Social Anthropology at the University of Manchester
Social Anthropology is part of the recently enlarged School of Social Sciences (SOSS), along with Politics, Economic Studies, Philosophy, Sociology, Law and Criminology. Social Anthropology continues to play a significant role in the School and the University in terms of student satisfaction and significant grant capture.
There are currently 22 permanent members of staff. We have recently appointed a new lecturer in digital anthropology, Jolynna Sinanan, who will be joining us in September. Constance Smith, (ESRC Future Leader, formerly Hallsworth Research Fellow) has recently been confirmed as a permanent member of the department, as have Petra Kalshoven and Sebastien Bachelet. We also host William Wheeler as Leverhulme Early Career Fellow. We hired one temporary lecturer, Alexandra Donofrio and re-hired another temporary lecturer, Arran Calvert.
Paul Henley retired at the end of the last academic year and is now Professor Emeritus. Jeanette Edwards will be retiring in the autumn, but she will retain her connection with the department as Professor Emerita. Stef Jansen will be leaving us for Sarajevo in the summer. Tony Simpson will be handing over the Head of Department role to Andrew Irving at the end of July.
We are currently supervising around 50 PhD students, and we have around the same number of taught Masters students on our programmes. The BSocSci Degree programme continues to attract high-quality undergraduate students. The department contributes to a number of degree programmes, most substantially to the B.A. in Social Sciences whose Director, Katie Smith, is from our department.
The department remains at the forefront of post-graduate teaching in visual anthropology and this year it has expanded access to this area of expertise to undergraduate students by offering a first-year introductory course on four fields of study and practice in visual anthropology: art, photography, sound, and film. The quality of our teaching was in evidence at the 2021 Royal Anthropological Film Festival. A Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology alumna, TanjaWol Sørensen, won the main prize with the film 'A Colombian Family'. Two other alumni, ZeynepKaserçi and Melanie Grant got commendations for the student film prize.
As elsewhere, Covid has had an impact on research activity, though we have managed to continue departmental seminars on zoom.
Peter Wade’s project, Cultures of Anti-Racism in Latin America, (funded by the AHRC from their GCRF/ODA stream), has had to cancel all planned f2f workshops in the UK and Latin America last year and this year. However, building collaborations with artists and collecting data has been able to proceed virtually, with some f2f elements in Brazil and Colombia (after Covid restart approval from the university). Now, however, the ODA funding cuts are likely to severely affect the project in ways yet to be confirmed; for now it seems the RAs’ jobs are safe (8 months to run); and hopefully payments to overseas collaborators may also be safe; but the events planned for November are at risk.
The Beam nuclear and social research network has carried on working remotely. They are developing a postgraduate module for the spring semester 2021-22 on ‘Nuclear Science and Engineering as Social Practice’. The idea is to engage students from engineering, nuclear and social sciences and the humanities. They have also developed a short series of taster lectures - two of which are already available on line, and the third will be up soon:
- "Bodies in time: measuring and categorising in environmental clean-up" with Petra Tjitske Kalshoven
- "Nuclear publics" with Penny Harvey
- "Economy and Morality in the Nuclear Field" with Basak Sarac-Lesavre.
Basak has organised a seminar series on 'Making the Unknown Knowable' which is generating international interest. See our departmental website for more details.
Olga Ulturgasheva’s ERC-funded Cosmological Visionaries project (in collaboration with King’s College, London) has also been impacted. Some research activities have been moved online, including Skype/Zoom meetings with the research partners in Russia as well as interactions with knowledgeable collaborators over Whatsup and email. The RA in Social Anthropology field research is now postponed until early autumn and the research trip of the RA in History and Philosophy of Science has also been postponed until July-August.
Recent research awards in the department include:
Madeleine Reeves’s Wellcome Trust Investigator Award, Addressing Infertility in Emergent Reproductive Markets: An Anthropology of Cross-Border Reproductive Care in Contemporary Central Asia; and Sebastien Bachelet’s ESRC New Investigator Grant, Crimes of Solidarity: an ethnographic study of illegalization and criminalization amongst pro-migration activists and other citizens.
With financial support from the School of Social Sciences and the department, Soumhya Venkatesan has recruited 27 students at undergraduate and postgraduate levels to participate in her collaborative project, Decolonising the Anthropology Curriculum. The funding pays students for their intellectual labour spread out over a number of workshops in the current academic year for which they prepare by first engaging in a number of hours of reading. The resulting book publication and video will credit all student participants.