialised, rich and democratic)

Anthropologists have travelled to every comer of the earth to study exotic ways of life, forms of social organisation and belief systems. But it now seems that the strangest cultures we’ve come

across might be the ones back home. This workshop will explore emerging findings in the field of cognitive anthropology, which suggest that people in western, educated, industrialised, rich and democratic (“WEIRD”) cultures have a highly unusual psychological profile. From the way we perceive time and space to our concepts ofthe self, social relationships and fairness,

WEIRD people stand apart from most other human populations. Why is this? And what does it mean for our understanding of human psychology, multiculturalism and globalisation?

Room: Stevenson

Durham University: Jamie Tehrani


A Walk on the Dark Side:” human nature and the attraction of death, disaster and catastrophe

9/11 Ground Zero-New Orleans-Pompeii-the Maze/Long Kesh-the streets of the Troubles-The Somme-Madame Tussauds-Rwanda…

Why are the living attracted to the dead, to violence, to death and destruction, disaster and catastrophe? This will be a workshop using anthropological, encounters with ‘dark tourism’ in particular as a lens to peer into the dark side of human nature. You have been warned…

Room: BP

University of Roehampton: Jonathan Skinner


Globalisation and Social Identities in the Present and Past

An interactive workshop that explores how we use – and have used in the past – material culture to create and express social identities in globalised contexts. Students will be invited to handle objects and to consider how their use influences not only our sense of who we are, but also shapes our views of others. We will discuss the role such objects play in creating the sense of commonality we associate with globalisation, while seeing how, concurrently, they also foster cultural differences. As a result, participants will come away with an understanding of how objects shape us as much as we shape objects within a globalised world.

Room: Moser

University of Bristol: Tamar Hodos


We Suffered More’ Greek and Turkish Cypriot Refugees on Cyprus

For almost four decades, the island of Cyprus has been home to two separate refugee communities. In this interactive workshop we will be charting the displacement experience of a group of Greek Cypriot and one of Turkish Cypriot refugees. Both groups are linked by their histories of displacement to a single ‘place of desire’, a small mountainous village located in the north of Cyprus.

On the basis of fieldwork material you will make a case for solving the ‘Cyprus Problem’ for these refugees. Who can live in the village? Who suffered more? What is justice for each refugee group? Who decides on the future of these refugees?

Room: Studio

University of Hull: Lisa Dikomitis


Planning Your Future: explore biological anthropology

Biological anthropology is a broad subject that includes many different areas of interest. BABAO is an independent professional organisation that represents all of these branches in an impartial way.

This workshop will provide an introduction and overview of the different areas of study in biological anthropology through a combination of informal talks and practical hands-on experience.

Participants will be encouraged to engage with both the material and the experienced team on hand. During the session, participants will consider:

  • the importance of the study of human remains

  • the range of specialist fields within biological anthropology

  • the potential of archaeological & historical evidence

  • how different techniques are used to learn about health and lifestyles

The workshop will use resources including teaching material from the renowned Centre for Human Bioarchaeology, Museum of London and highly interactive 3D models of bones presented on iPads. All of these resources will focus on the creation of the ‘osteoprofile’ – which includes assessment of the age and sex of individuals, dental health and pathological changes affecting the bones. This material will be presented at a number of different stations within the workshop room.

The workshop aims to provide participants with an overview of the many specialist areas contained within biological anthropology all of which are vital to our understanding of who we are, and how we became who we are.

Room: Sackler 1

British Association for Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology (BABAO): Jelena Bekvalac


Human Evolution – 7 million years in the making!

The breath-taking story of human evolution in just 45 minutes. Answering such questions as; Where did we come from? Why do we walk on two legs? Why are we so clever?

And of course; If we evolved from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?

