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Department of Social Anthropology



Marta Magalhães Wallace holds an MPhil and PhD in Social Anthropology from the University of Cambridge. Dr. Magalhães Wallace had previously read History (BA Hons) at Lancaster University, where she had taken an interest in the history of ideas as well as in imperial and postcolonial contexts. Her MPhil work built on the latter to look at the way race, gender and sexuality intersected to produce different political subjects and distinct inequalities, in two major cities in contemporary Northeast Brazil. Her PhD research followed from this, looking at the transformation of Salvador (BA), one of Brazil’s largest urban centres, its once colonial capital and key entrepôt in the lucrative global trade in persons and imperial goods, into a pivotal UNESCO World heritage site, which became a site of extensive urban intervention and experimentation. The dissertation addressed the inextricable relation between cosmopolitanism (articulated in claims to exceptional cultural value and given material expression in urban interventions like the one that has continued to transform the city since it was first granted the coveted World Heritage Status in 1985) to violence in contemporary Brazil.

Dr. Magalhães Wallace was a postdoctoral fellow at the Centre of Latin American Studies, University of Cambridge, where she convened and taught the MPhil course on the Anthropology of Latin America and carried out extensive graduate supervision. During her time at CLAS, she wrote a series of articles based on her doctoral and postdoctoral research, which expanded on her previous work on violence and looked at the devastating effects that a growth in drug consumption in the city (especially crack cocaine) has had in both its public life and in the quotidian of some of its most vulnerable communities. At the same time, she also started to look back at some of her longstanding interests in late colonial and postcolonial European history and published a long (commissioned) article on memory, material culture and identity in contemporary Portugal.

After leaving CLAS, Dr. Magalhães Wallace started to do research on mental health in contemporary Europe, with a focus on the way private narratives about depression and anxiety begn to circulate and take over expressions of public discontent, in the wake of the 2011 debt crisis and joint EU, IMF, World Bank intervention in Southern Europe (Portugal). That research, which has expanded to look at the complex relation between mental health/care and political economic change, is ongoing.  


Political economy and social change; cities, space and the built environment; violence; mental health and healthcare; memory; gender; race; historical anthropology; and social theory (Latin America, especially Brazil; Europe).

Teaching and Supervisions



SAN5: Ethical life and the anthropology of the subject: Anthropology of subjectivity

SAN4: Ethnographic areas: South America


Undergraduate Supervision

SAN1 – Social Anthropology: The comparative perspective 

SAN2 - The foundations of social life

SAN5 - Ethical life and the anthropology of the subject

College Lecturer in Social Anthropology, Robinson College
Director of Studies, Homerton College
Director of Studies, St Edmunds College

Contact Details

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