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Department of Social Anthropology



Rachel Smith obtained her PhD in Social Anthropology from Manchester University, which focused on the ‘domestic moral economy’ in a rural Melanesian community undergoing rapid socio-economic change. She then completed a two-year postdoctoral fellowship in Anthropology at Stanford University. For her Max-Cam research, Rachel will build on her doctoral work, by conducting further research into domains related to the values and ethics surrounding guilt and shame, forgiveness and reconciliation, gift and sacrifice in the context of socioeconomic change.


Journal articles


  • Luhrmann, TM., Weisman, K., Aulino, F., Brahinsky, JD., Dulin, JC., Dzokoto, VA., Legare, CH., Lifshitz, M., Ng, E., Ross-Zehnder, N. and Smith, RE., 2021. Sensing the presence of gods and spirits across cultures and faiths, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, v. 118
  • 2020

  • Smith, RE., 2020. Empowered Imagination and Mental Vulnerability: Local Theory of Mind and Spiritual Experience in Vanuatu, Wiley-Blackwell Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, v. 26
  • 2019

  • Smith, R., 2019. Be Our Guest/Worker: reciprocal dependency and expressions of hospitality in Ni-Vanuatu overseas labour migration, Wiley-Blackwell Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, v. 25
  • Smith, RE., Declarations of ‘Self-Reliance’: Alternative Visions of Dependency, Citizenship and Development in Vanuatu, Wiley Oceania, v. 91 10.1002/ocea.5309
  • Weisman, K., Legare, CH., Smith, RE., Dzokoto, VA., Aulino, F., Ng, E., Dulin, JC., Ross-Zehnder, N., Brahinsky, JD. and Luhrmann, TM., Concepts of Mental Life Among Adults and Children in Five Cultures, Nature Research Nature Human Behaviour, 10.1038/s41562-021-01184-8
  • Book chapters


  • Smith, R., 2021. The Meaning of “Free” Work: Service as a Gift, and Labor as a Commodity for Ni-Vanuatu Labor Migrants, Berghahn Books
  • 2018

  • Smith, RE., 2018. Changing Standards of Living: The Paradoxes of Building a Good Life in Rural Vanuatu, ANU Press
  • 2017

  • Smith, R., 2017. From Colonial Intrusions to ‘Intimate Exclusions’: Contesting Legal Title and ‘Chiefly Title’ to Land in Epi, Vanuatu, ANU Press
  • Research Associate, Max Planck - Cambridge Centre for Ethics, Economy and Social Change
    Dr  Rachel  Smith

    Contact Details