Room: Sackler 2

Oxford  Brookes University: Simon Underdown


Anthropology in the News

In this workshop we will think about how anthropologists respond when their field sites and research participants become part of the news. How might anthropologists engage with, analyse and develop new work about fast paced and highly mediatised events such as political protests or election campaigns playing out in places in which they have carried out fieldwork? How can research methods suited to long term engagement with people and places deal with fluid and unpredictable events? What do anthropological perspectives and methods reveal to us about events that mainstream journalism does not? And how can anthropologists engage with the role that social media has taken in contemporary political protest?  We will engage with these questions by looking at recent anthropological work on activism, and by drawing on insights from the visual and applied political anthropology developed at Goldsmiths to help us think through issues of representation and the role of anthropologists today.

Room: Library

Goldsmiths, University of London: Martin Webb


Gallery Tour 1 (Gallery Tour Meeting Point)

Jago Cooper, British Museum

oldsmiths, University of London: Martin Webb



The Madness of Success? Why Stress, Anxiety and Depression are on the Rise in Contemporary Societies

Who amongst us doesn’t want to be successful? Whether it be getting a job, winning the X-Factor, or passing our exams, most of us are motivated by some vision of ‘success’, and imagine that our life will be better when we achieve it. But will it?

This workshop will explore recent anthropological studies that suggest contemporary ‘cultures of success’ and ‘motivation’ may in fact be generating increasing levels of anxiety, depression, and psychic trauma amongst those who ‘make it’, as well as those who do not. We will investigate why ‘success’ has become such a major preoccupation recently, how it might be linked to the rise of mental illness, the ways in which these processes might affect people differently according to their race, class gender, and the nation in which they live. Finally we’ll ask how anthropology could be used to help makes things better.

Room: Stevenson Lecture Theatre

LSE: Nick Long


The Anthropology of Toilets

This film workshop will consist of a short talk followed by the screening of a film about toilets in Indian cities entitled “Q2P” by Paromita Vohra. The film is something of a response to the characterisations of urban Indian space as one of public defecation and the omnipresence of excrement. It asks provocative questions such as who the toilets are for, why there aren’t more toilets and how the provision of toilets allows us anthropological insights into the contours of urban Indian class, caste and gender hierarchies. The film allows us to explore a “fecal politics” that is predicated upon the anthropologist Appadurai’s notion that the distance one is able to create between oneself and one’s own excrement is a virtual indicator of an Indian’s class.

* This workshop will be primarily film-based*

Room: BP

University of Cambridge: Perveez Mody


Apocalypse! The Anthropology of the End of the World

Why are we all so obsessed with the end of the world? Run-away climate change, uncontrollable disease epidemics, giant comets hitting the earth, artificially intelligent robots rising up to kill us – these are simply new expressions of ancient fears. But what are we are afraid of? And what might analysing these fears tell us about contemporary human culture and society? Far from being confined to big-budget disaster films, the fear of apocalyptic catastrophe (and the hope of post-apocalyptic survival) is so common that it is almost a ‘cultural universal’. In this workshop we will explore the ‘how?’, ‘what?’ and ‘why?’ of apocalypse by applying anthropology to the study of the end of the world.

Room: Moser

Queen’s University Belfast: Joe Webster


The Anthropology of Fairytales

This workshop explores some familiar European fairytales, showing how they open a window into pre-Christian conceptions of death and resurrection. Across much of Aboriginal Australia, Africa and Native America, initiation rituals were traditionally conceptualised in terms of temporary death followed by a return to new life. Stories such as the Sleeping Beauty, Little Red Riding Hood and Jack and-the-Beanstalk emanate from now almost-forgotten European traditions in which girls and boys were initiated into the secrets and mysteries of adult sexual life. Drawing on techniques first developed by the French anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss, Camilla Power will demonstrate an intriguingly close kinship between European tales of enchantment and myths collected by anthropologists from distant parts of the globe.

Room: Studio

University of East London: Camilla Power


Brains, Bones and Genes: What makes us human?

Biological anthropologists are interested in understanding humans, past and present, from an evolutionary perspective. This workshop will offer potential students an introduction to some of the major subject areas, from primate biology and behaviour, to human evolution and human genetic diversity. Short presentations will be supplemented with hands-on activities. Specific workshop topics will include: tool use (brains), skeletal anatomy (bones) and skin colour (genes).

