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Department of Social Anthropology



My research is broadly concerned with activism and the political subject, as well as with understandings of freedom and the appropriate role of the state during periods of political economic transition. My doctoral research focused on a group of artist-activists in Dublin critical of gentrification, urban renewal, and the influx of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and American finance capitalism into the Irish state post-recession. My dissertation examined how they mobilise the word “neoliberalism” as a contemporary political claim expressing a lack of trust in liberal democratic governance, and the consequences of this ethnographic case for anthropological approaches to politics and facticity. I am currently undertaking ESRC-funded research into allegiances to the Irish political party Sinn Féin among young leftist voters and activists. This work will contribute to future comparative research into the relationship between austerity and nationalism in European liberal democratic contexts, as well as the intersection between political movements and the shifting characteristics of contemporary capitalism.

Previously, my research interests were focused on minority language politics and the aesthetics of traditional (sean-nós) singing in the west of Ireland and in the Irish diaspora in London. Prior to my Social Anthropology degrees (MPhil, PhD) at Cambridge, I completed my liberal arts BA with a major in four-field Anthropology at Yale University, and a concentration in linguistic and biological anthropology. I wrote my undergraduate dissertation on the evolutionary genetics of colour vision in owl monkeys (Aotus) and conducted research on the impact of taxonomic designations of biodiversity among treeshrews (Scandentia) in the Malay Peninsula. The results of both of these projects have been published in Frontiers in Zoology, the Journal of Mammalogy, and the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society.


(neo)liberalism; liberal democracy; critique; art; activism; capitalism; socialism; imperialism; architecture and infrastructure; (ethno-)nationalism; racism; class 


Journal articles


  • Morningstar, N., 2020. Neoliberalism, Cambridge Encyclopedia of Anthropology Cambridge Encyclopedia of Anthropology, 10.29164/20neolib
  • Teaching and Supervisions


    Undergraduate Supervision

    SAN1 – Social Anthropology: The Comparative Perspective

    SAN2 – The Foundations of Social Life

    SAN3 – Anthropological Theory and Methods

    SAN5 – Ethical Life and the Anthropology of the Subject

    SAN12 – Anthropology of Cities and Space


    Undergraduate Teaching

    SAN1 – Social Anthropology: The Comparative Perspective

    SAN4g – Europe

    SAN9 – Science and Society

    Postgraduate Teaching

    MP4: Research Design Workshops

    Affiliated Lecturer
     Natalie Camille Morningstar

    Contact Details

    Email address: