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Department of Social Anthropology


We are delighted to have three ESRC fellows in the Department in 2020-21.  

Dr Sofia Ugarte

Since the turn of the century, Latin America has witnessed the displacement of millions of its inhabitants due to ongoing political instability, economic crises, violence, land scarcity, rapid urbanisation, and poverty in different countries of the region. In this context, much of the literature has focused on the movement of Latin American migrants to the Global North, paying less attention to the effects of global displacement within the continent (or South-South migration). This ESRC postdoctoral fellowship expands emergent themes explored in my PhD, which investigated the lives of migrant Haitian women living and working in Chile. Based on 18 months of ethnographic fieldwork, I argued that Haitian women’s efforts to transform their lives in a new country revealed the responsibility of state institutions and economic rationales in producing gendered and racialised forms of dispossession based on the legacies of the country’s past military dictatorship.

My proposed research seeks to consolidate my PhD findings through publications, public presentations and social policy outreach. I will analyse the experience of migrant Haitian women in Chile to explore the formation of new identities, of both migrant and host populations, and its relation to political institutions and economic arrangements in the region. Based on fieldwork with migrant Haitian women, Chilean state agents, policymakers, private employers, and pro-migrant advocate groups in Santiago, I will depart from my previous doctoral research to analyse the effects of displacement on people’s forms of agency, personhood, and senses of belonging. To this end, this project seeks to contribute to anthropological understandings of states and bureaucracies, economic practices, migration, racism, and their effects on people’s lives from a postcolonial and intersectional perspective.

Dr Timothy Cooper

Timothy Cooper earned his PhD at the Department of Anthropology, University College London, based upon ethnographic research both among traders on a vast and diverse electronics marketplace and

among producers of religious media in the Pakistani city of Lahore. His postdoctoral research at the Department of Social Anthropology at Cambridge builds on this work to explore how individuals and collectives understand the difficult relationship between technology, piety, and public affect. As part of his present position, he is conducting research into the circulation of devotional recordings among the minority Shi’a Muslim community in Pakistani Punjab in order to understand the ways in which atmospheric states of ethical attunement relate to changing interfaces for communal worship. To date, he has documented this research in an emerging body of published work, as well as through the production of four ethnographic films and a long-running monthly radio series, public impact events, and curatorial projects.





Dr Natalie Morningstar

Dr Natalie Morningstar’s ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship project examines young, Irish leftists’ mounting anti-establishment political sentiments in the years after the 2008 recession and asks how this trend has influenced their recent electoral support for the nationalist party, Sinn Féin. Drawing on twelve months of doctoral fieldwork with the same interlocutors, I will investigate a question of crucial public and academic importance: Are we currently witnessing a return to nationalism on the island of Ireland, or is the millennial Left’s attraction to Sinn Féin more about anti-establishment fervour? This question is one that has garnered significant media attention, but which has yet to be examined drawing on long-term qualitative data with this key demographic cohort. This project will therefore furnish timely ethnographic data on shifting party-political affiliations in Ireland after Brexit and speak to interdisciplinary debates regarding the relationship between nationalism and liberal democratic politics in the European region.