Room: Sackler 1

University of Cambridge: Jacob Dunn



Migrating identities: the anthropology of human migration

This workshop will look at the social and biological anthropology behind the often heated contemporary debate around migration. Human history is the history of human migration and movement, much of which predates modern nation states, and drawing from both social and biological anthropology we will explore how our bodies, our brains and our cultural and social identities have been shaped by our movements and those of our ancestors. How have the historical legacy of human colonization and modern political realities affected the movements of individuals and groups, and how have such movements affected people‘s identities today and in the past?

Room: Sackler 2

Bournemouth University: Fiona Coward


Anthropology Teachers’ Session:

This session is for those teaching Anthropology through the A-Level, International Baccalaureate and in other settings.  The session will focus on teaching classes on anthropological approaches to sex & gender.

Room: Anthropology Library

SOAS: Caroline Osella

Cirencester College: Susannah Jackson



What can pigs teach us about being human? 

There has been much anthropological interest in pigs as they feature regularly in the diets, religious activities and economies of human cultures and societies around the world. In the contemporary UK most pigs live short and uncomfortable lives on factory farms but there is also a growing trend for keeping pigs (especially micro or ‚tea cup‘ pigs) as pets. Like dogs, pigs are highly intelligent, social animals with a complex emotional repertoire yet unlike traditional companion animals pigs are subjected to extensive legal restrictions in the UK which makes keeping them as pets extremely difficult. This workshop will explore the ways in which human beings in different cultural contexts think about and interact with pigs and discover how these interactions can tell us a lot about what it means to be human.

Room: Stevenson

University of Exeter: Sam Hurn


Bodies and Performances

In the West, a beautiful body is often defined as a thin body. It may be surprising to learn, then, that in other cultures entirely different ideals of beauty exist. Among Fijians, for example, a full, rounded body is desirable, and is proof that a person is well cared for by their family and community. Bodies and bodily performances are important across all cultures and have been throughout history. Quite often, however, the very same bodies or practices carry different meanings depending on the respective cultures. In this workshop we will explore some anthropological approaches to the body, considering practices such as tattooing, piercing, scarring, masking, and wearing clothes, and find out how they express differences in individual, ethnic, religious, or gendered identities. Students will be venturing into the space of the British Museum to gather examples from past and contemporary peoples, which we will discuss together.

Room: BP

University of Sussex: Evan Killick and Meike Fechter


The Face of Identification: from the skull to the identity of unknown corpses

In this workshop, students will be shown how forensic anthropologists identify murder’s victims from their skulls by reconstructing the biological profile of an unknown subject (aging, sexing), understanding the cause and manner of death (trauma analysis) and delineating his/her facial profile.

Room: Moser

Liverpool John Moores University: Matteo Borrini


Social Anthropology and International Development

This participative workshop will look at how social anthropologists understand and contribute to international development. It will pose some key questions such as “what do we mean by development in the context of radically different notions of a good life?”, and “how can we help to avoid development having negative impacts?”

Room: Studio

University of East Anglia: Bryan Maddox and Maria Abranches


Why economists are almost always wrong: the case for studying anthropology

Governments, corporations and international agencies use economics and statistics to understand social life — but in the process, they miss almost everything worth knowing. To demonstrate this, we’ll adopt an anthropological perspective to examine the development of a middle class in Africa, looking at why simple economic models don’t tell us much about social reality.

Room: Sackler 1

Brunel University: Will Rollason


My Grandfather the Mountain: Kinship and Social Relations with the non-Human World

In Western society kinship and relatedness is seen as belonging exclusively to the human world. People may adore their pets but they rarely think of their Cocker Spaniel as a cousin. Focusing on Latin American indigenous peoples, this workshop explores the ways in which people have social and kinship relations with mountain, jaguars and a host of other ‘beings’. What does this tell us about the distinction between the nature and society? Is there a difference? If some people hold there is no difference then what does this suggest about how Westerners go about thinking about ‘nature’?

Room: Sackler 2

University of Essex: Andrew Canessa


Gallery Tour 3 (Gallery Tour Meeting Point)

Rachael Murphy, British Museum



How do Mobile Phones Change the World?

We think of mobile phones as having changed our everyday lives, all the more so since the rise of smart phones. But what do mobile phones do in other parts of the world? Africa is seen as the frontline of innovation here. Most people rely on much simpler technology, but they do far more with it. Text messages create information networks: about cattle epidemics, crop prices, and election violence. Phones are the basis for new political activism. ‘Mobile money’ is now stored on sim cards and sent by SMS. And mobile phones have created new ways for people to be private and intimate. Are we seeing new forms of human social life? Or are people trying to do the same things, with different tools? This workshop explores what is changing, and what stays the same, in the era of the mobile phone.

Room: Stevenson

University of Birmingham: Maxim Bolt


South Pacific: Visual Anthropological Journeys

Drawing upon research on mental illness, spirit possession, comedy and psychiatry in the South Pacific nation of Tonga, this workshop looks at some of the key ways video can be used as a way to research, collaborate, get feedback, and create a shared-anthropology that has influence on issues that matter to people. We will look at some key media and documentary representations of life in Tonga and the South Pacific and see how an engaged visual anthropology can address them. Come prepared to comment in small groups on a variety of research footage and clips from documentary and ethnographic films.

Room: BP Lecture Theatre

University of Kent: Mike Poltorak


Intelligent Objects – a hands-on workshop examining strange things (including beer cans and giant vegetables)

What do objects do and what do they demand from us? Why do they provoke such powerful responses and how do they influence us? This hands-on workshop aims to explore these questions and the emerging realisation that things are not just lifeless objects that convey meaning, but can also act as animated beings with desires, needs, appetites, demands and drives of their own. This workshop examine how things that people make also make people…

Room: Moser

UCL: Ludovic Coupaye


About the House: What Can we Learn from Nomadic Tents?

What can houses teach us about what we value, what a family is, and how social hierarchies are structured?  We often take the houses we live and grew up in for granted. And yet their very ‘ordinariness’ can teach us lots about how we organize social life, how we draw boundaries between what is ‘clean’ and ‘unclean’, and what (or who) should be properly included inside or outside the home.  In this workshop we’ll explore one particular kind of dwelling – the nomadic tent used by pastoralists in large parts of Inner Asia – as a way of exploring how social space is organized in different societies according to gender, age and social status.  We’ll then think back to dwellings in the UK to ask how an anthropological perspective might enable us to think about houses, kinship and class closer to home.

Room: Studio

University of Manchester: Madeleine Reeves


How Does Water Make us Human?

The role water plays in shaping human lives should not be under-estimated. Water is everywhere – within rocks, mobile phones, and making up approximately 80% of your body. Consequently, how water is treated assumes obvious importance, not only for human health but also for global sustainability and survival.

Taking a water-centric approach, this talk demonstrates the role water plays in shaping our lives. By tracing the changes generated by ‘new’ water as it flows through the lives and landscapes of a group of Giriama farmers in rural Kenya suffering from deepening drought (perhaps brought on by the excesses of industrial nations), water is revealed to be a key player in production of social and cultural opportunities.

Room: Sackler 1

University of Wales, Trinity St. David: Luci Atalla


Love Across Boundaries: the Anthropology of Love and Marriage in Amazonia and West Africa

We often take it for granted that love is about a shared affective bond between two individuals, and that marriage is the legal recognition of that bond. Marriage between two individuals, in Europe, is also understood to form the basis of family.

Yet what we call ‘marriage’ can take very different forms in different societies, and romantic love may not even be central to marriage. This workshop will look at how anthropology helps to make sense of the different ways in which people understand love and marriage. Is romantic love a recent European idea, or is it universal? Is love expressed in different ways in different parts of the world? What is ‘marriage’ in such different places as Amazonian Brazil or West Africa? How do polygamy or extended families work in practice? Does globalization transform people’s ideas about love and marriage? Why is same-sex marriage considered acceptable in some societies and not in others? What happens when people marry across clans, social classes or national boundaries?

Room: Sackler 2

Oxford University: Hélène Neveu Kringelbach and Elizabeth Ewart